Nassar Sentence: 40-175

Submitted by stephenrjking on January 24th, 2018 at 12:43 PM

The judge brings the hammer.

Judge sentences Nassar to 40-175 years. "I just signed your death warrant. You don't get it. You're a danger."

— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 24, 2018

I believe a C-ya is in order.

Comments

MGoPoe

January 24th, 2018 at 1:21 PM ^

No the 40-175 speaks to the plea deal that was agreed to.  25-40 years was what they had agreed he should be sentenced for this hearing but since the judge went just a BIT over he now has the option to back out of the plea deal.  Either way this man will never have a breath of free air again.

Everyone Murders

January 24th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

There was a shit-ton of self-promotion in her sentencing statements that was wholly unnecessary.  The sentence was appropriate, but these things grated:

  • It's not about me, it's about the victims.  Repeated so often that it was very clearly about her.
  • The talk about her family background, etc.  I thought this wasn't about you?
  • The talk about how people don't like her because she does the right thing.  People don't like her because she is a showboater.
  • The "I'm not good at math, but I have a cheat sheet."  FFS, this isn't about you.
  • I'm getting media inquiries from all of the world.  But really, it's not about me.
  • I'm just doing my job, and don't know why it is news.  But maybe others in this role don't do theirs like they should.  REALLY, it's not about me.

She came off like a tin-can daytime reality-show judge rather than a serious jurist.  And that made the sentencing that much less effective from a "make a statement" perspective.

Disclaimer - I've never heard of this judge before this hearing, and have no axe to grind with her.  And her sentence was fine.  But she spent about a third of the time talking about herself, her family, her way of doing things, etc.  STFU about that stuff, and talk about the victims, the crimes, and the defendant. 

 

FauxMo

January 24th, 2018 at 1:22 PM ^

I agree a bit here. She said "this isn't about me" too often, to the point it sounded like the opposite. Of course, there was an audience, and she knew it. So if she used that as an opportunity to scare the shit out of other child molesters, I am OK with that... 

PopeLando

January 24th, 2018 at 3:35 PM ^

Judge Aquilina is known as a bit of a showboat and, I believe, for rejecting deals which do not fit her sense of Justice.

I have admittedly limited experience with this, but I have had her assigned to a case I worked, and I wouldn't want her on my case, no matter if I was the plaintiff or defendant

stephenrjking

January 24th, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

I haven't paid that close attention to the judge, but every time I see or hear something she says or does, it rings like grandstanding and activism rather than a genuine attempt to discern justice.

And generally I have serious issues with that sort of activity, in different situations. 

But, perhaps, this is the perfect confluence of situations where her somewhat inappropriate action is matched with a person who not only deserves such activism but whose crimes NEED it to be properly exposed. 

Only Nixon could go to China. 

Everyone Murders

January 24th, 2018 at 1:54 PM ^

I've had the same problem listening to her as you expressed.  However, this was a sentencing affair that was almost impossible to screw up.  You have easy-peezy ingredients:  (i) a crime that everyone abhors, (ii) a plea agreement, so all the hard work is done (rather than having to conduct a trial), (iii) a defendant who everyone hates, and (iv) a parade of charismatic victims. 

A better judge would have let the victims tell their stories, and let the profundity of that carry the day.  Let the story tell itself, with minimum narration.  When you sentence, talk about the crime, the victims, and the defendant.  In a case like this, you can go on a bit about the nature of the crime and the system, but after that there's nothing really to say.

In short, there's no perfect storm here.  She's a mediocre jurist given a golden opportunity, and she used her special brand of alchemy to turn that gold into bronze.

saveferris

January 24th, 2018 at 2:06 PM ^

Let's consider the fact that if the sentencing hearing you're officiating takes 7 fucking days to allow for all the statements from victims to be read into the record, then you really don't need to do much in the way of justifying a harsh sentence being passed.  The 150 young women who've spoken before you made a pretty airtight case for you.

