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July 5, 2007

The fine points of fines as Scooter pays up

070705_libby_fine_check_h2 As detailed in this NBC story (and verified by the picture here released by the DC District Court), Scooter Libby today paid his $250,000 fine (plus a $400 special assessment).  The NBC story reports that a "source close to Libby ... emphasized that the fine imposed by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton was paid entirely from Libby's personal funds." 

Meanwhile, in this nice Slate piece, Michelle Tsai notes that even if Libby gets pardoned, it may be hard for him can he get his money back.  But, given Libby's apparent ability to cut a check for a cool quarter million from his "personal funds" only a month after his sentencing, I cannot help but conclude that the fine has not been too harmful to Libby's bottom-line. 

Relatedly, the Slate piece has this interesting concluding item: "While Libby's personal finances are a bit of a mystery today, that may soon change: According to the terms of his supervised release, he's required to report all income of more than $500."

July 5, 2007 at 10:28 PM | Permalink


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Is this payment considered involuntary since he moved to stay its imposition? I'm just thinking that if he can't be placed on probation, has no jail term, and has paid his fine -- is his appeal moot?

Posted by: JustClerk | Jul 6, 2007 8:24:06 AM

Scratch that -- forgot he was challenging more than just his sentence -- the whole felony conviction thing I'm sure survives mootness

Posted by: JustClerk | Jul 6, 2007 8:31:21 AM

FYI: Contrary to the suggestion in the Slate piece that "it's possible that President Bush could issue a customized presidential pardon that specifies a refund," once a fine is paid, it cannot be restored by a Presidential pardon, unless perhaps expressly authorized by Congress. This is one of the few express limits on the pardon power. See Knote v. U.S., 95 U.S. 149, 154 (1877) ("Monies once in the treasury can only be withdrawn by an appropriate by law. However large, therefore, may be the power of pardon possessed by the President, and however extended may be its application, there is this limit to it, as there is to all his powers -- it cannot touch monies in the treasury of the United States, except expressly authorized by act of Congress. The Constitution places this restriction upon the pardoning power."); see also OPM v. Richmond, 496 U.S. 414, 425 (1990) (the president's pardon power "cannot override the command of the Appropriation Clause.").

Posted by: Sam | Jul 6, 2007 10:12:18 AM

Correction: "appropriate by law" in the quote above should obviously be "appropriation by law."

Posted by: Sam | Jul 6, 2007 10:59:24 AM

Re: Can Scooter Get a Refund?

The SLATE writer, who was in a rush (because of her deadline), misunderstood what i told her about Libby's obligation to report his income. What I told her was that he would be required to file a report each month he was under supervision. That report would include (among other things) ALL of his income and any EXPENDITURE over $500. also, if Libby's conviction were overturned on appeal, he MAY be able to get the $250K back - if there was not a subsequent conviction (on retrial - or a plea) and/or the new sentence did not include an identical fine. A simple pardon would not provide a refund - just like he would not give back any time served.

Howard O. Kieffer
Executive Director
Federal Defense Associates
Moderator/Editor of BOPWatch at www.BOPWatch.org
[email protected]

Posted by: Howard O. Kieffer | Jul 6, 2007 1:27:48 PM

Good job on the analysis of Knote, JustClerk. It sure is good to see quality information in these discussions.

By paying the fine, Libby clearly removed some of the options for Bush, which I find interesting in and of itself. Bush could have remitted the fine, or some portion of it. Or, he could have issued a "pardon and remission" - a very common action by previous presidents. Now that the check is cashed, he can kiss it all "goodbye."

Did Libby have some reason to think that there was no way that a remission (full or partial) would happen? Wonder why?

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Jul 6, 2007 3:41:06 PM

Can any sentencing guru shed light on fines in the federal system? Do they typically come with deadlines? Or, is a person expected to pay them off ASAP? Is there a determination of what a person can afford to pay off? If so, how is it made? In sum, is there any reason whatsoever that Libby had to pay the fine so quickly?

Posted by: PSRuckman | Jul 7, 2007 5:01:19 PM

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