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March 20, 2008

Sentencing justice through collateral consequences?

I encourage readers to comment on whether they feel as though justice has now been (better?) served in light of this AP story:

Former top White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was banned Thursday from practicing law in the nation's capital following his perjury conviction in the case of a CIA operative's leaked identity.  The disbarment order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had been expected.

"When a member of the bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory," the appeals court ruled. Last May, a court panel that oversees lawyer ethics recommended that Libby be stripped of his law license in Washington. The Board on Professional Responsibility then found that Libby's conviction for lying to the FBI about the case of former CIA operative Valerie Plame amounted to "crimes that involve moral turpitude."

"This action is required by the rules following a conviction regardless of the merits of the case, and for that reason Mr. Libby expected and did not oppose the court's order," said Libby attorney William Jeffress.

March 20, 2008 at 12:45 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Sep 22, 2009 3:41:50 AM


There is an error in the story. This was the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 20, 2008 12:53:27 PM

In the post before this, you discuss that the penalty for repeat drunk driving isn't sufficiently severe. Would it be adequate to take away the privilege of driving but nothing further? I don't think so, and I'm sure you don't as well. Rather, the loss of the privilege of driving is a collateral consequence that should be taken into account in the punishment.

Libby will lose the privilege of practicing law, as well he should. Is it an adequate penalty for perjury? Perhaps, as the sentence of imprisonment was overly severe. But it's still only the loss of a privilege. I think the original sentence should have been probation, together with the standard collateral consequences that any lawyer would suffer. But as with any lawyer, the loss of a license should be factored into the punishment.

I fear, however, that lawyers will be viewed as receiving favors when the loss of license is taken into account, while non-lawyers bear the full brunt of punishment. But then, I similarly fear that the zeal for punishment has gotten way out of hand, and can no longer be justified by legitimate interests beyond retribution.

Posted by: shg | Mar 20, 2008 1:18:42 PM

Seriously, shg, what are you talking about? You're not making a lot of sense.

Posted by: | Mar 20, 2008 3:34:36 PM

Yeah, that happens sometimes.

Posted by: shg | Mar 20, 2008 7:33:26 PM

And i bet Libby is laughing it up, he took one for the team and 5 years from now he'll be making a six figure income being a consultant to the fox news channel and some other company that got rich off the Bush legacy.

Posted by: Mark | Mar 21, 2008 3:49:34 AM

"5 years from now he'll be making a six figure income being a consultant to the fox news channel and some other company that got rich off the Bush legacy."

That doesn't seem like too good a deal. Wasting all your money on a failed defense, and losing your law license is a lot more than a "six figure" income. (And really, most of us already make "six figure incomes.") My guess is that he was planning on leaving the WH and going back to Dechert, where he probably would have made a seven figure income. None of that will happen now.

Strangely, I can’t really say that Fox “got rich” off Bush. They were there before Bush, and they will be there after. They will always appeal to the same crowd. If anything, they "got rich" off a segment of society that likes to hear the things they say.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 21, 2008 8:25:40 AM

Well, said, S.cotus, I guess even the blind pig gets the acorn every once in a while.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 21, 2008 6:27:24 PM

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