Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Power of the Prosecutor

The New Republic, has joined the chorus of media outlets reporting on issues connected to the Don Siegelman case. TNR reporter Bradford Plumer focuses on concerns about rogue prosecutors.

Plumer begins his piece by citing the recent Time magazine report about Alabama developer Lanny Young, who told Justice Department investigators that he had bribed two Republicans (Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor), along with Siegelman, a Democrat. The prosecution chose to go after only Siegelman.

"Yes, prosecutors always get leeway to decide which cases to charge. But how do we know when that power's being abused? Did the U.S. Attorney's office in Alabama lay off Sessions because there wasn't enough evidence or because several of the investigating attorneys had once worked for him? And do similar abuses occur elsewhere in the legal system, away from the media spotlight."

Here at Legal Schnauzer, we will show that the answer to that last question is a resounding yes. The fraudulent lawsuit filed against me was in state court, and no government officials or wealthy businessmen were parties. A media spotlight was nowhere in sight. But Republican judges repeatedly committed a federal crime, honest services mail fraud (18 U.S. Code 1346), which ironically was the key charge in both the Siegelman case and the Paul Minor case in Mississippi. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham have long possessed ample evidence of the crime and chosen to ignore it.

Plumer does not address this in his article, but prosecutorial misconduct comes in at least two varieties--overly aggressive prosecution and suppression of prosecution (both for political reasons).

We will address suppression of prosecution, as practiced by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Alice Martin, here at Legal Schnauzer. But Plumer presents some fascinating information about prosecutions that are both overly aggressive--and sloppy.

He cites a 2003 Center for Public Integrity (CPI) study that shows, over a 30-plus year period, judges and court panels have dismissed charges, reversed convictions, or reduced sentences in at least 2,012 cases because of prosecutorial misconduct. That is probably a radical undercount, Plumer reports, because not all appellate decisions are published, and CPI could only study cases that actually went to trial. (About 95 percent of cases are settled by guilty pleas to reduced charges.)

Prosecutors frequently "overcharge," tacking on additional charges to give themselves more leverage in plea bargaining, or, if the case goes to trial, a better chance of securing conviction.

Writes Plumer: "A jury, after all, is more likely to think a defendant 'must be' guilty if there's a long list of charges, and often will compromise by settling on a few--something that could plausibly have happened with Siegelman, who was acquitted on 25 counts and convicted on seven."


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Here we go again deleting comments that don't agree with the Crazy Legal Schnauzer.Schnauzer can dish it out but sure can't take it.He throws "bombs" at everybody-just read his insane blog but crys like a schnauzer when you reply.

legalschnauzer said...

Calm down, ding dong. It was a spam comment. Good grief.

Anonymous said...

What surprises me is that you still haven't moved on. GET OVER IT. Everytime Google alerts me to an article your insane comments show up. Get a Life. Go onto something that will benefit society. Retrying old cases and drumming up sympathy for your criminal buddies is getting tiresome.

Nancy Swan said...

Hey legal wizard - use this space to fight for justice, not for those who corrupt it. Then maybe you can look back and say that you did something positive with your life.

Anonymous said...

And for the record, legalschnauzer does block messages that are not spam - comments he doesn't want you to read them. I got several of those messages after writing several negative comments.

Anonymous said...

The reason the tiny dog author of this website gets a nervous about the rest of us, he knew all along that his blog would be used to try and get his buddies Paul Minor and Siegleman out of jail. Way to go Shuler. How much is Minor paying you to write all this junk. If you had your way only poor republicans would be in jail. Surely any Democrat could claim he was politically prosecuted. What happens when the Dems get control. Do we only prosecute those Republicans or big donors to the Rep party?????

Anonymous said...

This site is just being used for propaganda to use as a defense for rich Democrats who got caught bribing public officials.

Minor thinks he is a political prisoner. Good grief. What about Minor's victims???? Roger I would like to see you eat your words one day. But you are probably getting fat off Minor's money.