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June 5, 2007

Libby gets within-guideline sentence of 30 months

As detailed in this early report from the AP, "Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying to investigators about what he told reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame.... He also was fined $250,000."

I believe Judge Walton accepted the government's proposed sentencing enhancement and then sentenced at the bottom of the applicable range, but I am not sure.  More details to follow, with early comments from readers highly encouraged.  (For now, let me just say that I hope that Libby's sentence is the basis for a question at tonight's Republican candidates debate.)

UPDATE:  TalkLeft has lots of good coverage, including this post with links to all the letters sent to Judge Walton.  I'd be grateful for reader help to identify which letters seem particularly notable.

Also, let me not forget to note that this sentence is still three months shorter than the sentence given to Victor Rita for very similar — though, in my view, less serious — crimes (as discussed here and here). 

It is fun to speculate whether this sentence for Libby could impact some of the Justices' views (or dicta) as the wrap up a decision in Rita.  I also think this reality highlights the mistake made by the defense team to not try to put off sentencing until after the Justices rule in Rita.

June 5, 2007 at 12:02 PM | Permalink


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» Commentary on Libby Sentencing from White Collar Crime Prof Blog
Receiving a straight guidelines sentence - and one on the stiff side, lets the administration feel the full effect of the guidelines sentences they created. Some thoughts: 1. Convicted defendants who maintain their innocence are placed in a no-win situ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 5, 2007 10:06:47 PM

» Libby Letters As A Teaching Tool from Adjunct Law Prof Blog
By now, the Libby letters are all over the internet. Doug Berman over at Sentencing Law and Policy Blog summarizes the Libby case. Libby was the former Chief of Staff to Vice-President Cheney who was sentenced to 30 months in [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 7, 2007 12:15:57 AM


I have tried to track predictions here:

What is the word on bail? I am getting mixed signals at this point.


Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Jun 5, 2007 12:19:32 PM

"I believe Judge Walton accepted the government's proposed sentencing enhancement and then sentenced at the bottom of the applicable range, but I am not sure. "

I think that's right. But now there's an issue as to the grouping. The obstruction was level 19, but the perjury was level 17 and the false statements were 0 to 6 months (don't have the level handy).

The judge ordered probation to recalculate and submit by next Wednesday. The hearing on appeal bond will be a week from Thursday. Then there is the voluntary surrender issue if the appeal bond is denied.

Posted by: TalkLeft | Jun 5, 2007 12:42:00 PM

Is there any chance in hell that he'll be let out on bail? Does he have any legitimate appellate issues? I didn't follow the trial closely, but it doesn't sound like he'll have any issues on appeal.

Posted by: Elson | Jun 5, 2007 12:46:56 PM

I'm a government lawyer and according to policy, the use of the official letterhead is quite restricted. I'm sure there are differences in the private sector, but I am curious as to whether it's appropriate for individuals to use company letterhead to write on Scooter Libby's behalf (or, equally, to encourage a longer sentence). The letters are all written from a very personal perspective; what possible reason could there be for putting them on official letterhead other than to hope that the prestige or reputation of the corporation will (inappropriately) influence the judge to give the writer more credibility than he would otherwise?

Posted by: Kay | Jun 5, 2007 2:05:41 PM

I noticed that, too, Kay. The way I saw it, the people that wrote on his behalf seemed to exercise enough managerial control of those companies, that it probably could be viewed as authorized.

Whatever the case, at some (but not all) companies, people routinely write personal and professional references for people on company letterhead. So, this doesn't seem too much of a stretch.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jun 5, 2007 9:00:56 PM

Libby is not getting bail. I followed the trial closely, and really the only decision that Judge Walton made which could conceivably lead to reversal was excluding the expert testimony from Libby's "memory" expert witness. But that witness was a total fraud, and Fitzgerald forced her to admit on the stand that the testimony she planned to give was contradicted by her own scholarly writing. She wasn't credible.

I don't think they have any other grounds for appeal. All the close decisions went the way that the defense wanted them to go- except for the decision by the jury... and that wasn't really a close decision. And last time I checked, "He still says he didn't do it!" isn't appealable error.

There's a nice writeup today by Sidney Blumenthal on Slate about the letters, and their authors. Blumenthal points out that in many ways, the letter writers probably did more harm than good, becuase they all look scripted by the same hand, and the authors of the positive letters are all rogues and scoundrels themselves. He all but states in black and white that Dick Cheney must have called all of these people and pressured them into writing their letter... which is interesting of course because the one person who benefits most from Scooter's continued obstruction of justice is Dick Cheney.

To Kay: I bet using official letterhead wouldn't be such a problem if the VPOTUS ordered you to do it.

here's a link to the Blumenthal piece: http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2007/06/07/scooter_libby/

Posted by: tekel | Jun 7, 2007 11:45:11 AM

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