UH Law Center Criminal Justice Institute, Houston Law Review Host Symposium on Federal Sentencing

Experts examine changes in criminal sentences since Supreme Court relaxed guidelines

Eight years ago the U.S. Supreme Court significantly changed criminal law in the federal courthouse by deciding 20-year-old Federal Sentencing Guidelines were advisory rather than mandatory. Critics claimed the decision broadening judicial discretion would result in a wide disparity in sentencing, and statistics reported to Congress by the United States Sentencing Commission bear that out as more and more sentences fall outside the federal guidelines.

The Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center and the Houston Law Review are sponsoring a symposium Nov. 14 - 15 to examine the consequences of the Court’s decision in United States v. Booker, recommendations for change, and the outlook for federal sentencing.

“This event will be incredible,” says Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson, director of the UH Law Center Criminal Justice Institute.  “I can think of no better forum for addressing the issues than to have federal prosecutors, federal public defenders, federal judges and the country’s leading sentencing scholars share the stage to discuss cutting-edge sentencing issues in the post-Booker world,” she said.

U.S. District Judge William K. Sessions III of Vermont, former chairman of the Sentencing Commission, will deliver the keynote address “The Relevance of Offender Characteristics in a Guideline System” at an opening reception. Other speakers at the daylong symposium include Melissa Hamilton, a visiting scholar at the Law Center, federal judges, assistant U.S. attorneys, federal public defenders and academic experts.

The symposium, Federal Sentencing Challenges Post-Booker, will be held at the University of Houston Law Center from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Nov. 15. The reception at the Coronado Club, 919 Milam, downtown Houston, will be 5:30 p.m., Nov. 14. Attorneys attending all events will receive five hours of Participatory CLE credit, including one hour of Ethics. Cost is $50 for all symposium events, breakfast, and lunch. Judicial and student registration is complimentary. For further information, please contact Charlette Jefferson at 713.743.2072 or


Media Contacts: Carrie Criado, UH Law Center Executive Director of Communications and Marketing, 713-743-2184, cacriado@central.uh.edu; or John T. Kling, UH Law Center Communications Manager, 713- 743-8298, jtkling@central.uh.edu.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 40,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About the University of Houston Law Center
The University of Houston Law Center is the leading law school in the nation's fourth-largest city. Founded in 1947, it is a top-tier institution awarding Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees. The Law Center is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.