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August 21, 2010

What should be the take-away from the Blogo verdict and the Clemens indictment?

Unsurprisingly, the two biggest federal criminal justice events of the week -- the incomplete jury verdict in the criminal trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (noted here) and the indictment of former all-star MLB pitcher Roger Clemens (available here) -- have both generated lots of media punditry and lots of comments on this blog and elsewhere.  I am wondering, however, if readers have an ability and interest in connecting the two stories. 

Specifically, I am wondering if most folks view both cases as involving similar interests and concerns and thus consider both prosecutions as of equal value in the expenditure of federal prosecutorial time and resources.  Or, do some see it especially important and valuable that the feds went after a particular one of these two blowhards, but especially problematic and wasteful that the feds are going after the other.  In short, I am just curious if opinions on these cases rise and fall together or if they are viewed very differently in readers' minds.

August 21, 2010 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

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Blogo is far more important, elected officials must know that there is at least a chance they will be prosecuted for corruption if they are flagrant about it. Despite that, the case likely was overcharged and from everything I've read the prosecution was more than a bit muddled.

I figure Clemens is probably a liar, but such things are shrugged off so often that I can't help wondering if it's just a prosecutor trying to get a high profile case rather than going after something substantive. That does not mean, however, if I were a juror that I would vote for acquittal on that basis if I were convinced BRD.

I don't think the two cases have any particular connection or even demonstrate a shared mindset.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 21, 2010 11:59:45 AM

Here's a thought. When an elected official is engaged in corrupt activities, I am all in for prosecuting him to the full extent of the law. So go get him, Pat Fitzgerald!

Lying to congress? Since it is abundantly clear that there is no penalty whatsoever for congress persons lying to us, I am not thinking I would quickly step up to prosecute someone for lying to congress. Especially in this case, since it is absolutely clear that congress had absolutely no interest in actually legislating in regard to the use of PEDs in professional sports. Hard to imagine, therefore, how Clemen's lies....and they were very surely lies....could ever be characterized as "material" to anything. Of course, if Clemens had been a congressman, and accused of lying, the ethics committiee would, at most, have recommended a mild ass-chewing. So it is a bit much that he is accused of a felony for lying to an institution that has institutionalized lying as an artform. But perhaps it is explainable by the fact that Clemens, at the end of the day, was simply not very good at lying. Professional prevaricators, like your average, everyday congressperson, have very little truck with mere amatuers, like Clemenns.

Posted by: Grotius | Aug 21, 2010 5:25:56 PM

The prosecutor wants to get into the paper. He will waste $millions in tax money on $100 beef malum prohibitum because Martha Stewart did it. Meanwhile, organized, wealthy, paramilitary illegal alien gangs behead people who offended them, and we hear nothing from these worthless, lazy, stupid, government worker paper shufflers. Because the FBI is an enforcement arm of a wholly owned entity of the CCE and many are lawyers themselves, the patriotic citizen almost has a duty to lie to them. They failed to protect us from 9/11, and from a host of vicious federal crimes, by the millions. They harass doctors over unclear billing codes, despite the marked underpayment by this bully government. They immunize the Moslem terrorist, where even verbal criticism has them coming around to investigate ethnic discrimination. They are good friends with the terrorist, and will not allow our warriors to wipe out their financial, intellectual, and religious leaders. Should a member of the FBI try to do her job properly, and to protect our nation, she gets crushed by the political hacks running it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 21, 2010 6:33:56 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, Doug, but I seem to recall you busting my chops about not caring all that much about Roger Clemens not being pursued for his lies.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 21, 2010 7:13:56 PM

The law will be consistent when lawmakers themselves have to submit talking points and election year ads as true to the FBI under penalty of perjury. As it stands now, they can lie with impunity. *

* State's highest court backs lying in politics

Posted by: George | Aug 21, 2010 8:25:20 PM

I live in the State of Illinois. What Governor Blagojevich did publically was to enact legislation that caused every child in Illinois to have access to health care; to create the "Seniors Ride Free" on CTA, RTA and Metra, and 1/2 price on Amtrak. He hired more women and minorities in top state positions than any other governor. He did nothing, to my knowledge, to harm one person in Illinois. What Governor Blagojevich did in private was to say some stupid things, but I'm sure everybody says stupid things in private, not expecting the FBI to be recording their conversations - especially those in the privacy of their homes with family members and close friends. A total acquittal would have been a victory for justice. It would have put Pat Fitzgerald and other "untouchables" on notice that you cannot conduct witch hunts by sneaking and eavesdropping on people in the privacy of their homes and offices.

