Posted Sep 14, 2010 11:48 am CDT
A federal appeals court has ordered a new sentencing hearing in a drug case because of the trial judge’s “extraneous and inflammatory comments,” including a remark about Hitler’s dog.
The opinion by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blasted U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa of Wisconsin for his remarks, according to the Associated Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog Proof and Hearsay.
Randa made the dog comment after the defendant, Jose Figueroa, claimed he was a good family man. “Even Adolf Hitler was admired by his family,” Randa said. “Adolf Hitler loved his dog. Yet he killed 6 million Jews.”
Randa had sentenced the defendant to nearly 20 years in prison for dealing millions of dollars in cocaine, a punishment at the low end of the sentencing range. The opinion (PDF) by Judge Diane Wood said Randa should nonetheless be resentenced because Randa’s comments “were so utterly out of bounds.”
During the hearing, Randa commented on Figueroa’s immigration status and talked about Figueroa’s native Mexico, linking the country to drug and immigration problems in the United States. “The southwest is being overwhelmed,” Randa said at one point. At other times as he commented on illegal immigration, he referred to “you people” or “those people.”
“The district court linked the drug trade to Mexico, then to Colombia and Venezuela, and then to Iranian terrorists through the person of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez,” Wood wrote. “Turning to punishment, he remarked that Figueroa should be happy that he was headed to an American rather than a Mexican or Turkish—prison, and that Figueroa’s conduct could have resulted in execution had it occurred in Malaysia or Thailand.”