Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Bell Tolls for Libby?

I'll be at the sentencing hearing for Scooter Libby in the federal courthouse in Washington on Tuesday morning. A few days ago, Josh Gerstein in the New York Sun provided a good setup for this important event:

The real cliffhanger at the sentencing hearing, set for June 5, is not what punishment Judge Reggie Walton imposes, but whether he allows Libby to remain free while pursuing his appeal.

"That's the big question everyone is watching," a law professor specializing in sentencing issues, Douglas Berman of Ohio State University, said.

Bail for Libby would amount to a reprieve for President Bush, who would then have until next year to make the politically sensitive decision about a pardon for the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. However, if the judge orders Libby jailed forthwith, Mr. Bush will face intense and immediate pressure from many of his supporters to commute the sentence or grant a pardon.

A former U.S. attorney for the capital, Roscoe Howard Jr., said he doubts Judge Walton will allow Libby to delay serving his sentence until his appeals are resolved. "I don't see that here," the ex-prosecutor said.

Federal law dictates that bail pending appeal be denied unless the appeal raises "a substantial question of law or fact" that could reverse the conviction or have a significant affect on Libby's sentence.

"Most people I talked to who followed the trial thought that the government's evidence, regardless of whether you though the prosecution was proper, was pretty strong," Mr. Howard said.

This could be Judgment Day not just for Libby but also, in a way, for Bush and Cheney. More to come (from me) after the hearing.

Posted by David Corn at June 4, 2007 10:31 PM


Robert S said...

This could be Judgment Day not just for Libby but also, in a way, for Bush and Cheney. Mr. David Corn

An interesting metaphor to use on the day of sentencing, since obviously the jury has already adjudicated the issue and found him guilty of four of the five counts. But, to cut Mr. Corn some slack, we should remember that he is referencing judgment of Messrs. Cheney & Bush as well. The vast electorate, as well as the general public, has already rendered such judgment as well, I'd posit.

WTF said...

Remember you can actually write to "scooter" in prison. Go to the BOP website and look in the inmate locator, just fill in the name and it gives you the address and his prison number. You have to include the number for it to get to him. Just thought someone might like to fill scooter in on reality while he spends his time there, mail is always welcome so I guarantee that he will read it.

Robert S said...

Sentencing for Dummies: The Fate of I. Lewis Libby
By Elizabeth de la Vega
Sunday 03 June 2007

If the memorandum filed by defense attorneys in anticipation of former top White House adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's June 5th sentencing is any indication, it appears that Libby - one of the highest White House officials ever convicted of a felony - has learned precisely nothing from his trial and conviction on charges of false statements, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

Libby's lawyers admit - because they have to - that their client, a man with three decades of executive-level federal government service, disseminated classified information about the status of CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson in response to public criticism of the Bush administration by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. They nevertheless insist that this, at best, reckless (and, far more likely, intentional) act is not only not illegal, but not even wrong.

Unfortunately for Libby, this in-your-face position also has a certain shoot-yourself-in-the-foot quality. Libby is arguing for a probationary sentence, which is considerably more lenient than that called for by the Sentencing Guidelines. (See lesson one below.) An essential factor every judge must consider in deciding whether to depart from the guidelines to impose such a light sentence is whether it would sufficiently deter others from similar misconduct.

Having aggressively argued that there was neither crime, nor misconduct, how do Libby's lawyers then address the issue of deterrence? They argue that Libby has experienced a "very public fall from grace" and that this "dire consequence" alone would be enough to "warn the public - and high ranking government officials in particular - that it is important to take FBI and grand jury investigations very seriously." This is an exquisite expression of the entitlement and arrogance that spawned the administration's smear campaign against Joseph Wilson in the first place. It could only be more pointedly evocative of utter contempt for the rule of law if it were followed by a sneer emoticon.

If Libby and his loyal followers - including former Law and Order District Attorney Fred Thompson who appears to be taking the creative approach of launching his presidential campaign with an attack on prosecutions for perjury (those wacky soft-on-crime Hollywood types!) - have learned nothing from this case, what about the rest of us? What lessons might we learn from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson?

Lesson One: Federal Sentencing for Dummies

This lesson is designed for those of you who are not lawyers or otherwise inclined to wade through the United States Sentencing Guidelines in order to understand the issues that Judge Reggie Walton has to decide before sentencing Scooter Libby. Here is all you need to know:

In federal court, sentences are determined using a system of guidelines that has two main components: a defendant's criminal history and an "offense level" based on the nature of the crimes for which he was convicted. After someone is convicted of a crime, a probation officer prepares a report that lays out a preliminary calculation of these factors, which results in a recommended sentencing range. The probation officer also identifies possible grounds for downward or upward departures from that range. The government and the defense then argue about the findings and calculations in the report, submit memos and make oral presentations, after which the judge decides what sentence to impose. Judges don't have to follow the guidelines, but they usually do.

Everyone in the case thus far - the probation officer, the defense attorneys, and the prosecutors - agrees that the base offense level for Libby is 15 to 21 months. The Special Counsel is arguing, however, that, under the federal sentencing guidelines, the court should increase this range because Libby's perjury and obstruction of justice interfered with an investigation into possible violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and the Espionage Act. If the court accepts this argument, Libby could receive a sentence ranging from 30 to 37 months.

