A previous opinions article suggests that Marcus Barrington was sentenced unfairly, and that the sentencing was based solely on Marcus’s attitude. I would like to share some facts about this case because it would be unfair to assume that a black judge actually broke the law in order to make an example out of Marcus.
First of all, Barrington was actually facing a sentence of 12-20 years for his crimes. Once a person is found guilty of a crime(s) there is a scoring system used that provides the judge with sentencing parameters. Please keep in mind that identity theft carries a mandatory sentence, per offense, and Barrington was found guilty of – among other offenses – identity theft. Barrington was deemed a flight risk, so this is why he remained imprisoned, while awaiting sentencing.
Secondly, when comparing similar cases, one must also consider what the differences are. For example, Barrington completed over 100 grade changes, which is the equivalent of over three years of matriculation at Florida A&M University. His crimes actually crossed state lines and there were IP addresses from Tennessee, Kentucky and California linked to this case. Over 90 students received grade changes, some unknowingly, and there were over 110 actual grade change transactions.
Finally, this situation was detrimental to our university.
The grade changes made students fraudulently eligible for loans and financial aid.
Students who wanted to become members of Greek-letter organizations became fraudulently eligible. Other students who had graduated from our University had their degrees revoked, causing the entire academic nation to look at FAMU and its graduates with skepticism. By the way, Barrington received compensation from the recipients of these grade changes, thus allowing him to purchase a truck, a motorcycle, and several other luxuries.
To close, I offer this: The assertion that Barrington was sentenced based on Judge Mickle’s personal perceptions is saddening. While I am sure that Mr. Barrington has favorable qualities that endeared him to many, this case, and his sentencing, was based solely on choices he made. His choices were calculated, premeditated and criminal. I feel bad for Barrington’s family and friends because I am sure that this has been a difficult time for them. I feel bad for Barrington, a child TV star who was also an aspiring attorney, because he made really poor choices.
As I stated earlier, Marcus was facing 12-20 years, but Judge Mickle only sentenced him to seven. This seven-year stint won’t pay back the federal funds that were awarded to students fraudulently, reverse revoked degrees, or rebuild the trust that administrators once had in FAMU students. While we always want to see the best in our friends, we must be strong enough to look beyond friendship. Judge Mickle could have been the black judge who swore Barrington into the Florida Bar Association, but Barrington’s choices caused him to face the judge as a defendant.
Andrea Turk is a first year graduate social work student from Gainesville. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately this will be the last submission in response to Barrington’s sentencing. We appreciate your readership and responses in print and online.