Sentencing White Collar Defendants: How Much Is Enough?

Front Panel

This year’s Wayne Law Review symposium will bring together judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, academic experts and a former criminal  on Friday, October 24th, to discuss the topic, “Sentencing White Collar Defendants: How Much Is Enough?”

The free Symposium will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Wayne State University Law School, Partrich Auditorium, 471 West Palmer St. The event is open to the public. Parking will be available for $7 (credit and debit cards only) in Structure No. 1 across West Palmer Street from the law school.

The symposium will look in depth at the issue of how much punishment is enough for white collar criminals. Sentences meted out to convicted defendants are increasing in length, rivalling those given for crimes of violence or large-scale drug dealing. Bernie Madoff received a 150-year sentence for operating a Ponzi scheme that cost investors billions, while R. Alan Stanford was sentenced to 110 years for defrauding investors out of their life savings totaling more than $7 billion. Raj Rajartnam, convicted of trading on inside information, received an 11-year sentence, while Matthew Kluger, a lawyer who revealed confidential information about client deals for years, was sentenced to 12 years.

Recent public corruption cases have seen sentences from 13 years for former Congressman William Jefferson to 28 years for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Do long prison terms for these defendants and their ilk serve the typical goals of criminal punishment: rehabilitation, retribution and deterrence? How should a court weight the appropriate sentence for a defendant who poses little continuing threat to society, yet committed a crime that can have far-reaching consequences? The experts at the symposium will consider these questions and more from all perspectives.

Opening remarks will be at 9 a.m. by Wayne Law Dean Jocelyn Benson; Paul Stewart, editor-in-chief of Wayne Law Review; and Judge Avern Cohn, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Ellen S. Podgor, the Gary R. Trombley Family White-Collar Crime Research Professor and professor of law at Stetson University College of Law, will moderate a judicial panel discussion at 9:30 a.m. Panelists will be:

  • Judge Jed S. Rakoff, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, who is the former chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission
  • Judge Nancy G. Edmunds (Wayne Law class of 1976), U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Peter J. Henning, professor of law at Wayne Law and a former federal prosecutor, will moderate an academics panel discussion at 11 a.m. Panelists will be:

  • Sara Sun Beale, Charles L.B. Lowndes Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law
  • Miriam Baer, associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School
  • Mark Osler, professor of law at St. Thomas University Law School
  • Lucian E. Dervan, associate professor of law and director of faculty development at Southern Illinois School of Law

David F. DuMouchel (Wayne Law class of 1975), partner with Butzel Long in Detroit, will moderate a practitioner panel discussion at 1:45 p.m. Panelists will be:

  • Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • David Debold, partner with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C.
  • David Schertler, partner with Schertler & Onorato in Washington, D.C.
  • Walter Pavlo, co-author of Stolen Without a Gun and a Forbes contributor

Closing remarks will be given by Symposium Editor Brittney Kohn at 3:45 p.m.

The day will include a continental breakfast, lunch and an evening cocktail and networking reception.  Lunch will be provided to those who RSVP. Register at by Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The event is made possible through the support of the Cohn Family Endowed Fund.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Brittney Kohn, Symposium Editor, at

We look forward to seeing you on October 24th!