|Jack T. Camp|
Want to get off lightly if you ever get caught buying drugs while packing heat and cavorting with a stripper? Make sure you are a federal judge.
That's the lesson from the sordid tale of Jack T. Camp, a U.S. District Judge in Atlanta who recently pleaded guilty to charges related to his arrest in a hotel parking lot back in October. As part of the plea deal, Camp resigned his position--and he will be sentenced on March 4. But press reports indicate that Camp probably will get off with the kind of kid-gloves treatment that would not be afforded a regular citizen.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC):
Camp pleaded guilty to one felony, aiding and abetting a felon's possession of cocaine, a painkiller and marijuana. He also pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors -- possession of illegal drugs and giving his government-issued laptop to the stripper.
Camp must serve at least 15 days in custody. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend a term of four to 10 months in prison, although Camp and his attorneys can ask for a more lenient sentence.
Camp could wind up getting off with home confinement or probation. As a judge, the Reagan appointee was noted for his harsh sentences. Such sentences, apparently, do not seem so inviting when Camp is on the receiving end.
What was the key to Camp's softball treatment? Federal prosecutors allowed him to get away without pleading guilty to a gun-possession charge. At least one Atlanta lawyer, Bruce Harvey, had the guts to stand up and criticize the plea deal:
Harvey criticized the plea deal reached between Camp's legal team and the U.S. Justice Department's public integrity section. He questioned, for example, why prosecutors did not require Camp to plead guilty to a gun possession charge, which would have exposed him to a more severe sentence.
"Once again," he said, "it's the little people who get caught in the gears of the system, and those who run the system reap all the benefits."
Here's another sign that it helps to be a federal judge: Camp is allowed to remain free on $50,000 bond. Several victims of Bush-era political prosecutions, including former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy--were "convicted" for actions that are not even crimes and were immediately taken into custody, in shackles.
|Sherry Ann Ramos|
Sherry Ann Ramos is the stripper/informant who helped bring down Judge Camp. The Smoking Gun (TSG) calls Ramos "Atlanta's Most Notorious Stripper." Reports TSG:
The Atlanta stripper who worked with the FBI to snare a federal judge on drug and gun charges is a convicted felon who spent three years in prison for her role in a methamphetamine distribution operation, The Smoking Gun has learned.
If you had a case before a federal judge, wouldn't you love to know he was hanging out with Sherry Ann Ramos after hours? And it gets worse. Writes TSG:
Ramos was originally indicted in January 2005 on a narcotics distribution charge, but later cut a plea deal to a lesser count of using a phone to arrange the sale of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. In describing the unnamed stripper/informant used in the Camp probe, FBI agents noted that the snitch's rap sheet included a “federal felony conviction for use of a telephone in connection with a drug trafficking crime.”
Ramos’s codefendant in the methamphetamine case, Juan Carlos Ramos, pleaded guilty to three felony charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison (he is scheduled to be released in May 2015). The nature of the relationship between the Ramoses is unclear.
Federal court records show that shortly after Ramos was released from prison in November 2008, she was accused of violating various terms of her probation, including using marijuana, drinking alcohol to excess, and “associating with known felons.”
How big a sleazebag is Camp? Consider this AJC report on the court's statement at Camp's plea hearing:
The statement said [Camp and Rollins] met to have sex, smoke pot and snort cocaine and ground-up pain pills. It noted that Camp got a deputy U.S. marshal to run a criminal background check of the stripper, saying he was renting out a house and wanted to check out a possible female renter. It said he followed the stripper to drug deals, bringing along a loaded handgun for her protection.
When the stripper, described only as "Confidential Informant-1," asked Camp on Oct. 1 to accompany her to a drug deal and watch her back, the judge did not hesitate, saying he'd not only bring his "little pistol," he'd bring his "big pistol," too. When Camp was arrested, agents found two handguns in his car; one was loaded with a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked and the safety on.
Gee, I wonder what "big pistol" the judge was referring to. This is the kind of high-minded "jurists" we have on the federal bench, folks. Based on what I've seen of state and federal judges, Camp hardly is a lone "rotten apple."
Camp has plenty of company in judicial sleazedom, but it's laughable to see how some in the legal community have tried to make excuses for him.
John Stuckey, one of Camp's former law partners, grasped for an explanation of the judge's behavior:
In trying to explain the unexplainable, several friends have mentioned that Camp had a severe head trauma several years ago after he was thrown from his bicycle. He was in intensive care for nearly a week, said Stuckey.
“I’ve had conversations with old friends trying to come up with reasonable explanations,” Stuckey said. “There is no rational explanation. You’d have to look at the irrational. Possibly the head injury.
“If true, it’s an inexplicable deviation of character, a Jekyll and Hyde effect.”
If Camp's legal buddies were concerned about the effects of a head injury, why were they OK with him staying on the bench? Did they think it was OK for their pal to rule on federal cases when they suspected his brain was scrambled by head trauma? Why did they only become concerned about the injury's possible effects on his behavior after "His Honor" got nailed by the feds?
That's typical of how many lawyers view our "justice" system. If something causes regular citizens to get cheated in court, it's to be shrugged off, excused, or covered up. The victims are described as "disgruntled litigants." But if something causes a member of the legal fraternity to look bad, it must be explained away.
After all, it's just not possible that Jack T. Camp was a rotten, no-good scoundrel all along.