Sotomayor's criminal rulings more conservative than Souter's

“The reputation of Sotomayor was that sentencing was not an easy ride,” says Gerald Shargel, a criminal-defense attorney. In a 1997 trial, Mr. Shargel asked Judge Sotomayor to show leniency in sentencing William Duker, a prominent New York lawyer who had pleaded guilty to overbilling the government. Mr. Shargel wanted Mr. Duker to be sent to an alcohol treatment program, in lieu of prison. The judge, however, sentenced the attorney to 33 months in prison, in line with the federal sentencing guidelines.

Following recent Supreme Court precedent, Judge Sotomayor tends to see relatively few grounds to overturn criminal convictions, says John Siffert, a New York attorney who taught an appellate advocacy class with the judge at New York University School of Law from 1996 to 2006. On the trial bench, he says, “she was not viewed as a pro-defense judge.”…

Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford Law School professor who was on the losing side of the January Supreme Court decision, says Judge Sotomayor’s ruling demonstrates a “willingness to give police the benefit of the doubt.”