Wednesday, February 12, 2020

“Let's use Roger Stone's case to fix our broken justice system“

The the title of my latest piece in The Hill, which you can access here.  Please let me know your thoughts.  Here’s the intro:

Every day in courthouses around the country, federal prosecutors ask for grossly outrageous and offensively high sentences. The United States puts more people in prison for longer amounts of time than any other country in the world. And it’s not just violent, repeat offenders who are getting the monster sentences. Those whopping sentences are also doled out like candy to first time, non-violent defendants.

That’s why it should have come as no surprise when the prosecutors handling Roger Stone’s case (involving an elderly first-time non-violent defendant) recommended a sentence of 7-9 years.

As wrong and over the top as that recommendation was, it was not unusual in the slightest. What was unusual was President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice coming in and saying that the recommended sentence was “excessive and unwarranted” and that the sentencing guidelines do not “serve the interests of justice in this case.”

People are rightly upset that DOJ is saying that the sentencing guidelines apply to everyone — except the president’s friends. That’s a huge problem, and it’s no wonder that the prosecutors handling the case resigned. How can they go into court every day and ask for monster sentences across the board except for FOT (Friends of Trump)?


Anonymous said...

You cast this 9yr rec as run of the mill. Hardly. The Russia investigation has been plagued with political bias, from the insurance policy, to viva la resistance, to a DOJ attorney altering an email used to secure a FISA warrant (in addition to the lies and purposeful omissions to the court), all for a democratic DOJ/FBI to spy on a Republican campaign. Oh and CNN being tipped off on stone's arrest. Total BS, and the obvious motive is political. So now, we have an ridiculous 9yr rec, and the obvious implication is that these line prosecutors--undoubtedly democrats--are jacking up stone out of political hatred for all things trump. It is so transparent. And what--Barr is supposed to turn a blind eye because stone was or is trumps friend? I agree its highly unusual for main DOJ to overrule a line prosecutor. But what is more unusual is the FACT that nothing explains the 9yr rec other than political animus. Unbelievable.

There is one other explanation for the 9 yrs. The 4 guys are tired of working for uncle sam, think themselves self important "defenders of democracy" for being part of the investigation into the russian collusion that never existed, and want to be left wing heroes and parlay their righteous over to the private sector. Maybe they promised main DOJ theyd rec 3-4, then purposely went rogue with the 9, knowing theyd be publicly overruled by the adults, and bingo they all resign in protest, getting their names all over the media. Hold ur breath... im waiting for one of these jerks to appear on MSNBC...

If you are Barr, pull the metadata on those identical notices of withdrawal the 4 clowns filed as part of their resignation. My money says at least one was first drafted before they even filed the 9 yr rec.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an interesting divide at play in our society, and DOM's post compared to 8:48's comment really show it. The issue isn't whether you're a republican or conservative on one side versus a democrat or liberal on the other. The issue is, do you take the facts and circumstances of life at face value (its called "good faith"), or do you see conspiracies in everything.

"Undoubtedly democrats" says 8:48, with no evidence; and even if they are democrats, so what? The president talks in terms of "us" referring to his political party instead of the country at large. Partisan hacks in the House pushed for articles of impeachment that contained no allegations of actual crimes and whose only outcome would be to fan the flames of division. Your own paranoia and partisanship is the root of most of this country's ills.

Anonymous said...

I love how all these prosecutors on the comments section (undoubtedly angling for the Fed Soc to pick them to replace Moreno) suddenly forget how the guidelines work in this one instance. It's not like the Stone prosecutors came in and picked 9 years out of hat. They are arguing for the application of enhancements that bring his offense level to 29 under the guidelines -- this is what Useless Attorneys do in basically every case that goes to trial.
His base offense level is 14 under the count of conviction, and he will almost surely qualify for the 8 level bump because his offense involved a threat of violence. (All these line AUSAs in major crimes go in to court every day and argue that an alien smuggler who doesn't bring enough life jackets creates a substantial risk of death, but when a Friend of Trump threatens death to a potential witness, -- texting "prepare to die cocksucker" was the basis for his conviction -- that's totally cool).
They are also seeking a three level enhancement because his offense resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice; a two level enhancement because his offense was "extensive in scope"; and a two-level enhancement for obstruction under 3C1.1.
All of these are run of the mill sentencing arguments from prosecutors for a Defendant who goes to trial. I agree that the last three enhancements are pretty weak, but every defense lawyer in this district has had clients enhanced after trial on much less substantial conduct (except maybe former AUSAs, who just plead out their clients and cooperate, and don't go to trial).
I think that is DOM's point. The guidelines can be used to support a ridiculous sentence in almost any case. 9 years here is absurd, but it's not like the Stone prosecutors picked the number out of the hat. They are using the guidelines to get there.

Anonymous said...

Has a prosecutor ever resigned because his or her boss asked them to seek a higher sentence? NO. They only resign when they're told to seek a lower one.

Anonymous said...

@11:36 - how do you know that? What is the basis of that "fact"? What a bunch of blow hards.

Bob Becerra said...

Thank God for Booker and its progeny, and 3553(a).

Anonymous said...

Poor Bill Barr feeling all bullied by mean old DJT.

Anonymous said...

Mr or Ms. 940,

848 here.

I actually like your post. I agree Im speculating about why they chose 9yr. You say "So what if they are Democrats?" It goes to motive. DUH! Its the only explanation why the "viva la resistance" guy altered an email to get a fisa warrant on page. Political bias. And here, political bias IMO is the best explanation of 9yrs. It fits. Perhaps 9yrs is just because they are total asses and like to launch every defendant they come across, but i dont think so. Thats more than freaking manafort my friend. Whats your theory? They are just jerks who love max incarceration? Okay maybe but not IMO the best explanation.

U call it paranoia. People come to personal conclusions all the time without evidence. Black guy gets pulled over 3 days in a row in a white neighborhood. But no smoking gun or actual direct evidence its racism. That is paranoia too?

You suggest we should extend good faith. No way. Anyone who does this knows 9yr isnt good faith. The only question is the reason for the bad faith.

U think if stone ditched dirt on trump theyd argue for +8 for 65+ stone threatening the guy (and his cat) who testified he felt no threat at all? PUHLEASE

Have a good day and take the last word if you like sir/maam

Anonymous said...

That a rich, white, powerfully-connected male might have to do jail time is not proof that our criminal justice system is broken.

Anonymous said...

From here on out, all defense attorneys must cite the Government's second sentencing recommendation in sentencing memos. The federal sentencing scheme is simply out of hand.

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter the time that Stone faces? What's the over on how many hours after the sentencing before Stone is pardoned by shit-for-brains?

Anonymous said...

That is very insulting -
to people who have shit for brains.