Monday, July 16, 2007

Libby's sentencing judge on Libby's commutation

There's always good stuff to be found in footnotes. In this case, in the first footnote from Judge Reggie Walton, the judge who "excessively" sentenced Lewis "Scooter" Libby to 30 months in jail for perjury and obstruction of justice, he makes the point that Libby's sentence is at the bottom end of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Therefore, according to the Guidelines (which current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lobbied to make mandatory), Libby's sentence was hardly excessive.

Just more ammunition to point out how laughable the current President's attempt to explain his hush-money gift of commutation to Libby. While artfully stated and well written, Judge Walton, it ain't all that perplexing.

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In commuting the defendant’s thirty-month term of incarceration, the President stated that the sentence imposed by this Court was “excessive” and that two years of supervised release and a $250,000 alone are a “harsh punishment” for an individual convicted on multiple counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal investigators. Although it is certainly the President’s prerogative to justify the exercise of his constitutional commutation power in whatever manner he chooses (or even to decline to provide a reason for his actions altogether), the Court notes that the term of incarceration imposed in this case was determined after a careful consideration of each of the requite statutory factors, and was consistent with the bottom end of the applicable sentencing range as properly calculated under the United Stats Sentencing Guidelines.

Indeed, only recently the President’s Attorney General called for the passage of legislation to “restore the binding nature of the sentencing guidelines so that the bottom of the recommended sentencing range would be a minimum for judges, not merely a suggestion,” a stance that is fully consonant with the policies of this Administration as a whole. In light of these considerations, and given the indisputable importance of “provid[ing] certainty and fairness in sentencing . . . [and] avoid[ing] unwarranted sentencing disparities,” it is fair to say that the Court is somewhat perplexed as to how its sentence could be accurately be characterized as “excessive.”

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