Mind games. I've mentioned judges sentencing on acquitted conduct before -- enhancing a sentence based on conduct the defendant had never been charged with, or had even been acquitted of, but a Federal judge in Illinois went one better: he increased the sentence based on a finding that if the defendant had been out on bail, he would have tried to murder someone. The 7th Circuit decides that's just a bit too over the top, and reverses.
Overheard. Line of the week, one lawyer talking about another lawyer: "He lies so much he had to hire someone to call his dog."
Overload. Several Ohio Supreme Court justices have implored the General Assembly to do something about sentencing in Ohio. Now the plea comes from another source: the Ohio prisons chief:
Ohio's prisons director says unless sentencing guidelines are changed, the state's inmate population will reach 60,000 within a decade.
Ohio prisons are at 132 percent capacity with 50,719 inmates. Collins told lawmakers that without changes, Ohio would have to spend about $1 billion by 2018 to build extra space for the increased number of inmates.
Overpaid? Snaps to my main man Chief Justice Tom Moyer, who managed to guide the Ohio Supreme Court through the year at $1.5 million under budget, according to this press release. Good news for bad times; the cratering economy has caused even Moyer's USSC counterpart, Chief Justice Roberts, to tone down his annual plea for more money for judicial salaries. This may not merely reflect sentimentality toward the four million people who've lost their jobs over the past year; as the article notes, there's not exactly a paucity of people willing to take a job which allows them to retire after fifteen years at full salary for life. Plus, as this article notes, recent research questions whether judges are really leaving the bench because of the low salaries, and also indicates that salaries don't have much relationship to judicial performance.
Of course, some judges find unusual ways to augment their incomes; as this article relates, two juvenile judges in Pennsylvania did so by getting kickbacks for sentencing kids to two privately run youth detention centers.
Overstressed. Of course, judges aren't the only members of the legal profession feeling the economic pinch. $1000 per hour billing rates appear on the way out, and in fact there's some question of whether the billable hour will even survive. The market for those coming out of law school is pretty grim, with jobs in the legal sector down over 1% since a year ago. This prompted the local fishwrap to write a story on depression in lawyers. I started to read it, but it bummed me out so much I couldn't finish it.