Nancy Gertner


The case was a classic one: The defendant, a woman named Amhru Dyce, pled guilty to being a drug courier, commonly known as a "mule." She had no criminal record. She was the principal caretaker of two young children and a three-month-old infant whom she was still nursing. The district court judge labored over her case. He held hearings over four days in which he explored the question of who would care for the children, and in particular, how the infant would be nourished. He worried aloud that, in time, all three children would receive inadequate attention, and perhaps even be sent to foster care.

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