Ray Nagin’s “relatively short” sentence

NA CB899 NAGIN G 20140709171820What do you say about Mayor Ray Nagin, who was convicted by a jury earlier this year of 20 counts of corruption and filing false tax returns.

I’m certainly not of the opinion that the “relatively short” (WSJ) 10-year sentence he got today is a “rip-off” or at all lenient. I’m also not of the opinion that his crimes, whatever they might have been, were “incalculable” (AUSA Matthew Coman).

If nothing else, the United States Sentencing Guidelines provide a lot of calculations for attorneys, judges, and probation officers to work through. Yes, the federal district judge took a 15 percent cut off the minimum, which is surprising given the federal system’s penchant for punishing, not rewarding, persons for exercising their constitutional rights to a jury trial.

At this point, Nagin’s crimes are behind him. What’s in front of him is the next 8 and a half years in prison, since he will probably be a model inmate and earn his good time.

Nagin will be 67 before he sees the outside of prison walls. That is too much time. A wasted decade. Sure, he needs to be punished. And, sure, others need to be deterred.

But only in an insane federal criminal justice system in which appointed, life-time judges routinely dispense sentences in the hundreds of months can a sentence of 10 years be considered “relatively short”.

It is far too long.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.