Judge Troubled by Wildly Different Sentencing Proposals for Convicted Greenberg Lobbyist
Posted Sep 21, 2011 11:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Prosecutors and defense lawyers offered dramatically different assessments of the sentencing range for former Greenberg Traurig lobbyist Kevin Ring, convicted of bribery in the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentencing guidelines range of 17 to 22 years in prison, while defense lawyers said the range should be 21 to 27 months, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. The government’s recommended sentence was longer than the time served by all 20 other defendants in the conspiracy combined, according to the Associated Press.
The difference was too much for U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of Washington, D.C., who set the recommended range at 46 to 57 months in prison. “The notion that an ostensibly objective system of sentencing guidelines can produce such wildly varying results for essentially the same offense conduct is deeply troubling,” she wrote in her opinion (PDF).
Ring, a law school graduate who wrote on book on the opinions of Justice Antonin Scalia, had argued he was being punished for exercising his right to a jury trial. “It is easy to see why such an inference might be justified,” Huvelle wrote. Though the guidelines allow for a reduction for cooperation and acceptance of responsibility, she said, the government may not use “a dramatically different methodology” to calculate the guidelines range of those who plead guilty.