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Study shows Sotomayor gave out tough sentences

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor typically handed out tougher prison sentences than her colleagues in the federal courthouse in Manhattan, especially to white-collar criminals, a new study says.

Nearly half the people Sotomayor sentenced for financial fraud and other white-collar crimes received at least 6 months in prison, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

By contrast, roughly one out of three white-collar convicts received similarly lengthy prison terms from the other trial judges in the Southern District of New York, the study found.

Sotomayor served as a trial judge from 1992 to 1998, when she joined the federal appeals court in New York.

TRAC looked at 7,750 criminal cases handled by 52 judges during that period. Sotomayor presided over 261 of those prosecutions. TRAC obtained the data from the Justice Department under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

For drug cases and a wide range of other matters grouped together by TRAC, Sotomayor was slightly more likely to hand out any prison time as well as sentences of at least six months.

The 55-year-old New Yorker, nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Justice David Souter, spent five years as a prosecutor in state court in New York.

Her confirmation hearings begin Monday.

Congress to hear firefighter

Republicans plan to call a white firefighter whose reverse discrimination claim was rejected by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to testify against her. New Haven, Conn., firefighter Frank Ricci sued over his city's decision to scrap the results of a promotion test because too few minorities scored highly enough to qualify. He's one of 14 witnesses Republicans will call during Senate hearings on Sotomayor's confirmation that open Monday. Sotomayor was part of an appellate court panel that rejected Ricci's claim. The Supreme Court reversed the ruling last week.

Study shows Sotomayor gave out tough sentences 07/09/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009 10:22pm]
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