Judge Stands Up to Federal Prosecutors
As long as the Executive Branch does not exceed its constitutional authority, the Judicial Branch must generally defer to a prosecutor's charging decisions. Judges are nonetheless occasionally critical of particular prosecutions. Rarely are they as vocal as Judge Phil Gilbert.
Gilbert says even though [Katie] Heath co-operated with a drug investigation, she was hit with a mandatory sentence of 20 years. That's after she's already served time in state prison.
Katie served a year in state prison on a methamphetamine distribution charge. After her release, she made progress toward living a stable life. She got a job. She went back to school. She was taking care of her kids. Leave it to the federal Justice Department to destroy her chance at living a meaningful life.
"She obviously was trying to turn her life around and then this federal indictment hits her with a 20 year mandatory minimum" says Judge Phil Gilbert. "It just raised a lot of questions of fairness."
Judge Gilbert recused himself rather than imposing the 20 years. He has the integrity to refuse to play along with the Executive Branch’s vicious and heartless charging decision. Good for him. (more ...)
Bonus commentary from Judge Gilbert, who gets it right again:
“These plea agreements are really not agreements at all. The defendants have to comply with them but the government doesn't.”
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