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Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Pickering, Again

We all thought he left with Trent Lott. Now Bush has decided to re-nominate him to the Federal bench, so here we go. One of Pickering's "troubling issues" was a 1994 cross-burning case, described by People for the American Way thusly:

Several senators questioned Pickering about a 1994 cross-burning case in which Pickering went to extraordinary lengths on behalf of one of the defendants. A Feb. 11 Legal Times article noted that Senator John Edwards "questioned both Pickering's sensitivity to crimes of racial bias and the propriety of the judge's efforts to intervene."

In the case, two men and a juvenile had burned an eight-foot cross on the lawn of an interracial couple with a young child. The juvenile and one of the men, described as borderline mentally retarded, pleaded guilty and received reduced sentences. The third, described by the Justice Department as the leader of the conspiracy, refused to plead and was convicted after a trial. He faced a much more severe sentence, largely because of a mandatory minimum sentence for crimes involving arson that had been enacted by Congress. Defendants who cooperate with the prosecution and do not force the government to go to trial are routinely given reduced sentences, but Pickering took unusual and ethically questionable steps in getting the government to drop the charge with the mandatory minimum and acquiesce in a shorter sentence.

Byron York of NRO rebutted this quite forcefully.

Michael Crowley of TNR reviews the Senate hearing, the pro-Pickering counter-attack, and leaves us with their thoughts.

And, for those with too much free time, the WSJ and BlackElectorate.com.

UPDATE: The Viking marches on Chuck Schumer and his role in this.

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