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October 29, 2005

More on Lewis Libby's possible plea and sentencing dynamics

Over at TalkLeft, experienced defense attorney TChris here speculates about whether I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will exercise his right to trial or instead enter a plea in the CIA leak case.   TChris is focused on the political calculations surrounding the plea decision, but I am already thinking about the sentencing calculations surrounding the plea decision. 

Helpfully, in these detailed comments to a prior post, experienced former US probation officer Fran Bowman calculates that Libby could face a guidelines range as low as 10-16 months if he pleads guilty and as high as 51-63 months if convicted after a trial.  Fran's calculations seem sound, though many developing facts could likely impact any final guideline outcomes.  And, of course, because the guidelines are now advisory after Booker, the sentencing judge would be permitted to go higher or lower than any guideline range.  (Indeed, the mind reels as I think about Libby and the factors to be considered under 3553(a) as Booker instructs.)  Also, the number and counts of conviction from a plea or a trial could place a cap on how high the sentence could go.

In reading some press coverage, I was intrigued by how sentencing dynamics were portrayed after statements of the maximum available sentence: this article says, "federal sentencing guidelines would limit jail time to as little as 10 years if he is convicted.  Mr. Libby could agree to a plea deal, which could result in an even lighter sentence."; this article says, "advisory federal sentencing guidelines would call for about two to four years"; this article says, "Attorney Andrew Bowman, a former federal prosecutor ... said the federal sentencing guidelines might call for a 24- to 36-month sentence for a conviction on the perjury charge."

Related posts:

UPDATE:  I just saw this CNN article detailing that Libby's lawyer is starting to hint at a defense strategy. And that article reminded me of this great pre-indictment post at Balkinization discussing "Bush's Ace in the Hole -- The Pardon Power."

October 29, 2005 at 06:40 PM | Permalink

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