Such A Deal (or Snitches Get Stitches)

In a delightfully titled post that gets the joke backwards,* Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughered [sic],  Judge Richard Kopf poses the question that arose in the Third Circuit opinion in United States v. Erwin.

If you are a drug dealer with a Criminal History Category of I, and you cooperate, sign an appeal waiver, and then breach the appeal waiver because you are unhappy with the sentence of 188 months (151 to 188 months was the range after the cooperation departure motion) rather than somewhere at or below the statutory maximum of 240 months (without the statutory max., the range was 262 to 327 months) , what’s the worst that can happen?  According to the Third Circuit, a defendant who breaches the plea agreement in such a situation will find his 188 month sentence vacated, and the case remanded for resentencing without the motion for departure!

For those who don’t appreciate the ramifications, allow me to explain. Christopher Erwin ran a large-scale oxycodone distribution ring in New Jersey, which the prosecution tagged the “Erwin Organization” because it always sounds most nefarious when you give it a cool name.  Even though Erwin was the top dog, he decided that his best move was to flip out on his underlings, and the government was only too happy to oblige.

So Erwin became a rat, copped out and took down his own people.  He executed a plea agreement that included a waiver of appeal.  The government dressed him up in fancy ribbons and smeared him with lipstick, and he served his purpose. Then came Erwin’s day to be sentenced. 

Most snitches think the love showered on them by the government when they need their information is sincere; at sentence, they get their 5k1.1 letter, detailing how they’re now the government’s bestest friend, and the sentencing judge commends their civic responsibility by imposing an ice cream party and a brief stay in Club Fed, followed by hugs and kisses as they return home to start all over again.  Erwin got 188 months.  For the math impaired, that’s 15 years, 8 months (because under §3553(a), 15 years, 7 months would have been inadequate).

Erwin was not amused.  So he appealed his sentence to the Third Circuit.  The Third Circuit was not amused either.

For the following reasons, we conclude that Erwin’s appeal is within the scope of his appellate waiver, to which he knowingly and voluntarily agreed, and that he has failed to raise any meritorious grounds for circumventing the waiver. We further conclude that Erwin breached the plea agreement by appealing, and that the appropriate remedy for his breach is specific performance of the agreement’s terms: that is, the Government will be excused from its obligation to move for a downward departure. We will therefore vacate Erwin’s judgment of sentence and remand for de novo resentencing in accordance with this opinion.

Erwin argued that he was told that if he did the dirty well enough in its eyes, the government might urge the sentencing judge for a five-level downward departure, with the necessary caveat that the judge, of course, could ignore the government and sentence as he deemed fit.  This is how it’s always stated, but rats always hear, “just do what we tell you and you will get a red balloon.”

Under Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 92 S.Ct. 495, 30 L.Ed.2d 427 (1971), “when a plea rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the inducement or consideration, such promise must be fulfilled.” Id. at 262. The Government in this case agreed to “move the sentencing judge,” pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1, to depart from the otherwise applicable Guideline range if it determined in its sole discretion that Erwin provided substantial assistance. Supp.App. 47. The agreement cautioned that, “[w]hether the sentencing judge does in fact impose a sentence below the otherwise applicable guideline range is a matter committed solely to the discretion of the sentencing judge.” Id. Because the record is devoid of any indication that the Government promised it would specifically request a five-level downward departure, much less that the court would apply the departure to the statutory maximum, Erwin’s due process claim also fails.

There’s a reason why all those wiggle words are in there, kids.  “Trust us” is not a commitment.

But the Circuit could have just dismissed the appeal due to the waiver.  Or it could have affirmed the sentence of 188 months.  But that’s not what it did.  Rather, it smacked Erwin upside the head with reverse Santobello, holding that Erwin didn’t just lose the right to appeal from his waiver, but breached his contractual duty by appealing in violation of the waiver.  The penalty imposed for his breach? He loses the benefit of the bargain in its entirety.  He’s still guilty as sin, but his 5k1.1 letter gets ripped to shreds.

As a result, Erwin was remanded for resentencing without the benefit of his cooperation, facing a statutory maximum of 240 months (with a guidelines range of 262 to 327 months), suggesting that his likely outcome, in technical legal terms, is that he’s going to get whacked.  All that snitching and he’s going down for the max.  Crying rat tears, but still.

