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March 2011

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Judge Saris to Head USSC


Judge Patti B. Saris (D. Mass.)

Judge Patti B. Saris (D. Mass.)

U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris (D. Mass.) has been confirmed by Congress as the new chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. She succeeds Judge William K. Sessions III (D. Vt.).

“I am greatly honored to have been nominated by our President and confirmed by the Senate to serve as chair of the country’s expert body on federal sentencing,” Saris said in a statement. “The Commission plays a critical role in the development and implementation of national sentencing policy, and I look forward to working on a guidelines system that is reflective of the principles of sentencing established by Congress.”

Commissioner terms run for six years and a commissioner may serve no more than two full terms.

Saris became a U.S. district court judge in 1994. Previously, she had served as an associate justice for the Massachusetts Superior Court from 1989 to 1993, and as a U.S. magistrate judge for the District of Massachusetts from 1986 to 1989. From 1982 to 1986, she was an attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, and she held the position of Chief of the Civil Division, Office of the United States Attorney for Massachusetts from 1984 to 1986. From 1970 until 1981, Saris served as staff counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The Commission plays a critical role in the development and implementation of national sentencing policy, and I look forward to working on a guidelines system that is reflective of the principles of sentencing established by Congress.”

The U.S. Sentencing Commission is composed of seven voting members and two non-voting ex officio members. The voting members of the Commission are Vice Chair William B. Carr, Jr. of Pennsylvania, Vice Chair Ketanji B. Jackson of Maryland, Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa (S. D. Tex.), Dabney Friedrich of Maryland, and Judge Beryl A. Howell (D. D.C). There is one vacancy. The two non-voting Commission members are Isaac Fulwood, Jr., chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission, and Jonathan J. Wroblewski, representing the Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice.

No more than four commissioners may be members of the same political party, and at least three must be