A federal judge in New York denounced Congress’ toughening of the federal sentencing guidelines as he gave a lesser sentence to a man who admitted firing shots at the United Nations building.
Calling recent legislation in Congress aimed at reducing such “downward departures” by judges “their latest attack on the third branch of government,” Southern District Judge Robert P. Patterson Patterson on Monday gave a man who fired the shots in a political protest a lesser sentence than agreed to in a plea agreement between the prosecution and the defense.
According to the New York Law Journal, Patterson found that Steven Kim’s decision to fire seven shots at the United Nations to call attention to the repressive regime in North Korea in October 2002 did not meet the definition of aggravated assault, the crime to which Kim had already pleaded guilty.
Patterson sentenced Kim to 25 months, not the 30 and 37 months specified in the guidelines.
The Journal said Patterson’s actions were the latest example of an increasingly vocal judiciary fighting back against what it sees as congressional meddling.