Paul Hastings Secures Supreme Court Victory in Important Sentencing Case

June 11, 2013

Washington, DC - Paul Hastings, a leading global law firm, announced today that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of firm client Marvin Peugh in an important constitutional case concerning criminal sentencing in the federal courts.
In Peugh v. United States, No. 12-62, the Supreme Court held that the Ex Post Facto Clause prohibited the retroactive application of U.S. Sentencing Guidelines that increase the recommended sentencing range, even though those Guideline ranges are advisory. The Ex Post Facto Clause prohibits applying laws that create a significant risk of greater punishment to offenses committed before the enactment of the law.  The Supreme Court held that a change in the applicable Guideline range is a change in law, and “[a] retrospective increase in the Guidelines range applicable to a defendant creates a sufficient risk of a higher sentence to constitute an ex post facto violation.”

“This is an important constitutional decision,” said Stephen Kinnaird, the co-chair of the Appellate and Supreme Court practice at Paul Hastings LLP, who argued the case on behalf of Peugh. “The decision will affect every federal sentencing in the common circumstance where the U.S. Sentencing Commission increases the recommended sentencing range after the time of the defendant’s offense.  Moreover, it applies to the many states that use similar discretionary sentencing guidelines systems, and the principles it establishes will also apply to discretionary parole systems.”

Kinnaird also argued and won an important constitutional case in 2010, Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), which held that the Sixth Amendment entitled criminal defendants to competent advice of counsel regarding the deportation consequences of guilty pleas. Paul Hastings partnered with the University of Pennsylvania Law School Supreme Clinic and Allan Ackermann in representing Mr. Peugh.

Stephen Kinnaird led the Paul Hastings team, which also included of counsel, Katherine Murray and  associates Erika Leonard, Candice Castaneda and Amy Jensen.

Please find the opinion here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-62_5g68.pdf

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