Judge Dread

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Attorney General John Ashcroft isn't just talking a long look at the porn peddlers these days–he's also giving the fish eye to federal judges who exhibit "downward departures" from federal sentencing guidelines, a move that's being read by some as an attempt to limit the independence of the judiciary.

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  1. Stephen:

    I think you’re a little too dismissive about the facts here. Ashcroft continues to cross the line between executive, legaslative, and judical, sometimes blatantly.

    He has been successful in tying every errosion of personal freedom to the War on Terror and will continue to do so.

    When will it end. When will this unchecked power be checked. You want to keep giving slack for the rope. Eventually, you’ll be hanging by it.

  2. an attempt to limit the independence of the judiciary.

    Not sure about the independence, but certainly the usurpation of power – someone needs to inflict a bit of the old “checks and balances”…the judiciary is out of control, from both ends of the political spectrum.

  3. ashcroft is one more actor in the process of turning the DoJ/FBI establishment into our equivalent of the stasi. i had rather hoped that our slow national evolution from democracy into dictatorship wouldn’t include a repressive state “security” organization — but the maturation of the security state was probably inevitable, wasn’t it?

  4. Nick is being really cute with the article.

    “a move that is being read by some as an attempt to limit the independence of the judiciary.”

    First of all, big deal that some “read” it that way. Some people may think Ted Kennedy ate a beach ball. That doesn’t make it true. You are beating the bushes pretty hard for quotes when you have to go to a group opposed to prison sentences to find some condemnation of U.S. DOJ efforts toward uniform sentencing standards.

    Second, is it possible that, in the interest of justice, uniformity in sentencing is a good idea? Ought a carjacker in Buffalo be treated the same as one in Omaha, or one in LA?

    “While it might seem to some people this is a watchdog sort of effort,” he said, “the goal here is to in some way monitor judges and prosecutors, all who work in the system, to make sure we are doing what the sentencing commission mandated us to do – avoid wide disparity in the sentencing.”…

    The memo, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is part of a Justice Department effort to implement a law passed by Congress earlier this year intended to bring even greater uniformity to federal prison sentences.

    So you think the U.S. Attorney General ought to turn a blind eye to how people are being sentenced, and disregard uniformity? And blow off Congress’ directives while he’s at it?

    Damn skippy the judges should be watched. It’s called checks and balances. Congress and the Executive branch watch the courts, the courts and Congress watch the Executive branch, and so forth.

    Or ought we to tell the Executive branch to not worry about what Congress and the courts are up to – just mind your own business?

    Maybe I missed something here, but is the system of checks and balances somehow opposed to our understanding of liberty? Or is this just another fun method of bAshcrofting?

  5. Likely a motivator to Ashcroft here is the case resolved this past May by 9th Circuit’s Charles Breyer in which he sentenced medical marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal to one day in jail (time served), when guidelines allowed for up to twenty years.

    On specific issues, like any attorney general, Ashcroft has a preference to see the maximums applied in hopes that such sentencing will increase deterrent effect on actions that tweak his trigger more than others – in this case using marijuana as medicine. Other obvious Ashcroft hot points are porn, marijuana, assisted suicide, marijuana, terrorism and marijuana.

    Tracking sentences is one thing, but subtly intimidating judges to always seek maximums on his pet issues is inappropriate. If he wants to do that, he should drop his job as AG and seek a seat on the bench, where he can apply the max sentence to his heart’s content.

    Steve

  6. Will someone remind Asscroft that the sex industry and marijuana predate Jesus!?!

    Better yet, when is that national day of prayer taking place? I think its time for the real Jesus to deal with this goon.

  7. This is just the same old junk. Really. Ashcroft is gathering information about instances where, contrary to law, judges depart from the sentencing guidelines. The government doesn’t usually appeal those departures, but they have every right to, and they typically win when they do appeal. As for the obscenity prosecutions: if you don’t like the law, get Congress to change it. There’s no doubt that, if the law is on the books and meant to be enforced, this is the situation for its use.

  8. And incidentally, in regards to Ashcroft’s two most recents news bites, I haven’t seen him use the Jesus clause, the God clause or any other religous references. Here, at least, you’re putting words in his mouth.

  9. Ashcroft is just doing his J-O-B.

    (Jimmyrigging Our Business)

  10. Do you think that Flynt could arrange a “National Prayer Day” for Ashcroft?

  11. How’d this guy get so much free time lately? I thought he was dreaming up ways to ensure gay marriage would never happen? I guess things are getting a little slow for him with Poindexter hitting the road.

  12. Taking a que from Pat Robertson, I’m praying for his “retirement” ASAP. Since his boss doesn’t seem to care what he does, I think the only way he’s going away is if he has a Trent Lott moment and says something really stupid. “We all know them coloreds like reefer!”

