Posts tagged with "Congress"

Professor Jeffrey Swartz on Manafort Sentencing

LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR AND LEGAL ANALYST ON PAUL MANAFORT SENTENCING

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Professor Jeffrey Swartz, a former prosecutor and former Judge in Miami-Dade County, is offering the below statement regarding the sentencing of Paul Manafort.

As a former prosecutor I am incensed at Judge T. S. Ellis III’s hubris at believing he sees the Manafort prosecution for one thing, while ignoring the greater issues of continuing to punish non-violent, but yet serious white-collar behavior so leniently.  Mr. Manfort’s attorneys successfully invoked the constant battle between the two theories of punishment that have been the stalwart of our system of justice for two hundred years, Utilitarianism (the certainty of punishment as a general deterrence to society not to violate the law) and Retributivism (addressing sentencing to the individual defendant based upon their own moral blameworthiness, i.e. their just deserts).

Judge Ellis’ findings give short shrift to the underlying criminality of Manfort’s conduct and business.  The prosecution sentencing memorandum and, although we have not seen it, what appears to be in the Pre-Sentence Investigation and Report seem to outline the long history of Manfort’s criminal behavior, contempt for the laws of the United States, our system of justice even while out on bond, including his attempt to tamper with witnesses, and his disregard for the undermining of our democracy and form of government.

The Sentencing Guidelines were promulgated by Congress to provide a means for judges to standardize the approach toward how to appropriately punish the conduct of defendants based upon objective criteria.  They also contemplate that the court will consider “all relevant conduct”, not just that conduct for which the defendant was convicted. Although they are just “guidelines” they provide for departures both upwards and downwards, giving the court “appropriate discretion” to adjust its ultimate decision, where the findings of the court support the exercise of that discretion.  In that regard they are both Utilitarian (certainty and consistency of punishment) and retributive (assuring an individualistic approach to a particular defendant).

Judge Ellis ignored everything other than his own opinion that there was an ulterior motive for this prosecution.  He more than exercised his discretion. I would argue that he abused that discretion in the grossest way. A guidelines range of 234 to 288 months may have been more severe than most thought appropriate.  However, Ellis reduced that to less than twenty percent of the bottom of those guidelines at forty-seven months less nine months credit for time served.

The penalty Ellis imposed, even in the face of not granting Manafort even the three-point adjustment for acceptance of responsibility, seems to indicate a disdain for white-collar prosecution in general.  A disdain many ex-prosecutors, who have appeared before him, have stated he has exhibited in the past. He also made clear his displeasure at the government’s prosecution of Mr. Manafort, which was exhibited on more that one occasion through specific statements he verbalized and his rulings at trial, by interfering in the government’s introduction of evidence and testimony.

The depth and breadth of Manfort’s criminality, and its effect on our society was set forth in the prosecution’s memorandum, which Ellis chose to ignore.  This was not a “one-off” as Ellis seemed to allude in the pronouncement of his sentence, but a lifetime systematic course of conduct. Manafort is a criminal in every sense of the word, who deserved far more than he received.

The only saving grace is that Manafort must face sentencing before Judge Amy Berman Jackson next week.  Judge Jackson has likewise indicated a disdain for a party in her case. Judge Jackson is the judge who ordered Manafort into custody for his actions while out on bond.  It was before her that Manafort entered into a plea agreement, which mandated his truthful and complete cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation, to which Manafort chose to not cooperate fully, but to actually lie to investigators and grand jurors.  I could argue that in so doing he was attempting to obstruct justice.

I can only hope that Judge Jackson corrects Judge Ellis’ lack of perspective and balance.  It is fair to expect that Jackson will sentence Manafort to an appropriate term of incarceration intended, not only to send a message to all those who would engage in the crimes in which Manafort engaged, but to give Manafort his just desserts.  Whether it amounts to a “life” sentence or not, anything less than 120 to 144 months would be a true miscarriage of justice, in light of the fact that those guilty of far less egregious behavior receive greater sentences than Manafort received from Ellis.

