Federal Judge Orders Dinesh D’Souza To Continue Psychological Counseling Despite Contrary Expert Recommendation

220px-Dinesh_D'SouzaI am rather perplexed by a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman to order not just four more years of community service for filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza but continuation of psychological counseling despite the countervailing findings of two experts in the case. Judge Berman was on solid ground in much of his opinion on the conditions of the prior sentencing order. While tough, the defense was trying to curtail key aspects of the order. However, the counseling component does concern me.

D’Souza’s pleaded guilty to a single count of making illegal contributions in the name of others as part of the campaign of Wendy Long for New York Senate. He made $20,000 in illegal contributions. That is no minor infraction, but many questioned the decision of the Justice Department to seek multiple felonies and jail time. His case was denounced by various people as reflecting a selective prosecution of a conservative write and critic of the Obama Administration. Berman rejected the demand for jail time but did impose five years probation, eight months in a halfway house and a $30,000 fine as well as requiring that D’Souza perform eight hours of community service each week during his probation and must undergo therapy on a weekly basis.

This hearing was meant to clarify aspects of his sentence last year and much of the order would not be viewed as particularly controversial. D’Souza was seeking to limit the time of the community service by reference to his home confinement period. Berman balked and said that he said the two periods as distinct — a position that courts would likely take in similar cases.

Berman not surprisingly continued the community service for four more years. However, it is the counseling that most surprised me. While some sites have clearly relished the denial of relief, even referring to D’Souza as a “conservative clown.” His political views should not factor into these cases.

D’Souza’s counsel submitted evidence that the court-ordered psychiatrist found no indication of depression or reason for medication. His own retained psychologist provided a written statement concluding there was no need to continue the consultation. However, Judge Berman simply disagreed and said that he thinks more counseling will help while noting that this is not punishment: “I only insisted on psychological counseling as part of Mr. D’Souza’s sentence because I wanted to be helpful. I am requiring Mr. D’Souza to see a new psychological counselor and to continue the weekly psychological consultation not as part of his punishment or to be retributive.” I am concerned with a judge exercising such power “to be helpful” when there is not an independent recommendation for such counseling or a desire by the individual for such counseling.

Resources-1809-Berman_Richard_20141011115535Moreover, I am not comfortable with Judge Berman’s reference to his own expertise in the area. The court insisted “I’m not singling out Mr. D’Souza to pick on him. A requirement for psychological counseling often comes up in my hearings in cases where I find it hard to understand why someone did what they did.” I fail to see why this conduct is so mystifying. Stupid, yes, but the motivation was obvious. He sought to circumvent limitations on campaign financing laws. That was justifiably punished but it is not like he was found with severed heads in a duffle bag. Judge Berman noted that the court-appointed psychologist called D’Souza “arrogant” and “intolerant of others’ feelings.” However, that description would fit many successful people, including many in Washington and even a few on the bench.

Judge Berman then added: “You have to understand, I have a background in social work with a psychology major. I’m sensitive to mental health issues in the criminal cases I hear, and I do not want to end psychological counseling at this time in Mr. D’Souza’s case.” I have little question that Judge Berman has such a background. Indeed, he has a remarkable background and proven intellectual prowess. He received his B.S. from Cornell University in 1964 and his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1967. He also received a Master of Social Work from Fordham University in 1996. He had a successful legal career and served as an executive assistant to United States Senator Jacob Javits in 1974. He was later named Executive Director of the New York State Alliance to Save Energy and was then appointed General Counsel and Executive Vice President of the Warner Cable Corporation. He has been a judge on various levels and is distinguished in the depth and scope of his published opinions.

However, while judges often bring their experience and knowledge to cases, it is a bit more problematic when the court effectively places his own experience as a type of third expert witness on an issue like psychological counseling. It is akin to a former police officer invoking his own forensic analysis to overrule or amplify the conclusions of an expert witness. I also simply do not see the record for continuing this element of the order. The original sentence for D’Souza was quite harsh and he has fulfilled those conditions without incident from what I can see. He has also continued as a successful writer and speaker. Even if the court believes that community service must continue, I do not see the basis for compelled psychological counseling. The court is not in the business of making “better people” in this way. The court acknowledged that this is not part of the punishment and that he was only ordering the counseling on his hunch that D’Souza could benefit from such counseling. At this point however I think that decision should rest with D’Souza. I do not know D’Souza and I have not read his work. However, I fail to see a record to support this part of the order.

