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Black and Whitey



I maintain — and will continue to maintain until we see criminal law reform that the overwhelming expansion of criminal codes — especially federal criminal laws — our rights will continue to diminish and due process will become but a fig leaf to cover oppressive government action. In addition, there are few things as frightening as over-zealous and unethical prosecution. Witness above Conrad Black and Whitey Bulger. Both are getting and/or have gotten abused by the system. Here’s an interesting piece from Forbes by Harvey Silverglate — author of Three Felonies A Day:

Two remarkable legal proceedings are currently wending their way through the federal criminal courts. The cases involve very different parties: Conrad Black, one of the most consequential public intellectuals and businessmen of our era, and James “Whitey” Bulger, a Boston-based alleged racketeer and serial murderer. But both cases highlight some of the same profound problems with the way federal prosecutorial business is done these days.

In both cases, as in countless others, the feds have used certain techniques that virtually assure convictions of both the innocent and the guilty, the wealthy and the poor, the violent drug dealer and the white collar defendant, indifferent to the niceties of “due process of law,” particularly the right to effective assistance of legal counsel. In order to prevent a defendant from retaining a defense team of his choice, federal prosecutors will first freeze his assets, even though a jury has yet to find them to have been illegally obtained. They then bring prosecutions of almost unimaginable complexity, assuring that the financially hobbled defendant’s diminished legal team (or, as is often the case, his court-appointed lawyer) will be too overwhelmed to mount an adequate defense.

Why does this matter? One never knows when your lacrosse playing son is going to a college party and some whacked out stripper decides to accuse him of a rape to a more than willing prosecutor. And if that day ever comes — a defense attorney, adequately equipped, is the last line of defense. Defense attorneys have done plenty to call into question the practice of law to be sure, but the answer is not disabling adequate defense under the 6th Amendment. The danger in our legal system is overzealous prosecution, not overzealous defense (though also a problem). The majority of federal prosecutions are legitimate of course, but this growing problem needs to be dealt with.

13 comments to Black and Whitey

  • Scott M.

    Po wittle Whitey Bulger.

    • I don’t feel sorry for Whitey but if a society treats its people this way that’s bad for all of us. Whitey is a citizen and that should mean something — even as he should get the death penalty.

      • Scott M.

        What,like OJ Simpson?

        • OJ is an exception Scott, don’t be obtuse. If Conrad Black and Martha Stewart can be railroaded by the Feds — what chance does a normal middle class person accused of a white collar or administrative violation have. David Gregory’s gun law violation is a perfect example. That shouldn’t be a criminal law violation to begin with. A lot of people get fined and criminal records for things that shouldn’t be crimes to begin with.

          The Constitution protects us — including Whitey Bulger — from the government. Let that slide and we’re a lot further gone than we thought.

  • Scott M.

    I agree with your argument,Floyd(look at our drug laws),but you don’t need Whitey Bulger to bolster the argument…give me a break.

    • Daniel Crandall

      Both men, I think, are good examples for Floyd’s argument. If we only apply his argument to some, but not to all, then we are all the worse for it.

  • Daniel Crandall

    Let us never forget these lines from “A Man for All Seasons”:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

  • Texacalirose

    And the same can be said about law enforcement officers. Given awesome power that should be cherished, some, a few, are emboldened by it instead of being humbled by the honor of it (especially some of those traffic cops!! ;o )

    • -fritz-

      Amen! You should have seen the orgasmic debacle that the Nevada Highway Patrol was exhibiting between Primm, NV (Stateline) and Las Vegas this last week. On any other week of the year, you can drive off the road and crash and burn and wait 45 minutes for a NHP to show up. This past week, in the most ridiculous tour de force I’ve ever seen, had all the reader boards above the 6 lane divided I-15 showing, “Highway Patrol Zero Tolerance Zone” and were out with about 8 to 10 cars and at least 4 motorcyles. Granted, California drivers tend to drive 80 mph in CA and NV, but 80 is safe if the NHP will stay out of the way. I know money is tight, but this whole thing was ridiculous! I saw some people pulled over for what I would consider nothing at all. Police state, anyone? And, yes, I know that driving is not a right, but a privilige…yada, yada, yada!

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