The US Attorney for the District of Nebraska responds regarding § 851 enhancements

Recall my earlier post laboriously titled Judge Bennett skewers DOJ like a shish kebab of little lamb , prompting me to ask: What in the name of bloody blue hell is going on at the US Attorney’s office in Nebraska that allows for the disparity that Judge Bennett writes about?  In that post I highlighted Judge Bennett’s remarkable opinion that found that a defendant in the Northern District of Iowa (N.D. of Iowa) who is eligible for a § 851 enhancement is 2,532% more likely to receive it than a similarly eligible defendant in the bordering District of Nebraska.  Among other things, I also sought an explanation from Deb Gilg, our very able United States Attorney,

Mrs. Gilg came to my office last week to give me her response. Without intending to quote her, she essentially had two things to say that she hoped I would consider. First, Judge Bennett’s statistics showed that the District of Nebraska was using the § 851 enhancement like a scalpel rather than a butcher knife. In other words, if I had a legitimate concern, it ought to be directed not at the USA for Nebraska but elsewhere. Second, the US Attorney for the District of Nebraska has written procedures that govern when the government will seek such an enhancement. She asserted that those procedures were rationally related to such things as the nature of the offense and the personal characteristics of the offender including especially criminal history and the age and nature of the prior convictions. She assured me that the enhancement would never be employed to coerce a guilty plea.

I appreciate Mrs. Gilg taking the time to respond to my concerns. As a side note, I particularly enjoy her candor and sense of humor.

RGK

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