Rise in Obesity-Related Cancers

A new analysis, published in the Lancet Public Health, raises the alarm that the rates of obesity-related cancers are rising in younger and younger adults. In the new study, six of twelve types of obesity-related cancers have significantly increased between 1995-2014 and the risk of these cancers is increasing in each successive younger age group. These cancers include colorectal, pancreatic, gallbladder, kidney cancer and multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer). These cancer types are particularly concerning because they are very serious and account for over 150,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.

“These numbers are worrying but not surprising; the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recently sounded the alarm that having overweight and obesity cause at least 12 types of cancer. However, the younger and younger age bracket in which we see rates increasing is even more troubling and demands a response. We cannot just watch these rates go up and ignore the factors that we know are contributing to these increases,” says Dr. Nigel Brockton, Vice President of Research at AICR.

Disturbingly, over 70% of Americans have overweight or obesity according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And AICR maintains that cancer risk increases across each higher category of Body Mass Index (BMI) as an indicator of body fatness (Healthy = 18.5-24.9, Overweight = 25-29.9, and Obesity = 30 and above).

A mere five BMI points (kg/m2) separate the three basic (healthy, overweight, obese) BMI categories. It is important to emphasize that cancer risk is not limited to the extreme category of obesity only, the risk increases for those with overweight too. For example, compared to those having healthy BMI range overweight category face an increased liver cancer risk of 30% and those having obesity of 60%.

The recent AICR Energy Balance and Body Fatness Report presented strong evidence for factors that can reduce risk of having weight gain, overweight and obesity, including walking, aerobic physical activity, food containing fiber and a “Mediterranean-type” diets rich in fruits and vegetables that reduce the risk of weight gain, overweight and obesity. Conversely, sugar-sweetened drinks, fast foods and a “Western type” diet rich in meats and energy-dense proteins are strongly linked to increased weight gain, overweight and obesity.

The Report also points to the evidence that greater screen time is a cause of weight gain, overweight and obesity in children. This is particularly relevant in light of the Lancet study that discussed the onset of cancer at an early age, since children with overweight and obesity are likely to turn into young adults in a similar status. There is enormous opportunity to prevent future cancer cases, if changes can be made to stop and reverse the current trend of increasing overweight and obesity. In addition to helping individuals learn about healthy lifestyle choices, community and national policies play a crucial role in creating living spaces more conducive to physical activity and healthier food choices.

AICR is urging Congress and federal agencies to improve funding for cancer prevention research, ensure that federal nutrition and physical activity guidelines reflect the latest research regarding cancer risk, improve nutrition labeling and improve access to lifestyle interventions.

DREAMer of the Day

TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, has launched a “DREAMer of the Day” feature – a daily profile of a TheDream.US-affiliated Scholar whose story offers a powerful example why Congress passing legislation resolving the crisis facing DREAMers and TPS holders will be good for America.

Today’s DREAMer of the Day is Axel Galeas of California’s De Anza College:

“My American Dream, I have come to realize, involves much more than new clothes, iPhones, and materialistic things.

At De Anza College, I want to pursue a degree in either bioengineering or environmental engineering. After graduation, I hope to obtain a creative job that helps tackle climate change and helps shine light on the lack of funding that it is receiving. I want to become financially stable; I want to be able to travel and teach and learn everything there is to learn. I also want to become a United States citizen. While it still feels so crazy to me that a piece of paper determines citizenship, I want to fully participate in this, the country I now call home. I want to better my home, and a piece of paper could stand in the way of that.

Growing up and going to school as an immigrant wasn’t easy; I remember being in the first grade, right after arriving in this country, and beginning to learn English. It was all so foreign to me, having lived in Honduras my whole life. It felt strange even knowing there were other languages other than Spanish and realizing that Spanish was just one of many languages spoken across the world. Beyond learning the language, I remember struggling with the price comparison of items and clothes I had compared to my peers.

In high school, I became almost obsessed with luxury and clothes.  Every student seemed to be dressed their best and to have the most expensive things. I wanted these things and I’d envy them. This persisted for the first couple years of high school until I attended a life changing leadership symposium. This experience forced me to truly dig deep and re-evaluate my values and beliefs. Since then, even though I am still adjusting and confronting many challenges in life, I have become more self-aware and less focused on chasing material highs and competing with anyone on this level. I have adapted a mindset that focuses more on being mindful of the people around me as well as myself and my feelings as a person, in other words I’ve become more proficient in emotional intelligence.

