Court Refuses House Chairman Demand In Drug Case


Chairman James Sensenbrenner of the House Judiciary Committee privately demanded last month that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago change a decision in a narcotics case because he didn’t believe a drug courier got a harsh enough prison term, the Chicago Tribune reports. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), in a five-page letter dated June 23, demanded a “prompt response” from Chief Judge Joel Flaum on what steps Flaum would take “to rectify” a June 16 3-judge panel ruling in the case of a drug courier in a Chicago police corruption case receiving a 97-month prison sentence instead of at least 120 months required by a drug-conspiracy statute.

Jay Apperson, a congressional attorney who brought the ruling to Sensenbrenner’s attention, added: “We can’t have judges violating the law.” The panel amended its ruling to cite a Supreme Court case that showed Sensenbrenner was wrong. David Zlotnick, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and an expert on federal sentencing law, said, “I think it’s completely inappropriate for a congressman to send a letter to a court telling them to change a ruling.” Sensenbrenner’s letter is the latest example of a threat leveled by congressmen unhappy with court decisions, particularly controversial ones such as those in the Terri Schiavo case.


Comments are closed.