There have been many politicians who have never been caught on tape saying dumb stuff, and therefore they are considered "good"; even though they have created and signed legislation that costs the lives and freedom of hundreds of innocent citizens every year. I'm sure Pat Fitzgerald would call Ted Strickland a "good" governor, even though he is about to allow the execution of a man for which there is considerable evidence of innocence. America killed Sadaam Hussein because of what he did to his own people - yet the governors and politicians in America who persecute their own people are considered good; and governors like Blagojevich who does things to elevate the economic and social status of his own people are prosecuted and indicted for waht they say in private. There is something wrong with the thinking of this nation and people like Pat Fitzgerald.

Posted by: Law Buff | Aug 21, 2010 10:40:47 PM

Student

The Blago drama was all about politics. I knew it from the beginning that it was a farce. Had Fitzgerald had anything of substance on Blago he wouldn't have moved the date and extended the time to try to get something of substance on which to prosecute the former governor. It's sad when the justice system goes after someone because he has retro hair, stands up against the hardballers when attempting to do good for the elderly and the poor.

Now that this is over and Fitzgerald has time to form a defense for himself, can we look into the misconduct taking place in the U.S. Federal Prosecutor's office in Chicago. From what I read, U.S. Appellate Court Judge, Holderman, requested an investigation be conducted but the investigation was halted.

"There is a history of tension between the U.S. attorney’s office and Holderman, chief judge of the federal court in Chicago. In 2005, the appellate court had to intervene in a dispute after Holderman ordered a misconduct investigation of the U.S. attorney’s office. At that time, the federal appeals court ordered a halt to the judge’s inquiry." http://chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2010/07/7th-circuit-explains-why-it-removed-judge-during-trial.html

Posted by: Trixie | Aug 21, 2010 11:00:11 PM

Well said Trixie and Law Buff. By Jove, I think they've got it!!!!! And God help me but I can almost make a little sense out of old SCs take on this one. Hey, SC, someone has to protect us from these dangerous media/marketing gurus and the O'so fearsome baseball players LOL.

BTW, in a previous post on the Clemens issue, did I mention a B.O wannabe prosecutor just trying to make his bones? Yeah, I thought so. Still applies but he may have a hard row to hoe. Honey Fitz thought he had made the grade but I guess not and it sure would be interesting, as Trixie has suggested, seeing the outcome of a look-see into his affairs.

You know, it is kinda sad that in two of the most high profile cases lately, neither of the victims of the feds have rolled over and played dead. Guess they are just losing their touch. Or maybe it is just harder to intimidate those who have the resources to fight back.

Posted by: Sorry 'bout That | Aug 21, 2010 11:44:36 PM

I call for the immediate resignation of Patrick Fitzgerald. This lawyer incompetent has wasted $millions of taxpayer dollars. It is time to go, you desperate, attention whoring, lawyer dumbass. There is a rebuttable presumption that he is a traitor to our country, and working to bring it down, by his graduation from that treason indoctrination camp, Harvard Law School. What a waking nightmare the output of that treason indoctrination camp have been for our lawyer besieged nation. The three branches of government are firmly in the hands of Ivy indoctrinated traitors who wish to destroy this nation, to turn it into France, so they may run it all.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Fitzgerald

The defense lawyer of these innocent defendants should also quit the profession for his failure to demand total e-discovery of the prosecutor, and of this biased, pro-government judge. He allowed this farce to proceed to generate trial fees. This is a standard of professional due care at this point.

You cannot destroy that much value of taxpayer property and keep your rent seeking, worthless government sinecure. Out. Now.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 22, 2010 12:37:02 AM

I think I did bust your chops, federalist, and I am VERY pleased the feds have indicted Clemens (and also pleased they went after Blogo).

