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October 27, 2006

Members of Congress like judicial discretion ... when their friends are sentenced

Peter Henning here spots an amazing story about the sentencing of former White House aide David Safavian, who lied to investigators aout his contacts with Jack Abramoff.  As a Salt Lake City Tribune article explains, one of Safavian's former bosses, Representative Chris Cannon, has written a passionate letter to the sentencing judge urging a major downward variance in the sentence.  Here is one especially notable passage from the letter:

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have personally struggled with sentencing issues, particularly post-Booker although certainly not to the extent you have.  This episode has punctuated for me the importance of taking into account all facets of a person and the unique facts of each case, when determining what the proper and just punishment should be.

As Peter notes, the letter includes much discussion of Safavian's prior good works and family circumstances, and thus the sentencing philosophy "urged by Representative Cannon is almost the exact opposite of the Guidelines, which largely ignore 'all facets of a person and the unique facts of each case'."

This FoxNews piece suggests Safavian's sentence will be handed down this afternoon.

UPDATE: As detailed in articles here and here, Safavian was sentenced to 18 months in prison. And, during this sentencing, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman  apparently delivered "a 30-minute eulogy for good government in Washington."

October 27, 2006 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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That's despicable. I just wish it were Sensenbrenner or one of his cronies to really draw out the hypocrisy.

Posted by: Bruce | Oct 27, 2006 2:47:53 PM

Bruce, do you mean like when a feminist like Lynn Woolsey (D-Cal.) writes a letter to a judge asking for lenience for a violent rapist that happens to be a family member of a staffer--is that the hypocrisy you're talking about?

Posted by: Sean O'Brien | Oct 27, 2006 3:58:22 PM

I'm guessing that is exactly the type of hypocrisy referenced. But then again, don't we all have at least a small piece of land reserved in the 8th Circle of Hell? For example, I make fun of everyone for watching prime time soap operas, yet I have seen every episode of Grey's Anatomy (and Jerry Seinfeld did watch Melrose Place).

Posted by: SPD | Oct 27, 2006 4:12:37 PM

Sean: yes, that's exactly the type of hypocrisy I'm talking about. It's the very definition of hypocrisy: leniency for their friends, unyielding harshness for everyone else. To loudly clamor for harsh, impersonal sentencing so as to appear "tough on crime" and get re-elected ad nauseum, and then to softly whisper for leniency--contrary to the very sentencing schemes publicly advocated for everyone else--to help a personal friend or family member should be a bigger scandal than anything happening in Iraq, or anything involving sex with congerssional pages. Such hypocrisy should be punishable by death, as far as I'm concerned.

Hypocrisy in invoking and applying the law is the worst, most harmful, most degrading form of hypocrisy. It's not in the same class as bashing soap operas and being sad that Denny died before Izzy could marry him on Grey's Anatomy. Hell, as long as you recognize it's stupid, it doesn't make you a hypocrite for watching it. We all do stupid things.

Posted by: bruce | Oct 28, 2006 3:55:33 PM

Wow, death. That's pretty strong stuff.

People try to help out their friends--it's human nature. However, just because people are hypocrites, it doesn't mean they're wrong on harsh punishments.

Posted by: | Oct 29, 2006 1:28:01 AM

I thought we were talking about MANDATORY Sentences. Not taking into account ANYTHING else.

Yeah, let's lock up MORE people! Like 1 in 100 is not enough....and guess what folks, most of them ARE getting out.......ANGRY! For Goodness sakes, our system locked up Martha Steward. Wake UP! you might be next.

Lets talk about human nature, ALL of us have done Something ILLEGAL , bet you would want to be judged on your situation, like you were 15, or you thought you were saving someone you loved. Equal Protection under the law OR NOT...make up you minds.....sounds real good to me.

Is that not what life is about, learning, something hits close to home and opens your eyes. If you're not for that "equal protection" stuff, I do not know what to tell you.

Posted by: Mbrizio | Nov 10, 2008 10:04:52 PM

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