Monday, July 2, 2007

Bush to Commute Libby's Sentence

The Wall Street Jrl headline is: "Bush Spares Libby From Prison Term."  (see also CNN) Just hours ago a three judge panel ruled against Libby's request for an appeal bond (see here).  We are now seeing President Bush's response to this ruling. Commuting the sentence will mean that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will continue to have a federal conviction. He will have to pay his fine and will remain on probation.  It will mean, however, that the 30 month sentence will not have to be served.  Obvious questions:

Is Libby receiving treatment that other offenders are not given - e.g. - Siegelman, Scrushy, Olis, Ebbers, and the long list of other individuals convicted of white collar crimes. And how about all the other offenders serving time in prison? And how will Martha Stewart feel about this - she served a sentence for similar alleged conduct?

Does Libby deserve this special treatment?  Many claim he does and many say the opposite?  Does this presidential decision negate the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines - a move to keep sentences equal for like defendants?

It will be interesting to hear the President's comments on why this decision was made.  Obviously more Commentary will follow.



UPDATE:  The President's statement is available here.  He explains:

I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.

The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby's case is an appropriate exercise of this power.


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Finally, Bush has returned to his promise to be a "compassionate conservative."

Posted by: The Litvak | Jul 2, 2007 4:18:24 PM


It certainly comes as no surprise that Mr. Libby's sentence was commuted. Mr. Bush has proven himself once again to be a master of sloppy obfuscation and a prolific hypocrite. The President said "the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive". How many others, perhaps thousands (or even tens of thousands) are serving excessively harsh sentences? As a former public defender, I can attest to the fact that countless people are denied justice simply by being detained for several weeks for misdemeanor charges. These people's lives are often tossed into complete disarray, but I digress. Mr. Bush is a hypocrite because he publicly admits that his personal friend and political ally has more rights under the Constitution than any one else who is criminally accused by the government. There is no doubt that the wealthy are entitled to certain privileges in life, indeed this enticement is a key ingredient in our capitalist system. To allow the rich and powerful to simply flaunt the law is a travesty in a country that continually heralds itself as a bastion and genesis of modern civil rights.

Posted by: Rod Thompson | Jul 2, 2007 8:33:34 PM

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