The Chrisleys Did NOT Know Best: Sentencing Post-Mortem


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It was a long wacky December in the world of federal sentencing. I can’t remember a month with more high profile proceedings, and Mark Allenbaugh ( and I covered all of it in a marathon, 4-hour session.

Here is part 3, dissecting the sentencings of Julie and Todd Chrisley, the star of USA Network’s reality shitshow, “Chrisley Knows Best.” This husband and wife duo were convicted after trial of multiple fraud charges. After a lackluster performance from the defense, Todd received a 12-year sentence, his wife received 7.  So, what went wrong?


  • Gender disparity in federal sentencing;
  • Yet another missed opportunity to argue life expectancy;
  • Explaining the very basics of sentencing memos;
  • Why the defense memos were among the worst we’ve seen;
  • How and why the power of story lies in the details;
  • Remembering Rodney King and Stacey Coon!? – if you are still talking about your case being outside of the “heartland”, you’re 20 years behind schedule;
  • The ongoing saga of the sentencing letter.


Last episode:  We started this conversation in EP. #31 (Sunny Balwani Sentencing Post Mortem) by doing comparative statistical analysis of Avenatti’s sentencing with Holmes, Bulwani and the Chrisleys.  If you haven’t heard the first 20 or so minutes of that episode, it’s most certainly pertinent to today’s discussion on Avenatti.   Check it out at:

Patterson study: we can’t stress this enough. Unless the crime is beyond atrocious, most judges will think long and hard before imposing a sentencing they believe will result in a defacto life sentence.  Therefore, life expectancy could make a huge impact at sententencing.  But do it right, using this study showing that life expectancy for incarcerated individuals is far different: 

We talk about the importance of telling a story with detail and making it relevant to punishment, using Mr. Chrisley’s “fibromyalgia” as the prime example.  The defense informed the judge of his diagnosis yet said nothing of symptoms and how it would affect him in prison.  Another huge opportunity missed.  If you’d like to know more about Telling the story of prison, check out EP.  3, with prison expert and former warden, Maureen Baird.

MARK’s CHARTS:  visit to see some more of Mark Allenbaugh’s visual aids concerning relevant statistical issues in the case.

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