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Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:41 AM

An article from last year about Ellis and sentencing

For those wondering how Ellis handles sentencing for non-white defendants...

https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2018/07/06/t-s-ellis-mandatory-minimum-sentences-697826

Manafort judge emerges as skeptic of long mandatory minimum sentences


In April, confronted by a 28-year-old armed robbery convict facing a mandatory minimum 82-year sentence, Ellis' frustration grew so intense that he balked at imposing what he called a "very severe" sentence. Instead, the judge recruited a high-powered law firm to scour the law in search of some way to avoid imposing what is effectively a life sentence on Lamont Gaines, who was convicted of a string of robberies of 7-11 stores and a check-cashing business.

The judge appointed Daniel Suleiman, a former aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, to come up with any argument that might help Gaines win a more lenient sentence.
Suleiman, a partner at Covington & Burling, set on one possibility: a Supreme Court ruling in April that invalidated a law very similar to the one requiring the lengthy sentence for Gaines.


It's interesting how folks are happy to express outrage, but unwilling to look deeper into the facts.

Faced with having to sentence a 28 year old African American man to the rest of his life, Judge Ellis used the court's resources to engage a top notch aide to Eric Holder to find a way to avoid doing that.


Ellis certainly has issues. But they are not what most folks think.

Judges who oppose harsh mandatory minimums tend to ignore sentencing guidelines when they have the opportunity to do so, as more of a protest against those very sentencing rules which decent people oppose. It's not about what you think it is.

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Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply An article from last year about Ellis and sentencing (Original post)
jberryhill Mar 8 OP
True Dough Mar 8 #1
jberryhill Mar 8 #6
WheelWalker Mar 8 #9
llmart Mar 8 #10
True Dough Mar 8 #11
jberryhill Mar 8 #13
True Dough Mar 8 #15
jberryhill Mar 8 #16
True Dough Mar 8 #17
treestar Mar 8 #20
DURHAM D Mar 8 #2
mercuryblues Mar 8 #4
DURHAM D Mar 8 #7
mercuryblues Mar 8 #21
LongtimeAZDem Mar 8 #3
donkeypoofed Mar 8 #5
WheelWalker Mar 8 #8
lancelyons Mar 8 #12
jberryhill Mar 8 #14
OliverQ Mar 8 #18
jberryhill Mar 8 #19
dsc Mar 8 #22
jberryhill Mar 8 #23
OliverQ Mar 8 #24
MH1 Mar 8 #30
The Velveteen Ocelot Mar 8 #29
moondust Mar 8 #25
jberryhill Mar 8 #26
moondust Mar 8 #27
The Velveteen Ocelot Mar 8 #31
The Velveteen Ocelot Mar 8 #28
jberryhill Mar 8 #33
Turbineguy Mar 8 #32

Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:43 AM

1. You have a way of getting the barbs in there, jberryhill

but there's no denying you post some good information and perspective that should make some DUers take a step back.

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Response to True Dough (Reply #1)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:53 AM

6. Donald Trump's Former Campaign Chair Has Been Sentenced To Prison For Federal Crimes


That some are insisting that news is a defeat, along with the usual attacks on the rule of law or the legitimacy of the courts, plays directly into the hands of those who would just as soon dispense with both.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:57 AM

9. Spot on.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 10:11 AM

10. I don't think most of us see it as a defeat...

or that we're attacking the rule of law. I see it as an extreme frustration with sentencing guidelines that are not applied equitably. Most people in this country do not feel that the rule of law and the courts are equitable. There is a reason that our prisons are overflowing, mostly with minorities, especially African American men. There is a prison industrial system in our country which is growing by leaps and bounds, and some say we spend more taxpayer monies on prisons than on schools.

I've been around long enough to know that not all judges are stellar people who are committed to applying the law and sentencing equitably.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 10:13 AM

11. Yes. Fair point

But what I'm getting at is you're an intellectual. You have a playful side, I've witnessed your humor and appreciate it, Mr. Laughing Cow.

However, when it comes to the issues, sometimes your crotchety nature may overpower your message. It would be a shame if people tune you out because your snark chases them off.

Remember, you're here among allies at the DU, for the most part. Some better informed, some lesser informed.

More flies with honey than with vinegar.

My two cents.

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Response to True Dough (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 10:34 AM

13. "More flies with honey than with vinegar"

I don't want flies.

I have never in my life understood that saying or why I would want to attract flies in the first place.

But what burns my toast are threads to the effect of "If you don't agree with <some proposition> you are a lowdown no-good whatever" which is more or less what set me off.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #13)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 11:05 AM

15. I wasn't being literal in regards to the flies, but you know that.

Anyway, I too have had my occasional run-ins with the odd narrow-minded poster. I tend to challenge them head-on. Re-reading your OP, I guess it's not as abrasive as I initially thought. But, let me warn you, jberryhill, I'm watching you! (Seriously, I read your stuff.)

Cordially,
True Dough

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Response to True Dough (Reply #15)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 11:11 AM

16. Still...


All my life, people have been giving me advice on how to best attract flies.

As if that is something I was hoping to get good at.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 11:14 AM

17. Let me tell ya

your "bovine-ness" (bovinity???) ain't helping your cause if you want to avoid flies!

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #13)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 11:26 AM

20. It is an odd metaphor

in that it presumes one must want to attract flies.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:48 AM

2. I don't really care about the 47 months.

What bothers me is the blameless life comment-

Did they do a review of all things Manafort during the trial?
Did they present facts about his past activities?
Did Ellis watch Fox to develop his views about Manafort's life?
Did he know about his sexual proclivities and think that was cool?
Why did Ellis think it was okay to make such a judgment from the bench on things not in evidence?



