Friday, July 2, 2010

The SCOTUS and our rights

Clarice Feldman writes in the Pajamas Media:
SCOTUS Decision Attacks ‘Honest Services’ Law
The Supreme Court has upheld the principle that a law be well-defined, not simply established when a jury decision is made on it.
The right is often so concerned with maintaining scrupulous standards of probity that during criminal proceedings involving friends and allies they vanish, fearful of getting their own spotless white togas spattered with mud. Further, too often the right ignores the seamier side of criminal law.
I am not suggesting that the proper course in such cases is to join in a chorus attacking and smearing those who’ve made the accusations, or to bespatter prosecutors as Ken Starr was. But I do suggest that they maintain a vigilant eye on the proceedings, and maintain their loyalty until the facts are fully known.

Also, that they pay more attention and offer more resistance to the growing problem of prosecutorial overreach than they have, rather than simply assuming the propriety of the proceedings.

With few joining me, I have written repeatedly of the outrageous behavior of Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald succeeded in so poisoning the jury and public opinion with his extrajudicial statements and so manipulated evidence before the trial court that he got the innocent Lewis Libby convicted. Libby was a man targeted, I believe, by opponents of the prior administration who considered him a proxy in their bureaucratic wars against Bush and Cheney.

That behavior continued in Fitzgerald’s treatment of Conrad Black and his hapless Hollinger general counsel, Mark Kipnis. Now, it continues against former Illinois Governor Blagojevich, who was removed from office on the basis of the prosecutor’s conduct before he was found guilty of anything. This is a prosecutor who, having seen the likely direction the Court was heading on the question of “honest services,” was forced to add other charges against the governor to account for the likelihood that the honest services charges would be thrown out.

What is the “honest services” provision? It’s a simple, less than 30-word addition to the federal mail fraud statute:
§ 1346. For the purposes of this chapter, the term “scheme or artifice to defraud” includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.
Last week, the “honest services” arrow in the prosecution’s quiver was severely blunted by the Suprme Court when it reversed three convictions based on that law.
Read the rest of this here.

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