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Some observers have expressed the hope that the Supreme Court's decision in Koon v. United States may permit both sentencing judges and appellate courts to consider fundamental issues of culpability and just punishment in deciding whether there should be a departure from the guidelines. In Koon, the Court unanimously embraced the notion that the sentencing guidelines deal with "heartland" cases, and that judges may depart in cases outside the "heartland." The concept of "heartland" had appeared only in a single sentence in the introductory chapter of the guidelines when they were issued in 1987, but in 1994 a reconstituted Commission added a new paragraph expressly recognizing the concept in the chapter of the guidelines governing departures.

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