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April 24, 2013

Lots on sentencing, sequester and other stuff at "Hercules and the Umpire"

I am not at all surprised that, less than two months after coming on-line, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf's his notable blog, "Hercules and the Umpire," is now a regular must-read.  Here are just a few April posts by Judge Kopf on topics that should greatly interest sentencing fans, sequester watchers and so many others: 

On sentencing:

On sequester realities:

On other stuff:

There is so much worth of attention in these (and other) posts by Judge kopf, but I want to close this post with excerpts from yesterday's post warning Congress about the impact of sequester:

I just received notice that the Federal Public Defender for the District of Nebraska furloughed his staff and closed his office on Friday, April 19, 2013 and he plans to furlough and close his office on 10 additional days. Here is the missive received today from our Clerk’s office:...

The Nebraska Judicial Council directs all courtroom deputies and judicial assistants to avoid scheduling any trial and hearings involving the Nebraska Federal Public Defender’s Office on the following dates ...[when that office] will be furloughed....

While I intend to honor this directive, I am also contemplating the dismissal of a certain percentage of criminal cases assigned to the FPD. If I dismiss a bunch of immigration cases, where a short prison sentence would otherwise be imposed and the defendants will be deported anyway, perhaps I can assist the FPD in meeting his statutory and constitutional obligations. I have not finally decided on this course of action, but I am seriously contemplating it.

Congress is therefore on notice that its failure to fund the judiciary, and most particularly the Federal Public Defenders and Criminal Justice Act counsel, may result in the guilty going unpunished. If a banana republic is what members of Congress want, I may help them get it.

April 24, 2013 at 02:11 PM | Permalink


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"a scribbled piece of paper from a prisoner that was in response to an adverse ruling I had made.
The Clerk’s office appropriately treated it as a motion. The motion concluded with the words: “F--- you!”*...
They asked me to put myself in the position of the prisoner and then ask myself how the prisoner would feel...

On another occasion, I was in the process of sentencing a young Native American...nearly in tears...angry at me
for describing him ["unfairly"]...
I gave what amounted to a “time served” sentence. Lesson learned... Control your [words]
Judge Kopf:
You've learnt the wrong lessons.
Consider the: victim and potential targets foremost;
deem tears and such as manipulative or irrelevant; and
summon the law, and values of the framers:framers of the laws of this land, who did not succumb to humanistic sentiments.

Spend a few years alongside inmates, or face the judicial system as the parent of a victim--as have I--and conclude accordingly.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 24, 2013 2:49:48 PM

P.S. Judge Kopf, question the further employment of those who advised you to contemplate "how the prisoner would feel",
and reflect upon the continuance of any who failed to find the rubbish bin for the F--- you 'motion'.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 24, 2013 2:55:26 PM


I see your point, but I took the advice to consider "how the prisoner would feel" a different way. I didn't think it meant as namby-pamby coddling of the prisoner, but more as a warning not to lower himself to the prisoner's level. In other words, I don't think the danger was that the prisoner would be sad, or have his feelings hurt, or have damaged self-esteem or something. The danger was that the prisoner would feel vindicated -- he accused the judge of being a tyrant/jerk/hack/whatever, and the judge, by taking the bait and lowering himself to name-calling, would have been partially living up to those unfair/delusional accusations. Better to stay above the fray.

It's sort of like if a teacher has a student who is telling him to F--- off in class. He or she certainly can get angry, condemn the action, send the student to the principal's office, have the student suspended from school, etc. But I think he or she would risk losing respect in the class and setting the wrong example by instead getting into an "F--- you too!" shouting match. Part of the teacher's role as authority figure is to set the example that just because someone else has lost their composure and acted completely inappropriately doesn't mean you have an excuse to do the same.

Posted by: anon | Apr 25, 2013 12:57:07 PM

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