Manafort Sentence Exposes Racial Injustice In America’s Courts

From the start, T.S. Ellis the Federal Judge who would hear evi­dence against Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man Paul Manafort seemed agi­tat­ed and angry that Paul Manafort was even brought in for tri­al. The Reagan appointee chid­ed Prosecutors that Manafort was only before him because they want­ed to get at Donald Trump.
At the time Ellis made those state­ments many peo­ple were aghast that a judge could be that bla­tant­ly polit­i­cal.

Ellis was open­ly hos­tile to Prosecuting attor­neys, repeat­ed­ly inter­rupt­ed them, told them to stop using the word “oli­garch” to describe peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with Manafort because it made him seem “despi­ca­ble,” and object­ed to pic­tures of Manafort’s lux­u­ry items they planned to show jurors. “It isn’t a crime to have a lot of mon­ey and be prof­li­gate in your spend­ing,” Ellis told pros­e­cu­tors dur­ing the tri­al. (accord­ing to yahoo news​.com)

If you thought that was beyond weird and despi­ca­ble, yes­ter­day Judge T.S. Ellis, in sen­tenc­ing Paul Manafort, pulled the cur­tains away and dis­played the two sep­a­rate jus­tice sys­tems in America for every­one to see.
The Judge imposed a 47-month prison sen­tence and a $50,000 fine in con­junc­tion with resti­tu­tion in the sum of just over $24 mil­lion, which Manafort is oblig­at­ed to repay.
In hand­ing down the rather light sen­tence which falls way below Federal sen­tenc­ing guide­lines and the poten­tial­ly 20-years to life Manafort could have been giv­en the Judge com­ment­ed, “Clearly the guide­lines were way out of whack on this.
“I was sur­prised I did not hear you express regret for engag­ing in wrong­ful con­duct,” Ellis told Manafort, nev­er­the­less he gave Paul Manafort a light slap on the wrist.

Most shock­ing of all, (1) the Judge argued, Manafort “is not before the court for any alle­ga­tions that he, or any­one at his direc­tion, col­lud­ed with the Russian gov­ern­ment to influ­ence the 2016 elec­tion.”
That is a tact tak­en by Manafort’s Lawyers, Trump’s Lawyer Rudolph Guiliani, and Donald Trump him­self.
(2) Ellis extolled his(Manafort’s) “oth­er­wise blame­less” life in which he “earned the admi­ra­tion of a num­ber of peo­ple” and engaged in “a lot of good things.”
For the record, Paul Manafort will face a DC Judge for sim­i­lar crimes next week for sen­tenc­ing.
Maybe next week the Obama appointee, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will not inter­pret Manafort’s Teflon abil­i­ty to escape pros­e­cu­tion for his crimes as ” a blame­less life.”

Manafort was con­vict­ed after pros­e­cu­tors accused him of hid­ing from the U.S. gov­ern­ment mil­lions of dol­lars he earned as a con­sul­tant for Ukraine’s for­mer pro-Russia gov­ern­ment. After pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, pros­e­cu­tors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and main­tain an opu­lent lifestyle with lux­u­ri­ous homes, design­er suits, and even a $15,000 ostrich-skin jack­et.

All across America and right there in the Commonwealth of Virginia Black peo­ple are being incar­cer­at­ed for far longer peri­ods of time, for sig­nif­i­cant­ly less than what Paul Manafort did.
Not only did Manafort com­mit numer­ous white col­lar crimes, he did not see fit to acknowl­edge his wrongs, he forced the sys­tem to find him guilty.
Which absolute­ly is his right, but a lit­tle fact which lines up with what Judge Ellis was forced to acknowl­edge, that Paul Manafort had not expressed any regret for engag­ing in wrong­ful con­duct.

In 2018 43-year old Crystal Mason was sen­tenced to 5‑years in prison — — -Her crime, not know­ing that as a for­mer Felon she was not allowed to vote.
“You have to go vote!” Mason’s moth­er said, accord­ing to her attor­ney, J. Warren St. John, who spoke to NPR.
Mason grabbed her keys and set out for her local precinct. When she got there, she found out that her name was not on the vot­er roll so she was giv­en a pro­vi­sion­al bal­lot. An elec­tion work­er stuck around to walk her through the form.
She used her cur­rent license and her cur­rent address, St. John says.“She had a good faith belief that she could vote,” St. John says. “She would have nev­er vot­ed if she knew she was not allowed to.“The next time she thought about that night she was being arrest­ed.
Crystal Mason is serv­ing her five-year term for doing her civic duty and was com­plete­ly igno­rant of the fact that she was not allowed to vote.

According to the New York Times African-American defen­dants get more time behind bars — some­times twice the prison terms of whites with iden­ti­cal crim­i­nal his­to­ries — when they com­mit the same crimes under iden­ti­cal cir­cum­stances. It also shows how bias on the part of indi­vid­ual judges and pros­e­cu­tors dri­ves sen­tenc­ing inequity.
The Florida Legislature has been wrestling with this issue for decades. In the 1980s, for exam­ple, it tried to change sen­tenc­ing poli­cies that var­ied wide­ly from place to place by cre­at­ing sen­tenc­ing guide­lines. Today, pros­e­cu­tors assign defen­dants points — based on the seri­ous­ness of their crime, the cir­cum­stances of their arrest and whether or not they have pri­or con­vic­tions — to deter­mine the min­i­mum sen­tence required by law.
In a fair sys­tem, black and white defen­dants who score the same num­ber of points under this for­mu­la would spend the same time beyond bars. But The Herald-Tribune found that judges dis­re­gard the guide­lines, sen­tenc­ing black defen­dants to longer prison terms in 60 per­cent of felony cas­es, 68 per­cent of seri­ous, first-degree crimes and 45 per­cent of bur­glar­ies. In third-degree felony cas­es — the least seri­ous and broad­est class of felonies — white Florida judges sen­tenced black defen­dants to 20 per­cent more prison time than white defen­dants. (NYT)