What the judges got wrong on the Manafort cases

Ask any judge to name the hardest part of his or her job and almost always the response will be “sentencing.” As a prosecutor, I did hundreds of sentencings and I understand the challenge: a judge must combine technical determinations of law with decidedly unscientific human judgment about the essential nature of the person being sentenced.

While there is no inherently correct sentence in any given case, Paul Manafort’s federal sentences ultimately fail to do justice. Manafort received inexplicable and undeserved leniency that defendants who are not rich, white and powerful rarely, if ever, get.

Let’s start with the bottom line. If Manafort had been sentenced even to the very bottom of the sentencing guidelines — which are designed to ensure equal justice between similarly-situated defendants, and which judges must consider but are not bound to follow — he would have been sentenced to 19 years in the Eastern District of Virginia and 10 years in Washington, DC. Even if those sentences ran concurrently (at the same time), Manafort would have gotten 19 years. Even if you think 19 years would be excessive for Manafort — and I do — he will likely be out of federal prison as early as 2024. I’ve seen many low-level, non-violent drug offenders receive more time behind bars. ..Read More..

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