Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Second Circuit ruling upholding the conviction and sentence of Bernard Ebbers is discussed here. As noted, the court states, "[t]wenty-five years is a long sentence for a white collar crime, longer than the sentences routinely imposed by many states for violent crimes, including murder, or other serious crimes such as serial child molestation." The court decides to place the power with the legislature and uphold the sentence. What does this say:
- In some cases money losses may be more important when it comes to determining a sentence, then loss of life.
- The courts will take a hands off approach when determining reasonableness - the bottom line is that the federal sentencing guidelines still rule.
- There is no fear of white collar sentences being overly lenient in a post-Booker world.
- Being a first offender doesn't mean much if the loss is high - the sentence basically ends up placing the convicted defendant in prison for the rest of his life.
- If you decide to take the risk of trial and don't plead guilty and cooperate with the government, you may be spending the rest of your life in prison if the jury convicts you.
The more important questions here are: - Is this what Congress wanted? Have we gone overboard in sentencing white collar offenders? Have we failed to consider the potential future harmfulness in sentencing white collar offenders? Do we really need these extreme sentences to deter others who may be contemplating these crimes? Should being a first offender mean something when it comes to the sentence imposed? And yes - should a white collar offender who commits an economic crime be receiving a greater sentence than someone who commits a murder?