NYTimes Discusses Federal Sentencing Guidelines with Alison Siegler

Let’s Do Something About Privilege, Donors, Corporations and the Constitution

Larry Lessig was a perfectly unplanned warm-up act for Rod Blagojevich last week, especially if you wonder just what to make of the whole Blago saga.


In wondering what lessons are to be drawn from Mr. Blagojevich’s fall, I’m drawn to two points: Mr. Lessig’s notion of its irrelevance and technical realities involving the administration of justice.

Some of the latter were suggested by Alison Siegler, a defense lawyer who runs the federal criminal justice clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

Early this year, District Judge James Zagel, who sentenced Mr. Blagojevich to 14 years in prison, sentenced Brian Brown, a South Side drug addict Ms. Siegler represented, to 10 years and 8 months. He had pleaded guilty to selling two ounces of crack cocaine to a government informant for $200.

In the Blagojevich case, the sentencing guidelines meant he should get from 30 years to life. The prosecution conceded those were onerous and urged a 15-to-20 year range, with the judge ultimately lowering the low end and giving him 14 years.

The guidelines for Mr. Brown’s drug offense, even after he accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty, were 22 to 27 years. The government stuck to that range but Ms. Siegler and her students persuaded Mr. Zagel to go lower.

Read more at The New York Times