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Response to DURHAM D (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:52 AM

4. blameless life

blameless life = statute of limitations.

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Response to mercuryblues (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:53 AM

7. Not following...

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Response to DURHAM D (Reply #7)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 12:25 PM

21. The reason the judge could say that

is because of the statute of limitations. He could not be charged for crimes past 10 years. "Otherwise blameless life" when only 10 of his 70 years are taken into account. He didn't wake up one day and say, gee I have been a great person for 60 years, I'll start breaking the law now.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:50 AM

3. Thank you for the voice of reason

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:52 AM

5. That was sobering. Thank you.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 09:56 AM

8. Nothing it seems, however simple, is as simple as we'd like it to be.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 10:27 AM

12. A number of outlets are stunned by the "Otherwise blameless life" while always operating as a crook.

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Response to lancelyons (Reply #12)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 10:36 AM

14. It's far from over for Manafort


The rest of his life is being looked at in the DCDC.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 11:24 AM

18. Ellis sentenced a 37 year old to a 40 year minimum

for dealing meth last year.

He has no issue punishing people he doesn't like with huge sentences. He just doesn't view White collar crime as a big deal.

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Response to OliverQ (Reply #18)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 11:26 AM

19. Whoooooooooooooosssssshhhhhhhh


Mandatory minimums.

Ellis opposes them.

He can't change them.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 12:28 PM

22. yes he apparently can

since Manafort's crime had mandatory minimums he chose to ignore.

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Response to dsc (Reply #22)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 12:29 PM

23. That is incorrect

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 12:43 PM

24. Are you seriously defending this quack of a judge?

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Response to OliverQ (Reply #24)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:15 PM

30. Sometimes facts are complicated.

The judge may be a quack, or senile, or a Trump supporter. The 47 month sentence for Manafort was, IMO, far too light.

BUT -

I think the OP is just pointing out, accurately, that this judge has a pattern of going against mandatory minimum sentencing, or sentencing guidelines, when he can.

Btw I think there is a big difference between "mandatory minimum sentence" and "sentencing guidelines". As in, "mandatory" vs. "guideline".

An example case is being given where he gave a meth dealer 40 years. That was a mandatory minimum, not a guideline.

I believe Manafort's case had only guideline, not a mandatory minimum. So the judge was free to say "fuck that advice, here's what I'm doing", which he did. His result may have been bad, but that doesn't mean it was ONLY influenced by supporting Trump or being otherwise evil.

(oh and for the record, a meth dealer may be a poor unfortunate person who lost his/her way ... but meth ain't pot. It kills or destroys people. If the person got nabbed for a one-off I might have some sympathy ... a hard core meth dealer, not so much. Maybe not 40 years worth of not so much, but still not a lot of sympathy.)

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Response to OliverQ (Reply #18)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:13 PM

29. It was a *mandatory* minimum sentence.

He had no choice. He doesn't like mandatory minimum sentences because they take away a court's discretion in sentencing. The remedy is statutory - to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing, since many of those sentences are applied to non-white-collar crimes. But as long as they're on the books judges have no choice but to impose them.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 01:50 PM

25. Just do away with sentencing guidelines.

And let judges hand down sentences willy-nilly.

You know you want to.

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Response to moondust (Reply #25)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 01:52 PM

26. Yah, well...


There's a reason we got those.

It's unfortunate that everything is either a zero or a ten on the knob to most people.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #26)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:06 PM

27. Would you call

an 80 percent reduction from the established sentencing guidelines reasonable and acceptable? Isn't that sort of willy-nilly? Would a sentence 80 percent OVER the guidelines be just as acceptable?

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Response to moondust (Reply #25)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:16 PM

31. Sentencing guidelines were created to prevent judges from doing that

because there was no consistency or fairness, or at least the perception of it, until the sentencing guidelines were created. There can be a considerable range for a sentence that is within the guidelines so judges aren't completely deprived of discretion, except where there are mandatory minimums. And the guidelines are just that; judges can deviate from them.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:06 PM

28. My impression is that Ellis doesn't like prosecutors in general and Manafort's in particular.

And he is on record as regularly tangling with prosecutors, especially regarding mandatory minimum sentences. I posted the same article yesterday but it was ignored - it seems people are assuming the wrong negative things about Ellis. The guy is an eccentric old crank, and he gave Manafort a sentence much more lenient than both the prosecutor and the pre-sentence analysis recommended, but his reasons for doing so might not be those that are assumed and that are provoking all the jerking of knees.

That's not to say Ellis had particularly good or rational reasons. I thought it was pretty absurd for Ellis to describe Manafort's life as having been "blameless" before he got busted, considering that he'd been grifting and cheating and generally being bad for decades. It's not like he'd been a perfectly upstanding, law-abiding citizen for his entire life until one day, when he was in his late 60s, he decided to rob a convenience store on his way home from church. So that was bullshit, maybe a way of trying to justify a lenient sentence by a judge who, it seems to me, was trying to stick it to prosecutors he didn't like. That's a bad reason, if true, just not the reason that seems to be assumed.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #28)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:20 PM

33. Good point - he has an axe to grind, but it's not the axe people think it is


It's a completely different axe.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Fri Mar 8, 2019, 02:18 PM

32. Interesting. Thanks.

We might do well to remember what Manafort did in the Ukraine. He may be wanted over there for his little Ops that got lots of people killed. Three years in the cooler here gives them a chance to prepare for a trial with a much worse likely outcome for Manafort.

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