Like lots of issues confronting judges, sentencing is no easy matter, tied as it is to the facts of the instant case yet bound within loose limits set by similar-fact precedents. A new service, Rangefindr, aims to make it easier for lawyers and judges to estimate the impact of precedent in a given case.

Research lawyer Matthew Oleynik and his team have analysed and tagged thousands of sentencing cases, double checking their results with computer indexing, to create a database from which relevant precedents can be easily retrieved. The manner of using the service is illustrated in a video on the Rangefindr site.

Oleynik plans to apply his sophisticated indexing to essentially all cases since 2000. In an email exchange he says:

The target scope is fluid, but I am aiming for the past 10 years, plus significant decisions pre-dating that. Appellate cases are the main focus, with noteworthy trial-level decisions coming next. The theoretical scope is every reported or otherwise available sentencing case since 2000. That isn’t at all necessary for the tool to deliver accurate ranges, but it’s the ultimate goal.

This is a subscription service currently on offer for $29 a month.

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