The decision by Erwin (and his lawyer) to pursue an appeal in the face of a waiver was a curious one, as there was no question but that he had waived his right to appeal, and his arguments to circumvent the waiver were, well, not strong. That said, the anticipation was likely that he couldn’t get hurt any worse for trying.  What could happen? They dismiss the appeal?  Nobody would have seen this coming.

By holding the appeal as a substantial breach of the plea agreement, sufficient to make all his snitching disappear, poof, as if there was no consideration paid by the rat giving up his mother, the Court went far beyond what was needed to teach Erwin a lesson.  Erwin was already going to do his time, and that (plus his snitching) was more than sufficient to punish him for his conduct.  The holding of breach based on exercising a right he had waived smacks of pure gratuitous meanness, the fact that nobody loves a rat no matter how much lipstick they put on him.

For the government, this may be a Pyrrhic victory, as lawyers will tell the story of Erwin to their clients considering cooperation, so that they realize there may be no ice cream party in their future.  Some will decide not to sign on the dotted (it’s really not dotted, by the way) line.

On the other hand, as conceptually foolish and legally dubious as the Third Circuit’s decision may be, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

* As noted in the comments below, people with a more intimate relationship with pigs contend that I have projected my east coast swine ignorance into the joke. I defer to those with a deeper, more personal knowledge of pigs and hogs, though I will not relinquish my views on bacon.

One hog was harmed in the making of this post.

46 thoughts on “Such A Deal (or Snitches Get Stitches)

  1. Richard G. Kopf


    Your write: “In a delightfully titled post that gets the joke backwards, Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered [sic], . . . .”

    While I appreciate your love of bacon, and with due respect for your powerful use of words, you have an incorrect (east coast) understandings of “pigs,” “hogs” and agrarian aphorhisms. Come out this way sometime, and I will provide a tour of a hog confinement building filled to the brim with the critters described above and that tour will disabuse you of making that mistake again. On the way home, we will stop for a BLT at the Diner.

    All the best.


    1. Charles B. Frye

      One vote for the Honorable Husker in this matter. Pigs do, in fact, get fat (or, fed) and hogs most assuredly do get slaughtered.

      Whether or not you can get decent barbecue north of the Red River, though, is not open to debate.

      Brad Frye

        1. ExCop-LawStudent

          Real barbecue is south of the Red River, west of the Sabine, north of the Rio Grande, and east of the Pecos.

          “Texas barbecue, the classic version of which is found primarily in Central Texas and distinguished by its use of beef brisket and its indirect smoking method, is superior to all other regional varieties of barbecue. This is an incontrovertible fact. ” See Barbecue, Texas Monthly (link omitted per rules) (last viewed on Sept. 8, 2014).

            1. ExCop-LawStudent

              LOL, of course Texas Monthly is a credible source. They’ve been writing on BBQ since 1972 or 1973, employs the only BBQ editor in the nation, and the only full-time BBQ editor in American history.

              BTW, Texas A&M offers a class in BBQ, ANSC 117 (Texas Barbecue), in the Dept. of Animal Science. Of course, you have to be a freshman to take it. It also has an informative website on BBQ, offered as a public service. And the great part, it allows non-Texans to learn how to do proper BBQ.

    2. SHG Post author

      I defer then to your superior knowledge of farm critters. But how many slices of bacon do they use to make a BLT at the diner? I just had one at the Bryant Park Café (east coast) last Saturday and it was spectacular.

  2. william doriss

    It seems to me that the government broke, or failed to honor, the “cooperation downward departure motion” first. (At sentencing by the trial court.) At this point, the plea agreement-contract is null and void. The defendant is now free to exercise his Constitutional and due process rights and he and his attorney seem fit. Erwin did so. So what is the problem? I think everybody is making this more complicated than it has to be.
    The Third Circuit is clearly wrong. However, the Third is weird anyway. Been there, done that, somewhere in lower Manhattan. Foley Square, I think they call it. What a total farce. Yes I did my own oral in front of three stooges who were unable to ask even one question from the bench. The opinion in my case–a foregone conclusion–was “unpublished”. Oh really!?! That is another cute trick the Third Circuit uses liberally, which has been studied and written about.
    I read a paper once by an N.Y.U. lady law prof who came to the profession from the theater. The paper was about the judiciary as theater. That’s how she saw it. It was excellent; brilliant, I have it somewhere. The Third Circuit is NO GOOD.
    At least I had the satisfaction of seeing the State of CONnecticut put three of its officials on a train to New York in order to defend themselves against little ol me.
    P.S., taking the train to N.Y. is no fun. I don’t care what Bill Clinton or anyone else says!
    All Rise!

