GENERAL BARR: ON BEHALF OF A SMALL BUT ELITE CLASS OF CURRENT AND FUTURE CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS, THANK YOU*
Untitled, Pen and Ink, 9" x 13", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
Honorable William P. Barr, United States Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear General Barr:
I write to express my sincere appreciation for your leadership and courage on behalf of a small but elite class of current and future federal criminal defendants.
I am a criminal defense attorney in a Red state. My law practice consists primarily of defending individuals—mostly white men—who find themselves charged with white collar crimes including public corruption and obstruction of justice (and who have the means to hire private counsel, of course). My clients—who exercise their constitutional rights by forcing the United States to prove the charges but who juries, nonetheless, find guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt—face the complex sentencing process which includes the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
I have closely followed the Roger Stone prosecution in the District of Columbia. Until recently I was unaware you had interceded on Mr. Stone’s behalf, in the interests of fairness and equal justice under the law. You are receiving unfair criticism for your intervention. You demanded that the prosecutors in a branch of the Department of Justice, the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, correct their horribly unfair sentencing recommendations which, coincidentally, fell squarely within the Federal Sentencing Guideline range of the seven crimes for which Mr. Stone was convicted. Lucky for Mr. Stone you caught it.
Your courageous efforts have set new precedent and opportunities for certain defendants who face the Draconian Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Thanks to those efforts my next Sentencing Memorandum will use as template, with attribution to you and your Office of course, the Stone prosecution’s February 11, 2020 rebuttal to the Stone prosecution’s February 10, 2020 Sentencing Memorandum in which it recommended a Guidelines sentence of seven-nine years in prison based on the base offense level and the enhancement for making death threats. I had never before seen prosecutors argue in favor of and against the very same sentencing enhancement in successive filings.
Fortunately for Mr. Stone, his association with Mr. Trump was sufficiently public that this injustice came to your attention. I trust, in the interests of fairness and equal justice under the law, you will sift through the haystacks of convicted defendants who await sentencing to find the overreach and miscarriages of justice by overzealous prosecutors who have the temerity to recommend that courts impose sentences falling squarely within the Guidelines Range for the crimes of which they find themselves convicted. Members of the public who are not attorneys or who do not practice criminal law in federal court may not understand just how unfair the original sentencing recommendation was and why you found it necessary to intervene on Mr. Stone’s behalf. But I get it.
Yes, a jury unanimously convicted Mr. Stone of all seven counts including five counts of lying to Congress in the January 24, 2019 Indictment. But the charges weren’t all that serious, really. No one takes obstruction of Congress seriously these days, including you and the Department of Justice under your leadership. Right? Apparently not even when the obstructive conduct involves death threats and threats of physical violence. And Mr. Stone had no choice. After he lied repeatedly to Congress and was to be found out if Mr. Credico testified truthfully or gave truthful answers to federal investigators, he had to keep Mr. Credico quiet. And the death threat, as you instructed prosecutors to argue in the second Sentencing Memorandum, and threat against his service animal weren’t serious, regardless of what the jury found. You’ve seen how Mr. Stone dresses, right? That permanent smirk? The Nixonian gestures? And that tattoo? It’s pretty hard to take anything he does or says seriously, including posting on Instagram a photo of the judge next to crosshairs.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in a number of traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers