Leading into the weekend, we thought it'd be nice to leave you with some reading that is sure to make you as good and mad as Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men.
The case is United States v. Vasquez, No. 09-CR-259 (E.D.N.Y. March 30, 2010). Mr. Vasquez received a five-year mandatory minimum for playing a minor role selling drugs to support his own drug addiction. Federal Judge John Gleeson wanted to sentence Mr. Vasquez to 24 months in prison, but could not because of the prosecutor's charging decisions. Even though the prosecutors agreed that a five-year mandatory minimum was excessive, they did not comply with Judge Gleeson's request that Mr. Vasquez be charged differently so that the mandatory minimum would not apply. Clearly upset, Judge Gleeson's opinion (which is full of gems) succinctly explains why no prosecutor should have this much control over sentencing:
As a result of the decision to insist on the five-year mandatory minimum, there was no judging going on at the defendant’s sentencing. Though in theory I could have considered a sentence of greater than 60 months, even the prosecutor recognized how ludicrous that would be, and asked for a 60-month sentence. But the prosecutor’s refusal to permit consideration of a lesser sentence ended the matter, rendering irrelevant all the other factors that should have been considered to arrive at a just sentence.