Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"Do letters from the public — often or ever — influence sentencing judges?"

That's the question raised by sentencing guru Doug Berman. In his post, he discusses the Mary McCarty case and the "flood" of letters being filed with Judge Middlebrooks. Here's the Palm Beach Post coverage:

They're hailing Mary McCarty and flailing her.

With the fallen county commissioner set to be sentenced Thursday, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks is receiving a welter of missives from the public - some urging the maximum five-year sentence spelled out in her plea deal, some advocating no more than community service.

McCarty, 54, a Delray Beach commissioner and then an 18-year county commissioner, pleaded guilty in March to misdeeds that included votes on bond deals that benefited herself and her underwriter husband, Kevin. That made her the third county commissioner to fall since 2006 in a federal probe of what a state grand jury recently dubbed "Corruption County."

Dozens of people have written to Middlebrooks to weigh in on McCarty's fate, with many expressing anger at the extent of public officials' crimes.


Anonymous said...

My experience is no. I have found that judges will give more weight to the testimony/statements of family members, especially where the defendant's family genuinely care for the defendant and are law abiding members of the community. Further, to the extent that family members can give some explanation for the defendant's behavior (long bout with substance abuse, traumatic events in the defendant's life, etc.), judges tend to be more receptive. But this is just my experience.

Rumpole said...

My otherwise favorite Judge- Moreno- doesn't even listen to family members in most sentencing. He waves it off with a statement that he knows they're going to ask for leniency and say they were a good father, son, husband, ect. Very strange for an otherwise careful judge. I had a client's mother fly in from out of town, and he would not let her speak.

Bob Becerra said...

I find sentencing letters useful if you get them from the right people. Long time, real friends, people in the community who have dealt with the defendant for years, and anyone with whom the defendant had dealt with in an exemplary way are helpful. Letters that are luke warm, or are from those with no real connection to the defendant are not helpful. Letters from mothers are not really helpful


On Sotomayor:

How come all those right wingers who have been pointing out that she has been reversed so often by the Supreme Court (3 of 5 opinions by the way), have forgotten about the fact that:

Then 3d Circuit Judge Samuel Alito Jr. was reversed 100% of the time by the Supreme Court.