05 March 2004


So Martha may now have an opportunity to teach prison-cell decorating using US government issue blankets for hangings. I am somewhat surprised that she was convicted of all four charges. Although I certainly didn't sit in the courtroom and hear all the evidence, I believe that one of the four charges is properly a lesser included offense of something else of which she was convicted, so it will not affect her sentence and in fact should be thrown out.

The reporters I've heard on the radio haven't had any [insert favorite expletive here for deletion] idea of how the Federal Sentencing Guidelines work. I've consistently heard claims that her probable sentence (to be handed down on 17 June) will probably be about one year for each charge of which she was convicted. Hogwash. No matter how many charges of that nature she was convicted of, they'd be grouped for sentencing purposes. If one actually does the interminable cross-referencing in the current edition of the Guidelines, it seems that the apparent guideline range is 10-16 months before applying any mitigating factors or allowing for downward departure. Stewart is very fortunate that the insider trading count was thrown out, because in that event the guideline range would have started at 15-21 months. Why does that matter? Because full prison time is mandatory, absent a downward departure, when the bottom end of the guideline range is 12 months or more; otherwise, the "term" can be filled partially by prison and partially by community confinement and/or home detention, or even entirely by probation.

"Maximum of twenty years on each count" my left big toe. I doubt that she'll actually see the inside of a prison unless something really surprising comes up on the sentencing report or she pisses off the judge.