Sunday, July 08, 2007

Scooter Libby vs Michael Milken

Two men. two "tragic, tragic falls" resulting in criminal convictions. Only one sentence was commuted.

If I were just coming out of a coma, my money would be on Michael Milken. As a young associate in New York, I was involved in the Drexel Burnham bankruptcy. After a year on the file, I knew the names of all of Milken's leveraged buyout partnerships, and nursed a secret love for Arthur Liman, Milken's lawyer. Mr. Liman was one of the last old time advocates; so compelling and persuasive was he that, for about a week after Milken's sentencing hearings I fantasized about becoming Mrs. Liman, Arthur's shiksa second wife, who he lovingly mentored to professional greatness.

The sentencing memorandum he prepared on behalf of his client ran to more than 140 pages and included testaments from Milken's seventh grade teacher. By contrast, Scooter Libby's sentencing memorandum was a pithy 33 pages. Both advocated probation.

What words moved a President to commute a prison sentence? Let's compare:

Philanthropy

Milken: "Michael Milken has donated in excess of $350 million to ...provide significant support to more than 700 charitable organizations and programs throughout the world."

Libby: "He helped a Viet Nam veteran obtain an endorsement deal for prosthetic limbs."

Contributions to the Public Interest

Milken: "Michael Milken has been teaching math classes regularly to children at the Maclaren Children's Centre..at the H.E.L.P. group... and at various other schools."

Libby: "Mr. Libby volunteered repeatedly to help train young policy analysts in the defense Department's annual Summer Study program...in Newport, Rhode Island."

Professional Accomplishments

Milken: Democratized access to capital by creating high yield securities, making capital available to the more than 95% of American businesses who lacked the pedigree to attract traditional institutional money.

Libby: "[Libby] pored over analytical reports in a way I do not believe is common in busy, high level political appointees."

Huh. You should know there are other submissions on Libby's behalf that are far more supportive of him. But the above extracts represent far more interesting choices by his lawyers. So what if Scooter got free summers in Newport? No need to emphasize the point when arguing for probation. My Arthur would never have allowed it.

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