First the bad news: we're not getting the letters sent in support of sentencing until the hearing. I had hoped to send a letter urging for their earlier release. The media and the blogosphere, after all, are going to be in a much better position than Judge Walton to determine whether some of Libby's letter-writers have real conflicts and should be ignored completely. But the damn WiFi in Hartford airport stank and I couldn't get the letter done. Not sure what a little old blogger could have done anyway, given Walton's very pragmatic reasoning behind the timing of the release of the letters:
...the sheer volume of these letters also means the Court will not have an opportunity to fully review each of the letters, let alone to assess what role, if any, they might play in its consideration of a just and reasonable sentence, until the evening before the June 5, 2007 sentencing hearing. The Court cannot conceive of any justification, legal or otherwise, for disclosing the sentencing letters to the media before it has even had the opportunity to read and evaluate them itself. [my emphasis]
Ut oh, Jeffress, Judge Walton appears not to like spam. As I've always said: two rules about Reggie, don't waste his time or the government's money.
But the rest of Walton's order is full of very interesting details. First, Walton gives us a number:
The Court has received more than one hundred and fifty sentencing letters in this case, some urging for leniency for the dependent and some expressing opprobium at the defendant's actions and calling for the imposition of a substantial prison sentence. [my emphasis]
Looking more and more like spam every day. If you're keeping score on the disgraced former public official count, there were nine letters sent in support of a harsh sentence for Bob Ney, and about ninety-five pages of letters (didn't count the actual number) in support of leniency for Ney. So Libby is more popular, not surprisingly, than a two-bit bribery recipient.
Then, look at the language Walton uses to describe this crime:
This large number of letters sentencing letters ... is indicative of ... the weightiness of the underlying charges. [my emphasis]
Ut oh, Barbara Comstock. Walton must not read the WaPo editorial page, if he's talking about the weightiness of the underlying charges. Who's going to tell Fred Hiatt?
Finally, there's the language Walton uses to support expansive disclosure:
Especially in a case of this nature, the Court must strive to be as transparent as possible without compromising the fairness of the system or the ability of the Court to acquire information relevant and helpful to the sentencing process.
And then in a footnote modifying a statement that the Court will redact "private details concerning the letter-writers themselves--including, but not necessarily limited to, the letter-writers' home addresses and telephone numbers," Walton notes:
To the extent that the defendant believes that the sentencing letters contain private information about the letters' authors (other than home addresses and telephone numbers) that should, in his estimation, be redacted before the letters are publicly disclosed, he should immediately, but no later than 9:00 a.m. on June 4, 2007, identify this information to the court in an ex parte submission. However, the Court advises the defendant that it will not be inclined to redact such information unless it is plainly sensitive or confidential.[my emphasis]
Thank you, Judge Walton, for keeping this process transparent.
Update: From TheOtherWA, apparently Abramoff got 262 letters in favor of leniency. Which puts the count at Ney ~70, Libby 150, and Abramoff 262.