I am not sure it would make a lot of sense for either of these blowhards to spend many years in the federal pen, but I want that decision to be made by juries and judges, not prosecutors. Especially when a high-profile crime is committed by a high-profile person on national TV --- as was true in Clemens case --- I think it very important that prosecutors investigate and either charge (or explaining publically why they choose not to charge) this crime so that we can be confident that the rich and famous do not get to commit crimes without consequences.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 22, 2010 9:40:25 AM

Then Doug, I assume that you will be touting a federal charge against Charlie Rangel for tax evasion. The transactions whereby he got 3 of 4 apartments in NYC at rent-controlled rates resulted in gross income to him, and he didn't pay tax on that income.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 22, 2010 9:53:31 AM

federalist --

You mustn't be too hard on Charlie Rangel. So he forgot to report $600,000 in rent he got on his numerous apartments. So what? Look, the guy has supported a lot of welfare state spending (see post by Law Buff), so he gets a pass. Gee, you're so PUNITIVE. I'll bet you support the death penalty too. Barbarian.

Doug --

The problem with Blago and Clemens is not that they're blowhards. Joe Biden is a blowhard, but nobody thinks he's a criminal (a plagiarizer, yes, but not a criminal).

The problem with Blago is that he's dishonest, and has now been so found by a jury. The evidence proved to 11 of the 12 jurors that he was also corrupt in the quite traditional sense in Illinois politics, to wit, that he was using his public office to line his pockets (see, George Ryan, Otto Kerner; see also Dan Walker; cf. Dan Rostenkowski). Whether a future jury will come out 12 of 12 remains to be seen. I would not bet against Fitzgerald. My guess is that he will slim down the case and keep the evidentiary phase shorter.

The problem with Clemens also is not that he's a blowhard. The problem, if there is one, is that he might have committed perjury. I am not entirely clear on what the need is to pursue the prosecution at this somewhat late date, but the Constitution vests that decision in the Executive Branch, of which I am no longer a member. If one doesn't like those running the Executive Branch, we have an election coming up in about 26 months at which this can be addressed. (We also have an election coming up in about two months at which the Executive's running room is likely to be considerably curbed, thank goodness).

I don't know if Clemens lied. I have to think the government has some newly found evidence for it to bring the case. I am in sympathy, to a degree, with those posters who think it's hypocritical for congressmen to demand that witnesses tell the truth when they lie so frequently themselves. As is so often the case, however, the cry of "hypocrisy" is an overblown smokescreen. Moral adults have an obligation to tell the truth REGARDLESS OF THE MISBEHAVIOR OF OTHER PEOPLE. When they are under oath, they have, in addition, a legal obligation to do so. As commenter Marc Shepherd has correctly said elsewhere, once you take the oath, you either tell the truth or take the consequences for lying.

Finally, while I understand and to an extent sympathize with the populist appeal of going after the rich and famous, I did not, as an AUSA, take account of the prospective defendant's economic or social/professional status. I took account of the evidence of his behavior.

It appears that many on this thread think lying is no big deal. In my family, when I was growing up, it was a big deal indeed. If people want their kids to adopt the sleazy "morality" they beat the drum for in discussing Blago, that is their decision. If they're waiting for me to join them, they'll be waiting a long time.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 22, 2010 11:25:38 AM

Can't top what Law Buff, Trixie and Sorry 'bout That said so well.

Though I do wonder if the holdout 12th juror in the Blago case is one of a growing number of skeptics who've seen someone they care about rolled and left for dead by the DOJ.

Posted by: John K | Aug 22, 2010 11:38:10 AM

John K --

Any thoughts on the other 11?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 22, 2010 12:15:04 PM

Prof. Berman has not cited the specific physical harm caused by the false testimony of Clemens nor by the lying of Blago. One suspects he supports these prolonged theatrical cases for the generation of massive lawyer make work, the intimidation of the public who may tempted to lie to the cult criminals running the criminal law, and the distraction from the toxicity of the lawyer profession to our nation. It is a profession in utter failure save for its spectacular success in rent seeking. One suspects that rent is its sole purpose, with a few crumbs dropped to the public interest, to fend off massive retaliation against its treasonous betrayal of our country.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 22, 2010 12:25:58 PM

John K --

Three other thoughts while I'm at it.

1. If "someone I care about" has committed a crime and gets caught and punished for it, I have no LEGITIMATE complaint.

2. Do you agree with me that moral adults have an obligation to tell the truth regardless of the misbehavior (including lying) of other people? Or does the fact that others are dishonest entitle you to be dishonest?

