The federal judge who sentenced Weldon Angelos to 55 years and one day in prison in 2004 said his hands were tied by mandatory-minimum sentencing laws, calling his own sentence “unjust, cruel, and even irrational.” Now, reports Am Law Daily, a law professor and a group of lawyers are challenging the sentence on the ground that the Supreme Court decision on the Washington, D.C., handgun ban protects Angelos and others like him convicted of gun crimes.
Ohio State University law Prof. Douglas Berman helped devise the legal strategy. Angelos is hoping to have his sentence overturned by the U.S District Court in Salt Lake City after a federal appeals court upheld it in 2006 and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Bergman argues that the high court ruling should make it harder to tack dozens of years on to a prison sentence simply because someone happens to own a gun. Says Berman: “I’m fighting people on the left who think this guy’s a bad person just because he touched a gun, and I’m fighting people on the right who like guns but don’t like people like (Angelos) with guns.” The Supreme Court case “says the Second Amendment has to mean something,” Berman says. That should mean that so much extra punishment simply for owning or carrying guns is cruel and unusual, he argues.