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June 4, 2007

An effective primer before the Libby sentencing

In this piece at TomDispatch.com, former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega, who has been writing about the Valerie Plame case since 2005, provides a lesson in "Sentencing for Dummies" in anticipation for tomorrow's sentencing of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.  Here are some snippets from an interesting piece:

Given that, as the government points out, Libby used his position in the White House to commit the crime for which he was convicted; that he has not used his law license for many years and would likely never have to again; that the families of all defendants' suffer and that, unlike most defendants, Libby has a massive legal defense trust fund; that he committed his crime not once, but four times over a period of many months; and that doesn't think he did anything wrong, I suspect the judge will not be giving Libby probation....

Because of this almost universal disconnect over the case, I would not be surprised to find that, even if Judge Walton imposes a sentence of 37 months -- which I believe would be entirely warranted -- many people, particularly those who have most ardently supported the effort, will find the event anticlimactic and vaguely dispiriting.

I make this prediction in part because such is the nature of sentencing proceedings. Having participated in hundreds of sentencings, I've found nearly every one to be dispiriting at some level.  Strangely -- especially given that I was there as a prosecutor -- I often felt sorry for the defendant and, even more often, sympathized with the defendant's family and friends.  At the same time, I was always heartbroken by the effects of the crime on the victims and knew that the pain they had been caused was not going to end simply because the defendant was heading off to prison. Sentencings have an aura of finality -- and simplicity -- that is invariably more illusory than real.

Some recent related Libby sentencing posts:

June 4, 2007 at 06:53 AM | Permalink


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It is interesting that so much ink (and cyber ink) has been used to note Libby's judge is know for strict / severe sentencing. Of course, Isaac Parker had a reputation for severity that this judge will never live up to. But, on occasion, even the "hanging judge" was lenient. The question thus, is not (or should not be) whether or not the judge is generally strict. The question is: in what circumstances has he been lenient? Do those instances resemble this case in any way, shape or manner?

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Jun 4, 2007 1:17:50 PM

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