Monday, August 28, 2006
Injustice Is Corrosive
United States v. Menyweather , 431 F.3d 692 (9th Cir. 2005). Dissent by Judge Kleinfeld. Defendant began working as an administrative employee atthe United States Attorney’s office in Los Angeles in 1990. In 2000, she was indicted on 10 counts of theft of government funds, mail fraud, and wire fraud. She pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and admitted to having used government credit cards for unauthorized personal purchases of between $350,000 and $500,000. Where is the justice in Menyweather avoiding prison and getting 40 days to serve on weekends for stealing $435,000, when others steal a VCR and face 25-years to life in prison? 18 Does drawing a district judge whose sentencing philosophy is idiosyncratic make so idiosyncratic a sentence “just”? An excessively lenient sentence like this causes cynicism, not only among people in prison, where the luck-of-the-draw sentencing interferes with rehabilitation, but among the law-abiding public. People have second thoughts about doing the right thing when those who do the wrong thing prosper and avoid punishment. Injustice is corrosive.