FauxMo

January 24th, 2018 at 2:32 PM ^

This I disagree with. She's not the Coen Brothers. She's not directing an understated drama and then leaving it for a discerning audience to interpret on their own over a glass of brandy a few days later. You and me and lots of others may have been just fine with that. But remember, lots and lots of citizens are far less, shall we say, sophisticated. Sometimes, to speak to the WHOLE public, a little bit of on-the-nose commentary and even "outrage" is necessary... 

Everyone Murders

January 24th, 2018 at 2:43 PM ^

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a sentencing judge making statements condemning the crime, assessing and condemning the criminal, and lauding the victims for their courage.  In fact, there's everything right with it.  Strong words for heinous acts are good medicine for society.

And you're right that you have to pitch it so that the bulk of society gets what is being said, and say it in a striking way.  One should eschew obfuscation.  So you and I are on all fours as far as these points go. 

But none of what you say here justifies her unseemly and repetitive self-promotion in the midst of what should have been a discourse about the victims, the crime, and the criminal. 

Blue_by_U

January 24th, 2018 at 3:22 PM ^

And what was done was necessary, but to some end it phases my trust in the courtroom. I agree it was a slam dunk issue, but something tells me if this was a 60 year old male judge, it may not have ended this way. I felt she had some venom and bias. Honestly I give two shits, the asshole deserves this don't get me wrong.

mGrowOld

January 24th, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

You're arguing style points IMO.  The core decisions she made in this case from start to its incrediable finish were all on-point and led to two very critical outcomes:

1. He was convicted.    Nothing in our judicial system is EVER "cut and dried".  OJ Simpson says hello from Las Vegas for example.

2. It gained national media attention.  By allowing each of the victims time to speak to him it allowed the national media to get there in force and begin covering the trial in earnest.  It also meant some of the celebrity victims would have time to appear and it was during those days that the spotlight got very, very hot indeed.

If either or both of those things dont happen then our "friends" at MSU who have been trying desparately to hide from this case might've gotten away with it.  Now I dont think they can.   

So give the narcisstic judge her due.  

Pepto Bismol

January 24th, 2018 at 1:49 PM ^

Her decisions in this sentencing procedure should not be understated.  Like you said (and I'll say it all again because you're dead on) her untimed, no-limit impact statement roster allowed every survivor to unload as much of their emotional baggage on their attacker as they felt they could muster.  That decision allowed that list to grow from 88 initially to 140+ by the time all was said and done.  That's about 60 people who were so empowered by the process this judge set in motion that they were motivated to take the stage for themselves. 

And in that process, a news story that everyone in this state has complained for months (years?) was not getting near the attention it deserved blew up into a national story pretty much over the weekend.  Now Lou Anna Simon is getting raked over the coals.  USA Gymnastics canned their board and is cleaning house.  Joel Ferguson was allowed to illustrate the ineptitude of MSU leadership.  Geddert or whatever his name is at Twistars has been suspended and now will "retire".  All of that in the last week alone, as these 150 girls and women dumped their fractured hearts and souls on the courtroom floor for the world to see and take notice.

Yeah, Aquilina was a little dramatic in sentencing.  But if she didn't take this so personally, if she just stoically read off a 100 year sentence last Wednesday like a good lawperson, how much of that would have happened?  How much appropriate national and world attention was brought to this solely because of her attitudes toward this crime?

So yeah, I'm okay with her being a little sing-songy in her reading of the sentence.

 

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

January 24th, 2018 at 2:02 PM ^

Totally OK with having every single victim get up there and speak for as long as they cared to.  As you and others pointed out, it kept the news cycle going and in doing so, brought some ugly things into the spotlight that needed to be brought out.

It's just some of her comments I take issue with.  "I just signed your death warrant" sounds a  lot like boasting.  I think it's a little unseemly.

