Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Probation for DC Developer

Carol D. Leonnig of the Washington Post reports on developer Douglas Jemal being given probation for a wire fraud conviction. This appears to be an important sentencing decision as the judge decided to give probation despite prosecution arguments for jail time.  The judge's rationale, as provided in the Washington Post article, is that "he compared two disparate groups in reaching his decision: convicted felons-turned-cooperators for whom prosecutors urge reduced sentences, and community members who attested that Jemal's generosity changed their lives."

It is good to see a judge recognizing that an individual who decides to go to trial should not be punished simply by making this choice. If cooperation can yield probation, then perhaps asserting one's constitutional right to a jury trial should also allow for probation.  The judge also shows consideration of beneficial qualities that warrant a reduction in sentence. Some may argue that this is exactly why the sentencing guidelines need to be strictly enforced.  Others, however, will note that courts need this discretion to consider the individual defendant being sentenced (see my piece in the Yale PocketPart here)

(esp)(w/a hat tip to individual who alerted me to this article)


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