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April 8, 2005

A pattern of white-collar leniency?

Yesterday I questioned in this post whether former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci and his associates may have received special consideration from the 1st Circuit in its remand decision.  And a piece in the New Haven Advocate entitled Incomplete Sentences (available here), which discusses recent sentencings by Connecticut District Judge Peter Dorsey, has me thinking more broadly about whether we might expect white-collar offenders to be the biggest beneficiaries of Booker and the new discretion it affords federal sentencing judges.

The New Haven Advocate piece discusses Judge Dorsey's sentencing of former Connecticut Governor John Rowland and also the below guideline sentence he gave to Sandra Martin, who admitted to stealing nearly $1 million from Fairfield County banks by moving checks among multiple accounts.

UPDATE: Peter Henning over at White Collar Crime Prof Blog has chimed in on this topic with a lot of great thoughts here.

FURTHER UPDATE: Ellen Pogdor at White Collar Crim Prof Blog has enriched this discussion with some additional comments here.

April 8, 2005 at 08:05 AM | Permalink


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» Will White Collar Sentences Have the Greatest Disparity Post-Booker? from White Collar Crime Prof Blog
Doug Berman on the Sentencing Law [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 8, 2005 11:42:49 AM

» Will White Collar Sentences Have the Greatest Disparity Post-Booker? from White Collar Crime Prof Blog
Doug Berman on the Sentencing Law [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 8, 2005 1:41:13 PM


There is plenty of reason to think white-collar offenders may, as a group, receive among the highest percentage of non conforming sentences, but we will need to think hard about it means. Perhaps these sentences, keyed to illusory loss numbers, had grown too harsh. Perhaps judges have the hardest time following severe laws when they impact people who are, as a class, more like the judges than other defendants.
Of course one fix is taking away discretion again. That move addresses this small class of cases and also impacts the much larger groups of other defendants, trading a kind of individualized bias operating in favor of a small but very noticeable group for a systemic bias acting against a very large and largely invisible group.
This way of approaching the problem serves the punitive aspect of the expressive function of law quite nicely, but silences the justice aspect of the expressive function of the law.
Of course the "white collar" cases are politically salient. It would be quite unfortunate if this small group of cases drove the debate. They are clearly very important cases and we need a strong statement that the conduct is blameworthy, but the lives of the many thousands of folks whose unduly harsh sentences will never attract any public notice are also quite important.

Posted by: Ian Weinstein | Apr 8, 2005 10:07:37 AM

"keyed to illusory loss numbers"

That is just incorect in most cases. Of course, in many fraud cases it becomes impossible to determine the exact loss figure. That is why often times pleas will just state a loss figure between the guidline range.

Judges will be able to justify lower sentences under Section 3553 but DOJ is stating that it will pursue appeals on sentences viewed as "unreasonable."

White Collar Blog opines that a Judge might go light on the sentence becuase the professional D will also be losing his license to practce law ect . . . .

In my experience most Judges hammer lawyers and CPA's who plead and especially if they are found guilty by a Jury.

Posted by: lawdevil | Apr 8, 2005 1:26:06 PM

Any study of a pattern would be erroneous without taking into account the sentencing proclivites of the particular judge. For example, Judge Peter Dorsey was appointed before the sentencing guidelines were in place and has generally dispenses lighter sentences than his peers. Booker had nothing to do with his Rowland sentence.

Juge Thompson, in Hartford is a guidelines judge and throws the book at white collar criminals, as his record proves.

So, your research, to be valuable at all, has to first, look at the actual sentences in the court, not just the ones reported by the news, and secondly look at the judges and their sentencing records. As is, it is useless -- not much more than propoganda.

Posted by: anonymous | Aug 13, 2005 5:25:57 PM

I am a 45 yr old,retired West-Texas plaintiff lawyer who specialized in whoever walked through the door. Frankly, I'm lost and could not possibly tell you how I got here! (I still have an 8-track around here somewhere.) My brother is in a little bit of trouble, and I'm in the process of preparing a letter to the judge: looking or something to perfect pursuasion. I think this place is great. Thanks

Posted by: Gregory | Sep 18, 2005 3:06:13 AM

Great Job! Very Interesting!

Posted by: קבוצת רכישה | Jan 6, 2011 6:45:37 AM

I am new here, how can I start new thread for well come message as I have no post still.

Posted by: Pandora Braclets | Jun 21, 2011 4:19:41 AM

i think we need to fight any kind of crime or any lawbreaking in the first place. that's what important. this stuff - is the second question

Posted by: convert m4a to mp3 | Jan 20, 2012 3:12:44 AM

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