When President Bush erased the prison term of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, he reinforced some Americans’ perception that status can affect justice, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who sentenced Libby, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In commuting the 2 1/2 -year prison term of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Bush called Walton’s sentence excessive, given Libby’s “exceptional public service” and lack of criminal history. “There are a lot of people in America who think that justice is determined to a large degree by who you are and that what you have plays a large role in what kind of justice you receive,” said Walton, 59, who spoke in Milwaukee yesterday. “It is crucial that the American public respect the rule of law, or people won’t follow it.”
A jury found Libby guilty of four felonies for lying to FBI agents and the grand jury that investigated the leak of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity. Walton, who said he and his family were threatened after he handed down the sentence, said the time he gave Libby was at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines. “I believe firmly you apply the law and apply it strictly,” Walton said. “I don’t give white-collar criminals a pass.” Bush’s commutation of Libby’s prison sentence stopped short of a pardon. Libby’s $250,000 fine and felony conviction remain, along with two years of probation.