GOP lawmakers revealed that the White House kept under the table a child pornography trial in which Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a sentence far below the probation office’s recommendation.
Republicans are questioning whether the White House “intentionally omitted” the case in turning over the materials to the Committee on the Judiciary to get Jackson nominated as a Supreme Court candidate.
It involved a lawsuit from less than a year ago when Jackson was about to be elevated to the DC Circuit Court. The case bore the title US v. Cane and involved a man who had possession of “over 6,500 files depicting children appearing to be of elementary, middle and high school ages, engaged in sexual acts or posing sexually.”
The probation office recommended a sentence of 84 months in the case, but Jackson sentenced the man to only 60 months in prison, which was the mandatory minimum.
According to Fox News, the White House said the Cane case was inadvertently left off a list given to the committee that compared Jackson’s sentences to the probation office’s recommendations in 14 child abuse cases; it claims it did not send the information because it happened too close to the end of the judge’s term on the D.C. District Court.
“Not only does this case, which Judge Jackson left off her list of child abuse cases, undercut her argument that she followed the probation office’s recommended sentences, but it also underscores the perils of moving too quickly in the vetting process,” a Republican Judiciary Committee aide told Fox News.
“The transcripts—the only public material to address sentencing in this case—confirm that the probation office recommended a longer sentence than the minimum term imposed by Judge Jackson,” an aide to the Republican Judiciary Committee told Fox News.
Republicans argued during last week’s hearings that Jackson consistently sentenced child pornography offenders below prosecutors’ recommendations; Democrats and the White House countered that Jackson was in the mainstream among federal judges for sentencing child pornography offenders.
“They hid it from the public despite knowing Judge Jackson gives lenient sentences to criminals. The White House is still refusing to be transparent about Judge Jackson’s record,” charged Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
In the transcript of the sentencing hearing in the Cane case, Jackson ignores some of the images and videos that the probation office relied on before making its recommendation.
A Washington Post story recently revealed another case in which a convicted child pornography offender was grateful to Judge Jackson for giving him only months of detention and not five to six years like other cases.
“I wasn’t very happy that she gave me three months, though, after reflection when I was in jail, I was hearing from other people who said it was their first time arrested and they got five years, six years,” Wesley Hawkins told the WaPo.
Hawkins, a resident of the District of Columbia, was arrested and charged with distributing more than 600 images of child pornography in 2013. He pleaded guilty and faced up to 20 years in prison. If sentencing guidelines were followed, Hawkins would have been incarcerated between 97 and 121 months. Prosecutors recommended 24 months behind bars, based in part on the defendant’s age, who was 19 at the time.
Jackson opted to sentence Hawkins to only three months in prison, as well as three months of home confinement and 73 months of probation.
This case also came up in the hearing before the Senate when Republican lawmakers complained to him about the decision.
“This is a case, you had an 18-year-old who possessed and distributed hundreds of images of eight-year-olds and nine-year-old and 10-year-olds, and you gave him, frankly, a slap on the wrist of three months,” Hawley told the judge.
More scandal: she apologized to a criminal
Jackson argues that courts should empathize with all people, no matter how egregious their behavior, and seek to rehabilitate them and not just “lock them up and throw the key away.”
A report published by RealClearInvestigations highlights cases in which Ketanji Brown Jackson reduced sentences for drug traffickers, pedophiles, and terrorists.
According to the portal, in 2011 Jackson believed that the country’s anti-drug laws were too harsh and especially “unfair” to blacks.
According to transcripts reviewed by RealClear, Jackson felt that keeping drug dealers in prison for long periods of time did not make sense, because according to her they would still re-offend.
“If we keep them in jail for the extra 36 months, or whatever, they’re going to recidivate at the same rate as if we released them early. So I don’t see how public protection is being affected one way or the other in that scenario,” Jackson said in response to then-U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose, who said that apprehending these offenders protects the public’s safety.
Report states that Jackson recommended early release for more than 31,000 drug dealers:
“But Jackson wasn’t satisfied with releasing only inmates locked up for dealing crack. In 2014, she helped push a proposal to slash sentencing guidelines for the full array of drug offenses,” Real Clear Investigations states.
“All told, more than 31,000 drug traffickers were granted early release, and most are now back on the streets. Studies show many of them are career criminals whose drug crimes involved guns,” it reads.
In 2020, for example, convicted drug dealer Keith J. Young asked Jackson for a so-called “compassionate release” from federal prison. In 2017, Young was arrested with two bricks of heroin laced with fentanyl and an arsenal of weapons, including handguns with several extended magazines. A jury found him guilty in 2018 and Jackson sentenced him to the mandatory 20 years in prison.
However, Jackson, instead of being proud of her decision, apologized to the convicted man. She told him she shared his “frustration” with the law, which she found “quite frankly upsetting,” and apologized for having to abide by it.
“I am sorry, mostly because I believe in second chances and because a person with your characteristics and family support would have had a real shot at turning your life around,” she told the criminal.