What do you think?

136 thoughts on “Federal Judge Orders Dinesh D’Souza To Continue Psychological Counseling Despite Contrary Expert Recommendation”

  1. BFM:

    Well, here is a long list of what to do if you find yourself with a bad judge either during your trial or after sentencing:


    Since D’Souza has access, I assume, to excellent legal counsel, I wonder what they are doing about it. There was a terrible tragedy here in CA where a woman showed a judge proof her husband was planning to kill their child out of revenge, including emails. He decided she made the whole thing up, let the father have access to the child, whom he promptly killed. Judges need to be held accountable for their actions. If the system does not adequately deal with bad judges, then we may need to address any gaps via legislation.

    My off topic post about the Iran catastrophe did not prevent me from discussing the relevant point of the above post, which others appear to have trouble doing.

    1. Thanks for the web site. But I looked through that long list, briefly, and I did not see anything that seemed on point once a sentence has been entered.

      I believe in Maryland they have something called reconsideration so that after a few years the defendant can ask the judge to reconsider the sentence and, in effect, re sentence the defendant.

      But it looks to me like D’Souze is done so far as the sentence is concerned. What his high priced legal team might get on appeal of the legal issues is a completely different story.

      It seems to me, even with your web site, that sentences are about as close to engraved in stone as any written text you are likely to find.

  2. Oh good grief Karen, what about your comment about the Iran Nuclear deal@ 2:46 PM, were you frantically “trying to deflect” from the topic of this thread? Do you seriously think that you get to post off topic comments and then go on to criticize others for doing the same thing and no one will point this out to you? You don’t think that’s a just a wee bit hypocritical?mI commented on the topic stating that this Judge was wrong in his judgment of forced psychological therapy. But I bet you missed that in your zeal to comment on the “deflection” of other commenter’s.

  3. So . . . any response to the sentencing difference between Chatwal, who illegally donated $180,000 to Democrats, and D’Souza, who donated $20,000 to a conservative? Besides Alicia?

    Because that’s what this is really about. Did politics affect a judge’s decision in an abuse of power?

    For the most part, I’ve read frantic attempts to deflect the discussion to Republicans and the church and literally anything else than a judicial abuse of power to punish political opponents.

    Unless we want to live under Chairman Mao, we as a people need to correct this.

    1. “Unless we want to live under Chairman Mao, we as a people need to correct this.”

      That raises an interesting question. What mechanisms are in place in the judicial system to correct what seems to be an individual judges inappropriate sentence?

      And if you are not talking about working within the system, what do you recommend? What approach would you suggest?

      1. bfm – in Maricopa County the Chief Judge has a clerk who monitors the decisions of all the judges to make sure someone doesn’t do something like this.

  4. Has there been any mention of what Dinesh has said or did that would lead this judge to believe additional psychiatric counseling would “help”? Help him to understand the gravity of his crime? Help him to act less “arrogant”? Help him to assimilate more thoroughly into the existing culture and stop this crazy talk about the way things used to be?

    I think this judge should be duct taped to a very uncomfortable chair and have his eyelids propped open with toothpicks as D’Souza’s movies are played over and over again.

  5. Let us hear from some patients on the blog. I direct this to former patients or person’s presently being “treated” by a psychiatrist or “counseled” by a psychologist. Is there anyone out there who really believes that a medical doctor psychiatrist or a PHd psychologist did them any good– that the treatment or counseling really cured or helped them. And if there are any folks out there who felt that the drugs or shock treatment were worse than any cure speak up. If there are any who are fed up with the yakking of a so called “psychologist”, speak up. I for one think that the whole profession should be taken out and shot– whether they are M.D.s or PhDs. Elmer Phuds.

  6. Is there anybody who really does not understand EXACTLY WHAT IS TAKING PLACE HERE.????????

    Is there nobody in the U.S. with the guts to do something about it.?????