3. Does the taking of the oath have any meaning? If so, what? That you can tell the truth when you feel like it, but otherwise lie to protect your backside?

This whole thread is amazing. Only on a site dominated by defense lawyers would the conventional wisdom be that lying under oath is no big deal.

And people wonder why lawyers have a bad reputation. Ha!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 22, 2010 12:26:13 PM

There is an affirmative, ethical duty to lie, to mislead, to throw off the scent all criminals coming around to take their rent. They have made themselves the enemy of our nation, and are protecting terrorist instead of protecting the nation. By protecting terrorists, they themselves have lied in their oath to defend the Constitution. Lying to a liar has full moral justification. The lawyer gotcha is to generate government make work, and serves no other valid purpose. This is methodology from the Inquisition, meant to confiscate the assets of the productive males and females (see Martha Stewart). It is a form of armed robbery, and should be punished. All its practitioners should be arrested, tried for treason, and executed for betrayal of our secular Constitution.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 22, 2010 12:37:36 PM

All the lawyers here are of the same opinion. They support the lawyer gotcha, the malum prohibitum, devoid of any external validation, save as a tool to generate lawyer make work, and to intimidate the public. Rent seeking is an euphemism for armed robbery, and a crime itself. Instead, it is justified and idealized in lawyer propaganda.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 22, 2010 12:55:02 PM

sorry bill but i disagree with this statement!

"As is so often the case, however, the cry of "hypocrisy" is an overblown smokescreen. Moral adults have an obligation to tell the truth REGARDLESS OF THE MISBEHAVIOR OF OTHER PEOPLE."

In normal condition's i'd say yes your right. BUT in this cituation you have an individual dragged up in front of a kangaroo court who are doing it just to TAKE THE HEAT of THEMSELVES sorry the average citizen has every right to simply ignore them and not give them the ammunition they are looking for.

I also agree with SC here the ones pushing this are bigger theats to our society and way of life than any terrorist could every hope to be!

you could compare this to a crook breaking into your home and demanding information about who lives there and where they are. You have EVERY RIGHT to shoot them whatever line of baloney you want to keep yourself and your family SAFE.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 22, 2010 1:12:56 PM

The lawyers here, including those employed by the DOJ, were indoctrinated. This indoctrination into a criminal cult enterprise was so good, they 1) do not even know they underwent a cult indoctrination into idiotic, Medieval, church based, supernatural doctrines; they believe in stupid stuff that does not exist in nature; 2) feel themselves morally superior, when they belong to the biggest most powerful criminal syndicate in history, somehow in charge of the three branches of government; 3) do not understand why the public would want to resist their bogus doctrines and their domination and plunder of our nation, threatening our very existence by their collaboration with Muslim terrorists.

This week, the Harvard endowment sold all its Israeli stock, in total compliance with Saudi Arabian economic policy to defund the state of Israel, our only real friend in the region. Harvard is indoctrinating our elite into collaboration with the financiers of the terrorist movement to destroy our lawyer besieged nation. This Saudi front organization has successfully infiltrated its students into all levels of policy making in the three branches of government, especially the Presidency. No one knows how the President was accepted into Harvard law school, given his grades. No one knows who paid its tuition. No one knows how he joined the law review. No one knows why he was kept on it, given his extreme laziness and mediocre intellect. Saudi Arabian money is quiet money. So no one is likely to ever find out.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 22, 2010 2:13:35 PM

Bill asks: "Any thoughts on the other 11?"

Yeah, I'm glad for their sakes they've been spared the grinding experience of discovering how America's prosecution/punishment system actually operates.

The way you view the world in such stark black and white terms is nothing short of fascinating, Bill.

Honesty is a big deal. Lying is too. So maybe dishonest people and liars should be scorned by their fellow citizens. Maybe we shouldn't invite them to dinner or let our kids play with theirs. But that doesn't mean they should be marched off prison for five years.

As for loved ones committing crimes and getting punished, consider if you can, Bill, that much of what passes for crime in the post-Nixon fledgling police state amounts to little more than what SC correctly refers to above as "lawyer gotcha malum prohibitum devoid of any external validation."