Everyone Murders

January 24th, 2018 at 2:02 PM ^

You're right - I am arguing style points.  I think in a serious major trial like this style matters.  There should be a sense of decorum that I found lacking here.  Two points, though:

  • As far as the conviction goes, give 100% of that credit to the prosecuting attorney's office.  They negotiated the plea.  All the judge did was approve it after the prosecutor and defense counsel hashed out the terms.  The judge gets virtually no credit for the conviction (and shouldn't, since judges are not charged with convicting people).
     
  • The national media attention was going to be there as soon as there were 150+ victims stepping up to make statements.

So to give the narcissistic judge her due, she made one critical and important decision - let in anyone who was a victim speak at sentencing (whether a complainant or not), even if it meant a week of court time.  That was a commendable decision, so I'll grant her that.*

*Though she even undermined that by mentioning her decision to allow the non-complainant victims "was the right thing to do" and "she gets paid the same whether she did that or not".  Again she could not resist blowing her own horn.

ijohnb

January 24th, 2018 at 2:09 PM ^

think you may be going a little far in calling the Judge "narcissistic."  It is entirely possible that she went overboard in her statements at the sentencing, but to formulate your entire opinion of her, including a diagnosis of narcissism, is a bit much.  Nassar is the problem here, not the Judge.  I don't see the reason for this level of anger directed toward her.  Just saying.

Everyone Murders

January 24th, 2018 at 2:13 PM ^

MGrowOld called her narcissistic - I just agreed.

More seriously, I think you're taking a leap.  Calling someone a narcissist is a much different thing than diagnosing someone with "narcissistic personality disorder" or somesuch.  Just like if I said to someone "you're just being paranoid" I'm not presuming to diagnose them with true paranoia.  I'm just saying that person is acting paranoid.

And even more seriously, do you really think anyone on this board doesn't understand that Nassar sexually assaulting 150+ young girls is a bigger problem than the judge taking a bit too much of a star turn? 

Year of Revenge II

January 25th, 2018 at 8:18 AM ^

She is not a "problem". Just give her a reality show and be done with it.

She earned her bachelor's degree in English education and journalism at Michigan State University in 1979 and her law degree at Cooley Law School in Lansing in 1984.

Following law school, Aquilina worked for ten years as administrative assistant and campaign manager for State Senator John F. Kelly, and then as a partner in his lobbying firm; she also formed Aquilina Law, where she practiced in partnership with her sister, Helen Hartford. She hosted a syndicated radio talk show, Ask the Family Lawyer.[3][4]

She then joined the Michigan Army National Guard, where she became the state's first female member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps and acquired the nickname "Barracuda Aquilina"; she served for twenty years before retiring. She is an adjunct professor at Cooley Law School and at Michigan State University College of Law.[1][3]

In 2004 she was elected a judge of the 55th Michigan District Court, and in November 2008 judge of the 30th Circuit Court for Ingham County.

 

These are bona fides of the typical judge.  Politician, former prosecutor, and for many of them, grandstander.

If she had any real talent, she would not be a judge.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

January 24th, 2018 at 1:34 PM ^

Have to agree.  I even agreed with a lot of things she said, but felt that a judge had no place saying them.  They seemed to be said more with the goal of scoring points with the victims, rather than ensuring that a just and proper sentence was passed down.

(This is not to say I disagree with the sentence, because I can't see any fairness in this other than Nassar spending the rest of his life behind bars.  Just that her conduct on the bench was a bit less than entirely impartial, and I wonder, if this was any other case, whether the defense attorneys would have grounds to appeal the sentence based on that.)

ijohnb

January 24th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

on the what is said and the circumstances.  Very unlikely.  A Judge can really say whatever he or she wants to a defendant during a sentencing if the sentence that is eventually passed is within the sentencing guidelines of the jurisdiction or, as in this case, there was a sentencing agreement.  And even if the Judge sentences a defendant above the guidelines, if there are legitimate reasons for the upward departure an appeal based on such statements would most often be futile.  Most successful appeals based on the conduct of a Judge have to do with something the Judge said or allowed in the presence of a jury well before sentencing.

