Well, if you want to be technical it’s set for January 22. For now.
The reason Barrett Brown’s sentencing is set for January 22, 2015 instead of December 16, 2014 as it was originally, is that on December 16 the prosecution threw 500 pages of new documents at the court, and the judge needs time to read it. Barrett Brown, we remind you, has been in custody since September of 2012, and the government has had more than two years to prepare its case.
If a journalist might opine for a moment here: it seems to me that the prosecution believes that the judge will give Brown a lighter sentence than they have negotiated in the plea deal they reached with him earlier this year, which is a maximum of 8.5 years in custody. They are throwing paperwork at the court in an effort to extend the custodial period, by stretching out the pretrial time.
This is clearly an abuse of the system, a system which is constitutionally obligated to provide a fair, objective trial in a timely manner. That one has pled guilty to charges and negotiated a term of prison time does not negate this, nor should it subject you to ad hoc extra imprisonment on the basis of paperwork which could well be ruled inadmissible or irrelevant once the judge has a chance to read it.
For many reasons Barrett Brown’s case is an important one. It has already made legal history, when the prosecution had to drop charges relating to Brown’s pasting a link in an internet chat session: they finally had to admit it’s not illegal for a journalist to link to stolen materials online; it does not make him an accessory to the theft. Although now they appear to be conducting some sort of zombie ritual to revive that charge, in a gross display of second-thoughtism coming months after the plea deal that they, the prosecutors, wrote.
With this latest legal boondoggle the prosecution appears to be attempting to turn the United States into an operational clone of third-world dictatorships who throw their enemies in prison and keep them there without bothering with the formalities of finding them guilty in a court of law first.
Of course, the prosecution could simply be so inept that it takes them two and a half years to get their paperwork done, in which case the taxpayers and voters of Texas should have a word with them.