« BREAKING NEWS: Bush commutes Libby's sentence | Main | Early reactions to President Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence »

July 2, 2007

Bush's reasons for Libby's commutation ... will others now see similar compassion from Bush and his Justice Department?

The AP provides here President Bush's rather lengthy statement in support of his decision to fully commute the imprisonment portion of Lewis Libby's sentence.  Here are just a few choice quotes from Bush's statement that will likely revolt (or perhaps energize?) any defense lawyer who has ever argued that within-guideline sentences are often excessive:

[C]ritics say the punishment does not fit the crime: 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....

Mr. Libby was sentenced to 30 months of prison, two years of probation and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.

I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison....

My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged.  His wife and young children have also suffered immensely.  He will remain on probation.  The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant and private citizen will be long-lasting.

As one lawyer (among many lawyers) who has made these points repeatedly on behalf many defendants who seem much more deserving of sympathy than Mr. Libby — such as decorated veteran Victor Rita who just had his 33 month sentence affirmed by the Supreme Court for crimes seemingly much less serious than Libby's — I suppose I am pleased to see President Bush demonstrate compassionate conservativism for Libby. 

I now hope that he will instruct all members of the Department of Justice to demonstrate similar compassion for other defendants sentenced under the federal sentencing guidelines.  After all, it seems the President views a significant fines and probation and harm to reputation and family as "harsh punishment."  I am sure a number of defendants now appealing punishments that include also a prison term will be glad to have the top executive now defining what sorts of alternatives to imprisonment are sufficient in his view.

July 2, 2007 at 06:41 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e200e0098bc4168833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bush's reasons for Libby's commutation ... will others now see similar compassion from Bush and his Justice Department?:

» Bail denied for Libby on Appeal -- commuted ! from Appellate Law
You mean the DC Circuit wasn't convinced by Bork's argument? I thought Bork was a good lawyer. I thought all the amici were good lawyers. Update: it appears that according to this order, found on PACER, the DC Circuit didn't [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 2, 2007 6:45:16 PM

» The Quality of Mercy from DemocracyInAction DIAtribe
Though justice be thy plea, consider this, That in the course of justice none of us Should see salvation [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 3, 2007 12:34:56 PM

Comments

Sounds like Bush was looking at 138 Easy Mitigating Factors.

Michael Levine

Posted by: Michael Levine | Jul 2, 2007 6:55:37 PM

Libby was good for it - but hey, Bush probably felt that if Bill Clinton gets a pass for his perjury -why should Scooter do the 33 months?

Posted by: Deuce | Jul 2, 2007 7:05:19 PM

Would someone please tell me now why I shouldn't quit? I'm a lawyer, and I still do a number of criminal sentencing appeals each year. After all the years fighting what I consider to be overly-harsh and rigid Sentencing Guidelines, I must admit that this is a real kick in the teeth.

Posted by: Mark | Jul 2, 2007 7:12:16 PM

Outrageous on so many levels. This is a "harsh punishment" in what universe? Certainly not in federal courts, where obstruction calls for 15-21 months in prison. Whatever "harsh punishment" Libby faces, he will be able to pay that fine, he will still be employable in conservative activist circles (since, according to the lore, he was a victim of a malicious U.S. attorney), and his family suffers from some minor shame? This man was an attorney and he's done less time than Martha Stewart. As I said, outrageous.

Posted by: Alec | Jul 2, 2007 7:20:25 PM

My thoughts... absolutely asinine hypocrisy by our president. I'd trade Libby for Weldon Angelos.

Posted by: bruce | Jul 2, 2007 8:51:26 PM

Libby "was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury."

So Bush thinks relevant conduct is UNFAIR? Hmm, imagine that. Every day defendants are sentenced based on allegations never presented to a jury!

The whole thing makes me sick.

Posted by: Candace | Jul 3, 2007 10:06:41 AM

Libby "was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury."

So Bush thinks relevant conduct is UNFAIR? Hmm, imagine that. Every day defendants are sentenced based on allegations never presented to a jury!

The whole thing makes me sick.

Posted by: Candace | Jul 3, 2007 10:06:57 AM

Why does it make you sick Candace? It actually illustrates your point and shows that maybe Bush agrees with you.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 3, 2007 10:32:26 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB