Monday, June 29, 2009

Bye Bye, Bernie

I once ran across a quote in a case where the judge noted that when sentencing the defendant it might have been appropriate to throw the book at him, but not necessarily bury him under the entire library. With that in mind, I sure hope Bernie Madoff has a sound working knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System, 'cause he's deep in the stacks after he was sentenced today. For running one of (if not the) largest scams in American history, Madoff received the statutory maximum sentence of 150 years in prison (or 1800 months in federal system speak). Needless to say, for a man who's already 71 years old, if the sentence stands he'll die in prison.

I haven't thought long enough about the particulars of Madoff's crime as compared to other white collar fraudsters (our clients rarely manage to swipe anything out of the six-figure range), but I have a hard time feeling a great deal of sympathy for Madoff. His scam was long running and lost a lot of people a lot of money. He's not "dangerous", in the sense that a violent criminal who must be separated from society is. But surely the main driving force here is sending a message to other Madoffs in the making, in which case 150 years might register somewhere.

On a procedural note stood out to me:

But in meting out the maximum sentence, Judge Chin pointed out that no friends, family or other supporters had submitted any letters on Mr. Madoff’s behalf, attesting to the strength of his character or good deeds he had done.
In the post-Booker world, such letters or statements are common place, at least in this area. I've always wondered about their usefulness, as I could imagine most conversations going something like this:
Friend: Defendant X is a good person, he just made a mistake. He's been an important part of our community.

Judge: Was the community aware that Defendant X was selling crack to school children by disguising it as Flintstones Chewable Ritalin?

Friend: Er, no, your honor.
But apparently it's not the presence of such things that speak so loudly as their absence. Duly noted.

Maia sez: Wow, that's 1050 dog years! Still, I wouldn't widdle on him if he was on fire.

No comments: