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January 16, 2007

An early sentencing take on the Libby trial

As noted here at TalkLeft, plenty of bloggers will be covering the much-anticipated trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, which starts today in DC.  Helpfully, this New York Sun article provides a "comprehensive spectator's guide" to all the action, and it includes this quick an accurate take on sentencing issues:

In theory, Mr. Libby could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined up to $1.25 million, if convicted on all five counts.  However, judges generally observe federal sentencing guidelines, which would call for a much shorter sentence for a defendant like Mr. Libby, who has no criminal record.

I likely won't follow the trial closely unless and until there is a conviction.  At this point, I suppose I am rooting for Libby to be acquitted on most counts but convicted on one so that the issue of federal sentencing based on acquitted conduct might be spotlighted in this high-profile setting.

Some Libby posts around the time of his indictment:

January 16, 2007 at 07:44 AM | Permalink


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No disrespect intended, but you sound like real people are just pawns in your eyes, pawns whose fate be based on the likely consequences to the ongoing sentencing debate in the public arena. Given that the spread here is 30 years, I certainly don't hold the same view.

Posted by: Stan Kepler | Jan 16, 2007 11:27:30 AM

No disrespect received, though here's my first-cut reaction: when our politicians stop using soldiers as pawns whose fate be based on the likely consequences to the ongoing Iraq debate in the public arena, then I will stop hoping politicians can become pawns in an ongoing sentencing debate.

In the context of the Libby trial, I think a concern about treating people as pawns is especially rich.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jan 16, 2007 12:33:07 PM

So if it were a different defendant (i.e., one who had no involvement in sending troops to Iraq), you would not be hoping for the outcome you set out above? I wonder, professor, what other calamities you hope befall Libby based on this single (albeit significant) moral failure. Perhaps a decapitating hanging, too, would be justified. Your consideration of conduct for which the defendant will not even be tried (waging the Iraq war) would seem at odds with the very practice upon which you want to cast a negative spotlight.

Posted by: | Jan 16, 2007 1:14:53 PM

As a sentencing issue thge Libby case is small potatoes. Libby got bad advice, just like MArtha did, and he, like MArtha likely paid seven figures for it. As a criminal defensde atty in federal court: FORGET THE PROFFER!!! They will always nail you for a 1001 violation unless ytou are too far down the food chain to not be woprth it. Libby was a prize capture so he was gonna take the fall. What is more interesting is to see the examination of the Veep, and all those DC wonks. What amazes me more is that Fitzgerald turned out to be a biz ZERO! He spent all thjat money and all time and he ends up wioth one prosecution and making a 1st Amendment martyr out of Judith Miller. I, like may lawyers in the SDNY, was glad to see this sanctimonious prosecutor leave and go to Chicago. Like so many he made his fame prosecuting terrorists in NY. But, here he is, once again, wasting the taxpayers money.

Posted by: Bernie Kleinman | Jan 16, 2007 10:28:33 PM

Bernie, as far as I know, Martha Stewart wasn't convicted because of bad legal advice. She voluntarily spoke to investigators, and lied. Although she had a legal right to take the fifth, I don't think a CEO of a publicly-traded company, which Martha was at the time, could do so and keep her job.

I agree that Fitzgerald has wasted the taxpayers' money, which demonstrates once again what happens when you appoint a special prosecutor.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jan 17, 2007 8:18:35 AM

Would it really make a difference whether he is convicted on one or five counts? They are all closely related offenses, which are mostly merged together under the guidelines.

Posted by: John Carr | Jan 17, 2007 9:37:23 PM

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