Wednesday, October 09, 2013

We need more Judge Gleesons

I can't do justice to the 60-page sentencing order that Judge Gleeson entered today, calling DOJ out for using the threat of 851 enhancements to force defendants to plead. 

Here's the conclusion to the must-read order:
I sentenced Lulzim Kupa to a 132-month term of imprisonment for a variety of reasons. The most important by far was because I could, that is, I was not required to impose a sentence of life in prison for his nonviolent drug trafficking offense. And the only reason for that is Kupa buckled under the enormous pressure that looming sentence placed on him. The prior felony information ushered that 800-pound gorilla into the case at the eleventh hour and it took the case over. Once it was filed, everything that followed was done with all eyes on the draconian sentence that a jury’s verdict of guilty would require me to impose. It snuffed out an imminent trial at which Kupa wanted to do what our Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee
him: hold the government to its burden of proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And indeed the desire to snuff out that trial was reason the sole reason the prosecutor filed it.
Throughout, I have assumed that both the drug offense mandatory minimums and the onerous enhancements triggered by prior felony informations are here to stay, at least in some form. After all, as a circuit judge wrote in 2009, “[t]he Judicial Conference of the United States for almost 20 years, and the Sentencing Commission for almost 10 years, have pleaded with the judiciary committees of Congress to do something about the serious injustices that these long, mandatory minimum sentences impose – to no avail.”181 I have also assumed the constitutionality of using prior felony informations as bludgeons in federal prosecutors’ efforts to get defendants to plead guilty. But arguing that it is not illegal for prosecutors to use prior felony informations to produce the guilty pleas and sentences described above is no way to defend such a wayward policy. Attorney General Holder’s admirable leadership toward sentencing reform should lead him to refocus his attention on prior felony informations. If DOJ cannot exercise its power to invoke recidivist enhancements in drug trafficking cases less destructively and less brutally, it doesn’t deserve to have the power at all.

And here's the entire order:


Rumpole said...

The best judge in the country (sorry Fred).

Anonymous said...

He's not the best judge in the country. He's not even the best judge in his district. That would be judge bloch, hands down. He's coming around now to the many injustices he has committed. At least he has changed his ways.

Bob Becerra said...

Bring back the old (pre-guidelines) Rule 35(c) defense motion for reduction of sentence. It was a great equalizer.

Bob Rosenblatt said...

I have had 2 cases before Judge Gleeson. He is without a doubt the best judge in the US. He is fair, does not suffer fools lightly, demands professionalism and attorneys need to be very prepared. He has no "black robe fever", in fact at motion hearings he wears no robe at all. Too bad there are not more like him.

Rumpole said...

He wears no robe in honor of his mentor, the previous best judge in the country, also in the EDNY and still working as a senior status judge: The great Jack Weinstein who didn't wear robes in court and who when sentencing a defendant would get off the bench and pull up a chair and look him or her in the eye and tell them their sentence.