Last Words: A Survey and Analysis of Federal Judges’ Views on Allocution in Sentencing
Mark W. Bennett
U.S. District Court (Northern District of Iowa)
Ira P. Robbins
American University – Washington College of Law
March 10, 2014
The authors surveyed all federal district judges in the United States. This Article provides a summary and analysis of the participants’ responses. Patterns both expected and unexpected emerged, including, perhaps most surprisingly, that allocution does not typically have a large influence on defendants’ final sentences. Most of the judges agreed, however, that retaining this often-overlooked procedural right remains an important feature of the criminal-justice process.
This Article also synthesizes judges’ recommendations for both defendants and defense attorneys aiming to craft the most effective allocution possible. Critical factors include preparing beforehand, displaying genuine remorse, and tailoring the allocution to the predilections of the sentencing judge.