Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's experience with criminal justice has made her tough on crime,according to a report by the Alliance for Justice.
The group,an association made up of several advocacy organizations,released the report Tuesday. It is the second of what will be a five-part series about Sotomayor's judicial history. The other reports focus on access to justice – which has been issued – constitutional law,business and consumer law and civil rights.
In a conference call,Alliance for Justice Legal Director William Yeomans called Sotomayor “an extremely careful judge” who closely follows precedent and is “reluctant to expand the law.” He cited the judge's time as a New York City prosecutor and subsequent judicial work as evidence of her “wealth of experience in criminal justice issues.”
Brina Milikowsky,Alliance for Justice criminal law researcher,described Sotomayor's sentencing as “fairly tough,” adding that the judge often gave steeper sentences than her colleagues did.
In contrast,Andrew Grossman,senior legal policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation,said Sotomayor was criticized during her confirmation hearings to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for sentencing convicted felons on the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. He mentioned one instance when the judge apologized to a defendant for giving him the mandatory minimum sentence.
“There was a lot of concern that what we would call empathy greatly influenced her judicial decisions,” he said.
Grossman said he was also concerned by Sotomayor's argument that barring felons from voting is discriminatory.
When dealing with habeas corpus petitions filed after the one-year time limit,Milikowsky said that Sotomayor preferred to follow procedure,rather than examine the merits of the case. She almost always declined the petitioner's request to be brought before the court,even when she did decide to examine the case.