Archive for sentencing

Disturbing Sentencing News From Alabama



When it comes to meting out punishment in courts, there's sentencing guidelines and generally they are followed. But judges are, for the most part, given discretion based on the facts and evidence in a case. Sometimes additional time is tacked on, sometimes a lesser sentence is granted. And then there's always the consideration of probation for some or all of the term. From

ATHENS, Alabama - A man accused of raping a teenage acquaintance was convicted by a Limestone County jury this afternoon, according to District Attorney Brian Jones.

Some of the incidents occurred when she was under 16, [14 years old for two of the attacks] which included the second-degree counts, and one when she was over 16, which led to the first-degree count of forcible sex.

After deliberating for just under two hours, the jury returned with guilty verdicts for one count of first-degree rape and two counts of second-degree rape against 25-year-old Austin Smith Clem, Jones said. Clem will be sentenced Nov. 13 in Limestone County Circuit Court.

It doesn't seem like the jury had a particularly difficult time in reaching a verdict. Then two days later, the judge didn't seem to have too much difficulty in meting out sentencing...

According to Mother Jones who carried this story, here's the judges declared sentence for Mr. Clem:

Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to 10 years in prison for each of the second-degree rape charges and 20 years for first-degree rape.

If you do the crime, you gotta do the time -- isn't that how the saying goes?

But Woodroof structured the sentence in such a way that Clem will only be hit with community corrections and probation. Clem will have to register as a sex offender and pay fines and restitution—a total of $2,381, according to the sentencing document provided to Mother Jones—but he will not serve jail time unless he violates the terms of his sentencing.

Huh? Whoa. What?

On Wednesday, a judge in Athens, Alabama, ruled that the rapist will be punished by serving two years in a program aimed at nonviolent criminals and three years of probation.

According to Clem's sentencing order, which Brian Jones, the Limestone County district attorney, provided to Mother Jones, Clem will serve the first half of his sentence under the supervision of the Limestone County community corrections program. The program is aimed at "redirecting the lives" of nonviolent, low-level offenders who are "likely to maintain a productive and law-abiding life as a result of accountability, guidance and direction to services they need," according to the program's website.

Multiple rape CONVICTIONS and no jail sentence? These weren't plea agreements. These charges went to trial and this man was found guilty by a jury. Sounds to me like Lady Justice just got raped and this time by Circuit Judge James Woodroof.

This guy Clem is sentenced to a program which "is aimed at "redirecting the lives" of nonviolent, low-level offenders." Excuse me. Income tax evasion and driving without a license are nonviolent crimes. But RAPE, and especially of a minor? Where's this judge stashing his crack pipe, under his robes?

Dan Totten, Clem's defense attorney, did agree that this was a light, but fair sentence. After all, he points out,

"But [Clem's] lifestyle for the next six years is going to be very controlled…If he goes to a party and they're serving beer, he can't say, 'Can I have one?' If he wanted to go across the Tennessee line, which as the crow flies is eight or nine miles from his house, and buy a lottery ticket, he can't do that…It's not a slap on the wrist."

He can't ask for a beer at a party or go buy a lottery ticket across state lines? Are you sh**ing me? That is harsh.

Can the victim just go out and ask for her innocence back? What's her lifetime sentence compared with three years of probation?

Somebody talk me down from this, if you think you can.

While you're at it, don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack


Former Fla Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer sentenced to 18 months in state prison


jim greer elvis

Jim Greer was one of the former Florida GOP leaders who said that voter suppression was the reason for new election law.

Greer was also accused of stealing a couple of hundred thou from the Republican party using a phony campaign fundraising operation. The Palm Beach Post reported that he was suing them right back, saying GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.

Now the Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Greer has been sentenced to 18 months in state prison plus one year of probation.

It turns out that in February, he pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering:

[H]e had created a company called Victory Strategies to siphon to himself and an associate some $200,000 of party donations.

"You're now a convicted felon, sir," Circuit Judge Marc Lubet told Greer Wednesday, adding that he had "egregiously violated a position of trust."


Per the Times, Greer became the party head in January 2007, former governor Charlie Crist's personal pick. Yes, that former governor Charlie Crist, the one who may run again, but this time as a Democrat. In fact, Crist tried hard to convince us he really is a real Democrat. Not that I wouldn't support him if he ended up being the Democratic candidate, but my heart sure wouldn't be in it.

But I digress.

I particularly liked these sentences describing Greer's past:

He was a regular at strip clubs and bars. Both his weddings were lavish. He ...quickly worked to make friends with people he identified as politically valuable... [H]is gatherings typically had some of the area's best snacks and booze. He often dressed as Elvis and belted out songs by the King... He wanted people to call him Chairman. He wanted to drink bourbon only from bottles with personalized labels.

