Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Federal Judge Speaks, in the Case of Albert D. Reed

Recently, former deputy attorney general James Cole (whose clemency record was fantastically abysmal) said commutations of sentence were a "a touchy situation” because the president does not "just supplant a judge’s determination of sentence.” We refer his straw man to the Honorable C. Weston Houck, who said this, at the sentencing hearing of Albert D. Reed, September 27, 1995:
I don’t think there is any basis for the discrepancy that’s been in effect for some time. I believe that everybody pretty well agrees that Congress made a mistake when they decided that crack cocaine should be treated a hundred times more seriously than powder cocaine…. …But what they have done by treating crack cocaine a hundred times more seriously than powder cocaine is so ridiculous that they might even see it and back up on it… …It would seem to me that it would be unfair, if they change the law upon a recognition that the law was wrong and should never have been what they made it, then it seems to me it would be unfair to all the hundreds and hundreds of people that have been sentenced under that law and are serving time under that law, not to go back and correct those sentences... [Y]ou shouldn’t have people serving time that is unfair and improper…. ... I fully expect that in this case, that if Congress changes the law, that you’ll come back and ask me to re-sentence Mr. Reed based upon that new law, and I’ll have to deal with that problem then, and I guess I’ll have to deal with it with many, many other people, and my inclination would be to come back and re-do those sentences. (Sentencing Hearing Transcript pp. 61-63.)

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