      1. william doriss

        You are absolutely correct. You have a mind like a steel trap, and your blog site absolutely addictive.
        Since IAMNAL, I get a pass! To me, they’re all the same. The Third is Trenton? I don’t think anyone wants to go there either. Ha. Think I’ll stick with the 2nd.

  3. Bruce Coulson

    Erwin should have confined his appeal to merely praying that the government did not alter the deal any further…

      1. Mark Draughn

        Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookie to my ship.
        Lando Calrissian: You said they’d be left at the city under my supervision!
        Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.

          1. Matthew I

            Pop quiz!
            “We the Geeks hold the following truths to be self-evident:
            -Bow-ties are cool.
            -Anger leads to hatred, and hatred leads to the dark side.
            -Wearing red shirts is dangerous.
            -One should never nuke a fridge.
            -Wood and brick should never be sold near the start…”

            (From a video made by the youtuber LindyBeige. Watch it if you have nothing better to do with 3 minutes.)

  4. Jim Tyre

    Some will decide not to sign on the dotted (it’s really not dotted, by the way) line.

    Lordy, I learn so much from SJ!

  5. Eowyn

    I may be nitpicking but in the sentence (fraction) “facing a statutory maximum of 240 months (with a guidelines range of 262 to 327 months),” I am confused. How can a statutory max be less than the guidelines range?

    In programming, a max is an upper rather than a lowe or median bound.

    1. SHG Post author

      The guideline range calculations for drug cases cover an array of drug crimes, and are based on drug quantities, so the two don’t necessarily align. The maximum sentence is the statutory max, but the advisory guidelines inform the judge where the defendant should be sentenced. So if, as here, the guidelines exceed the statutory max, then one might reasonably assume that the defendant will be sentenced to the statutory max.

      1. Eowyn

        Ah. That makes sense in a perverse, weird, and somehow completely logical way. I just need to adapt my system of logic appropriately.

        Computer programming really *is* much easier.

        1. Matthew I

          Just imagine that the legal system is a computer designed by five-dozenish senior programmers (appellate courts) and 112 different committees (one for each session of Congress), and each trial is an individual runtime.

          guidelineSentence = performSentencingHearing(262,327);
          statuatoryMax = 240;
          actualSentence = minimum(statuatoryMax, guidelineSentence);

          They’re not that different, really. I wonder if the Law Profs can learn more from the Computer Scientists, or the other way around.

          1. Eowyn

            I’m just trying to picture the amount o fpizza involved in the debugging sessions. I mean the memory leak issues alone …

  6. John Barleycorn

    “This sucks CDL. I thought the prosecutor said…Anything we can do?”

    “Well, we can see what a group of wild boars has to say on appeal Christopher.”

    “You know anything about talking to a group of wild boars CDL? I have heard they can be as unpredictable in groups as they are alone.”

    “Not really Christopher but what’s the worst that can happen?”

    Pyrrhic? Sounds like more of the same STFU and do not disturb the suckling pigs of the drug war message to me.

    Everybody is getting paid, do your time and be thankful for the “gift” of your sentence when given a plea.

    Heck be appreciative even before the wild boars start reveling in all the gore the prosecutors seeking lore can feed them.

  7. PaulaMarie Susi

    And now he gets to file his 2255 motion for ineffective assistance of counsel. 188 mos for a cooperator?!? Did he kill someone? We don’t see sentences like that in the EDNY unless the cooperator committed serious violence.
    More bacon, please.

    1. Matthew I

      There’s probably an alternate universe somewhere where Mr. Erwin’s lawyer persuaded him not to file an appeal, and now he’s arguing ineffective assistance of counsel. I’m not sure if alternate-universe Christopher is doing this pro se or not; he probably has counterparts doing both…

    2. SHG Post author

      Erwin must have been a pretty bad dude or pissed somebody off bigtime. The district judge can still resentence him to the same sentence, as the 3rd Cir. didn’t preclude the judge from taking his cooperation into account, so this may be meant more as a message than have any real impact: If you waive, don’t appeal. Just don’t do it.