    Doesn’t it feel like we are living in Russia.???

  7. Without the outline of Judge Berman’s career, I would have concluded that his dislike for D’Souza was the primary reason for additional community service despite it being ‘normal’ to tack such on, because of what Karen S described about other perps’ punishments for the same crime. And then I would think he wanted to throw some business to a shrink he’s friends with or owes in some way.

    But since he is apparently a sterling fellow with integrity, I fall back on thinking it’s cultural. D’Souza speaks quite fluently and without a heavy accent, so maybe the judge forgot D’Souza may not have all the expected American cultural nuances down pat and that in turn invoked what may be the judge’s favorite hobby horse — that is, psychotherapy for someone the judge thinks is strange-minded, but who may simply be foreign. I would expect better from the judge, and while it’s not the gulag, it’s certainly a bizarre order.

  8. Dinesh should refuse the judge’s illegal and illogical sentence. Go to jail and start a hunger strike. Bring the light of reason of the American public to bear on this despicable despot sitting on the federal bench, Richard Berman. Berman should not be able to walk the street or go to his office without good people getting in his face and shaming him. This despot needs to be taken down via impeachment. Are you listening, Mr. Boehner?

  9. I. Annie

    Personally, I find nothing about the theory–which suggests that Eve was created from Adam’s rib–to be offensive. If one wishes not to believe in the validity of the stories contained in the Bible, it’s still a free country to do so; however, claiming that Eve was formed using the side of Adam–which many have suggested implies that the two were created to be side by side, as equals and companions, doesn’t appear to be an insult to women. I guess its all in the eyes of the beholder.

  10. “The people are nothing but a great beast…
    I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.”
    -Alexander Hamilton

  11. In the allegory of Adam and Eve, we find that this humanity was created by devils.

    A brief science class:

    Carbon-12, a stable (non-radioactive) isotope, comprises nearly 99% of all carbon on Earth. Without carbon, the basis for life on Earth would not be possible. Carbon is a critical element to all life.

    Carbon-12 has 6 protons, 6 electron and 6 neutrons, the dreaded 666.

    For it is the number of man and his number is 666.

  12. Bam bam, what an insult to think women were made from Adam’s rib. But one would have to take the Bible literally to get truly incensed, lol.

    1. Inga – there are two stories of the creation of Adam and Eve. You have only told one story. You might dive back into the Bible for the other story.

  13. @ I. Annie
    You’re so tied into your own narrative Pogo, you miss things.

    I call that a “personal paradigm” and we all get caught in it.

  14. Gobble… Gobble…. This thread has been a hoot! I read Pagel’s “The Gnostic Gospels” BTW. You’re so tied into your own narrative Pogo, you miss things.

  15. Mr. Turkey was a typo, which is a sample of always proof before sending. My apologies. And please, all of you, don’t start making jokes.

  16. Common sense, the judge doesn’t like D’souza’s politics. Especially the movie “America,What Would We Do Without Her” which I’ve seen portions of, this is a judicial overreach. D’Souza loves this country and made a movie about it. The punishment for movies and political speech is scary I bet Hollywood, with so many complete inaccuracies, is probably enjoying this with a bit of fear.

    The judge is iimpacting D’souza’s ability to make a living, with so many hours taken from him. I’m surprised authors aren’t up in arms. I never read the Savage book, but he had a view he wanted to share. As has Obama.

    Are judges penalized for making the use of the court for this nonsense? What happens when D’souza writes a book about this experience? Or makes a movie?

    Lovers of the Constitution, as Mr. Turkey often mentions, ought to be angry. I am, but what power do I have over the court other than writing my opinion?

  17. Oh, Gnosticism is a personal favorite, as it confounds a few neo-intellectuals and ties up flibbertigibbet Presbyterians, while the destruction continues apace.


  18. How can we remember Neo? So as not to be stuck in an unreal world in a human fleshy sinewy prison of a body again?

    We need to see this world for what it truly is using critical thinking skills and questioning everything then you will slowly awaken but your world views will be shattered and that is extremely difficult to go through. While the truth will set you free it is also a two-edged sword that will cut you.

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