I do have to remind myself of this sometimes and also of how far I’ve come living here. I need to stop, take a deep breath, appreciate everything I have, and continue with this headspace.  I would be living a completely different life had I stayed in Honduras – a life with significantly less opportunity. A life where many grow up to be murderers and drug dealers. I look back on myself as a freshman in high school, sitting in my English class where the majority of the class was Caucasian. I was one of two non-white students, out of the thirty students in my class. This made me feel inferior, looked down on, and, at times, discriminated against. Some of it was in my head, while some of it was also evident in the way I was treated in respect to my peers by my peers.

Then, during my senior year, I was in an AP Literature class with that same teacher who taught that freshman year English class. We built a strong connection throughout my high school years, and he witnessed me mature and grow into a secure, self-loving man.  He saw firsthand that I no longer felt intimidated by my classmates and that I took initiative in conversation in the classroom. It felt like a lot had come full circle for me in a short period of time, and it makes me proud to reflect on this growth.

As high school neared its end, I had no idea how I was going to pay for college, better yet how I’d survive in the real world while being undocumented. I knew that I would somehow, even if that meant taking out loans. I didn’t realize this would be nearly impossible to finance, but I made up my mind that I would be college educated. When I learned about TheDream.US scholarship from one of my teachers, I was amazed at the amount that this offered and the extent to which this could help fund my college dreams. After putting effort into my studies, I realized that I had been surviving the real world all along, only now it has been formerly addressed as an issue.

I am a DACA student, one out of the 800,000 in this country who are just as lost as I am. Who struggle with self-identification, and have to constantly look over their shoulder. Because we do not trust easy. We want the best for this country and the people in it. I am American, and a piece of paper does not define me. Being American is the epitome of culture. We are culturally driven, so why are we not embracing these aspiring, beautiful, young American Immigrants?

I truly believe the most important experience for a human being is to have the ability to learn. Educational learning as well as keeping a growth mindset are catalysts to bridging the gap between cultures. This way, we can understand each other better. I never want to stop learning, and one day I will never want to stop teaching.”

TheDream.US, which has provided more than 3,000 scholarships to students with DACA and TPS at more than 75 partner colleges in 15 states and Washington, DC, believes that all young people, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, gain an education, and fully participate in the country that they call home. To date, the organization has committed more than $103 million in scholarship money for DREAMers.

Read through a story bank of TheDream.US Scholars here  

Find out more about TheDream.US here

Take original title or chose a different one.

Example: DREAMer of the Day

Proof read text:

– Take out initial date and place.

o Example:

▪ ORIGINAL: Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, has launched a “DREAMer of the Day” feature – a daily profile of a TheDream.US-affiliated Scholar whose story offers a powerful example why Congress passing legislation resolving the crisis facing DREAMers and TPS holders will be good for America.

▪ AMENDED: – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, has launched a “DREAMer of the Day” feature – a daily profile of a TheDream.US-affiliated Scholar whose story offers a powerful example why Congress passing legislation resolving the crisis facing DREAMers and TPS holders will be good for America.

Influential Women at Wellesley

This January, Wellesley College will host several of the world’s most influential women, including Sally Yates, Wendy Sherman, Andrea Mitchell, Katharine H.S. Moon, and Madeleine Albright herself, as part of the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs ninth annual Wintersession, a three-week intensive program at Wellesley that educates the next generation of women leaders.

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 Highlighted Events

●      On January 8, from 10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Albright Institute welcomes Sally Yates, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General (2015-2017). Yates will present a keynote talk, “Principles Not Policy: Essential Norms in Preserving the Rule of Law,” exploring the vital role of trust in creating stable and just societies. This event will be available via livestream.

●      On January 16, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., a group of North Korea experts will present “Beyond the Headlines: Understanding Korea,” led by Katharine Moon, Edith Stix Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies at Wellesley and nonresident senior fellow with Brookings. This event will be available via livestream.

