Anthony D. Marshall, who is awaiting sentencing for looting the estate of his Alzheimer’s-afflicted 105-year-old mother Brooke Astor, is asking the court to dismiss his conviction on the most serious charge because he’s too old and sick to serve the mandatory prison term. A number of his prominent acquaintances apparently agree with him.
The Times got a hold of letters written to the court by Marshall’s supporters, including fellow marines who who cited his distinlguished service record and his Purple Heart; a cardiologist who questioned if Marshall, who recently underwent a quadruple bypass and a stroke, would be able to survive prison; and friends Whoopi Goldberg and Al Roker. Goldberg, a neighbor, told the judge that Marshall and his wife were the only residents of the building they live in who was friendly to her when she moved in. Roker, a fellow parishioner at the church Marshall attends, asked that the court not “add ‘prisoner’ to Anthony Marshall’s otherwise unblemished resume” (apparently, terrorizing your centenarian mother doesn’t constitute a blemish).
A defense lawyer interviewed by the AP seemed to suggest that the intervention of celebrities may do Marshall’s cause more harm than good. According to Peter Tilem, the Marshall case was brought in part to send the message that the rich, powerful and connected are not immune from the legal system, and that judges were unlikely to risk diluting that message by vacating the conviction, which Marshall plans to appeal.
Granted, in this case the prosecution also leaned heavily on rich, famous and connected people, including Barbara Walters, Goldberg’s boss. Also, Marshall is no longer rich.
A dismissal would rest on the grounds of a rarely-used state law which allows judges to void charges even after conviction and in the absence of trial flaws “in furtherance of justice.”