The Power of a State “Sentencing Study” (with Rich Robertson)

Set for Sentencing podcast_sm

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve heard me talk, ad nauseum, about the use of sentencing statistics in Federal cases.   But did you know that sentencing statistics are also relevant in your STATE CASES? 

But, state sentencing data is often harder to access, and may require a tenacious investigator to fight arduous public records request battles.

Therefore, helping us get Set for Sentencing, an extraordinary investigator, Rich Robertson of R3 Investigations, tells us how he conducts “sentencing studies” in state cases and uses them to great effect on the big day. 

He speaks of the first case he saw a sentencing study deployed by a judge to justify a probationary sentence (Bishop Thomas O’Brien’s infamous hit and run), and two recent Arizona voter fraud/ballot harvesting cases. 

If you are a state-level criminal defense investigator, this is YOUR golden opportunity to carve out a niche in your jurisdiction, doing “sentencing studies”. 


  • How the Bishop was saved by a sentencing study;
  • Unwarranted obstruction by the powers that be when it comes to legal obligations to make public information available to the defense; 
  • Using data to predict outcomes and manage client expectations about the ultimate result;
  • Narrative-based sentencing outcome analyses;
  • Challenging death penalty aggravators in the well-known Hidalgo capital case;
  • Rich’s sentencing studies on two recent Arizona voter fraud cases;
  • Using sentencing data to give judges the cover they need to do justice (i.e. give a low or no sentence).


This is where you’ll find Rich if you need him:  R3 Investigations

That said, Rich has been all over, having worked on some incredibly high profile cases in AZ and around the country.  He’s been on Dateline, 48 Hours, and many major news programs.  Google him!  But here’s a taste: (2) Private investigator in Lori Vallow case details ‘bizarre’ circumstances | CUOMO – YouTube

You’ve heard me talk about the “3Rs” of sentencing storytelling.  This whole episode is really about the 2nd “R”, RELATIVITY stories.  It can be an effective part of sentencing to compare the case at hand, with other similar cases for the judge to have a broader perspective on what other (hopefully lower) sentences judges have imposed.  If you haven’t gotten a free copy of my 3Rs Article from NACDL’s “The Champion”, go to the shownotes on my website, and download a copy —


In this episode, we invoked this infamous ex-prosecutor’s name a couple of times, but it occurs to me the average listener may not get the reference.  If you’re curious, google him.  He was a deeply unethical and offensive death penalty prosecutor, perhaps best known for prosecuting the Jodi Arias case.  He was disbarred when 20+ years of shenanigans finally caught up with him, including multiple allegations of sexual harrasment.  It’s important we tell his story, because he represents everything wrong with the criminal justice system, and judges and supervisors enabled his conduct for years.  Unfortunately, this happens more than you might think.  Our system is only as good as the people who toil in it, and this guy was garbage of the highest order.  Good riddance.

Check out this episode!

Sharing is caring!

You might also like these recent podcasts