Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will serve as acting chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The term of Judge Patti Saris as chair expired when Congress adjourned last year. Because Pryor is on Donald Trump’s short list for a Supreme Court nomination, the announcement “might get a bit more than the usual amount of attention,” says Ohio State University law Prof. Douglas Berman at the Sentencing Law & Policy blog.
The commission is two members short of a quorum and five members short in total. “For those eager to see continued federal sentencing reforms and improvement, this is a very big deal and a very big problem,” Berman says, adding, “I am hopeful (but not especially optimistic) that the incoming Trump Administration might make staffing the [commission] …a ‘first 100 days’ priority. I am not sure whether having Judge Pryor as Acting Chair and/or having him be a possible [Supreme Court] pick makes staffing the [commission] more or less likely.”