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June 29, 2011

Bold (and misguided?) prediction of 20-25 years in the federal pen for Blago

Attorney Jami Floyd has this notable new commentarysuggesting that a very stiff sentence is in Rod Blagojevich's future.  The commentary is titled "His Own Worst Enemy: Why Rod Blagojevich Should Expect a Stiff Sentence," and here are excerpts:

[W]hatever the relative arguments for or against conviction, the jury has spoken.  Now, comes the penalty.  It will take weeks, if not months to formulate the sentence in the case. At first blush, the sentence is somewhere in the neighborhood of 250-300 years.  As the verdict came down Monday, the pundits were quick to point out that Judge James Zagel will have to follow the federal sentencing guidelines, leaving most to surmise that Blago will get somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-10 years.

I think Blagojevich will do much more time, however, and here's why:

1. His Testimony....

2. The Public Trust....

3. The Madoff Example....

You will recall that many of the experts who are now predicting a ten-year sentence for Blagojevich also predicted a ten-year sentence for Bernard Madoff.  Madoff was older (71). He was also convicted in federal court and the sentencing guidelines in that case suggested a 13-year term.  Instead, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years and will never see the light of day. I predict a slightly kinder, gentler sentence for Blagojevich; something in the order of 20-25 years.

I am not yet ready to make my own Blago sentencing predictions, but I am ready to assert that this sentencing commentary seems quite misguided.  Blago's crimes strike me a radically different than Madoff's, especially because there are no proverbial widows or orphans who had their life savings wiped out by Blago.  (And I am certain that Floyd is badly mistaken when asserting that Madoff's guideline calculation called for only a 13-year term from bad Bernie.)

That all said, if Judge Zagel is eager to send a stern message with his sentencing of Blago, I do think it is quite possible that Blago will having to count down years, not merely months, when ultimately in federal prison awaiting release.

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June 29, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Permalink


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Well, while I think that Jami may be right, I have to disagree with her on certain points. NOTHING trumps one's Constitutional rights, especially the right to testify on one's own behalf. Judge Zagel is an intelligent person, who knows the political realities. You have to keep in mind that even the appointment to the Federal judgeship is a political game and in most cases, has absolutely nothing to do with the nominees' abilities and knowledge of the law and society. (In this regard, I feel that Richard Posner - whom I admire despite that he places an economic value on everything - should have been a US Supreme Court Justice a long time ago, but he is not.) Based on my "incomplete" understanding of the case, he will most likely be sentenced to 6 years - using the prevailing sentences in similar cases; in any event, not more than 10 years (which I strongly doubt). Look, every politician is corrupt - most of them protected under the guise of the public's First Amendment rights (the "right to petition the government"). This is also the reason why all efforts to curtail (if not eliminate) the lobbying have failed. I personally have dealt with numerous politicians - on both Federal and state levels - only to come away with the impression that they are all what can potentially be construed as "corrupt." One glaring example is Paul Maggliochetti's case (the venerable PMA Group lobbying firm). He quickly pleaded guilty to avoid dragging all the politicians' "good" name through the mud. (That is putatively the real reason.) One name (although I hesitate to name "names") that comes to my mind is the one who was involved in the Abscam scandal of the early 1980s, but narrowly avoided implication and prosecution (thanks to the politician's own gut feeling that it was a sting!).

At bottom, recent bribery and malfeasance convictions and sentences lead me to think that Blago might not be sentenced to more than 6 years.

Posted by: John Marshall | Jun 29, 2011 3:41:21 PM

"The jury said that "business" as usual will not be tolerated. What is the difference between bribery that results in a criminal conviction and what corporations do on a regular basis?

I am less troubled by this conviction than I am over the relative indifference to conduct that looks more like bribery than corporate lobbying.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | Jun 30, 2011 10:38:57 AM

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