December 1, 2011
Filings from government in US v. Blagojevich
I talk about some of the issues discussed in class concerning the upcoming sentencing on my main blog in this post, and here is a link to the government's sentencing memo in US v. Blagojevich. I continue to look for an on-line version of the defense filing (and will give extra credit to any student who can find a link and post it in the comments).
In addition to the guideline stories I stressed in class, many other aspects of the government's memo merit consideration and comment. And this local article from a Spingfield paper, titled "Federal sentencing a confusing process," might be of special interest and appeal as you think about how the public thinks about these sentencing issues in a high-profile setting without having had the benefit of an entire semester of Sentencing Class with Crazy Professor Berman.
Among other topics, I would very much welcome/encourage you to pretend to be Judge Zagel and script in the comments a sentence (and an explanation for the sentence) to be imposed on Rod Blagojevich. For all we know, the Judge might read these comments before sentencing.
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Hot off the press... and if you ask me, a slap on the wrist.
Posted by: Isabella | Dec 7, 2011 2:48:34 PM
"Today's verdict proves that no one is above the law. And just as important, it proves that government is supposed to exist for the good of the people, not the other way around, and certainly not for the personal enrichment of those who hold public office."
The above is a quote from "Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, April 17, 2006, on the corruption conviction of former Gov. George Ryan." (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-12-04/news/ct-edit-sentence2-20111204_1_illinois-governor-defrocked-governor-rod-blagojevich)
Flash forward five and half years and Blago has been sentenced for offenses comparable to that of his predecessor.
I would have gone with the high end of the Government's recommendation and sentenced Blago to 20 years in prison. It is not clear to me that Blago completely accepted responsibility for his actions. I did not get to read the 69 page sentencing memo submitted by the defense (I couldn't find a copy online, but some articles referenced parts or it) but from what I read from those who had access to it, as well as the Government's response memo, Blago was still trying to argue that he was but a victim in the whirlwind of Chicago politics. With 4 out of 9 past Illinois governors being convicted of corruption related offenses a strong message could have been sent.
More over, Blago's public conduct and his relentless attempts to try this in the media (He went on the View for goodness' sake!!!) make him a high profile individual allowing for a clear message to be sent.
Posted by: Olivia Bumb | Dec 7, 2011 10:29:02 PM
I have difficulty accepting the notion that high profile defendants deserve more punitive sentences. I am hesitant to believe that the public welfare is greatly increased by one case's supposed deterrent effect.
Posted by: Adam C | Dec 8, 2011 1:31:32 PM
I agree with the first sentence of Adam's comment. But what if the goal is not to deter the general public but rather to deter high-ranking public officials? Perhaps bringing the hammer down on figures like a former governor will serve (or the judiciary hopes will serve) as a deterrent for other governors, or even civil servants generally.
Posted by: Krystin Brehm | Dec 8, 2011 2:34:18 PM
I have to agree with Krystin. Although the majority of high profile defendants are not deserving of more punitive sentences, those holding positions of responsibility which beholden them to the public would certainly be a reasonable exception. It is possible that "setting an example" with the Blagojevichs of the world may serve as a deterrent, but it will definitely send a message to the public that such behaviors from those in positions of political responsibility will not be tolerated. Perhaps this alone is enough of a justification.
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