Justice for a backdater

Cite this Article
Larry Ribstein, Justice for a backdater, Truth on the Market (November 11, 2010), https://truthonthemarket.com/2010/11/11/justice-for-a-backdater/

Two days ago I discussed the sentencing of KB Home’s Bruce Karatz, where the court was weighing the Probation Office’s recommendation of home detention against the U.S. Attorney’s 6.5 year jail sentence recommendation.  I noted the argument that was being made that “swindlers shouldn’t be treated better than dope dealers,” and responded “Injustice to drug dealers doesn’t justify injustice to backdaters.”

Peter Lattman writing in today’s Dealbook reports that the judge not only accepted the Probation Office’s recommendation, but slammed the prosecutors.  The prosecutors had argued:

To promote respect for the law, the public must be assured that a wealthy, well-connected individual, regardless of his station, array of prominent friends and associates, history of private success or acts of public largess, will be subject to the same standard of criminal justice as those less fortunate.

Judge Otis D. Wright II called the memo “mean-spirited and beneath this office,” adding:

But what was even more disturbing was the inflammatory language in the government’s report that if this court did not impose a harsh sentence that it was evidence of a two-tiered justice system, one of the rich and one for everyone else. To invite public ridicule and scorn on this institution, I think, is unspeakable.” * * * I don’t care, sir, whether or not you have a pot to piss in,” Judge Wright said to Mr. Karatz. “What you get here is fairness.

John Emshwiller of Enron story fame, reporting on the sentencing in the WSJ, evidently didn’t think the judge’s outburst was very notable, since his only reference to it in the story was the mild comment:  

The judge also criticized the prosecutors for raising the specter in their filings that Mr. Karatz might receive leniency because of his wealth and success.