By Joyce Vance
Last week brought the sentencing of the first person convicted of a felony in connection with the events on January 6. Paul A. Hodgkins had previously pled guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding, a felony that carried a statutory penalty of as much as 20 years in custody. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 18 months in custody, the midway point in Hodgkins’ guideline range of 15-21 months. The judge imposed a sentence of just 8 months.
To many, this sounded an alarm, a concern that no one would be held accountable in connection with the insurrection. There is some reason to be concerned — federal judges are supposed to avoid sentencing disparities among people convicted of similar crimes, so future defendants will cite this low-ball sentence when seeking reductions of their own. Despite this, there are strong indications from this sentencing proceeding that DOJ is serious about holding insurrectionists accountable.