Everyone Murders

January 24th, 2018 at 2:08 PM ^

Not just to MaizeAndBlueWahoo, but all the folks who replied.  I had three cynical theories about why she was being self-serving:

  • Michigan county circuit judge can be a lonely existence, and she could simply have been basking in all the attention.  Judges can't really fraternize with other lawyers as readily once they're on the bench, and it can make some of them odd ("Black Robe Fever")
     
  • She has aspirations to become some sort of celebrity judge or some higher political aspirations.
     
  • She is campaigning from the bench.  Circuit court judges in MI are elected officials, and she saw this as an opportunity to do some free campaigning.

ALSO, I forgot the most cringe-worthy thing she said repeatedly:  "Members of the media should know that I will not interview them unless there is also a victim - now survivor - with me.Because remember, it's not about me. 

It's my opinion that this amounts to using the victims like props, and it's not appropriate behavior for a judge.

SF Wolverine

January 24th, 2018 at 1:58 PM ^

Although I have to say that I thought the extent of the victim impact process (unusual, I think) was notable.  Yes, it kept the spotlight on her for longer, but it also seems to have made a meaningful impact on the public, and on the victims themselves.  Which, hopefully, will result in momentum and continued attention to follow-up with the national gymnastics/olympic authorities and at MSU.  

Grampy

January 24th, 2018 at 2:49 PM ^

Sure, she wanted a little time in the spotlight. It part of her job (be a good enough judge to be re-elected), and she deserves some props for how she handled the victim statements part of sentencing. Dr. Larry's headed to oblivion, victimization of the powerless by the powerful got nationwide exposure, and victims got an opportunity to heal a little. In 2 years, no one will recall who the judge was, but that monster will still be gone, and the echos of 140+ victims stories will still be heard. Bravo to everyone involved, with the possible exception of the prosecution for putting too low a number on the minimum sentence.

4yearsofhoke

January 24th, 2018 at 3:31 PM ^

Those familiar with state courts in MI know this - but take a look at who she made sure to send her order that the Detroit Bankruptcy is unconstitutional. (hint it was the President before Trump).

I'll let you determine your own thoughts about what her motive was in doing that.

Pepto Bismol

January 24th, 2018 at 12:49 PM ^

I'm not an expert, but I believe his plea was contingent upon no sentence longer than 40 years otherwise he could seek a jury trial. I think the judge structured it this way to ensure he's done and can't drag everybody back for another round.

As it is, I think his 40 years starts after his 60 years for child porn, so he's eligible for parole in about 100 years.

Wolverine Devotee

January 24th, 2018 at 12:48 PM ^

He's gonna get abused wayyyyy more than he did to the victims. The piece of shit deserves to rot in a cell the rest of his shameful life.

Love the judge on this case. She had no time for his BS.

FauxMo

January 24th, 2018 at 12:50 PM ^

People always say this. I know there is some truth in it, in terms of what might actually happen to him in prison, and I am sure you like most who say this are just seeking "justice." But doesn't it ever strike folks who says things along these lines that what are really saying is, "I am so mad about this sexual assault, that I want justice to take the shape of MORE sexual assault in the world"? This always seems...odd to me... 

ChiBlueBoy

January 24th, 2018 at 1:02 PM ^

...but statistics on that sort of thing are always difficult to substantiate with significant reporting issues. I know that it's a very real concern. When I was a volunteer in prison, we were required to undergo training on sexual assault and sexual relations between inmates and staff. 

As much as I understand the anger at Nassar, and agree that his crimes are heinous, I don't think it says much of us as a society that we root for individuals (even evil ones) to be assaulted or subject to punishment beyond what the law metes out. The effect is not only to harm the criminal but also our society.