I’ve made my living the past three decades plus representing people charged in federal criminal cases, mostly here in Atlanta. The news the past couple of days has been dominated by three other federal criminal matters, the case in Virginia against Paul Manafort (as I’ve mentioned previously, this man is in an unfortunate situation but has a great first name), the guilty plea yesterday by attorney Michael Cohen, and the sentencing hearing a few hours ago where the Judge imposed 63 months on the unfortunately named Reality Winner for releasing secret information to a news organization.
The internet has gone wild over the jury trial and partial verdict involving Mr. Manafort, and anyone who has wasted time reading this blog knows about federal sentencing hearings and trials, and likely understands that Manafort’s sentence can be calculated as if he was found guilty of all the charges. That’s right troops, the hung jury on 10 of the crimes makes no difference because under the foolish experiment called the Sentencing Guidelines the Judge can sentence Paul based on conduct that he was even found not guilty of committing! I remember a case I handled around 20 years ago where I won most of the charges but the prosecutor, referring to the rule authorizing use of acquitted conduct, asked for a much longer sentence. The judge agreed with me, pointing out that Mr. Kish “cheated them fair and square at trial.” That Judge always made me laugh, at least until he ruled against me or gave my client a lengthy sentence. Continue reading