A Pittsburgh federal judge who is quitting the bench says that federal sentencing guidelines are “morally wrong” and have disproportionally affected minorities and poor people. The Associated Press says that U.S. District Judge Robert Cindrich, who is becoming legal counsel for a hospital, said federal judges have become little more than functionaries. “We have been sidelined,” Cindrich told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Make no mistake about it. The ones at the bottom of the food chain have no one to offer up. That’s one of the great frustrations. It happens all the time. And as judges, we’re stuck.”
An anticrime bill signed by President Bush last year and requires judges to strictly follow the guidelines. Reports on judges who deviate are forwarded to the Justice Department and to Congress.
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in Pittsburgh said that the guidelines ensure a fair sentence for all defendants. “A defendant’s sentence should not be significantly affected because of the individual prosecutor assigned to the case, or the district court judge who is imposing sentence,” she said.