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January 10, 2005

News from the Nutmeg State

After a day of travel, I am back on east coast time and trying to get ready for what might be a big week.  But while we wait for Booker and Fanfan, there are interesting capital and noncapital sentencing stories from Connecticut.

In the capital arena, the planned execution of serial killer Michael Ross continues to garner much attention in Connecticut.  How Appealing has assembled some of yesterday's stories here, and this morning there are stories on the costs the case has generated, "on the street" reactions, and USA Today has drawn on the case in this article discussing broader death penalty developments.

In the noncapital arena, this New York Times article provides an interesting analysis of former Connecticut Governor John Rowland's federal plea deal (previously discussed here and here).  Many passages from the article seem to undermine the notion that the federal sentencing guidelines make offense conduct, rather than discretionary decisions by prosecutors or sentencing judges, the key determinate of sentences imposed:

Lawyers said the timing [of his plea deal] increased Mr. Rowland's chance of being sentenced by a senior Federal District Court judge [Peter Dorsey]who has been challenged by prosecutors in the past for leniency....  Judge Dorsey "would appear to be a great draw for Rowland," said Eugene Riccio, a Bridgeport lawyer who represents individuals in the investigation....

Lawyers familiar with the case said the end result had more to do with federal sentencing guidelines ... than with the sum of his transgressions.

They said prosecutors wanted Mr. Rowland to admit to taking gifts worth at least $70,000, to bolster their case that the 15- to 21-month recommended sentence he faced as a public official under the guidelines was warranted. As long as that figure was reached, the lawyers said, prosecutors were willing to give Mr. Rowland leeway on which gifts to acknowledge as improper. At the same time, Mr. Dow sought to keep the figure below $120,000; even a tad more would have added three months to the recommended prison time.

In the end, the $107,000 compromise paved the way for the recommendation that Mr. Rowland receive a 15- to 21-month sentence, which Judge Dorsey can accept or increase or decrease.

January 10, 2005 at 09:20 AM | Permalink

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Comments

More skillfully bargained "justice" which is SOP for the DOJ. Hasn't Congress figured out yet that their treasured FSG is not and never has been the Great Leveler of the guilty- at least not while it is subjected to the very expert manipulation of this DOJ? Wake up already!

Posted by: NL | Jan 10, 2005 12:21:39 PM

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