Real World Graduation, Question 96: Setting the Stage

RealWorldGraduation_Question_96_Setting_the_Stage   <– PDF

Consider these two fictional newspaper stories.

Ex-County Executive Gets Jail Time for Multiple Felonies

David S. Ramsey, former Republican County Executive of Hamilton County, Arkansas, received an unusually light sentence of 8 years and 2 months in a federal prison for many sensational crimes, among which are (unsurprisingly) witness intimidation, mail fraud, and bribery.

Ramsey’s defense team presented a bizarre argument for probation, claiming that Ramsey had spent many years as a public official, and was known as “a good husband and father that had made some serious mistakes but was sincerely repentant for his actions”.   Prosecutors had demanded that Ramsey be sentenced to the maximum 30 years as allowed for these three convictions.  But U. S. District Judge Paula Wilson, who willfully ignored the guidelines, sentenced the former Republican politician to a shorter term that is in fact less than one-third of the maximum.   Ramsey will also have to pay a $100,000 fine, less than one years pay from his former $110,000 salary, and will also have to pay a paltry $250,000 in restitution.

Ramsey, 65, had been a state representative for the township of Richmond.  When Democratic County Executive Sheila Watson was killed in a tragic automobile accident, Republican Ramsey seized the opportunity presented by the vacancy, and took over her office in a special election in 1993.  He was accepted by the voters during a few of his early years in office, winning elections in 1994 and 1998 with about two-thirds of the vote.  Due to a curious quirk in the law, even though he will be in jail for multiple felony convictions, Ramsey will continue to receive his $75,000 annual pension throughout his prison term. Wilson was appointed to the bench by Republican President Richard Nixon.


Ex-County Executive Receives Sentence

Former Delaware County Executive George F. Dunaway was sentenced to ninety-eight months in federal prison in a questionable corruption case.

Prosecutors had demanded that Mr. Dunaway be sentenced to 30 years, technically the maximum allowable for convictions of this type. Dunaway’s defense team respectfully petitioned the judge for probation.  U. S. District Court Judge Sandra McMillan rejected the plea for leniency from the public servant’s legal team, ordering Mr. Dunaway to pay a heavy $100,000 fine and imposed an additional harsh requirement to pay a quarter of a million dollars in restitution, in addition to the long prison sentence.

Mr. Dunaway was convicted last year of mail fraud, bribery, and witness intimidation in a trial of questionable legitimacy.   His defense team noted that Dunaway had been a long-time public servant who was “a good husband and father …  who was sincerely repentant for his actions”.  Tragically, Mr. Dunaway will be 73 years old by the time he is released from custody.

Dunaway (D) was a well-known state representative from Marlboro Heights who ran successfully for County Executive in a 1993 special election upon the death of then-Executive Thomas P. Randolph (R) in a car accident.  He became wildly popular public official, winning re-elections in 1994 and 1998 by overwhelming 66% majorities in both races.  As County Executive, Mr. Dunaway’s annual salary was $110,000 per year, and he will justly continue to receive a $75,000 annual pension for his service.  Judge McMillan was appointed to the U. S. District Court by Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

Which of the following is true, based on these two stories:

a)   Judges appointed by Democratic Presidents tend to give higher sentences because they are tough on crime

b)   Republican judges find a way to help other Republicans convicted of crimes

c)   Ramsey should have received the full 30 years because he took advantage of someone’s death

d)   Prosecutors in the Dunaway case attempted to trick Judge McMillan by citing technicalities, which could have resulted in an unfair sentence for Dunaway. Fortunately, McMillan was smart enough not to fall for the tricks.

e)   Dunaway did not have the benefit of an adequate defense

(The answer is on p. 3 of the PDF.)

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