Monday, August 6, 2007

Spotlight on Selective Prosecution

The New York Times opines today on the need to scrutinize the issue of selective prosecution as apparently practiced by the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Times spotlights several prosecutions of politicians who are Democrats, including Alabama's Don Siegelman and Wisconsin's Georgia Thompson. The Times says the Siegelman case has the appearance of being a "political hit," and it says Congressional investigators also should look into the prosecution of New Jersey senator Robert Menendez.

My favorite line in the editorial is this: "Putting political opponents in jail is the kind of thing that happens in third world dictatorships."

The Times is absolutely right about that. And if the paper wants to get an up-close look at how Republicans operate in the equivalent of a third-world dictatorship, it should send a reporter to check out Alabama's state-court system. Shelby County would be a good place to start; that's where "bosses" like J. Michael Joiner and G. Dan Reeves rape the U.S. Constitution with impunity, only to have their unlawful rulings upheld (with no-opinion affirmances) by our GOP-dominated appellate courts.

Shelby County is hardly a backwater. It is the wealthiest and the fastest-growing county in Alabama, and it's right outside the state's largest city, Birmingham. But the courthouse in Columbiana is run like a mini banana republic, where quaint 14th-Amendment notions like due process and equal protection mean zip.

Kudos to The Times for a strong editorial. But it does not go far enough. It addresses one side of selective prosecution--where Democrats are perhaps wrongly pursued for political reasons by the Republican-led DOJ. But it does not address the other side of the equation--cases where Republican wrongdoers get away with all kinds of shenanigans, for political reasons.

The problem goes beyond putting political opponents in prison, as bad as that is. It also means cheating people in civil cases, and bringing them to the edge of financial ruin, in order to favor people with family ties to the GOP. And on the civil side, it does not just involve cases where a plaintiff, who perhaps was legitimately wronged, has a case wrongfully dismissed. It also involves cases where someone (like me) is forced to defend a fraudulent lawsuit filed by a friend of the GOP and watch as unlawful rulings cause the case to drag on for years, costing thousands of dollars.

That's the issue we will explore in detail here at Legal Schnauzer.

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