      1. noah

        I would say that the vast majority of assigned appeals I’ve seen are for people who have signed plea agreements with waivers (after the plea counsel withdraws). In my circuit, we have to still argue non-frivolous issues that may appear, since its the government’s right to assert the waiver or not. I usually argue validity or applicability of the waiver. I can say that this (breach of plea) is not a possibility I had considered.

        After this opinion, however, I really don’t know how to handle these appeals – can the government now rebring the charges dismissed as part of the plea? That would certainly seem to be punitive, as the judge discussed in his post.

        1. SHG Post author

          As I suggested over at Judge Kopf’s blog, the fact that Erwin was a rat was a major factor in the circuit deciding to burn him. Everybody hates a rat. If he wasn’t, this would have ended in simple dismissal or affirmance.

  8. On behalf of Chris Erwin

    Hello. I know from a family friend, you are not inclined to publish this comment… And I really do appreciate your instinct to protect Chris from digging his hole any deeper. And while I agree with you, he does not. He is INSISTING I copy you on his thoughts of your consideration. You will likely recognize it from what Michelle already sent you, but some is new.

    In any event, here it is for your consideration. If nothing else his tenacity is certainly an indication of how deeply he believes in shedding light on his situation as a warning to other defendants.

    I am writing on behalf of Christopher Erwin, whose appeal was just ruled on in the Third Circuit.

    It was discussed in another blog, but that author has yet to publish these comments, so he has asked me to forward them to other bloggers who may find the case interesting.

    Thank you for your consideration. From those to whom we have spoken, the Third Circuit has created an interesting scenario with this decision.

    Here is an example of a living, breathing cautionary tale to anyone who things the cooperation route is the way to go and that they should just trust the vague promises the government will make.

    Beware: They will dress you up in ribbons, put lipstick on you then, without a thought slaughter you.

    Advice: Put no faith in their words, no credence to their seemingly understanding nature. Lawyer up and fight.

    I wrote the response below in response to a blog posted about me ( Which was itself in response to a different blog post about me ( which was asking for input about whether the Third Circuit in it’s decision about my appeal was allowing a remedy that was inconsistent with the contract principles the court claims to apply.

    I read the blog post about my case and since the author seemed very interested in why the government would be so vindictive against me I thought maybe I could shed some light on who I am and how I got involved in this.

    Like you, I always hated rats. The federal sentences are ridiculous and force almost everyone to be a rat or spend decades in prison. And if you are 50 years old, like me, that’s basically a life sentence. Drug dealers and users seem to play tag getting caught and telling on others as the government dangles cooperation as the only hope. I was not about to be the last great tough guy…again.

    Yes, unfortunately for me I am a two time loser. After some events in the mid to late 80s, I became self-destructive and I was arrested in a cocaine ring and charged as the leader. The originators of the scheme got caught first and cooperated as I continued and sort of moved ahead of them. Obviously they were more than happy to let me take over the limelight. When we all got arrested, I did not rat back then. Most others in case did though, and I received twice as much time as all the other defendants put together. There were 25 or so other people involved in the scheme, and the majority of them ratted. But not me. Tough guy, right?

    I received a ten year sentence in a state prison for my bravery. I did four years of that time. Thanks to hard work and a strong support system after getting out of jail, just shy of my 30th birthday. I worked two and sometimes three jobs before carving out a career in the sports department at a newspaper. At some point during my more than a dozen years at the paper it was sold from private ownership to Gannett, a chain that owns papers, TV and radio station throughout the country including the USA Today. They had a well-earned bad reputation as being horrible and with the decline in newspaper revenue they became that much worse. I saw the writing on the wall that my days were numbered there. I started a landscaping business, and bought an investment house in anticipation of losing my job. The executive editor fired a long time employee on Christmas Eve over the phone and she committed suicide within the year. I always hated bullies and I was outraged and wrote corporate HR about the situation. I practically fired myself. They were more than happy to finish the job for me.

    Between my criminal record and burning and blowing up the bridge at my previous and really lone real work experience, I was now unemployable. I probably was unemployable BEFORE the newspaper, but in the meantime the world had gone and gotten itself Internet access, and now my history was available at everyone’s fingertips. All my previous work experience was as a lifeguard and worked in bars before newspapers. I wasn’t David Hasselhoff and bars do not hire felons.

