Gregory N. Racz


Exploring Collateral Consequences: Koon v. United States, Third Party Harm, and Departures from Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Gregory N. Racz

Ever since Congress passed the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (Act), judges have used their powers to correct the perceived unjust effects of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (Guidelines). One device wielded by the bench is the departure. Written into the Guidelines themselves, the departure gives district court judges discretion to increase or decrease a prescribed sentence for factors enumerated in the Guidelines as well as for factors that, in the view of the sentencing judge, were not fully considered by the authors of the Guidelines. The Supreme Court, in its recent decision in Koon v. United States, affirmed the enduring role departures play in sentencing jurisprudence. Increasing scholarly and judicial attention has focused on departures based on the effects on third parties such as family members. In contrast, judges and scholars have paid less attention to departures based on the effects on third parties such as employees.

Against this background, this Note will explore two questions. The first is whether the third party effects doctrine extends out of the home and into the workplace. The second question this Note addresses involves an unresolved issue in departure jurisprudence identified in Koon. Assuming departures are permissible, when are they justified? At present, no explicit framework exists to help courts to resolve this dilemma.

No Longer Your Piece of the Rock: The Silent Reorganization of Mutual Life Insurance Firms

Gregory N. Racz

Ever since Ben Franklin started a mutual insurance company, policyholders generally have enjoyed a basic level of ownership rights. Within the past few years, however, and with little debate, many states have passed mutual holding company laws. The new laws make it easier for mutuals to convert to stock companies and sell stock to the public, but in the process they radically alter policyholders’ rights. Industry proponents praise the new laws as tickets to financial strength. Critics demonize the laws as a corporate shell game that will strip policyholders of long-standing protections and work a wealth transfer from policyholders to managers. Some opponents of the new laws even argue that the laws may be unconstitutional. Despite these concerns, more and more states are bowing to industry lobbying and are considering passing such laws.