Friday, August 08, 2003

Nothing better to do?

Attorney General Ashcroft wants U.S. attorneys to report to him when judges, doing their job, modify the sentences for convicted felons. This will do little more than increase the bureaucracy of the Justice Department, slow the administration of justice, and waste tax payers money. If Ashcroft does not like the sentence that has been handed down by the judge (whose job it is to know all of the facts of a case and make that decision) then he will order the A.G. to appeal the sentence. So instead of moving on to another case, the A.G. will have to spend time and money going over the same case again.

Considering there are suspected terrorists who need to be tried and prosecuted (with the potential of gaining valuable information from them), and people like Enron's Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling walking free because the Justice Department has not charged them with anything, you would hope that Ashcroft would be more interested in working on these issues, than on the non-problem of inconsistent sentences. In cases when an A.G. feels the judge imposed a sentence that was way too lenient, then they can appeal. But requiring all cases where the judge, acting on his expertise, hands down a sentence that is at all lower than the guidelines ("guidelines" are not strict rules) to be reported on and considered for appeal is foolish.

And if you want a second opinion: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said that gathering information on sentencing practices could help Congress make decisions, but also 'could amount to an unwarranted and ill-considered effort to intimidate individual judges in the performance of their judicial duties.' " Ashcroft Orders Tally Of Lighter Sentences (

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