    The landscaping business failed. I was good at getting and finishing work I was horrible at billing. I underpriced jobs from lack of experience. Tons of deadbeat customers and a horrible pool of laborers also contributed. The investment house was also disaster. I made the mistake of renting it with intent to own, to my sister, who left me in the lurch when she realized she could buy a bigger house down the street without notice.

    My wife and I now had two mortgages in a bad market, I had no job, a business that was losing money and we had a new beautiful baby to support.

    After 10 months of both houses being on the market and 25k in mortgage payments to an empty house, our house sold and we moved into the investment home with the extra bonus of $600 dollar a month higher payment.

    At this point I was desperate and stupid and got involved with a scheme to take people to two crooked doctors to get prescriptions for oxycodone. The people I became involved with were either already cooperating or were soon after. The DEA was on to it almost right away, and I was arrested in May 2011, at my home.

    The DEA watched me for almost two years before arresting me. Instead of arresting me and the corrupt doctors, they watched like voyeurs , and racking up pill counts. The cooperators were encouraged to bring in as many new participants into the operation, many of whom I never met and literally would be unable to pick out of a lineup.
    Besides the obvious waste of resources or the risk of overdose deaths they seemed more concerned with who I was sleeping with rather than public safety. Getting a dealer off the street and doctors dispensing drugs like Pez ASAP might have been a better way to fight the epidemic.

    I think they thought I would lead them to someone big, someone in organized crime, but in the end, it didn’t go anywhere and after two years they arrested me and 21 other people, many of whom had been wearing wires for them for ages.

    When I was arrested I was relieved. I was finally free of the hell imwas in. It is easy to say I should have stopped and I should have but very few people stop of their own free will.

    I did not cooperate against the so-called underlings – most of them were either already cooperating or started to before the second cuff was tight around their wrist.

    I agreed to cooperate against the doctors and pharmacies, immediately after meeting with my court appointed lawyer. The doctors were doing it before I got involved. I actually bought their names from other dealers. The doctors chose to plead not guilty originally. One of them hired a legal dream team, the other was just stubborn and had nothing to lose. It started to look like the doctors were going to play hardball.

    Even though the government had plenty of willing cooperators, I would have been the lone non-addict with any sort of work history they had to put on the stand. I looked the best in the lipstick and ribbons.

    Late in the game both doctors took pleas, largely based on the threat of my testimony. At least that’s what the 5k1.1 love letter I got said.

    One doctor, a rich woman living in a mini mansion who had the resources to hire a legal dream team received 57 months and $500,000 criminal judgment, and they were able to seize assets to satisfy it. In her plea, she plead to a very small amount of drugs. It’s curious how she was subject to such a large judgment, for such a small stipulated quantity of drugs. A jaded person might imagine she had basically traded money for jail time, wouldn’t they?

    The other doctor was from Lebanon, a degenerate gambler. He was kind of a sad sack with a lot of health issues, he got banged with 107 months. He did not have any assets to seize.

    The woman doctor was far more greedy and prescribed potentially fatal combination of drugs recklessly.

    The court rarely disappoints when it comes to wealth and minorities and the disparity here is a clear example. I gave them information on other doctors that they never acted on. One was arrested two years later by the state after a ONE month investigation. I guess state law enforcement aren’t as voyeuristic or the doctor wasn’t as interesting to watch as me.

    Here’s where it gets (more) dicey. I plead to conspiracy with a max of 240 months. My lawyer said the 5K pretty much ensured that and we didn’t want to make waves and we questioned absolutely nothing – the amount of drugs stipulated, the leadership enhancements.

    Being from the Soprano State and seeing big time criminals with double digit murders get as little as five years I had no reason to doubt him. I understood the big time criminals had big time information but that came after life long of crimes and participating in multiple murders.

    I figured a non violent drug offender like me wouldn’t be painted as Charlie Manson and get slammed. I figured the cooperation was relative to the crime and I figured wrong. I received more time then both doctors combined even though they were both doing it before meeting me and doing it with others on varying scales. I received a three level deduction for acceptance and five levels for cooperation which seemed OK although I was told the guidelines were out the window with the 5K.