Jim, you sound like a real attractive guy:


DA closes John Doe probe; no charges against WI Gov. Scott Walker, others


judged by the company you keep

This happened back in November 2012: Fourth former Scott Walker aide convicted in WI John Doe probe:

And remember Kelly Rindfleisch? She’s the former Walker aide who was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation on a felony count of misconduct in office. Walker was named as part of a team that routinely commingled political and official business, and Russell was allegedly responsible for the “unofficial networking system” out of Rindfleisch’s office. She’s out on appeal.

How do sleazeballs like Scott Walker always manage to slither out of these predicaments with nary a scratch or without charges being filed? I'm talkin' to you John Ensign, Mark Sanford, David Vitter, etc. ad nauseam.

Via WisPolitics:

Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm announced this morning he is closing a John Doe investigation without filing additional charges, ending the threat Gov. Scott Walker could be caught up in the long running probe. [...]

State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate responded that Walker's biggest accomplishment in his first two years in office was not related to the economy or education, but avoiding prosecution despite the conviction of two close aides.

Tate also requested that Scotty "release any and all information that was provided in John Doe, so the public can have full understanding." After all, Tate reminded us, Walker did promise transparency, so this would be a swell time to demonstrate a little of that.

Yeah, like that'll happen.

scott walker cleared letter from district attorneyLink


Justice For Christian, But How Many More?



What a sad, messed up story. Christian is 13, 12 when he was arrested and he has spent almost two years in a juvenile facility waiting for a trial.

Nothing about Cristian’s life has been easy. He was born to a mother who was just 12 when she had him. She became pregnant at the age of 11 after being sexually assaulted by Cristian’s biological father. The father was imprisoned on charges directly related to her pregnancy and would later be described as having little to do with his son.

At the age of two, Cristian and his mother were placed in the same foster home after the “authorities found the toddler walking around dirty and naked outside a South Florida motel while his grandmother, who would have been about 34 at the time, nursed a drug habit inside.”

At just three years old there were indicators that Cristian had experienced more than just neglect. Department of Child and Family Services reported that Cristian, still only three, pulled down the pants of a six year old and simulated a sex act. No information was provided about where the three year old learned this behavior, but further information indicated that days prior to that he had caused the death of a kitten after it scratched him in the face. Though these behaviors strongly suggested that Cristian had experienced other types of abuse, nothing appeared to have been done about it.

Further indicators of sexual abuse were present when Cristian was five years old. It was alleged that he was found naked under a bed with his younger brother. The same year, it was also reported that Cristian was masterbating at school, drawing phallic symbols, and trying to pull down the pants of other children. Mental health evaluations were ordered by the court, but none of the records maintained by the Department of Children and Family Services stated they had taken place or that Cristian was provided with therapeutic treatment for the behaviors. Minimally, a more complete investigation into potential sexual abuse of Cristian should have been conducted.

You can read at the link what happened to him (that they know of) between 5 and 11. Sigh. It's what next that really gets my goat.

A few months later on March 14, 2011, deputies were called to the apartment: Fernandez' baby brother, 2-year-old David, had died at a local hospital. The medical examiner determined that the toddler had a fractured skull, bruising to his left eye and a bleeding brain.

Susana, then 25, admitted to investigators that she had left Fernandez, David and her other children home alone. When she returned, she said she found David unconscious. She waited eight-and-a-half hours before taking him to the hospital and searched "unconsciousness" online and texted friends during that time.

Susana also revealed that two weeks before David's death, Fernandez had broken the toddler's leg while wrestling.

Susana was charged with aggravated manslaughter; the medical examiner said David might have survived if she had taken him to the hospital sooner for the head injury. She pleaded guilty in March and could get 30 years.

Fernandez, who had first been questioned as a witness, was soon charged with first-degree murder. The other felony charge was filed after his 5-year-old half-brother told a psychiatrist that Fernandez had sexually assaulted him.

Christian is actually on the better side of our messed up juvenile justice system. He got a "reprieve".


Jacksonville, FL – Friday, February 8, 2013 -- This morning the state of Florida agreed to greatly reduced charges in the case of Cristian Fernandez. Two years ago, the state had charged then-12-year-old Cristian as an adult for the death of his younger brother. The child was facing a mandatory minimum of life in prison without parole in the death of his 2-year-old half brother, David Galarraga.

As a friend of mine said, "Even though this kid was able to get a plea deal and only serve in a juvenile facility until he is 19, we as a country put kids this young for life without parole...just us and Somalia. Great company to be in!"

You can read more about Christian and other similar cases here.