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March 10, 2019

Rounding up some of many thoughts about Paul Manafort's (first) federal sentence

Lots of folks have had lots and lots to say about Paul Manafort's first federal sentence of 47 months in prison (basics here).  I am disinclined to make any definitive assessment of whether I think justice has been served in this matter until we see the results of his first federal sentencing later this week.  In the meantime, however, I am happy to share a sampling of just some of the copious commentary from notable folks about Manafort's fate to date:

From (former federal prosecutor) Frank Bowman, "The (first) Manafort sentencing"

From (former federal judge) Nancy Gertner, "US sentencing needs reform, but Manafort's 47 months was a strange one"

From (former federal prosecutor) Elie Honig, "A shockingly lenient sentence for Paul Manafort"

From (current defense attorney) David Oscar Markus, "Four years for Paul Manafort is the right sentence"

From (current defense attorney) Rachel Marshall, "I’m a public defender. My clients get none of the sympathy Manafort did."

From (former federal prosecutor) Renato Mariotti, "Racial Bias Doesn’t Fully Explain Manafort’s Sentence. It’s Unchecked Judges."

From (former federal prosecutor) Ken White, "6 Reasons Paul Manafort Got Off So Lightly"

March 10, 2019 at 10:40 PM | Permalink


I'm with Rachel Marshall and Ken White. I think 46 months (and a very large monetary penalty in the form of a big restitution award) is sufficient. The only reason it seems so comparatively lenient and unfair is because our criminal justice system is so punitive for everyone else, especially indigent defendants charged with "blue collar" crimes, especially (in federal court) drug and gun offenses with mandatory minimums.

Unfortunately, I fear that this will just fuel more calls (from the left) for mandatory minimums for fraud offenses, which will end up being applied far more often to poor people who commit Social Security or welfare fraud than to people like Manafort.

Posted by: Anon AFPD | Mar 11, 2019 3:48:48 PM

In this vein, it was (sadly) Democrats who blocked much needed federal mens rea reform, erroneously characterizing the proposed reform as somehow being designed only to let off corporations and white collar defendants. Nevermind that almost 90% of federal criminal defendants are indigent. The fact that only 30% of criminal defendants in federal court qualified for an appointed lawyer in the 1960s when the Criminal Justice Act was first passed illiluatrates just how much "white collar" cases have declined as a DOJ priority.

Posted by: Anon AFPD | Mar 11, 2019 4:01:15 PM

All of these articles were written by people who know what they are talking about and that is not a good sign.

Posted by: John Neff | Mar 11, 2019 6:13:17 PM

@anon AFPD

exactly. Let's not forget that the law, in in stern equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep underneath bridges. I know of a case where the country judge sentenced a secretary to two years in the pen for stealing $500 from her employer. I bet Manafort spent regularly $500 in stolen money on a single meal.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 11, 2019 8:42:55 PM

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