On the Way to Settled Law: An Examination of Law Making and Law Finding in Federal Appellate Decisions

Celesta A. Albonetti, University of Iowa
Chana Barron, University of Iowa

ABSTRACT
With enactment of the Federal Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, both the government and defendant can challenge lower court sentencing decisions. Our research examines judicial reasoning in federal appellate challenges of the application and interpretation of substantial assistance departures under the federal sentencing guidelines. Our research relies on textual analysis of appellate decision for the purpose of exploring the development of settled law from 1988 to 2000. In our study we focus on how formalism, analogy, and realism are relied upon in appellate court opinions.

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Updated 05/20/2006