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July 2, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Bush commutes Libby's sentence

I just got this e-mail report from a Wall Street Journal alert:

Bush commuted the sentence of former aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case. Bush's move came hours after a federal appeals panel ruled Libby couldn't delay his prison term in the case.  Libby was convicted in March of lying to authorities and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of a CIA operative's identity.

WOW!  Comments encouraged below while I think about what I think about this.  Meanwhile, here is coverage from CNN and from the AP

July 2, 2007 at 06:15 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Full pardon to follow, at the end of the term? Hmmm.

Posted by: PSRuckman | Jul 2, 2007 6:18:39 PM

To quote our unPresident: "Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury. "

To quote SCOTUS: "Yeah, so?"

It's incredible. The sentencing rules created by Congress that have wrecked so many people's lives, that so many good people have tried to change but to no avail, do not apply to the friends of Bush. He is one of the most corrupt and incompetant presidents our citizens have ever had to suffer through. When is enough enough?

//realize I'm preaching to the choir...

Posted by: BabbuLu | Jul 2, 2007 6:28:32 PM

Gee, "allegations never presented to the jury"?? So ..BUSH hates the sentencing guidelines or what?

Posted by: d | Jul 2, 2007 6:35:11 PM

The courts are going to be besieged with defendants arguing at sentencing that sentence of probation and a fine is still "harsh" and that, contrary to the Supreme Court's holding, it's not ok to base a sentence on judge-found facts even in an advisory guidelines systems. Also, the "hasn't the defendant (and his family) suffered enough" factor, typically brushed off, apparently has traction now.

If a district judge had given a below-guidelines sentence for the reasons given by the President for commuting it, that judge would have been reversed by any circuit court in the country.

Posted by: kay | Jul 2, 2007 6:36:45 PM

Guys, let me play devil’s advocate here:

I don’t see Bush as being soft on crime, but rather simply putting poor people where they belong. Poor people are a danger to society. Scooter is not.

Libby is a better person than most people convicted of crimes. He has done real charity work (i.e. pro bono work). He has served his country. He has an education and a “Real” family. Most people sentenced to jail are hardly educated. Their volunteerism, at best, is ineffective since they are not lawyers, let alone partners at large firms. And, quite frankly, there isn’t any real need to see him in jail.

But, I guess this means that there will be thousands of commutations in the next few weeks, when people with similar GSRs have their sentences commuted, regardless of whether they are former partners at large firms or crack whores.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 2, 2007 6:42:22 PM

Kay, Just a note: below-guidelines sentences have been affirmed. Even those which include no prison. See, e.g.. http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov:8080/isysnative/RDpcT3BpbnNcU1VNXDA1LTQ5MTNfc28ucGRm/05-4913_so.pdf

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 2, 2007 6:47:20 PM

With the precedent of a non-prosecution of Bill Clinton perjuring himself, and now the Scooter leniency - doesn't say much for the sanctity of the courtroom and the importance of one's oath.

Posted by: Deuce | Jul 2, 2007 7:09:32 PM

I don't think Scooter was even accused of lying under oath.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 2, 2007 7:35:10 PM

So that means that people that are sentenced using the sentencing guidelines need to be commuted as well. I can't say that is a good thing or bad thing. Because to me it is saying that if you have power then you can get your sentence commuted. What about the poor people that don't have any money. Many of them have family that are suffering. Would he make a big deal for some of the poor people being sentenced under these unfair guidelines? I don't know I question this. Maybe my thoughts are unfair but who knows.

Posted by: jubria | Jul 2, 2007 8:03:24 PM

don't think Scooter was even accused of lying under oath.

What, they changed the definition of perjury, too? Two counts, FWIW.

Posted by: JDB | Jul 2, 2007 9:49:44 PM

What if Scooter's conviction is reversed on appeal. Will Fitz try him again?

When Bush said "excessive", I think he was referring to a prosecutor who, without a case to investigate, investigated the investigatees. Let's not forget this arrogant Fitzgerald put reporters in jail in the course of the investigation of a non-crime.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 2, 2007 9:55:56 PM

I find this commutation interesting on a couple of levels. First, Bush indicates that he is a staunch support of Blakely v. Washington and agrees with the Booker remedial dissenters.

Second, to the extent our President has declared that Libby's sentence was "too harsh," does that have *any* legal effect in district court sentencing? Imagine that the a defendant *precisely like* Scooter Libby in *every way* -- same crime, same personal history . . . EVERYTHING -- is sentenced to 30 months in prison and a 250,000 fine. Does President Bush's statement that Libby's prison sentence was "too harsh" compel the court of appeals to reverse the sentence as unreasonable?

Posted by: Aaron | Jul 2, 2007 9:56:07 PM

Aaron, No, it doesn’t compel the court to do that, but I think that the president’s statement, because was coupled with a political action that had operative effect (unlike a signing statement that occurs contemporaneously with a signing) is rather strong persuasive authority regarding the reasonableness of the sentence.

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