The Science of Sentencing
Reading the mind of Judge Amy St. Eve when it comes to sentencing Conrad Black falls somewhere between deciphering tea leaves and deconstructing molecular science. There are clues, but you have to know where to look. Broadly speaking, St. Eve is respectful of government sentencing recommendations. Sometimes these can be pretty far-fetched—as in the case of Abdelhaleem Ashqar, which I’ve discussed in this space before. In Black’s case, the government is asking for 19 to 24 years, which seems absurdly high both intuitively and in terms of the sentencing guidelines that were in place at the time Black committed the crime. Still, in the interim, the guidelines have changed for securities-related offences, and Black looks to be the last high-profile corporate felon heading up the river for a while, so St. Eve looks to have good reason to split the difference. Lawyers who’ve appeared before St. Eve agree she’s smart and supremely ambitious, and therefore realizes that sentencing in these sorts of cases is highly politicized. This, of course, cuts both ways, which at the end of the day bodes ill for his Lordship. If he gets less than 10 years, I’ll eat this blog on the courthouse steps.