    Instead they started all reductions at a level 42. Even though the statutory max was 240 months ALL of my departures were taken off of a sentence that was well above the statutory maximum.

    Since my previous conviction was over 20 years old, it was not factored into my criminal history score, so after all the adding and subtracting was done, I was sentenced using the level 34 guidelines, criminal history I. But my cooperation was taken off of a level that did not encompass the statutory maximum – instead, my cooperation (as well as my acceptance and responsibility and early notification of intent to plead guilty). Other districts adjust the defendant’s starting level down to a level whose range encompasses that 240 month statutory max before making departures. But I am just “lucky” I guess, and my deductions were taken off of a sentence that was never on the table.

    It was similar to buying a car and having the dealer give you $100 off but you turn around and realize the floor mats aren’t included and they are $100.

    Really, if you think about it, this is not just about the 5K1.1 departure. The other departures (acceptance of responsibility, early notification of intent to plead guilty) – if those are being deducted off of an offense level that is above the statutory maximum, what is the point? You are giving up your right to trial in exchange for nothing. Level 38 is the first level that includes 240 on the range, for a criminal history I.

    Plus the system is broken. The conviction rate is alarming. The government is practically infallible and all the pleas people take is because the offers are Vito Corleonesque take it or else. They seem to arbitrarily sentence, arrest and prosecute people. My biggest customer wasn’t arrested and he more than likely sold more drugs than me. He had multiple sources and sold cocaine and heroin as well. Can’t tell me after all that time and all those rats the DEA wasn’t aware but he gets a pass?

    In the end the plea/contract is a joke I’m sure in many cases I hope to void plea and go to trial where I will be found guilty but not to the absurd amount or role that the plea stipulates. Anyone with a brain can see the doctors had more power than me. That’s where the drugs originated. They are a cartel in white smocks with degrees on the wall, they use a pen instead of a gun but they are drug dealers, make no mistake. The persistence with which they asked for more “customers” was alarming to me. But I am the criminal in this scenario.

    1. SHG Post author

      As I told the family friend, this is a horrible idea, a foolish, unpersuasive and damaging story, but I’m tired of trying to save Chris Erwin from his own stupidity. So here you go. Few will read it as it’s too long and fewer still, frankly, give a damn about Chris Erwin. It’s his life.

  9. Curious

    Where’s the scathing commentary on the Doctors (suppliers), who each received a slap on the wrist, or the pharmacies (suppliers), which are still operating without penalty? The Chris Erwin’s of the world don’t exist without these two entities, whose only goal was greed.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s rarely a good idea to be the biggest asshole in the room, but if that’s your choice, so be it. The reason the “scathing commentary” is about Chris Erwin and not the doctors is because the opinion is about Chris Erwin and not the doctors. Get it?

      But more importantly, your argument falls into the flaming asshole category when you want to burn the docs as evil, as if Chris Erwin’s drug dealing was because he was a great humanitarian. Nobody forces the “Chris Erwins of the world” to be drug dealers. No matter how bad the docs may have been, Chris Erwin alone is responsible for his choices.

      Congratulations on raising such blitheringly stupid points that you managed to make him look even worse. Any more harm you want to do to Chris Erwin because you’re “curious”?

      1. Curious

        Not saying Chris was a humanitarian at all – he is paying the price, but sick of seeing so many people, because they have fat wallets, get off with slaps on the wrists. Jesus Christ, murderers have gotten less time than Erwin, and these drs will, I bet, be still living in luxury.
        And I know your blog was about Chris, asshole. Was asking why not do one on the Doctors or pharmacies plight, too? I figured you are all-knowing and that you could delve into the injustice there, too. Or does your self-righteousness only cater to people in jail and not the ones who should be there?

        1. SHG Post author

          Did you look beyond your only point of interest? My blog isn’t about Chris, asshole, and there is no reason to write about the doctors as neither Chris, they nor you are the center of anyone’s universe. I know, that’s impossible for a shithead to grasp, but that’s how it goes. One post out of many thousand mentions Chris. The problem with puny minded fools is that you lack the capacity for basic logic when you want to defend your pal, only sinking him deeper in the toilet.

          Had you made a reasonably thoughtful comment, like about how Chris’ sentence was unduly severe and disproportionate, you would have been met with agreement. But you didn’t. Instead, you went stupid with full force, and you got what you deserved. You don’t get to play asshole here with impunity. But that was your choice, just as Chris made his choice.

