Did a Florida Judge Give Vastly Different Sentences to Two Men, Whose Only Difference Was Their Race?

Did a Florida Judge Give Vastly Different Sentences to Two Men, Whose Only Difference Was Their Race?


Florida 19th Judicial Circuit decide Sherwood “Chip” Bauer gave a black males 26 years in jail and a white man two years’ time served, for a similar crime, in the identical circumstances.



The 2 males pleaded responsible to two counts of the identical crime, had the identical “sentencing total” and the identical “lowest permissible sentence,” however a decide sentenced the black defendant to 26 years in state jail whereas sentencing the white defendant to underneath two years (time already served) in county jail.


The race of the defendant was not the one related distinction between the 2 instances.


Racial disparities have lengthy been a contentious factor of the USA justice system, with black and ethnic minority suspects statistically extra doubtless than their white counterparts to be arrested and charged, and to face stiffer penalties, even in comparable circumstances.

The Sentencing Undertaking, a non-profit group that researches and lobbies for equity within the American felony justice system, summarized thT phenomenon in a 2015 research, writing that “Once arrested, people of color are also likely to be charged more harshly than whites; once charged, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences –- all after accounting for relevant legal differences such as crime severity and criminal history.”

From time to time, examples emerge which seem to shine a mild on these racial disparities, particularly in sentencing. One specific case re-emerged on social media in the summertime of 2018, which promoters claimed was a stark illustration of racial discrimination in sentencing. The “I Love Africa” Fb web page was one in every of many social media accounts which posted a widely-shared meme evaluating the extensively disparate sentences of Chase Legleitner (who’s white) and Lamar Lloyd (who’s black) for comparable offenses:

The clear assertion made by this meme and people who shared it’s that with two comparable units of circumstances concerned, solely the differing races of the 2 males might account for his or her very totally different sentences.

The comparability between Legleitner and Lloyd was first introduced to mild by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune as a part of a 2016 collection of articles titled “Bias on the Bench,” about racial disparities in sentencing by Florida judges. One article targeted on the document of Sherwood “Chip” Bauer Jr., a decide on the 19th judicial circuit in Florida:

Chase Legleitner was 19 when he robbed three males in a 2008 drug deal. Lamar Lloyd was 21 when he caught up a Pizza Hut and fuel station the next yr. Each males pleaded no contest to two counts of armed theft. They went earlier than the identical decide, in the identical courthouse. Every had a single misdemeanor on his report. They tallied the very same factors on the scoresheets used to decide legal punishments in Florida. However their sentences couldn’t have been extra totally different.

Legleitner spent lower than two years in county jail. He’s now free to golf and fish on the weekends. Lloyd received 26 years in jail. He can be 47 upon his launch in 2034. That disparity just isn’t uncommon within the courtroom of Judge Sherwood “Chip” Bauer Jr.

Since taking the bench a decade in the past, Bauer has been harder on these with a darker complexion, typically sentencing blacks to two or 3 times longer than white defendants who dedicated the identical crimes. Or within the case of Lloyd and Legleitner, 13 occasions longer.

Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit Courtroom firmly rejected most of the claims made within the Herald-Tribune‘s collection, publishing a prolonged and detailed rebuttal. In March 2017, the New School of Florida revealed an audit of the Herald-Tribune‘s methodology, calling it “deeply flawed.” In response, the Herald-Tribune revealed a detailed reality examine of the claims made within the New School research.;

This text will focus solely on the factual claims made within the viral meme evaluating the sentences given to Legleitner and Lloyd, and the underlying declare that the huge discrepancy of their sentences was due to their differing races.

Primary details

  • Legleitner (born in September 1989) was 19 when he dedicated an armed theft, together with 5 different individuals, on three November 2008. He was arrested in February 2009.
  • Lloyd (born in July 1987) was 21 when he and one other man dedicated two armed robberies in Stuart, Florida (of a Pizza Hut and a Sunoco fuel station), on 18 March 2009. He was arrested later that night time.
  • Each Legleitner and Lloyd have been charged with two counts of “robbery with a deadly weapon,” a Class D felony.
  • Legleitner pled “no contest” to the fees towards him on 18 November 2009, and Lloyd plead likewise on 11 March 2010.
  • Each Legleitner and Lloyd had 138.2 “sentence points,” which yielded a minimal sentence of 82.65 months (slightly below seven years.)
  • On 23 July 2010, 19th Judicial Circuit Judge Bauer sentenced Lloyd to 13 years in state jail on every of two counts rely, yielding a sentence of 26 years.
  • On 23 June 2011, Bauer invoked a “mitigated departure” from the minimal sentence calculated from Legleitner’s sentence factors and sentenced him to time already served of 722 days in Martin County jail (one yr, 11 months and 27 days).

So the meme has the essential details proper. The 2 males have been charged with the identical crime, in the identical courtroom, had an equal variety of sentence factors, and have been sentenced by the identical decide — however one was dedicated to state jail for 26 years whereas the opposite spent slightly below two years in county jail.

“I Love Africa’s” Fb publish was off in a single respect: the sentences have been handed down a yr aside, not on the identical day, and the meme didn’t clearly clarify that Legleitner spent no time in jail after his conviction as a result of he was given a sentence equal to time already served in jail (slightly below two years).

Different sentences

In Florida, sentencing tips contain a “scoresheet” of sentence factors which correspond to numerous particulars concerning the crime in query, any damage suffered by victims of the crime, the defendant’s legal historical past, and different contextual elements. Larger factors are added, for instance, the place a crime is dedicated with a firearm, or when the defendant is on probation or is an escapee from incarceration in the course of the fee of the crime.

