By Corinne Murdock |
On Monday, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) announced that he would vote to approve Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court (SCOTUS) seat. Kelly said that he supported all of Jackson’s record on case rulings, which likely included the slew of controversial criminal judgments that gave lenient sentencing to violent criminals.
“After speaking with Judge Jackson and reviewing her record and approach to deciding cases, I believe her to be very well qualified and having demonstrated a commitment to fairly interpret and uphold the Constitution on our nation’s highest court,” said Kelly.
On Sunday, a day before Kelly’s announcement, the New York Post reported that one of the convicted child rapists who’d received lowered sentencing twice from Jackson had been arrested for assault. Sex offender Leo Weekes received one year in prison with credit for time served for failing to register as a sex offender, a classification he earned for raping his 13-year-old niece four years earlier. Jackson’s sentence allowed Weekes to be released five months later. The federal guideline minimum for Weekes’ crime would have been two years in prison. A year later, Weekes was arrested for the attempted sexual assault of his sister-in-law, though she dropped the charges; prosecutors claimed that Weekes paid her off. Several years later, Weekes was back in court for failing to register as a sex offender and violating multiple stipulations of his probation, again coming before Jackson. Again, Jackson gave Weekes a punishment lower than what the guidelines suggested: a 24-month sentence overlapping with his punishment for the previous assault conviction.
As the New York Post report noted, the Weekes case was not included among the seven cases given to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. The requested cases were to clarify Jackson’s habit of sentencing below federal guidelines and the requests of prosecutors.
A day prior, the New York Post also broke the story that Jackson gave lenient sentencing to those convicted of multiple counts of child torture during hearings on eight child porn cases. For those cases, Jackson argued against applying recommended sentencing because she disagreed with the relevance, severity, and logic of child pornography law. Like with Weekes, Jackson reduced one defendant’s original sentence of 60 months, the mandatory minimum that fell under the average sentence of 81 months for similar cases, by giving him credit for time served, thereby reducing his sentence to 38 months.
To another defendant last year charged with child porn distribution, Jackson expressed sympathy and called family members’ letters portraying the defendant in a positive light, “mitigating factors.” Jackson said she wasn’t persuaded by the prosecution’s display of the more “egregious or extreme” child porn distributed by the defendant.
Jackson also advocated for the release of all those imprisoned in Washington, D.C., at the start of the pandemic. She managed to grant several releases to those charged with or convicted of major crimes, such as the member of a fentanyl trafficking ring and a serial bank robber.
Despite this track record, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats portrayed Jackson as tough on crime.