On Monday, June 13, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the 18 month sentence of Anthony Mangone, a disbarred Westchester County lawyer convicted of corruption charges whose testimony helped convict three New York state senators and a chief of staff, a Yonkers councilwoman, the chairman of the Yonkers Republican party and an attorney. In vacating the sentence, the panel criticized Manhattan federal judge Colleen McMahon, stating that she had gone “beyond the entirely appropriate condemnation of a defendant’s criminal conduct” when she commented that she “take[s] it very personally when a lawyer commits crimes,” because members of the judge’s family and most of her personal friends are attorneys. The Court went on: “The comments that were made could be taken to indicate that the judge considered herself personally invested in the outcome, as if she or her friends were individually aggrieved by the defendant’s crimes.” In addition, Judge McMahon relied on a mistaken sentencing guidelines calculation when sentencing Mr. Mangone. The Court of Appeals noted that because Judge McMahon said nothing to suggest she would have imposed the same sentence regardless of the correct guidelines range, the sentence was vacated.
Numerous Errors, Personal Disgust of the Sentencing Judge
Judge McMahon’s additional personal disgust with Mr. Mangone – that his crimes made her “physically ill” and her comparison of him to a child pornographer – was determined by the Court of Appeals to simply be “a rhetorically emphatic way of expressing a legitimate negative view of [Mr. Mangone’s] conduct, and they do not show that the court harbored any personal bias against Mangone.” For that reason, the Court declined to reassign the case to a different judge upon remand.
The Court of Appeals also examined Judge McMahon’s repeatedly expressed view that defense counsel and the prosecutor had “entered a questionable plea deal, in violation of the normal policies of the United States Attorney’s Office, in order to ‘try to control the judge’s sentencing decision.’” As said by Mr. Mangone’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, and confirmed by the government during the oral argument, no such conspiracy to circumvent Judge McMahon existed and no such government policy exists. Other errors were relied upon by the judge during Mr. Mangone’s sentencing including her mistaken belief that he had committed numerous additional crimes relating to his tenure as an attorney, had stolen money from his clients’ trust account and had committed perjury during a grand jury appearance in order to avoid an indictment. In its ruling, the Court of Appeals decided that such errors and the judge’s “perhaps overly emphatic expressions of its views” would not give a “reasonable observer the impression that the sentence was influenced by personal considerations rather than by dispassionate analysis” – and that Mr. Mangone’s attorneys and the prosecutor will have the “opportunity to lay out in sentencing submissions a full explanation” of all of her “misapprehended facts about the case.”
In discussing the vacating of Mr. Mangone’s sentence, Jeffrey Lichtman told the press that he and his client are “happy to get a second chance” and look forward to “clearing up the errors and misunderstandings which led to an excessive 18 month sentence. While the case was not reassigned I strongly believe in Judge McMahon’s ability to fairly reconsider Anthony’s circumstances, this time with all of the correct information before her,” Lichtman said.
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The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman has won numerous federal and state appeals throughout the country, as well as motions for new trials which have vacated prison sentences of dozens of years. In addition, we have successfully moved to dismiss indictments in which are clients were facing decades in prison and have gutted prosecutions with successful suppression motions. If you would like to discuss your appeal with a top New York federal appeals attorney, call us at (212) 581-1001 to make an appointment today.