●      On January 24, beginning at approximately 6:40 p.m., Secretary Albright will present a dinner dialogue entitled “In the Balance: Setting a Course to Restore Democratic Principles” with Wendy R. Sherman, senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (2011 to 2015). This event will be available via livestream.

●      On the final day of Wintersession, January 25, Secretary Albright will join Andrea Mitchell of NBC News speaking at the closing ceremony for Albright Fellows. This event will not be livestreamed. 

About the Albright Institute Wintersession

This year’s Albright Institute Wintersession will educate a cohort of 48 Wellesley student fellows representing 18 countries, 18 U.S. states, and 26 majors. Following two weeks of classes and panels led by prominent speakers, the fellows spend the final week of the program working together in interdisciplinary groups to develop solutions that address a critical world issue. This year’s theme is “Harnessing the Power of Technology: Navigating Truth and Trust in a World Transformed.”

“The Albright Institute is educating the next generation of global leaders—with its interdisciplinary, experiential approach to learning and its expert faculty, talented students, and the powerful and influential women leaders it brings to Wellesley’s campus, including former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Wellesley Class of 1959,” said Wellesley College President Paula A. Johnson. “The global problems we face—including threats to democracy, climate change, and poverty and income inequality—are increasingly complex and fraught, with the potential for worldwide repercussions. The Albright Institute is preparing its students to meet tomorrow’s challenges head on, and the world has never needed them more.”

More on Albright Institute Featured Speakers

Sally Yates, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Justice, spent more than two decades as a federal prosecutor in Georgia and was appointed U.S. Deputy Attorney General in 2015 by President Barack Obama. She was named acting U.S. Attorney General in January 2017 and served in that position for just 10 days before being fired for defying the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban—an executive order temporarily halting entrance to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Yates’s talk, “Principles Not Policy: Essential Norms in Preserving the Rule of Law,” will be moderated Lawrence A. Rosenwald, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature, professor of English, and co-director of the Peace and Justice Studies program at Wellesley. The talk will be followed by a lunch with the fellows, who will have an opportunity to converse with Yates directly.

Albright Institute Director Joanne Murray said, “No one represents the mission of the Albright Institute better than Sally Yates—cultivating in fellows the habits of principled clarity, bold service, and courageous action to shape a better world.”

During her time as undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman was the lead U.S. negotiator in the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran. For this and other diplomatic accomplishments, Sherman was awarded the National Security Medal by President Obama. According to Murray, Sherman “demonstrated the ability to bring opposing countries to consensus and to forge trust. She will share what deliberative negotiating means as Albright Fellows sort through potential policy solutions to the problems posed to them.”

The January 16 panel led by Professor Katharine H.S. Moon, “Beyond the Headlines: Understanding Korea,” will feature three panelists: Jieun Baek, a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the University of Oxford, former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, and author of North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed SocietyMelissa Hanham, senior research associate in the East Asia Nonproliferation Program; and a third panelist, who works on a variety of causes related to human rights issues, including rights for North Korean defectors in South Korea.

In addition to Yates, Sherman, and these experts, this year’s program will feature an array of other distinguished individuals, including Anne Richard, U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration from 2012 to 2017, and Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and faculty director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

About the Albright Institute

The Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley College supports the College’s mission of educating students for leadership in an increasingly complex and interconnected global environment. The program combines the intellectual resources of faculty from Wellesley, researchers from the Wellesley Centers for Women, and leading alumnae and other practitioners and policy makers in the fields of international relations and public policy.

About Wellesley College

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.

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ABA × Congress

ABA urges Congress to apply pass-through tax reductions to professional service businesses on nondiscriminatory basis

American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass sent a letter today to House and Senate conferees for H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” urging them to adopt the Senate’s version of “pass-through” business tax relief.

The ABA’s letter also urged the conferees to apply the tax relief to all pass-through entities — including law firms and all other types of professional service businesses — on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis.

The full letter can be found here.

Go to www.abalegalfactcheck.com for the ABA’s new feature that cites case and statutory law and other legal precedents to distinguish legal fact from fiction.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.