Category Archives: Sentencing

Concurrent, Consecutive and “Stacked” Sentences: Why One Word Makes a Big Difference at Sentencing

A judge says a lot of things during a sentencing. Two of them are really, really important. First is the number of months in prison. “One hundred twenty” is a lot different from “a year and a day.” Second is … Continue reading

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In Your Client’s Words – Speaking at Sentencing

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” – Bryan Stevenson The fundamental truth of Mr. Stevenson’s quote is tested every time a defendant is sentenced after conviction. Too often, prosecutors act at sentencing as though … Continue reading

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New Sentencing Guidelines Amendments Have Two Good Provisions for White Collar Criminal Defendants (and Lawyers)

On November 1, 2018, several new amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines went into effect. Two of them are quite positive developments for defendants—and their lawyers—in white-collar criminal cases. As a procedural matter, the new amendments were proposed by the U.S. … Continue reading

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Can Michael Cohen Reject a Presidential Pardon? Yes. But Would He?

On August 21, 2018, former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple criminal counts, including campaign finance fraud. During his plea hearing, Cohen implicated the President in the crime, saying that Cohen had paid Stormy Daniels (a) at … Continue reading

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Why Isn’t Michael Cohen Getting a Cooperation Agreement? (Part Two)

Last week, I wrote about the somewhat surprising fact that Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, allocated at the plea hearing that President Trump directed him to make an illegal campaign donation, and yet didn’t have a written cooperation agreement. In fact, … Continue reading

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Why Isn’t Michael Cohen Getting a Cooperation Agreement? (Spoiler: He Probably Is) (Part One)

Much was made this week of the fact that Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty without a written cooperation agreement. He pleaded guilty to multiple federal offenses, including tax fraud, campaign finance violations and bank fraud. The guidelines range … Continue reading

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Lawyers as Filmmakers: The Sentencing Mitigation Film

By Dan Portnov Every CLE panel on sentencing includes a judge. And often the judge emphasizes the importance of presenting your client as a person and not just a defendant. That can be a challenge at a sentencing hearing unless … Continue reading

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“Restitution for a Reckless Bank? A Dubious Remedy Indeed” – Judge Posner’s Bank of America Smackdown

Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit—love him or hate him—just wrote a(nother) scathing opinion. He remanded a criminal restitution order, concluding that Bank of America was not entitled to any restitution for fraudulent mortgage loans because of the bank’s … Continue reading

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Prosecutors Take Fair Approach to Sentencing in Fraud Case Against Executive (No, This Is Not Clickbait.)

As I’ve written about many times before, the loss amount drives many white-collar criminal sentences. The government’s view of loss amount plays a significant role in the court’s ultimate determination of that factor. the government often takes a very aggressive … Continue reading

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The Hard Numbers on White-Collar Criminal Sentences

Calling all data geeks: The United States Sentencing Commission just issued its “Overview of Federal Criminal Cases, Fiscal Year 2015.” It’s a fairly short summary of the longer “2015 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” which is also worth checking out. … Continue reading

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