« "Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow" | Main | Conrad Black's latest harsh attack on the US criminal justice system »

November 30, 2011

Feds asking for prison term of 15 to 20 years for Rod Blagojevich

As detailed in this local press account, "federal prosecutors asked a judge Wednesday to sentence convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to as much as 20 years in prison."   Here is more from the press report on the feds' sentencing filing:

“In light of Blagojevich’s extensive corruption of high office, the damage he caused to the integrity of Illinois government and the need to deter others from similar acts, the government suggests a sentence of 15 to 20 years imprisonment is sufficient but not greater than necessary,” prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Blagojevich, 54, who was convicted of 18 corruption charges, is set to be sentenced next week. His sentencing hearing will be Dec. 6 and 7 before U.S. District Judge James Zagel. Blagojevich’s lawyers have said they will seek probation. They’re expected to file their suggested sentence later Wednesday.

Blagojevich was found guilty of charges that included allegations he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Prosecutors said Blagojevich deserves stiffer sentences than the 6 1/2 years given to former Gov. George Ryan and the 10 years given to Tony Rezko, a former Blagojevich adviser and onetime top campaign fund-raiser. They noted that Rezko got that stiff term even though he didn’t hold public office, wasn’t involved in the attempted sale of the Senate appointment in 2008 and immediately turned himself in to begin serving his prison time after his 2008 conviction....

Blagojevich needs to be hit with a tough sentence to deter others, prosecutors said, pointing out that the six and a half years given to Blagojevich’s predecessor, Ryan, did little to persuade Blagojevich not to misuse his public office. “The six-and-a-half-year sentence did nothing to stop Blagojevich, as the very next governor, from engaging in significant and ongoing bribery, extortion, and fraud,” prosecutors wrote.

The 21-page Government Sentencing Memorandum in this case is available at this link.

UPDATE: I am still looking for a copy of the sentencing filing of the defense team, but this local article, headlined "Blago Defense Asks for Leniency in Sentencing," reports on some of its points:

[D]efense lawyers argued that Blagojevich “received no monetary gain, and caused no public harm,” and that he deserved a lenient sentence.

Defense attorneys said by their analysis of federal sentencing guidelines, Blagojevich faced at the extreme, 41 to 51 months in prison.  Prosecutors argued that the correct range should be 30 years to life, but suggested a term of between 15 and 20 years behind bars.

"Mr. Blagojevich followed the law as he understood it to be," wrote defense lawyer Carolyn Gurland. "Mr. Blagojevich’s profound devotion to his wife and young children, and the devestation that his absence will cause his family, provide further support for the exercise of leniency in his sentencing."

For their part, prosecutors cited what they called Blagojevich’s "extensive corruption in office, the damage he caused to the integrity of Illinois government, and the need to deter others from similar acts."

I have highlighted a segment of the article which reports the wildly disparate guideline calculations being peddled by the adversaries in this case: the feds think the guidelines recommend  30 or more years, while the defense say they recommend less than 4.3 years.  (In a future post, I will discuss in more detail why this guideline-calculation reality itself highlights that an undue focus or concern with disparities resulting from departures or variances tends to distract and distort any truly sophisticated analysis of modern federal sentencing realities.) 

ANOTHER UPDATE: Thanks to one of my students, I have now found here a copy of the defense filings for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. 

November 30, 2011 at 03:13 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2015393ce6f0c970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Feds asking for prison term of 15 to 20 years for Rod Blagojevich:

Comments

hmm

"Defense attorneys said by their analysis of federal sentencing guidelines, Blagojevich faced at the extreme, 41 to 51 months in prison. Prosecutors argued that the correct range should be 30 years to life, but suggested a term of between 15 and 20 years behind bars."

This just proves what i've said before. IF the current system of calculating a prison sentence has become so complicated even those most familiar with it can't figure it out. TIME TO SCRAP IT.

reminds me of when the first CLD tests were created for the nation wide Commercial Drivers license. The very people who WROTE the test....FLUNKED IT!

Posted by: rodsmith | Dec 1, 2011 12:26:49 PM

Rod,

It's not so much that people can't "figure it out" so much as the guidelines are a ouija board that allows people to claim that their preferred outcome is what the rules mandate. Think of it more like a weighted system of revealed preferences than a sentencing automata (where the weighting is in favor of the house, of course).

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 1, 2011 4:18:07 PM

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