Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lawyers should push on presentence reports

Criminal defense attorney Tim Barkovic made a credible point last month when he won a delay of a client’s sentencing because he did not receive the presentence investigation report by the required two days prior to punishment.
Macomb Circuit Judge David Viviano agreed with Barkovic that although attorneys rarely receive the reports two days ahead of sentencing, the objection was technically legitimate. Attorneys typically get the reports late, usually on the day of sentencing although I'm told sometimes they're available earlier as long as the defense attorney can pick it up at an office.
The reports are completed by probation officers, who work under the Michigan Department of Corrections, and are important in determining sentencing guidelines and giving the judge a portrayal of the defendant’s attitude. Each “psi” recommends a sentence.
Defense attorney Stephen Rabaut said he would like to see psi’s completed earlier due to their importance in wrangling over sentencing guidelines and would produce “better lawyering.” In federal court, the reports are due 45 days before a sentencing.
Maybe more defense attorney objections would force compliance.


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