Obama Fixes ‘Kafka’ Sentencing Goof With Clemency


President Obama this week cut prison time for a drug convict sentenced to more than three extra years because of a typographical error in a court order, reports the Associated Press. Ceasar Cantu is only the 10th inmate Obama has granted a commutation, and his case was unusual. He pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering after prosecutors said he used his Houston trucking company to help move tons of marijuana from Mexico through Texas and into Virginia.

He was sentenced in Danville, Va., in 2006 by U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser, who based his decision on a pre-sentencing report that had a critical error in “base offense level” that takes into consideration the crime’s severity and the defendant’s criminal history. The report correctly listed Cantu’s level at 34 in one part, but incorrectly listed it at 36 in the portion that calculated a recommended sentence of up to 22 years. Cantu discovered the error himself in 2012, but Kiser rejected his motion due to a statute of limitations. Obama fixed the problem with clemency. In an editorial, the New York Times called the case “a scenario that would make Kafka blush.”

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