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July 29, 2013

US District Judge Young explains why he believes corporate plea deals merit special scrutiny

US District Judge William Young of the District of Massachusetts late last week issued another interesting (and lengthy) opinion about federal sentencing and the role of the sentencing judge.  In this new ruling, United States v. Orthofix, No. 12-10169 (D. Mass. July 26, 2013) (available for download below), Judge Young explain at lengthy why the public interest may not be served if judges too readily accept corporate plea deals.

As long time readers know, Judge Young's sentencing work always merits attention, and Orthofix does not disappoint.  There is too much ground covered in Orthofix to allow a simple summary, but here is part of this introduction which provides a preview for what follows:

This memorandum sets out the Court’s reasons for rejecting each of the (C) pleas from these two corporate criminal defendants.  In many ways, the Court’s decision to reject Orthofix’s (C) plea stands as the better subject for elucidation of the Court’s principled objection toward accepting (C) pleas from corporate criminals.  This is because, in contrast with the wholly unsatisfactory settlement proffered by APTx, see APTx’s Plea Hr’g 18:13 (“[T]his is a strikingly below guidelines sentence . . . .”), Orthofix’s plea was tendered as part of what was, substantially, “a fair and appropriate settlement,” Tr. Arraignment, Plea & Sentencing (“Orthofix’s Sentencing”) 25:8, Dec. 14, 2012, No. 12-10169-WGY, ECF No. 39. 

This memorandum articulates the Court’s view of the unusually complex considerations posed by the sentencing of corporate criminals and lays out the Court’s interpretation of the duties it must discharge, with prudence and circumspection, in performing its sentencing function.  The Court concludes that, in light of these considerations, it would be rare indeed for a corporate criminal to persuade this Court that its guilty plea is an appropriate candidate for acceptance under the fetters of Rule 11(c)(1)(C).

Download Orthofix and APTx Sentencing Mem

July 29, 2013 at 08:53 AM | Permalink


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