Sunday, April 15, 2018

Jeff Sessions: Impact on Federal Prosecutions

On May 10, 2017, AG Sessions issued a memorandum for all federal prosecutors on charging and sentencing policy. It noted in part, "First, it is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense...the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences."  This directive has had a significant impact on cases being handled on the local level. The bottom line is that your local federal court will be incarcerating more people for longer periods of time: as if the U.S. doesn't already have the highest incarceration rates in the world.  This memo was followed by a second memo on January 4, 2018 addressing solely the prosecution of marijuana offenses. Citing the pertinent statutes, Sessions observed that these "statutes reflect Congress's determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime."

The very real and depressing impact of these two memos is enough to make one physically ill.  In an attempt to inject some levity into the situation, former House Speaker Boehner's recent ascendancy to the board of advisers of Acreage Holdings (a cannabis corporation operating in eleven states ) provided a great opportunity. Professor Berman did just that in a blog post entitled: " Could former House Speaker John Boehner become the first big drug dealer capitally charged by AG Jeff Sessions." The blog post is short and a fun read.  However, the more serious question is why do the punitive policies advocated by Sessions primarily apply to those without political power?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

"What Kind of Mad Prosecutor" Brought Us This White Collar Case

Prof. Ellen Podgor writing recently in the Vermont Law Review discussed my office's Seventh Circuit win in United States v. Weimert, 819 F.3d 351 (7th Cir 2016). In criticizing government efforts to expand the use of the mail/wire fraud statutes, Podgor posited that the prosecution has used these statues in cases that are more easily subject to a civil action and that prosecutors are seemingly trying to criminalize civil contract breaches.

David Weimert remains as one of the few if any other defendants who took on SIGTARP and prevailed.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Forensic Evidence--John Oliver summarizes some of the problems

It seems like a drumbeat, but my criticism of the present state of the use of forensic evidence is well known.  Note that I never use the term "forensic science."  It is simply because, at their core, none of the so called disciplines have any basis in science.  In a lighter moment, I came across John Oliver's take on underlying problems.  It is well worth the time to take 15 minutes to review his comedic effort.