Why can't a judge immediately sentence someone to a mandatory sentence, usually life in prison or death, once the conviction is read? Why is there a need for a delay, which requires the sheriff or state Department of Corrections to haul the person back into court a month or two later?

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III and his chief of administration, Mark Dumaine, point out that all defendants have a statutory right to a sentence delay. The law does not allow the court to immediately sentence a defendant, unless the defendant has expressly waived these built-in delays. The defendant is the only one who can waive these delays.

The delays, according to the statutes, serve to allow time for the defendant to file immediate objections to a verdict of guilt. The delays also allow time for the court to obtain a pre-sentence report about the defendant's history so that a judge has more information in developing a sentence.

While the pre-sentencing report would not appear necessary for mandatory life and death sentences, judges must often request them for many reasons. For example, in the case of a death penalty sentence, one such reason is that the trial judge is required to provide the Louisiana Supreme Court with a ‘Uniform Capital Sentencing Report' that must contain information on the defendant's prior delinquent and criminal activity, family situation, background, education, economic and employment status.