After tallying these sentence factors, the decide makes use of a set components to calculate the “lowest permissible sentence” in months. Within the case of each Legleitner and Lloyd, this minimal sentence was 82.65 months (slightly below seven years), with a attainable most sentence of life in jail.

So Lloyd’s sentence (13 years in jail, doubled for the 2 counts of armed theft) was truly inside the vary of sentencing tips in Florida. Damien Touissaint, who dedicated the Pizza Hut and Sunoco robberies with Lloyd in March 2009, confronted the identical expenses as Lloyd, however Bauer gave him a life sentence. (Louissaint was discovered to have threatened civilians with a gun whereas Lloyd was merely in possession of 1, and Louissaint pled not responsible and was convicted by a jury whereas Lloyd pled no contest to the fees.)

What’s most notable concerning the discrepancy in Lloyd and Legleitner’s sentences, then, is the relative leniency proven to Legleitner, to whom Bauer gave a a lot decrease sentence than the minimal set out within the sentencing scoresheet. In accordance to the rules in place in Florida at the moment, the “lowest permissible sentence” was outlined as “the minimum sentence that may be imposed by the trial court, absent a valid reason for departure.”

So if a decide thinks good causes exist, he can depart from the minimal sentence yielded by the scoresheet, however he should put these causes on the document. The elements listed within the tips as authentic grounds for a “downward departure” from the minimal permissible sentence embrace situations of plea bargains, instances through which the defendant was too younger or didn’t have the psychological capability to recognize the criminality of their conduct, instances during which the defendant was an confederate to a crime and never a main participant in it, and situations of a defendant’s cooperating with prosecutors.

Different information

In accordance to 19th Judicial Circuit Courtroom data which we obtained, the race of the defendant was not the one distinction between the instances of Legleitner and Lloyd. In the course of the 23 June 2011 sentencing listening to for Legleitner, the protection lawyer and the prosecutor agreed that he certified for a downward departure in his sentence.

David Lustgarten, the prosecutor, stated Legleitner had been “contrite and remorseful” and that his testimony had been essential in convicting the “real bad guys” inside the group that dedicated the armed theft:

[Legleitner] was greater than cooperative with us in his pre-trial, his deposition, offered truthful statements at trial … Mr. Legleitner understands the seriousness of the crime and the severity of the state of affairs that he received himself into. He…was the final to be a part of this celebration, if you’ll. He’s…the least culpable of all the group. He is aware of he ought to have left the state of affairs. He is aware of he ought to haven’t partook [sic] something. He didn’t contact anyone. He didn’t harm anyone.

And I feel that’s essential for Your Honor to perceive that with out his help we might not [have] been in a position to get safe convictions, get previous a judgment of acquittal, and positively not to get to the actual dangerous guys right here. So … I might agree that based mostly on what I simply represented to you that he qualifies for a downward departure, I might haven’t any good religion foundation to object to a downward departure …

Judge Bauer accepted these suggestions and sentenced Legleitner to time served, which means that he walked free after his sentencing, having already spent 722 days (slightly below two years) in Martin County Jail. Bauer defined his causes for ordering a downward departure from the minimal permissible sentence by saying that “[Legleitner] cooperated with the state to resolve current offenses … The offense was committed in an unsophisticated manner and it was an isolated incident. Of course, the defendant showed remorse and at the time of the offense the defendant was too young to appreciate the consequences of the offense and those are the reasons.”

These mitigating elements weren’t current within the case of Lamar Lloyd. In truth, Lloyd’s crimes contained parts that might be thought-about aggravating elements, because the 12th Judicial Circuit identified of their rebuttal of the Herald-Tribune collection:

Apart from the substantial help provided by Legleitner to the prosecutor, there are monumental factual variations within the circumstances of the crimes of Lamar Lloyd, the defendant the [Herald-Tribune] authors selected to examine to Legleitner. One of many foundations of the authors’ flawed methodology is their insistence that they’re evaluating like offenses, or making an “apples to apples” comparability of the instances. On the contrary, there are vital factual variations between the crimes dedicated by the 2 defendants.

For instance, we all know that Legleitner didn’t threaten most of the people within the method that Lloyd did by robbing a public and household pleasant restaurant throughout enterprise hours. We all know that Legleitner cooperated absolutely with the State Lawyer and his testimony was wanted to get convictions for the co-defendants. Though there might have been a number of events concerned within the theft of the drug sellers within the Legleitner offense, there was solely a single incident. This contrasts dramatically with the circumstances involving the 2 separate robberies dedicated by Lloyd and his co-defendant throughout their crime spree.

The rebuttal identified that, in accordance to a Stuart Police Division arrest affidavit, Lloyd and his co-defendant Touissaint had brought on a Pizza Hut worker to “fear for his life” earlier than handing over $150 in money, and that when the 2 males (together with one other man who was driving them) have been stopped, police discovered “two young children inside the vehicle … [who] were inside the vehicle during both armed robberies.” The youngsters have been aged two and 5 years previous.


Whether or not the discrepancies between the instances of Legleitner and Lloyd amounted to “monumental factual differences,” because the 12th Judicial Circuit described them, is finally a matter of opinion, as is the query of whether or not these factual variations warranted such vastly totally different sentences.

Nevertheless, it can’t be disputed that vital variations existed between the 2 instances which went past the race of the defendants, and in giving Legleitner a comparatively lenient sentence, Judge Bauer adopted the suggestions of each the protection lawyer and the prosecutor, and he fulfilled his obligations by citing the explanations for that lighter sentence.