    Whenever my lefty friends want to needle me they bring up Ashcroft. (I’m the token out semi-small L libertarian who votes for republicans sometimes among a bunch of party-line democrats). I’ve got nothing to say. He’s indefensible.

    When the democrats said he was a nazi during his confirmation, I didn’t believe them because they say all republicans are nazis. Two points:

    1) quit crying wolf so much and you might have more credibility;

    2) you were right on this one

  13. When is this guy going to take his seat at the throne of hell?

    Oops, I am being watched…..

  14. Does anyone know what, if any, power Ashcroft would have over these judges? I think what he’s doing here is J. Edgar-level creepy, but what could the practical results of this be?

  15. Well, no one is ever gonna accuse him of being a weak AG. I, for one, would like to see a little more rigorous and consistant sentancing standards. Willy nilly is not the way to hand out fives, tens and lifers.

  16. Nor is one size fits all political posturing.

  17. I’m still confused how porn is different from all the talk about food that goes on in society. Aren’t both just catering to a basic human drive (sex vs. hunger)? Moral crusaders who want to convert others through force rather than anything other than their well-reasoned arguments are just evil, aren’t they? Isn’t the golden rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Who wants to be forced to do anything (or not do anything), even if it might be good for them? To me, the cardinal sin is to force your opinions on anyone else. Even the Christian God wouldn’t do that (see THE STATE VS ADAM AND EVE).

    Ashcroft is just an old man, out of touch with the current generation who is far more comfortable with individual choice as long as it isn’t forced on others. The republicans have decided to wear a sandwich board that says “God told me to decide for everybody!”.

  18. I for one would be much more comfortable if Ashcroft would just ignore his duty to pay attention to the federal sentencing guidelines and how they are being used and misused. What business does a chief prosecutor have in knowing how the sentencing guidelines are being applied?

    After all, there’s nothing more irritating than when the DOJ’s comments to the Judicial Conference of the United States concerning sentencing trends and sentencing reform are informed by facts. God knows, we wouldn’t want him testifying about sentencing reforms before congress, and knowing what the hell he’s talking about…

    Jebus people. Take the tinfoil hats off for a minute. It’s his job, and the job of any minimally competent prosecutor to pay attention to this kind of thing. Predicting how a judge will exercise discretion is essential to good courtroom lawyering. And when you are a chief law enforcement officer of a state or the U.S., knowing how judges in general are using key aspects of the law is critical to policy making.

    In fact, he should be fired if he isn’t paying attention to how the sentencing guidelines are being used.

    The level of paranoia whenever Ashcroft’s name is mentioned is getting increasingly silly.

  19. “Ought a carjacker in Buffalo be treated the same as one in Omaha, or one in LA?”

    Without knowing all the facts, I’d say NO.

  20. August writes: “1) quit crying wolf so much and you might have more credibility;

    2) you were right on this one ”

    Absolutely. I also am basically a small “L” libertarian, who tilts GOP out of pragmatism, since they are usually, but not invariably, the lesser evil.

    Indeed, the left needs to stop the promiscuous use of shrill anti-GOP rhetoric so that when an actual problem like Ashcroft presents itself, he can be dealt with.

  21. August writes: “1) quit crying wolf so much and you might have more credibility;

    2) you were right on this one ”

    Absolutely. I also am basically a small “L” libertarian, who tilts GOP out of pragmatism, since they are usually, but not invariably, the lesser evil.

    Indeed, the left needs to stop the promiscuous use of shrill anti-GOP rhetoric so that when an actual problem like Ashcroft presents itself, he can be dealt with.

  22. I never knew that the US attorney Ashcroft and all of his little helpers had so much power. It is scary to think that anyone in the US has that much power. The judges and the amecian people should lobby Congress to get RID of this mandatory sentencing it is not fair that everyone is punished the same each case is different. And parole should be brought back to the federal prisons. What do people think that we can keep building prisons and filling them with people that get sentenaced for 20 years to life. It DOESNT WORK. It would be better to let people be sentenaced to house arrest for 2-5 years, then they would have to get jobs and take care of their families. But no some big shots from Congress and the US Attorneys think that it is better to put them in prison for 20 and pay to keep them and then we have to pay to raise their children that now have no parent to pay to raise them, where does any of this make sense. The war on drugs cannot be won by putting people in prison. We need to get good jobs for people so that they dont need to make the easy money. Im praying that Congress looks at the mess we are in with the federal guidelines and turns it all around so that we can do good for these people and help them get on the right track. Prison is not the answer for war on drugs. And the sad thing is if any of the prosecutors had family that went down the wrong road with drugs they sure wouldnt be sentenaced like this nor does anyone from the CONGRESS FAMILIES. This really only happens to the little people . Please everyone write to your congressmen and ask them to please change the guidelines.

  23. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://digital-photo-software.online-photo-print.com
    DATE: 01/20/2004 05:38:16
    I can’t understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars.

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