Law professor’s article cited by Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Sarah Russell
Jan. 17, 2014 - An article by Sarah Russell, associate professor of law and co-director of the School of Law's Civil Justice Clinic, was recently cited in an opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 

At issue in the case was whether courts should reconsider a person's sentence when it becomes clear that a sentencing error was made, resulting in a longer prison term that is warranted. Courts have often dismissed these claims on procedural grounds, citing interests in finality.  

Russell's article, "Reluctance to Resentence: Courts, Congress, and Collateral Review," published in December 2012 by the North Carolina Law Review, addressed the issue of resentencing. 

She wrote, "Correcting a sentence is vastly easier than retrying a case, and staleness of evidence is not a major concern at a resentencing because judges, unlike juries, can rely on previous findings. Outside the special context of capital cases, the important distinctions between collateral review of sentences and convictions have received little attention from courts or scholars."

The court's opinion was released in August 2013. Because there are conflicting opinions among federal appellate courts on this particular issue, Russell says it's possible that the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in on it in the future. 

For Russell, it's gratifying to see that her work had an impact on a court's opinion. "It was great to see a court read it and rely on it for a case."