          Now that you’ve made a terminal fool of yourself, and buried your buddy in the process, try to figure out an answer to your question yourself. We’ll sit here and laugh at you. As I said, it’s rarely a good idea to be the biggest asshole in the room, but the defining feature of the biggest asshole is that he’s going to dig himself deeper and deeper. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there is no way for you to go but down.

        2. Sgt. Schultz

          First, coming here and acting like a little bitch isn’t going to win you any love, douchebag. Second, we’re criminal defense lawyers, so stop your bullshit whining and blaming. We’ve heard it a thousand times from bitches far smarter than you.

          But third, beating up on the doctors because your boy is all butthurt that his snitching didn’t pay off does him no good. Here’s the deal, asshold: No matter how uglyt the doctors are, it doesn’t make Chris Erwin any less ugly.

          And when the prosecutor and judge read your comment, what are the chances they believe it reflects Erwin’s lack of remorse and that he deserves to be smacked as hard as possible because of what his friends write on his behalf? So when he gets slaughtered on resentence and you can’t figure out why, think about the stupid shit you wrote here and know you were part of it.

          With friends like you to cut his throat, he won’t need to commit suicide. You’ll do it for him. SHG is right, you are one flaming asshole.

          1. curious

            Sorry SHG, meant your blog post, not your entire blog. And Sgt. did you really think the judge gives a shit that about Mr. Erwin even a smidge to care what’s wrtten in a blog. Who’s really the flamming asshole – you must be to believe what you write..
            SHG do you think the sentence is fair as compared to more violent offenders, even murderers, get off with way less? Just curious…

            1. SHG Post author

              First, about what Sgt. wrote: You would be surprised the number of judges and prosecutors who read SJ. More importantly, you might be surprised to learn that Chris’ prosecutor will google his name, find this crap, and use it against him at resentence. This may be your first rodeo, but it’s not ours. You don’t get to reinvent the world because you are clueless. You were foolish. And it’s “flaming,” not “flamming,” and it’s still you.

              Second, was Chris’ sentence fair? To what? Drug sentences are outrageously harsh, and have been since Mistrette first held the Sentencing Guidelines constitutional. That was 1989. So you just figured this out? We’ve been fighting this for more than 20 years, and you stumble here and think you’re going to school us?

              But third, your comparison is wrong. Every case is different. Every defendant is different. Every situation is different. We’re all shocked by the sentence imposed on Chris, particularly in light of his 5k1.1 letter. But we also know that without being there, we’re in no position to judge, and neither Chris nor you are a credible (or in your case, rational) basis to think otherwise. Why? Because we’ve done this a thousand times, as opposed to your one time. And we’ve seen people sentenced to incredibly harsh terms of imprisonment, over and over.

              So you worry about Chris. How nice. We worry about all the Chrises, and all the others, and even you. But that doesn’t mean we approve of what he did or absolve him of culpability. And just so you’re clear, this post isn’t really about Chris at all, but about the decision. He just happened to be the defendant who made yet another really poor choice.

        3. Andrew


          We hear these same arguments, it wasn’t murder, the other guy was bad too, the other guy was worse, all the time. Maybe you thought you had a brilliant idea, even if your approach was just horribly ineffective, of trying to get SHG to write about the doctors.

          For someone who wants something out of SHG, you demonstrated very poor judgment in how you tried to get it. This too is normal for us. Most of our clients demonstrate very poor judgment. You then exacerbated your poor judgment in your second comment.

          If you want a way out of the stupid hole, try understanding why your idea didn’t work nearly as well as you thought it would, apologize and climb out of the hole. Or keep digging, if that’s why you must do.

    2. bill

      You forgot to include the parents of the doctors and pharmacists. Don’t tell me two different sets of kids became dr’s without parents pushing them to do so for the parental satisfaction (greed) of saying “My son/daughter the doctor…” What about the truck drivers who transported that stuff, they knew what they were doing. And how dare you forget the cancer patients and other people in pain, if they would stop getting cancer and breaking bones, we wouldn’t need oxycontin so there wouldn’t be any reason to prescribe it, hence, no recreational use, hence no benefit to greed. This is a Medical Ethics blog after all, SHG is shamefully remiss in not posting at least a few thousand words on the medical ethics aspect.

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