The following is a special report by attorney David C. Graham, who was present at Doug Williams’ sentencing hearing at the federal court house in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Tuesday, 22 September 2015.
I traveled to Oklahoma City to attend and report on the sentencing of Doug Williams. I attended his trial earlier this year, in May. Based on what I observed at his trial, I did not think the sentencing would go well for Williams. As a practicing attorney with extensive criminal law experience, I know that pleading guilty as charged–which is what Williams did–is like going down a dark one-way, dead-end street; it’s not going to end well.
The weather in Oklahoma City was the same as it had been in May, but the atmosphere was completely different.
Before the sentencing hearing began, I spoke briefly to Williams, his wife, and two step-children. Williams appeared prepared for whatever sentence he might receive.
In the courtroom were the government’s attorneys, Brian Kidd, and Heidi Gesch. They were joined at counsel table by FBI agent Doug Robbins. At the defense table were Williams and his attorneys, father and son, Stephen Buzin, and Chase O’Brien.
Also in the courtroom was a female government employee, affiliated with the prosecution, who was at the trial as well. On the other side of the courtroom were Williams’ wife, two stepchildren, and three friends of the family.
Several security guards were in the back of the courtroom.
The judge, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, appeared and called the case.
First, the judge sought to determine Williams’ guidelines score. The guidelines score determines the presumptive sentence length and disposition (prison or probation).
The first thing defense attorney Buzin said was that he had put all his arguments in writing and that he did not care to make any further argument. He looked bothered and annoyed. Perhaps he had a bus to catch. His son also looked like he’d rather be elsewhere.
The main area of contention was whether Williams should receive a 2-point reduction for “acceptance of responsibility.” Defense counsel argued that Williams did accept responsibility for his conduct and therefore, deserved the reduction. The prosecutor argued that Williams did not accept responsibility for his conduct and therefore, did not deserve the reduction. The prosecutor also argued that even if Williams did accept responsibility, he waited too long to do so to be eligible for sentencing reduction. The judge agreed with the prosecution.
Alas, the scoring reduction for acceptance of responsibility was the only conceivable reason for Williams to plead guilty and he did not get the benefit of it.
Counsel then made their sentencing arguments. The defense argued for probation. The prosecutor argued for 24 to 30 months, no probation. Williams personally addressed the court. He said he was “embarrassed and humiliated.” He also said he was very remorseful for his actions.
The judge sentenced Williams to 24 months and denied probation. At the defendant’s request, she recommended he be allowed to serve his time at FCI El Reno, the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, so that he may be close to his family. She allowed Williams to remain free on his personal recognizance bond, pending his report date. Said report date and report location are to be determined later; however, the judge said Williams must report no later than noon, on October 30, 2015.
Upon release from prison, Williams will be on supervised release for 3 years.
David C. Graham is an attorney at law practicing in Overland Park, Kansas. He may be reached at 1-913-829-5445 or by e-mail to dcg2111 [at] yahoo [dot] com.