Why Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers is Going to Prison

Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers received a 37 month federal prison sentence for her role in the Detroit City Council Corruption case.  She is scheduled to self surrender to the designated Federal facility sometime in July.  Many people are asking “how” and “why” she received such a tough sentence.  And everyone is wondering if she will actually serve that “hard time” in prison . . . or just “get off easy” like many other celebrities and public officials.

Here’s the real story of what happened, and why, from the perspective of an experienced Detroit area criminal defense attorney.

In the Federal Court System the Judges have Sentencing Guidelines that they look to, in order to impose an appropriate sentence.  But, every Federal attorney knows that these guidelines are no longer mandatory. The sentencing guidelines are now advisory. This means that the Judge actually could have imposed probation or home confinement for Monica.  Perhaps that is what her attorney was hoping for. Clearly, Monica appeared to be expecting nothing more severe than probation. 

But Monica’s biggest problem was that she was never taught to say “I Am Sorry for What I Did”.  Even as she was being sentenced by highly respected Federal Judge Avern Cohn, she continually displayed her defiant and contemptuous attitude toward our Justice System, the Federal Court and, unfortunately, toward the City of Detroit.  As a result, the wise Judge exercised his authority to “throw the book at her.”

Monica Conyers was certainly incredulous when Judge Avern Cohn actually sentenced her to a prison term.  That is why she kept telling everyone who cared to listen that she would “appeal” the sentence.  What the public needs to know is that she has little grounds for an appeal. This is because the Plea Agreement she signed (under “Rule 11”) precluded an appeal if the Judge sentenced her within a “Guideline” sentence.  It is clear that the Judge did just that.  In other words, since Judge Cohn did impose a sentence within the “guidelines” of the applicable law, Conyers has given up her right to appeal.

Will this stop her lawyers from trying to appeal? It probably won’t. But in all probability, it will prevent them from doing so successfully.

Monica’s attitude through this whole ordeal did not ring well with the Judge or the citizens of Detroit.  Perhaps some humility or contrition on her part may have moved the Judge to impose a lighter sentence – since it was within his discretion to sentence her to something short of prison.  But it was clear from her demeanor throughout the entire process that Monica has little if any real remorse, even though her attorney probably urged her to show at least some contrition. 

It is a well known fact that the American public has a short memory, and an uncanny ability to forgive public personalities who let us down – especially if they exercise a little humility and publicly apologize. There is tremendous power in saying I am sorry.  Even skeptics will agree that it is a lot easier to forgive those who humble themselves and say they are sorry.  It is something we all can relate to, since we all make mistakes.

But Monica Conyers obviously feels that saying she is sorry to the City of Detroit is a sign of weakness. And, as a result, she will now be vacationing in prison.

Monica, you just don’t get it!

Attorney Raymond Cassar is a Detroit Area Criminal Defense attorney who has twenty years of experience in State & Federal Court. His office is happy to give advice regarding criminal matters. You may learn more about Attorney Raymond Cassar by visiting his website at:  http://www.crimlawattorney.com .

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