The Right to Speedy Sentencing

Last term, the United States Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to a speedy sentencing. It might be good public policy (speed to disposition impacts recidivism, and reducing the number of appearances per disposition impacts efficiency), but good public policy and a constitutional right are different.

Carissa Byrne Hessick (University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill – School of Law) has posted Betterman v. Montana and the Underenforcement of Constitutional Rights at Sentencing (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 14, No. 1, Forthcoming) on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

This past Term, in Betterman v. Montana, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the question whether the Sixth Amendment’s speedy trial guarantee applies to sentencing proceedings. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the Court held that it does not. Perhaps in order to achieve unanimity, Betterman left open important questions, which may ultimately allow defendants, at least in some situations, to demand a speedy sentencing. But, as this short commentary explains, Betterman represents an unfortunate example of the courts’ tendency to underenforce constitutional rights at sentencing.

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