Monica Conyers' Sentencing Hearing
Monica Conyers, wife of Rep. John Conyers, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison this week for her part in a corruption case in Detroit. Her sentencing hearing did not go smoothly, and she unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw her gulity plea (begins on page 3.)
The Judge was going to increase her guideline range, based on information that came out at Sam Riddle's trial (which ended in a mistrial, some background here)and then changed his mind, but sentenced her to the top of the 30-37 month guideline as calculated by both parties. Mrs. Conyers has now been provided with court-apppointed counsel for her appeal.
Law Prof Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy thinks she will have an uphill battle. I tend to agree. Prosecutors often insist, unfairly in my view, that defendants waive their right to appeal in plea agreements. Many courts have upheld this, including the Sixth Circuit.
But I also think the Judge's last minute decision not to consider as relevant conduct evidence from the Sam Riddle trial was insufficient. He'd obviously considered it and thought it passed the "preponderance of the evidence" test applicable to such decisions, and Conyers never had a chance to refute it. Her lawyer wasn't at Riddle's trial to cross-examine the testimony and evidence. If that evidence was the reason he chose to sentence her 37 months, the top of the agreed-upon guideline range, , and it seems likely it was, since the testimony occurred after her signing of the plea agreement, there should have been a hearing at which she got to challenge it.
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