[Note: Friends of Justice is a personal blog. I speak only for myself.]
“There will always be cases where circumstances call for, if not practically compel, sentences which exceed the standard guideline recommendations,” Judge Bender wrote, noting that trial judges have wide discretion. “However, we expect that sentencing courts understand that a standard range sentence is the norm and, consequently, that sentences which exceed (or fall below) the standard recommendation should be relatively infrequent by comparison.
“The appearance of bias, and doubt regarding a court’s commitment to individualized sentencing, both rationally emerge when such a pattern of routine deviation from sentencing norms is demonstrated by adequate evidence.
Read the article by Paula Reed Ward in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.