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Justices Settle Sentencing Quandaries, Punt Bigger Question

June 4, 2018, 8:38 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court resolved two criminal sentencing cases June 4 as it helped one group of defendants, hurt another, and dodged a broader issue posed by one of the cases.

The rulings for the defendant in Hughes v. United States and for the government in Koons v. United States weighed the technical but practically significant questions of whether certain defendants who plead guilty can take advantage of retroactive reductions in federal sentencing guidelines.

Hughes involved defendants who pleaded guilty under agreements that specified their sentences. Koons involved those whose sentences were reduced after they cooperated with the government and...

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