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Dallas Morning News
March 10, 2012

Study shows wide disparity in drug sentencing by federal judges in Dallas-Fort Worth
By Jason Tahan

U.S. District Judge John McBryde in Fort Worth and U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas don't work that far apart, but the distance between the two in sentencing drug convicts is the widest in the nation, a new study says. The gap - a difference of 100 months, or over eight years - was calculated in a first-of-its-kind comparison of sentences by individual judges across the country. But experts disagree on whether it is evidence of injustice or is in line with the nature of the individual cases they handled. "This finding raises questions about the extent to which federal sentences are influenced by the particular judge who was assigned to decide it rather than just the specific facts and circumstances of that case," said Susan Long, a professor and co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The sentencing gap In the Northern District of Texas, these judges handled 40 or more drug cases in a five-year span. The median length of sentences handed down by federal judges John McBryde and David Godbey is the widest split in any federal district in the U.S. a difference of 100 months. Here is the median sentence imposed by judge, in months (with court location, years on the bench, and the president who appointed the judge): U.S. District Judge John McBryde, 160 months Fort Worth, 22 years, George H.W. Bush Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater, 121 months Dallas, 26 years, Ronald Reagan U.S. District Judge Terry Means, 102 months Fort Worth, 21 years, George H.W. Bush U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings, 87 months Lubbock, 25 years, Ronald Reagan U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson, 87 months Amarillo, 33 years, Jimmy Carter U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, 71 months Dallas, 10 years, George W. Bush U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay, 70 months Dallas, 14 years, Bill Clinton U.S. District Judge David Godbey, 60 months Dallas, 10 years, George W. Bush SOURCE: Analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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