View Full Version : speaking to a federal judge at sentencing

09-18-2009, 08:35 AM
Does anyone have advice on what to say before a federal judge? My boyfriend is being sentenced next Wednesday. He entered a guilty plea agreeing to 37 months. The Probation officer that made the PSR says she agrees to the 37 months and so does the US Marshall. I have a chance to speak before the judge. I do not expect that it will reduce the sentencing that everyone agrees to, but I would like to feel like what I say helps. He is facing drug related charges and it is to my understanding that mandatory minimums are what's given.

My boyfriend is being sentenced for something he did in '07. He was charged in '09. During that time he changed his life on his own, and we are here to suffer his bad decisions from the past. I want to tell the judge about how much he has changed without knowing that he would have ever faced criminal charges and that he is on a good path now. I depend on him for a lot of support with my 4 year old. And that's another thing he is a strong father figure to MY son, and he is not the father.

Have any of you been before the judge? Do you say anything that helped?
Thank you for your time.

09-18-2009, 11:25 PM
Although it's too late to write a letter to the judge now, the link below is an older post with some excellent advice that should give you ideas on what to say, or not say. If the link does not work, try searching in the federal general foums in the search box at the top using the phrase, letter to the judge at sentencing, or some similar phrase. Good luck too!

09-19-2009, 09:19 AM
thank you for the link, thankfully I did write a letter explaining the hardships I would come across in his absence. We have letters from family and friends, too.

09-19-2009, 10:01 AM
It is not too late to write a letter. The defense attorney can take it over on Tuesday, because it does need to be reviewed first. Many times we see witnesses have been prepped for sentencing testimony and the judge has decided they have enough information. It is not the norm in Federal court, even from family. You boyfriend's judge may allow it, but be prepared that he might not. They like to keep things moving in federal court.

The examples of good parenting, both emotional and financial are excellent and important information. Hopefully the PSR has at least alluded to this.

09-22-2009, 05:44 PM
The judge in our case requested letters and he read each one before the sentencing hearing. He also gave my fiance the chance to speak, and I have to say this judge really did listen to all the testimony and lack thereof that was presented. We were told though that not all judges are like this.
I would say that it certainly is worth a try.

09-23-2009, 11:29 AM
Glad to hear it! I had my sentencing yesterday and the judge acknowledged that he had read all the letters! My attorney had advised against my family saying anything but the judged asked if anyone wanted to speak and 3 of them went up. I was scared to death they would say something to make the judge mad but it went well and I honestly believe that the letters showed the judge that I did make poor judgement in being involved but it was not a representation of who i really am as a person. The judge gave me a lower sentence that the guidelines called for. It is good to know that there are judges who do at least take each case and the merits into consideration. I hope all goes well for you both!

10-02-2009, 10:19 PM
Having gone threw this , I can share the things that I believe makes a diff. in the courtroom and with the judge on that day ...
First , having letters wrote by friends , family , boss , ect. addressed to the judge to inform him of the kind of person your boyfriend is because in our case , the Judge DID take the time to read every one of them.
and second , when the Judge asks your boyfriend if he has anything to say ...SAY YES and address the Judge with respect and offer an appology not only to the Judge but to the pros. att. and to the presentance invest. and the courts and the community for taking up their time . Apologize to for the wrong that he has done. Let them know he takes responsibility for his actions and has learned from this !
I dont know what your b/f is in trouble for but in our case on court day the Judge DID read the letters and before he handed down his sentence the Judge ask my b/f if he had anything he would like to say....and my b/f replied NO ! My heart dropped ! I couldnt believe he said NO ! I thought he knew he needed to make peace to the court , but he didnt !
I believe with all my heart this would have made a diff. in his sentence ! From the way the Judge worded his statements about the recommended jail time and about the letters that had been writen , all was feeling good to me untill my b/f replied NO ...The look on the Judges face showed disappointment and he then sentenced him to the rec. time of 70 months !
I dont know , maybe I just had high hopes and maybe it wouldnt have made a diff. but I believe with all my heart that it would have ! A dear friend of ours set with me and went over all this and how important it was , but in all the nervousness I failed to tell him the importance of it because I thought she had gone over it with him , and now I have to live the next 4 to 6 yrs not knowing if it would have ' made the difference' ohh and the judge excepted letters that day before court !

10-02-2009, 10:30 PM
It is hard to live with the feeling that everything that could have been done was not done. Sentencing is a very emotional experience. I believe, in most cases, the judge has already made up his/her mind before he gets on the bench and has already filled out the legal forms. Assuming your boyfriend already gave his version of the situation to the probation officer and perhaps to the prosecutor, maybe he didn't have anything to add. Of course, you won't ever truly know, but if the defense attorney didn't ask for a variance, the judge had to sentence within the guideline range, which he did.

10-02-2009, 10:57 PM
bear on mind every judge is different some stick strictly to the psr and some go lower my son was not one of the lucky ones we had 7 letters and he had already made up his mind before he came to the bench we kept praying that it would be different and it is very emotional:confused: