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December 28, 2013

Seeking nominations for top sentencing stories of 2013

As time permits over the next few days, I likely will review the blog archives for 2013 and begin to assemble a list of what I consider the top sentencing stories for the year coming to a close. As is usually the case, significant sentencing decisions by the Supreme Court will be sure to make the list. But at least a few other development emerging from other courts and other branches are sure also to be noted.

As the title of this post reveals, I welcome and encourage input from readers as I think about what 2013 wrought.

December 28, 2013 at 11:12 PM | Permalink


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1. The Montana judge who cheerfully sentenced a 49 year-old child rapist to 30 days, as he snickered that the victim looked older than her age (14). (The victim committed suicide at 16).

2. Judge Jack B. Weinstein's 401-page love letter to child pornography distribution (United States v. C.R., 792 F.Supp.2d 343 (E.D.N.Y.2011)) getting reversed by a shocked, and unanimous, Second Circuit panel, United States v. Reingold, (2d Cir. September 26, 2013) -- only to be followed the next day by Weinstein's supercilious and snarky Memorandum telling the higher court how smart he is and how stupid they are.

A better example of the need for mandatory minimums, upon which the appellate court was forced to rely to compel Weinstein to impose anything approaching a just sentence on remand, is impossible to imagine.

3. Biggest NON-story of the year: How Laffler, which 21 months ago was hailed in many forums, including this one, as a pro-defendant revolution in criminal procedure, mostly just disappeared into the mist.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2013 12:22:05 AM

1) This is an informal sentencing story, without charges, hearing, or governmental rationale.

The Boston Marathon is bombed. The success of the terror act is limited, killing 2, injuring dozens.

The lawyer then puts the entire city on house arrest, causing $billions in losses and disruption of economic activity, stranding thousands on highways, airports.

Then, it ends. Fellow is allowed outside for a cigarette, finally. Sees the bomber in his boat, who is then captured. So the shutdown causes $billions in damages, and delays the discovery of the suspect. Now the bombing is a huge success, thanks to the lawyer. I do not know if ordinary crime decreases that day, of locking up the entire population.

2) Federal government shuts for 17 days. Nothing happens to crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 30, 2013 11:35:23 AM

I'm with SC! On the Paramilitary lockdown of the city, innocent citizens commanded at gunpoint to leave their own homes.

Posted by: albeed | Dec 30, 2013 2:11:38 PM

SC --

"The Boston Marathon is bombed. The success of the terror act is limited, killing 2, injuring dozens."

You are usually better with facts.

Three spectators were killed: Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, a restaurant manager; Lu Lingzi 23, a Chinese national and Boston University graduate student; and Martin Richard, an eight-year-old boy from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Martin Richard was a few weeks away from his first Little League game. His mother and seven year-old sister did not attend his funeral, because they were still in the hospital having the shrapnel dug out of their skin.

Three days after the bombing, Sean A. Collier, 27, an MIT police officer, was ambushed in his police car by the bombers and died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The explosion injured, if I am recalling this correctly, 264 people who required hospitalization, and 16 of whom lost limbs. Saying "dozens," while technically correct, seems to me to minimize this. Is that what you wanted to do?

Joined (I see) by albeed, the ONLY people you designate as blameworthy are the cops (and the "lawyers," whom you don't identify). You have not a word of criticism for the Tsarnaev brothers, who pulled off this ghastly multiple murder.

SC, when you whistle past the killers and finger only the cops, you start to remind me of -- I hate to say this, especially to you -- a certain type of LAWYER.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2013 5:12:05 PM

Bill: It goes without saying, terrorists should be tortured, first for information about their intellectual, financial, and religious sponsors, then second, to make them suffer for a long time before their executions. Post the videos on Al Jazeera, in deference to their culture, and to deter. Then kill the families of the sponsors, in front of them, and then kill all sponsors. The adversary should come to fear the USA.

Israel, which has no death penalty, and is a left wing government, tracked down all the terrorists in the Munich massacre and killed them, not gave them LWOP. The left wing, supercilious, holier than thou hypocrites of Israel know what works. They have not been killing sponsors, because they are located in Saudi Arabia, and other less hostile places. We should make no exceptions. If a member of the Royal family is identified, we should not kill them ourselves, but force the Saudi government to do so in a public execution. My Arab friends in the US have a good appreciation of the nature of the adversary. They all feel we are hopelessly naive and soft.

