Federal Narcotics Sentences: Too High?

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Featuring Hon. Richard Sullivan, Federal Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and UST professor of law, Mark Osler.

Date & Time:

Friday, September 25, 2015
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


Free and open to the public.


Room 235

University of St. Thomas School of Law

Minneapolis campus


Approved for 1.0 Standard credit  (event code: 207134 )

Honorable Judge Richard Sullivan (S.D.N.Y.) and Professor Mark Osler (UST School of Law), both former narcotics prosecutors will debate whether or not a federal narcotics sentencing system framed in the 1980's makes sense in 2015.  Prof. Osler argues for extensive reform, while Judge Sullivan contends that recent developments have restored balance to a previously rigid system and cautions against reforms that may undermine the objectives of sentencing.  Henry Shea, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, will moderate. 

Color Version 

Richard J. Sullivan was sworn in as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York in August 2007.  From 1994 to 2005, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he was Chief of the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit and Director of the New York/New Jersey Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.  

Mark Osler is Professor of Law and Robert and Marion Short Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.  A former federal prosecutor, he played a role in striking down the mandatory 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines by winning the case of Spears v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that judges could categorically reject that ratio.  In 2011, he founded the first law school clinic specializing in federal commutations, and he trained hundreds of pro bono lawyers for Clemency Project 2014.  Osler is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Yale Law School.

Henry Shea  is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and Fellow, The Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions.  Shea served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) for the District of Minnesota for almost 20 years.

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