Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obama finally starts to push federal judge confirmations...

... at least a little bit.  According the BLT:

President Barack Obama called on the Senate today to vote on long-stalled nominees for the federal judiciary -- dipping a toe into an issue that has appeared relatively low among his priorities.

In remarks at the White House, Obama said he wants to work with Republicans to fill judicial vacancies. He did not name any individual nominees, but he appeared to reference Nashville, Tenn., labor lawyer Jane Stranch when he said nominees have been waiting as long as eight months to be confirmed.

Obama nominated Stranch in August 2009 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati. Although she has bipartisan support and there’s no organized, public effort to block her, she’s been waiting since November for a confirmation vote by the full Senate.

“Most of these folks were voted out of committee unanimously, or nearly unanimously, by both Democrats and Republicans,” Obama said. “Both Democrats and Republicans agreed that they were qualified to serve. Nevertheless, some in the minority have used parliamentary procedures time and again to deny them a vote in the full Senate.”

Hopefully, Kathy can get a hearing quickly.

In other news, the NY Times is calling for change in white collar sentences and child porn sentences:

Sentencing for white-collar crimes — and for child pornography offenses — “has largely lost its moorings,” according to the Justice Department, which makes a strong case that the matter should be re-examined by the United States Sentencing Commission....

As a general principle, sentences for the same federal crimes should be consistent. As the Justice Department notes in its report, a sense of arbitrariness — sentences that depend on the luck of getting a certain judge — will “breed disrespect for the federal courts,” damaging their reputation and the deterrent effect of punishment.

Possession of a single piece of child pornography, for example, is supposed to result in a five-to-seven-year sentence — longer with aggravating circumstances — but many judges instead are imposing probation or one year for first offenses. Many federal judges have told the sentencing commission that the child pornography guidelines are far too severe.

The Justice Department is not explicitly recommending that sentences be lowered; in fact, the new financial regulatory law suggests higher sentences in some areas. But readjusting the guidelines downward in some cases is clearly one of the possible routes the sentencing commission could take. The rules for child pornography, for example, include extra penalties for using a computer, but everyone in that repugnant world uses a computer, rendering the rules obsolete.

The key in both areas is helping judges find ways to differentiate the worst offenders from those who have caused less damage or are less of a threat to society. White-collar sentences are now based on the size of the fraud, but that may not be the best way to measure the role of a defendant or the venality and damage involved.

As repellent as child pornography is, it does not help judges when someone found with a few photographs is held to similar standards as someone disseminating thousands of them. These are sensitive areas, but a thoughtful re-examination by the commission and Congress could bring new respect for the federal judiciary.

I agree that these issues need to be looked at closely; but the NY Times and the Justice Department are wrong that we should be seeking consistency in sentencing.  Each person and each case is different.  And accordingly, each sentence needs to be individual.  Basically, what Emerson said.


Rumpole said...

My client in Miami robs a bank with a baseball bat and gets 3700 dollars and gets caught outside the bank. he has one prior for possession of cocaine and pleads guilty and is sentenced to 67 months in prison.

Your client in Omaha robs a bank with a tire iron and gets 3400 and gets caught outside. The client has a prior for possession of meth and for attempting to sexually assault a cow and gets 120 months.

You still don't want uniformity in sentencing?
I'm not saying I disagree with you. I think your desire for non-uniformity is to give you a better chance to do your job and get your client a lesser sentence. But the disparity just doesn't seem right.

Anonymous said...

He hates when you call him BLT.

Anonymous said...

wow, i did not even click the link ignore the last comment on blt.