To his many achievements — movie producer, philanthropist, serial intercourse offender — Harvey Weinstein can add failed lobbyist for leniency.
His 23-year jail sentence for sexual assault and third-degree rape is six years wanting the utmost sought by prosecutors, however 18 years greater than his attorneys had requested in a unprecedented plea for leniency. Weinstein “like most individuals, is difficult”, they wrote this week. The trial “didn’t pretty painting who he’s as an individual”.
As a fallen Hollywood mogul, Weinstein is aware of biopic can not embrace all the pieces. However then maybe he has misplaced his self-awareness (in addition to his marriage, firm, privateness, and “means to earn a residing”). That explains his attorneys’ try to influence the decide to take account of his “industrial success and contribution to the humanities and leisure trade”.
Weinstein’s attraction for clemency was uncommon, although, just for its flagrancy. When the great-but-not-so-good discover themselves in very popular water, they huge up “prior good works” and name in all of the favours they will. In 2004, home diva Martha Stewart acquired a five-month jail sentence for mendacity a few suspicious inventory sale. Her decide acquired greater than 1,500 letters from followers and a rambling missive from Ms Stewart describing how as a toddler she had cherished Willa Cather’s frontier novels and determined that “even when I couldn’t be a pioneer . . . I may try to forge new territories for American enterprise”.
Alfred Taubman, Sotheby’s former chairman, convicted in 2002 for main a price-fixing conspiracy with different public sale homes, despatched the decide a sure e-book of character references, from Queen Noor of Jordan and former president Gerald Ford amongst others. One notice, from his housekeeper, defined how Taubman had graciously declined to fireplace one other member of workers who had by chance killed his prized goldfish.
Just like the attorneys for Weinstein, who was in a wheelchair for sentencing, Taubman’s group cited age and poor well being in mitigation. They identified the businessman, then 78, may not dwell past the utmost three-year time period. He was imprisoned for 10 months and lived for an additional 12 years.
Then there may be the miracle restoration of Ernest Saunders, convicted over share value manipulation throughout the Guinness takeover of Distillers. Mr Saunders, now 84, was described by his barrister at trial in 1990 as “a shambling determine of a person, a person prematurely aged”. He efficiently appealed and had his five-year sentence halved, after convincing the court docket he suffered from pre-senile dementia. After serving 10 months, he pursued a profession as a guide and investor.
Generally enterprise leaders-turned-felons promise future good works in lieu of jail time. In 2012, attorneys for Rajat Gupta, former McKinsey managing accomplice, recommended he do neighborhood service in rural Rwanda as penance for securities fraud. Federal decide Jed Rakoff joked the proposition was “Peace Corps for insider merchants” and sentenced him to 2 years in jail.
In such trials, judges face what is named the paradox of leniency and severity. A 1982 research of white collar crime sentencing discovered that “the upper [the offender’s] social place, the higher their blameworthiness in the event that they violate the belief proven in them . . . [But] individuals who occupy such positions usually have impeccable data”. As Weinstein’s attorneys tried to argue, he was “a first-time offender”.
The gravity of Weinstein’s crimes units him aside. His spokeswoman claimed quite a few mates provided to jot down references. All most well-liked to remain nameless. Choose Rakoff’s feedback on Mr Gupta’s sentencing are related. Reviewing his contributions to society, the decide noticed that whereas he was probably man, “the historical past of this nation and the world . . . is stuffed with examples of excellent males who do unhealthy issues”.