Four Minute Sentencing

Yesterday, while the lawyers and the jury were out having lunch, I conducted a sentencing in an immigration case. I was able to complete sentencing in a new world record time of about four minutes. It was an immigration case. Since the guy had been in custody for several months, everyone knew the sentence would be time served with no supervised release to follow. That’s essentially what the Guidelines called for. Indeed, the government agreed that such a sentence was appropriate. The defendant apologized but noted he had returned to the US to support his three children who were American citizens. He did so working on a garbage truck. Anyway, ICE will now pick him up, and since he waived a deportation hearing, off he will go across the border on a bus. If I were him, I would quickly return to continue to support my kids. I would dive a little deeper into the shadows, but I would return. The present drill seems pretty useless. But what do I know.


25 responses

  1. On the drive to work this morning, I listened to an episode of This American Life because, ahem, I still appreciate and support a little NPR original programming. There was an incredible story about a young woman who blogs from Cuidad, Juarez, Mexico because her husband self-deported in an attempt to comply with US Immigration law. Since you are spending only approximately four minutes on work, you should peruse it. At least read this post: “The present drill seems pretty useless” is just about the perfect way to describe her thoughts exactly.

  2. I neglected to attach the 🙂 to that smartass reply. No disrespect intended, Your Honor.

  3. Deryl,

    The happy face is even worse than catching my inability to proof read. No disrespect intended.

    Truly, the older I get the worse I am at proof reading. Again, thanks for helping me. I need it.

    All the best.


  4. MJ,

    Thanks for the link.

    Incidentally, had you been billing my four minutes at your big fancy AM Law 100 firm, the time slip would have been four-tenths, I just know it. Get back to work. There’s only 36 more billing hours in the day today.

    All the best.


  5. The immigration statute can be such a shame at times. It sounds like this was an illegal reentry case? If so, the permanent bar to admission should kick in after he is removed, and it so happens to be a ground of inadmissibility that cannot be waived by DHS/DOS until ten years have passed. The people who are ultimately hurt are the children, and possibly the tax payers if the children end up as wards of the state.

    Your ending comments are truly inspiring and eye-opening, but at the end of the day, the statutes shall reign, and the courts are left with their hands tied.

  6. Perhaps Congress can address this problem by increasing the statutory maximum and adding a mandatory minimum😄and for repeat violators which almost all are add a three strikes provision…..ala a 851 type life sentence enhancement for two prior illegal re-entry’s . This would have a certain symmetry to federal drug and immigration sentencing. 😄

  7. Mark,

    I have a better idea–death penalty! That will secure our borders and keep us from being overrun by folks who work hard (like picking up our garbage) but don’t look like us.

    All the best.


  8. Billing time (in six-minute increments, no less) was virtually the only thing I hated about law firm life. But boy, did I hate it.

    “There’s only 36 more billing hours in the day today” made me grin. I think that may be the definition of schadenfreude, or perhaps survivor’s guilt. Thanks for the brief respite, Judge.

  9. As long as we’re at it, why let the Judiciary have all the fun? Perhaps DHS agents could patrol our southern border, empowered with police, prosecutorial, judicial, and penal authority.

    Given that some in government have characterized undocumented workers as a threat to national security, I assume that such a program can be justified as a minor extension of the Unitary Executive.

  10. If I had to go back to filling out time slips, I would put a gun in my mouth. The only thing I liked about filling them out was it taught me about fiction writing.

    All the best.


  11. Mark W. Bennett, RGK, your replies to each other are EYE POPPING! Are you guys really Federal Judges????

  12. Came to tell you I liked the post (nothing like juxtaposing empathy and insight against a disturbing sense of resignation).

    Stayed to mention this is funny enough that it might actually get popular. And I can’t for the life of me figure out whether that’s something you want.

    /Someone to whom this blog was forwarded, your honor.

  13. You think it’s bad in a law firm. In a prior life, I worked for a succession of defense contractors. Filling out time slips (in tenths of an hour, no less; none of this 6-minute increment nonsense–because the government’s half dozen is better than your six of one) was a dangerous act: filling one out erroneously–however innocent the error–not only could be a firing offense, it could be a jailable offense. It was the people’s money being accounted for, don’t you know.

    Eric Hines

  14. I agree that immigration law, as it stands, sucks. I’ve always had a hard time understanding why (other than politically) we have immigration quotas at all. It’s true that every nation has a duty to its people to secure its borders, and no nation has an obligation to let anyone in, if it chooses not to. But to make it hard for folks to immigrate is for that nation to shoot itself in the…foot…by cutting itself off from fresh ideas, fresh blood, fresh approaches to problem solving.

    My simple solution (in every respect but politically), in no particular order, because to work, it all needs to be done together: seal our borders. Punch a hole in the seal every mile with a border crossing station (no need to let the mules have all the fun), hand college graduate legal aliens a green card along with the rest of their graduation kit. Punish the existing illegals, but do it commensurate with their actual offense: if their only crime was to enter illegally and since then they’ve been upstanding contributors to their community (your garbage truck driver, for instance), their crime is on the order of a traffic offense, and the price to be paid should be on that level. For those who insist that these leave the country, keep in mind that embassies and consulates are foreign soil. For illegal aliens who’ve committed other crimes, we already have laws to cover those acts; immigration law need not apply. After the penalty, legalize the illegals, and set them on their own decision path of whether they want to become citizens, remain resident aliens, or go home eventually.

    The bills working their way through the two houses of Congress approach this. It’s too bad that this government can’t be trusted to take these bills as the interim solutions they are and keep working toward a better answer.

    As to having stayed at Holiday Inns (not Holiday Expresses, I note), neither of you have played judges on TV>; you have no credibility.

    Eric Hines

  15. Just to be clear: I only bill my clients for reading your blog, never for commenting on it. You’d be surprised how many it takes to read every month. (PS, it’s adorable that you think there are only 36 billing hours in a day. You ARE old! It’s 48 now.)

  16. DHS agents already are authorized to patrol the border with police, prosecutorial, judicial, and penal authority. It’s called the expedited removal proceeding. They arrest, detain, and enter orders of removal for inadmissible aliens caught at the border. The only way to see a judge is to express a credible fear of persecution which must be acknowledged by DHS as well.

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