Ashcroft targets lenient judges / U.S. attorneys to report light sentences to Justice Department: Attorney General John Ashcroft has ordered federal prosecutors across the country to become much more aggressive in reporting to the Justice Department cases in which federal judges impose lighter sentences than called for in federal sentencing guidelines. The directive, contained in a July 28 memo, is the latest salvo in an escalating battle over how much discretion federal judges should have in handing down sentences in criminal cases.
Lovely. Just lovely.
One wonders why it is that the administration, or at least Our Lord High Minister of Injustice Ashcroft, feels that leniency is so overwhelmingly evil. Already, he has somehow convinced Congress, that bastion of craven cowardice, to pass an amendment (to an otherwise entirely unrelated act, even) restricting judicial independence. He's misusing the authority of his office to have judges investigated if he feels their sentences are too lenient (and yet another sterling example of Congress' inability to stand up for either itself or for the people of this country). If Ashcroft feels that a plea agreement is too lenient, he will withdraw it -- but only after the defendant has pled guilty and offered the government the information it seeks. For some reason, Justice will stop at nothing to stomp out any signs of independent thought or reasonableness in the judiciary.
And now he has attorneys reporting on judges. No doubt the implicit threat is anyone who doesn't fall into line will be investigated the way that Rosenbaum has been. Although it will be interesting to see what the results are. Technically, departing from judicial guidelines cannot be prima facie evidence of malfeasance or incompetence, and therfore shouldn't be grounds for impeachment, which is the only way to remove a federal judge from office.Posted by iain at August 11, 2003 11:16 AM