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July 19, 2008

Another high-profile request for leniency based on offender characteristics

It has long been the practice at sentencing that prosecutors stress the awfulness of the offense and defense attorneys stress the not-so-awfulness of the offender.  But after Booker, this dichotomy in sentencing perspective is so evident in so many high-profile cases involving prominent defendants without a criminal past.  And as detailed in this Newark Star-Ledger article, this dichotomy is front and center again in the run up to the sentencing of former Mayor Sharpe James:

Citing his age, family and contributions to the city, attorneys for former Newark Mayor Sharpe James are asking a federal judge for leniency if and when he sentences James on corruption charges later this month.

According to prosecutors, federal sentencing guidelines suggest James deserves 10 to 15 years in prison for defrauding the city by arranging lucrative sales of city land to his former mistress. Defense attorneys Alan Zegas and Thomas Ashley dispute that calculation.

In court motions filed late Thursday, the defense lawyers did not ask for a specific sentence, but argued that the government's recommendation would amount to "a lifelong sentence" for James, 72, and leave his wife, Mary, unable to sustain their home. They asked that James be granted bail while he appeals the conviction and, if he must be incarcerated, be sent to a prison camp at Fort Dix.

The attorneys also submitted 100 letters from citizens, businessmen and community leaders, hoping to persuade U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark to reject the government's recommendation....

July 19, 2008 at 08:06 AM | Permalink


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I am not convinced this was not another republican witch hunt against a democrat?

Posted by: | Jul 19, 2008 10:56:19 AM

Jul 19, 2008 10:56:19 AM:

"I am not convinced this was not another republican witch hunt against a democrat?"

What's the specific evidence supporting your suspicion?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 19, 2008 12:55:06 PM

The specific evidence would be the enormous trial record showing that the Mayor concealed his romantic relationship with Riley while signing a contract to award her city-owned land. That's a crime no matter which party you belong to.

Posted by: Da Man | Jul 21, 2008 8:54:32 PM

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