Book shares a federal judge's innermost thoughts while imposing sentences

Just published by the ABA “Crimes and Punishments: Entering the Mind of a Sentencing Judge” by Frederic Block, a long-time federal district court judge, allows readers a view of how a judge decides on an appropriate sentence and feels about putting a person in prison for an extended period of time.

Judge Block explores our criminal justice system’s important sentencing issues. He candidly shares his feelings and is reflective, often describing his concerns that his life experiences and subconscious thoughts could influence the sentences he determines.

Block also tells the stories of the trials of Peter Gotti (who succeeded his brother John as head of the Gambino crime family) and Pedro Espada Jr. (the former leader of the New York Senate), among others. He takes the reader through the crimes and sentencing proceedings and shares his thoughts about whether he made the right decisions. 

In his preface, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a preeminent constitutional law scholar, calls the book “magnificent” and declares Block “a great storyteller.”

Block was appointed United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York in 1994. He received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and an LLB degree from Cornell Law School. He has been described by Alan Ellis, a nationally recognized authority on sentencing and a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as a “legendary sentencing judge.” After 25 years on the bench, Block continues to maintain a full caseload. He also regularly sits by designation on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has authored over a dozen opinions. Judge Block recently authored the “reality-fiction” novel “Race to Judgment,” after having written his highly acclaimed memoir “Disrobed, An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge.”