Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has made national news this week for not accepting the Purdue Pharma Settlement. At the same time, "Operation Varsity Blues" moves forward after sentencing actress Felicity Huffman to 14 days in prison for her participation in the college admissions scam. WGBH Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu spoke with Northeastern University law professor and WGBH News Legal Analyst Daniel Medwed about the latest on both cases, starting with Purdue Pharma. The transcript below has been edited for clairty.

Joe Mathieu: Maura Healey was the first public prosecutor to sue Purdue and the Sackler family, the owners of the company. You said that the attorney general's move was a very strong, principled stand and a gamble. Does this mean we could walk away with nothing?

Daniel Medwed: Well, it is a little bit of a game of chicken because if the federal judge approves this Chapter 11 settlement and she's a part of it, we'll be in line and we'll get a piece of the pie. If the judge doesn't approve this settlement, in part because the attorney general and a group of other attorneys general are opposed to it, then there could be piecemeal litigation down the road. We could get more money through that litigation or we could get less. And to her credit, she might not be comfortable taking a less than full settlement.

Mathieu: Safe to say this could be something she's known for, for better or worse. Depending on how this turns out.

Medwed: I think that's right.

Mathieu: Another big story is actress Felicity Huffman pleading guilty as part of the federal investigation called "Operation Varsity Blues" that led to scores of indictments related to cheating in the college admissions process. Fourteen days, two weeks — that was the headline. A lot of people said, "Gimme a break, that's nothing." What was your reaction? Is it fair?

Medwed: Well, two thoughts on that. First, within the context of what the parties were asking for, I do think it was fair. Prosecution wanted a month behind bars, the defense wanted probation. Judge Talwani, the federal judge here in Boston, channeled her inner King Solomon and split the difference to two weeks in prison.

Second, as for the normative question of whether Huffman got what she deserved, I think it does serve the two major punishment theories out there. The first is called retribution, and it looks back at the crime and asks, 'Was the defendant blameworthy?' and tries to fit a punishment that's commensurate with the crime. That's the "eye for an eye" concept. The other key punishment theory looks ahead. It's called deterrence. What message does the punishment send to the community? Will it deter or dissuade people from offending in this fashion? And when we look at this punishment, it's not a slap on the wrist. She is going to prison for two weeks, but it's not so punitive that it feels disproportionate and unfair. So I think it is actually a pretty fair sentence.

Mathieu: I should probably have noted as well, [the sentence is] 250 hours of community service and a $30,000 fine altogether. Does this set precedent, then, for the other defendants?

Medwed: I think it does, in the sense that there are 34 parents who are embroiled in "Operation Varsity Blues." Nineteen of them apparently are fighting the claims [and] they're going to court. The other 15 have pled guilty, including Felicity Huffman, who's the first of those 15 to actually be sentenced. I think it will set a benchmark of sorts. And I think there's reason to believe that the others might get more time, and here's why. For one thing, the amount of money involved in the Huffman case — $15,000 — allegedly pales in comparison to the sums floating around for other defendants. There's an argument that the higher the money, the more egregious or blameworthy the conduct.

For another thing, the allegations against her involve manipulating the SAT testing process. Claims against other folks allegedly relate to interfering directly with the admissions process at particular schools by falsifying athletic achievements and so on. Now reasonable people may disagree, but directly interfering in an institution's process might be considered more blameworthy. So I do think some of these other parents have reason to be concerned.

Mathieu: Will that lead them to withdraw their guilty pleas [and] go to trial?

Medwed: I don't think they will, and here's why. Federal sentencing is incredibly harsh. Since the tough on crime era in the 1980s, judges have very little discretion for what's called a downward departure. They have to give a particular sentence that's based on the defendant's criminal history and the offense level of the crime. In other words, people who are convicted after trial of the crime that Hoffman was convicted of — conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud — they're going to face a lot more than two weeks. So I think they're going to stick with their pleas.