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Patrick Leahy

Judge urges president to commute harsh sentence he imposed

A former federal judge who gave a Utah music producer 55 years in prison for bringing guns to marijuana deals asked the president to commute the sentence Tuesday, the latest appeal in a case held up as an example of problems with mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Paul Cassell, now a law professor, said in a clemency petition letter that he was deeply troubled by the lengthy sentence he was forced to hand down in 2004 to Weldon Angelos, then a 24-year-old father of three.

The sentence he called "unjust, cruel, and even irrational" was the main reason Cassell stepped down from the bench after five years. Angelos got a longer prison term than people convicted of...

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