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July 21, 2008

You know your political state senate colleagues don't like you when...

they write a public letter to a federal judge asking that he impose a maximum sentencing at your upcoming sentencing.  That is the news from New Jersey according to this post, headlined "GOP senators call for maximum sentencing for James."  Here are the specifics:

A week before former Newark Mayor (and state senator) Sharpe James is scheduled to to be sentenced in federal court, five state senators are requesting the maximum sentencing. "We implore you," state senators Bill Baroni (R-Mercer), Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), Gerald Cardinale (R-Begen), Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), and Kevin O'Toole (R-Essex), said in a co-authored letter sent this morning to U.S. District Judge William Martini....

According to the Star-Ledger, James's attorneys plan to meet with Martini on Wednesday to urge him to impose far less than a decade in prison on the 72-year old former mayor, who was convicted earlier this year on corruption charges.

"The fraud must stop," the senators wrote in their three-paragraph letter to the judge. "The greed must stop.  The only way for integrity and trust in government to be restored is for the public to witness that public officials are not above the law and will pay the heaviest price for breaking the law and violating their public duties."

I wonder if these state senators have also written to President Bush to complain about his decision to commute the prison term given to Scooter Libby.

A related post on the upcoming sentencing of Sharpe James:

UPDATE:  Post title changes in light of sensible comment.

July 21, 2008 at 03:00 PM | Permalink


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Uh, they're not his "political colleagues" - they're his political OPPONENTS. James is a Democrat and as you note, it's the Republicans writing the "we implore you to give him the maximum sentence" letters. Assholes. And no, they had no problem with Bush commuting Libby's sentence. Rottne apples to rotten oranges - "democrats are corrupt but republicans are not."

To title this with reference to "political colleagues" instead of "political opponents" is really irresponsible, IMHO.

Posted by: bruce | Jul 21, 2008 3:15:57 PM


I couldn't help noticing that your entry here seems to butt heads with the entry immediately preceding it.

Here, you note with what would seem to be less than full approval the President's partial commutation of Libby's sentence. Libby, you might recall, was a 56 year-old first offender sentenced in the pre-Gall days.

In the preceding entry, you wonder whether a 57 year-old first offender would be wise to argue that his Guidelines sentence could be excessive in light of the Supreme Court's liberating discussion in Gall.

Perhaps the President's leniency towards Libby (and some others, none of whom ever seems to get mentioned) was merely an act of Gall-anticipating prescience!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 21, 2008 3:19:17 PM

Mr. Otis, Can you name other commutations by the president that you would say were Gall-anticipation?

Also, since the president didn't seem to actually even refer to the guidelines in his commutation, it doesn't seem like he was actually following Gall. I might be wrong on this. Whatever the case, a criminal walks among us today.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 21, 2008 4:14:24 PM

"Whatever the case, a criminal walks among us today."

Exactly the same can be said of any commutation of a prison sentence, or of a pardon.

So do oppose commutations and pardons generally, or just oppose them for people you don't like?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 21, 2008 4:42:24 PM

It's nice when I'm referred to as sensible :)

Posted by: bruce | Jul 21, 2008 6:31:21 PM

Well, Mr. Otis, that is why I am against pardons. Anyway, I await your response to the underlying question, "Can you name other commutations by the president that you would say were Gall-anticipation?"

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 21, 2008 10:22:52 PM


What I said was that PERHAPS the President's leniency towards Libby was an act of Gall-anticipating prescience.

I haven't worked in the White House for a number of years, so I have no way of knowing precisely what the thinking was. I do know that, according to a July 19 New York Times article, the President has issued 176 pardons and 6 commutations. Those who are enthusiastic about Gall's invitation to depart downward from the Guidelines to no imprisonment, based on the sentencer's opinion that the Guidelines are simply too harsh under the circumstances, would, I would think, be pleased at the President's action, or at least muted in their criticism of it.

I'm sorry to hear you're against pardons. As you were saying to me the other day, this puts you in the minority.

Pardons were provided for by the Framers, and have been a component of executive or sovereign authority for hundreds of years. They are appropriate, in my view, in very unusual cases. They are not appropriate when, for example, they are bought, cf. Marc Rich.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 21, 2008 11:14:51 PM

Bill, any suggestion that Dubya's commutation of Libby's sentence was anything other than a rewarding loyalty of his inner circle by executing a promise made to Libby long ago is made in ignorance of the last 7 years of the Bush administration.

S.cotus: why are you against pardons? I'm against pardons being used unfairly, but people "get put in" based on an unfair process, as such, it's better that some of them "get let out" based on an unfair process than not at all.

A criminal doesn't cease to be a criminal just because they've been released after having served their full sentence, after being released early on parole, or after being released early via an executive pardon/commutation. Unless we have life sentences without the possiblity of parole or pardon (or executions) criminals will "walk among us."

What's wrong with criminals walking among us? The majority of them did nothing wrong aside from possessing some leaves or powders.

Posted by: bruce | Jul 22, 2008 1:12:25 AM

Political corruption, particularly where taxpayer funds are misspent, is a heinous crime. It undermines the legitimacy of the government's power to tax, and it undermines equality of opportunity.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 23, 2008 8:03:53 AM


It's certainly a heinous crime when it goes on for so long and becomes so epidemic that it essentially becomes the culture of doing business with the city government. This is what has happened in Newark, and it's been going on for years.

I'm doubtful even a severe sentence will put a stop to it, but I'm certain a lenient sentence won't. Indeed, leniency would be seen as a green light to keep on keepin' on.

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