The defense, on the other hand, is arguing that the judge should not follow the guidelines at all. Instead, they say, Libby should merely be sentenced to probation because: (1) he has an outstanding record of government service; (2) he will lose his law license; (3) he and his family have suffered, financially and otherwise, as a result of the prosecution; (4) his conduct was an aberration; and (5) he is unlikely to commit crimes in the future.

Given that, as the government points out, Libby used his position in the White House to commit the crime for which he was convicted; that he has not used his law license for many years and would likely never have to again; that the families of all defendants' suffer and that, unlike most defendants, Libby has a massive legal defense trust fund; that he committed his crime not once, but four times over a period of many months; and that doesn't think he did anything wrong, I suspect the judge will not be giving Libby probation. Indeed - for what it's worth - I consider it far more likely that he will receive a sentence of approximately 30 months.

Lesson Two: Why the Sentence Libby Receives is the Least Significant Aspect of the Entire CIA Leak Investigation


capt said...

from FDL:

I don't think high end is necessary. 30 months FIne him $250,000

Within 72 hours report to probation department and abide by supervised release.

In ref to obstruction, 30 months, To other counts, to 15 months, concurrent. Supervised release for 2 years following release from detenino.

He must provide sample of DNA, he will be required to contribute 400 hour of community service.

Short break, will proceed with bond issue.


I am too busy to read/watch closely - it looks like 30 months plus probation.


Robert S said...

Elizabeth de la Vega will be on the Thom Hartmann show, AAR in about half an hour...discussing the Libby verdict, and no doubt, how it impacts the move to impeach, indict CHENEY.

Libby gets 30, will he be remanded???

Robert S said...

Former top White House aide Scooter Libby sentenced to 30 months in jail
Michael Roston
Published: Tuesday June 5, 2007


A key part of Libby's plea for leniency were the 160 letters written by individuals in an out of government attesting to his character. Attorneys for Libby read excerpts from some of these letters in court.

Many of the letters were posted at the website The Smoking Gun.

"I know Mr. Libby to be a patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being, wrote former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"I would never have associated the actions for which he was convicted with his character. Nor do I believe that they will ever be repeated. Having served in the White House and under pressure, I have seen how difficult it is to recall precisely a particular series of events," wrote Henry Kissinger, who served in the administration of President Richard Nixon and has advised President Bush on foreign policy issues.

The plans that Libby's legal team has for an appeal of the verdict are not known, nor is it known whether President Bush will pardon the former aide.


With references like these...

Gerald said...

Personally, the judge will allow Libby to remain free in order to exhaust the appeal process.

I want to share with you a great article.

Generosity, not domination, is the way forward

Gerald said...

Here are the last two paragraphs of Father John Dear's article on Generosity.

For the past nine months, my friends and I have prepared to stand trial for a small effort to speak out against this war. (See my column of April 17 for more on this.) It looks like our trial will be postponed until September, because we dared to subpoena Sen. Pete Domenici. Still, we keep hope in this practical vision, a new national conversion of heart that produces concrete change, beginning with the end of this immoral, illegal, evil war and the elimination of poverty, disease and nuclear weapons, which are at the root of terrorism.

Violence, war and domination have utterly failed to achieve any noble end. It's time we tried God's commandment of universal love, through active disarmament and global generosity. We might one day discover what true peace looks like.

Gerald said...

Libby will be out on appeal and the appeal process will be dragged on until 30 months are over and he will not serve any jail time because the time for the appeal process will be credited to Libby's jail time.

It's great to have friends in high places.

Robert S said...

Lou Dobbs: Debates 'more about free flow of money'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday June 5, 2007

On Tuesday, CBS's Lou Dobbs asked his audience "are you tired yet" of the presidential campaign, adding, "It's overkill and it's under-delivery."

"These debates are as much about the free flow of money as about the flow of information and the candidates' positions on the issues," said Dobbs. "These debates are really fund-raisers."

Expanding on his theme of the domination of the campaign by the need for large donations, Dobbs continued, "You can also bet that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will deviate significantly from the policies urged upon them by big business, organized labor, and special interest groups that are propelling their fund-raising."

"As these candidates are forced to raise more and more money," said Dobbs, "the needs and wishes of working men and women will recede farther and farther from the minds of the candidates of both parties, and real democracy will likely recede farther and farther from the future of this country."

The following video from CBS's Early Show, broadcast on June 5.


Does anyone else find it curious that while Dobbs claims to be talking as an advocate for workers, he is putting organized labor in the same set as corporate interests.

Corporations and government have been attacking organized labor since, well I'm tempted here to say since the building of Solomon's Temple or the Pyramids...but let's, at least, date the modern cycle to Reagan's firing of the striking PATCO workers.

The Democrats, at least the DLC flavored ones, have been courting the money at least since Clinton triangulated his way down the NAFTA path, and we can remember the recent Bankruptcy legislation which is devastating for many.

Curious, no or oui?

Gerald said...

Praying Each Day: June 5

capt said...

Oui, curious indeed.

Libby gets 2point5years250K said...

From FireDogLake:

"Arguments on whether or not Libby will be allowed to remain free on bond pending appeal will occur next week — but Judge Walton has already indicted that he is disinclined to buy such arguments from defense counsel. That sets a high bar for them in terms of changing the judge's mind on that issue. In the meantime, Libby was sentenced today to a 30-month term in federal prison, with a 2-year term of supervised release following the completion of that sentence, a $250,000 fine, and a requirement of 400 hours of community service. link

capt said...

New Thread!