11:59, July 26 47 0 abajournal.com

2018-07-26 11:59:05
Larry Nassar’s lawyers link judge’s ‘free-for-all’ hearing to prison assault, seek new sentence

A court filing links a Michigan judge’s conduct at a sentencing hearing to an inmate attack on former sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in two courts for molesting young gymnasts.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s “efforts to demonize Dr. Nassar in front of the entire world” were followed by a February courtroom attack on the former USA Gymnastics doctor by a distraught father and a May attack at a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona, according to the motion filed by the State Appellate Defender Office. “Unfortunately, Judge Aquilina’s comments and conducting of the sentencing proceeding appeared to encourage this type of behavior.”

The Lansing State Journal, the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press and the Huffington Post have coverage.

Nassar is serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for possession of child pornography. He was also sentenced to lengthy prison terms by Aquilina and another Michigan judge for sexually abusing girls in Ingham and Eaton counties.

Aquilina allowed more than 150 women to give victim impact statements during a seven-day sentencing hearing in January. When she sentenced Nassar to up to 175 years in prison, she said, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.”

Nassar told his lawyers he was attacked hours after being placed in the general prison population. The document filed Tuesday in Ingham County appeals Aquilina’s sentence and seeks to remove her from the case if resentencing is ordered.

“Judge Aquilina made numerous statements throughout the proceedings indicating that she had already decided to impose the maximum allowed by the sentence agreement even before the sentencing hearing began,” the document said.

“The judge used the nationally televised proceeding as an opportunity to advance her own agenda, including to advocate for policy initiatives within the state as well as the federal legislatures, to push for broader cultural change regarding gender equity and sexual discrimination issues and seemingly as a type of group therapy for victims.”

The filing accuses Aquilina of allowing the hearing to “devolve into a free-for-all” in which some victims wished physical harm on Nassar.

“The judge herself openly lamented that she could not impose cruel and unusual punishment upon the defendant, indicated her expectation that he would be harmed in prison, without condemning it, and finally proclaimed, with apparent relish, that she was signing his ‘death warrant,’ ” the filing said.