As to the Boston shutdown, same as 9/11. The shutdowns amplified the damage to our economies (US and Mass), rewarding the terrorists with a bigger effect. We had to watch the video of Bin Laden expressing his gratitude to Allah for the success of 9/11 beyond his greatest hopes.

Say the direct damage of 9/11 was $trillion, including the value of life lost. Say it was $billion in Boston. The subsequent lawyer ordered shut downs multiplied the damages by a factor of at least 5. Deval Patrick, left wing governor of Massachusetts, is a victim of Harvard Law School indoctrination, Hate America philosophy inculcated in that institution, and a lawyer dumbass, whose original good intellect has been devastated by his legal education. Not only did this fool shut down transportation, he delayed the capture of the suspect until the order was lifted. Inspired by your question, I am making a public records request to get the legal analysis upon which he may have based his order.

It is part of Israeli policy to clean up a bombing location as quickly as possible, and to restore ordinary function to avoid rewarding terrorists. Although against the death penalty, they have eventually killed all the leaders and technicians associated with their terror attacks. Some were in cars with their little kids. But, the deaths of those kids prevents future terrorism, so the utility calculation is fine. The terrorists do not defer attacks in the presence of Israeli children, so the mutual acts are out of respect for their cultures.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2013 6:42:37 AM

I subscribe to the Family Theory of history. There is the Great Man Theory. However, behind each is a small set of families that finaced, encouraed, and whose views the Grat Man represents. Hitler had 20 families, who agreed with him down to reliance on astrologists. They spent $5000 to support the Nazi party and made $millions in government contracts and looting. George Bush was put forward by West Texas oil people. Upon entering office, gas cost $0.99. Upon leaving, $4.00, so they did very well. They also beat up the families of Tacrit that sponsored the oil business of Iraq, and competed with them. Clinton represent Tyson Chicken. Reagan represent a half dozen California land developers.

These families are so powerful, they were immunized after WWII, and not put on trial. Indeed they were recruited by the US government to restart the economy, they were that powerful.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2013 6:51:00 AM

I do not know the answer to this. Police enter locked down,, "shelter in place" homes looking for terrorists, spot marijuana, child porn, or a bag with a recently robbed bank logo filled with cash. The police leaves but gets a search warrant that day. Is that situation covered and allowed by the good faith exception to a probable cause analysis? If they say, fruit of the forbidden tree, are they derelict in their duty to investigate evidence of a crime?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2013 6:58:43 AM

SC --

The general rule is that the police are entitled to search and seize contraband in plain view from any location they lawfully occupy. Thus the question for your purposes is whether they were lawfully in or on citizens' private property while hunting for the Boston Marathon bombers.

I have never seen that litigated, but my guess is that the courts would approve the police behavior in the aftermath of the bombing.

I am also unsure of the correctness of characterizing that behavior as a "lockdown" of Boston. Was there ever a police order telling citizens that it was illegal to leave their homes? Maybe, but I've never seen it. Could you link a copy?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2013 2:46:45 PM

Bill: Here is some legal commentary from the time.

It was a request, without threat of arrest, as might happen to people driving in a snowstorm, or violating a quarantine.


Nevertheless, transportation was stopped. Naturally, I made money off thatlawyer policy decision, covering for colleagues stuck in a meeting in Boston. As usual, I am arguing against economic self interest.

But that lawyer crack you made about me hurt. I hope you were smiling when you said that, pardner. It would hurt less if many strangers, including police, ask me, "Are you a lawyer?" I have to explain, no, I am just here to save the lawyer profession.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 31, 2013 7:02:24 PM

SC --

Fear not. It's all facetious. But I'm pretty consistent in putting the blame for X on the person who does X, not on the "system" when it reacts to X.

Just as defense lawyers over-rate how important they are, you over-rate how bad they (and other lawyers) are.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2013 9:03:09 PM

Bill: How would you like a lawyer profession with 4 times the current pay, and 10 times higher public esteem? How would you like 10% economic growth in the US, no crime, restoration of the patriarchal family, 97% enforcement of business promises, the elimination of accidents, no airport security, but with no terrorism?

How? Shrink and modernize. You know how slow the Catholic Church is to change. They gave up on Scholasticism after 700 years. That was almost 100 years ago. The lawyer is still stuck in it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 1, 2014 11:35:06 AM

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