It also looks as if the now disgraced uber-entertainment lawyer and convicted felon in the Pellicano scandal won’t be doing his time under house detention, either. This morning, federal judge Dale Fischer granted prosecutors’ recommendation and sentenced Terry Christensen to 36 months, plus a $250,000 fine to be paid within 30 days. She is allowing him to stay out on bond pending his appeal, and authorities have confiscated his passport. But Fischer poured cold water on Christensen’s request for house detention instead of prison, which the U.S. Probation Office had recommended for a total 10 month sentence. “The probation officers’ recommendation was ludicrous,” she said. “Home detention in an 8,000-square-foot house is not punishment.” Fischer also ordered Christensen to three years on supervised release after his prison term ends. That means until he is 73 years old. No doubt about it: she threw the book at him. Speaking about Christensen’s own letter to the court expressing his regret for his actions in the wiretapping case, Fisher declared, “His regret seems of recent vintage.”
So goes Christensen’s once flourishing career after he was found guilty in August for hiring then Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife in a high profile 2002 child support case. Christensen wrote a letter to Fischer explaining away his crime as an “aberrational, isolated exercise of bad judgment”, but the judge didn’t buy it. ”Looking back, when I was approached by Mr. Pellicano, I should never have agreed to hire him. No matter how I look at this, from whatever angle, I cannot escape this lapse of judgment on my part,” he told her. Christensen resigned as managing partner of the prominent entertainment law firm that he started in 1988 and bore his name – now called only Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs & Shapiro — and is on interim suspension by the State Bar of California. He will likely never again practice law. Besides his own, more than 70 letters from his law colleagues and clients and friends and family were filed with the court. Several of the letters come from current and former board members and senior executives of Kerkorian’s present and former investment holdings like MGM Mirage, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Tracinda Corp. If the point of this prosecution was to scare lawyers into realizing that winning at all costs doesn’t mean breaking the law , then the feds were successful. During this morning’s sentencing hearing, Fischer summed up: “In a real sense, the legal community and the justice system are the victims of this crime.” In explaining the sentence rejecting Christensen’s request for no prison time, Judge Fischer noted that Christenen’s actions ‘”marred the legal profession in the eyes of the public” and demonstrated a “disrespect for the justice system on a grand scale.” But it’s still a crock that all the big fish in the Pellicano scandal have been let off without so much as a slap on the wrist. Which further underscores the sad fact that America has the best judicial system that money can buy.
Pellicano’s sentencing has been put off until December 15th.
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