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What’s Wrong With The Politicized Siegelman Prosecution?

In a prior post, we talked about the quasi-judicial role that prosecutors play:  review the facts and the laws involved, and determine whether the conduct in question and the evidence you have requires charges in the interests of justice.  When a prosecutor deviates from this — forcing the evidence to fit the law in any way they can to justify prosecution — then you have a very big public problem. 

It is the public’s trust that is violated by this misconduct.  Via Scott Horton:

First, we know that the first two career prosecutors assigned to the case, including the most experience prosecutors who worked on it, came to the same conclusion that Grant Woods did: no reasonable prosecutor would ever have charged this case. The Justice Department has consistently made false statements about the roles of the two earlier prosecutors, and their role only emerged in the last few months. It’s extremely noteworthy that throughout the history of this case, whenever a career prosecutor concluded that charges should not be brought, that career prosecutor ran into a bump in his career and was off the case. The message to the remaining career prosecutors was plenty clear. In fact it is clear that the career prosecutors’ views were overridden by political appointees driven by a strong partisan political agenda.

Second, they claim that the case was brought on a fair reading of the law. It was not, and indeed reasonable career prosecutors never would have acted on the basis of the reading they advanced, and a fair detached judge never would have allowed the case to go forward. This case offered neither.

Third, they claim that evidence was produced to sustain the charges. But the key evidence that the prosecutors brought forward was false, and they knew it was false. In this case proceeding on the basis of that false evidence was a corrupt wielding of prosecutorial power, pursued for a corrupt partisan political end—the elimination of a political adversary. They withheld the Bailey notes which would have demonstrated that his memory on this was conflicted or wrong and would therefore have devastated his testimony. There is mounting evidence that one or more witnesses were unethically pressured to give false evidence or face retaliation…. (emphasis mine)

If this were the sole instance of politicized prosecutorial conduct under the Bush Administration, it would still be a huge problem. But it isn’t.  Not by a long shot.

Which makes this yet another enormous red flag in a long, long line of systematic perversion of justice and the rule of law in an "ends justifies the means" scheme hatched by the Bush Administration. It reeks. And any decent, upstanding person in this country — regardless of political affiliation — ought to be outraged that the mechanisms of their government would be used for such a dirty, appalling political scheme.

To deliberately hold back evidence which is exculpatory in nature, calling into question the fundamental fairness of proceedings, raises serious questions of prosecutorial misconduct.  Should it be shown that there was a broad-ranging political conspiracy to misuse the resources of the USAtty’s office for political purposes? That the name in the center of all of this fetid, festering scourge is none other than Karl Rove? Well, that’s just par for the Turdblossom, isn’t it?

Except it can also be criminally and civilly actionable.  More sunshine, now…

(YouTube of Queen singing "Liar" live.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com