Oaths? I can neither explain nor defend what Clemens did. But Blago wasn't under oath when he spoke to the FBI.

Consider, too, the FBI apparently doesn't distinguish between spontaneous, defensive, sometimes delusional remarks uttered under stress and deliberate deceptions capable of actually obstructing justice.

But then it's not really an honesty or a justice thing, is it? It's a prosecutor hole-card thing. The ole lying-to-bureaucrats ploy pretty much guarantees the feds never have to walk away empty handed. Even if the purported crime they're investigating ultimately amounts to nothing, somebody still goes to prison. Justice is served.

Posted by: John K | Aug 22, 2010 2:31:17 PM

"Joe Biden is a blowhard, but nobody thinks he's a criminal"

Don't be too sure about that. There are a few folks around who may think that what he and his bunch are doing to this country is criminal.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 22, 2010 3:10:02 PM

There are a few folks around who don't think Obama's an American. So what?

Posted by: John K | Aug 22, 2010 3:22:51 PM

John K --

"The way you view the world in such stark black and white terms is nothing short of fascinating, Bill."

It's anything but fascinating. It's somewhat boring. There is a difference between lying and telling the truth and telling the truth is better. This is a total commonplace. I dare say every kid in the world knows it by the age of five. Only in the bizarre world of cover-your-tracks defense lawyering would it be considered "fascinating."

"As for loved ones committing crimes and getting punished, consider if you can, Bill, that much of what passes for crime in the post-Nixon fledgling police state amounts to little more than what SC correctly refers to above as 'lawyer gotcha malum prohibitum devoid of any external validation.'"

But of course lying, which is what we're talking about on this thread, is anything but malum prohibitum. Indeed, it's a paradigm of malum in se, condemned by the Ten Commandments and every society I ever heard of.

"Consider, too, the FBI apparently doesn't distinguish between spontaneous, defensive, sometimes delusional remarks uttered under stress and deliberate deceptions capable of actually obstructing justice."

Actually it distinguishes between them all the time, as you would know if you'd ever worked with them. Not that it makes any difference here, since even his lawyer did not contend that Blago just, you know, kinda made a "spontaneous" or "delusional" mistake when he claimed he had set up a firewall between his decisions and cash contributions. In fact, Blago had spent years and a good deal of effort tending to THE LINK between his official decisions and who forked over the bucks.

And beyond even that, even if the FBI/US Attorney couldn't distinguish between innocent mistakes and cover-your-ass lies, the jury certainly can.

Blago was the well-schooled child of world famous Chicago corruption. I believe that Illinois has had more governors go to jail than any other state (three in the last forty years). Do you honestly think he didn't know what he was doing when he lied to the FBI?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 22, 2010 6:05:34 PM

Lying is absolutely not a malum in se. I lie to an elderly person about their terminal condition. They go about their activities, enjoying them, care free. Isn't that a blessing? Enemy soldiers have invaded my land. I turn the direction signs to towns to confuse them. Isn't that a blessing, lying to enemy authorities? I lie to my law students. I tell them, minds can be read, the future forecast, and twelve strangers can detect the truth by their gut feelings after excluding any with knowledge. The deceived dumbasses go out and plunder a $trillion a year using these lies. Isn't that a blessing?

The Supreme Court supports deception by the police. Shouldn't there be some mutuality of remedies for the purpose of fairness, and support for lying to worthless, self-dealing cult criminals? There is an affirmative duty to lie to cult criminals, that is an older duty than the 10 Commandments. The plunder by the cult criminals preceded the birth of Moses by 1000's of years.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 23, 2010 12:34:16 AM

SC --

Lying to cover up abuse of public office is malum in se and you know it. In the context of criminal law, lying is not done to throw off invading enemy troops or cushion old people from a brutal prognosis. It's done to get away with lining your pockets with bribe money.

There is a reason every parent in the world teaches his/her kids not to lie. It's called "morality." Did you teach your kids to lie to you? Why not, since it's so wonderful?

If this site has become so debased that the value of truthfulness itself is dismissed as breezily as you would have it, then at least by indirection (the truth not counting anymore) we can see where things are headed.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 23, 2010 8:36:44 AM

If congress can lie and its fine, then I think they are scum....I would never give away any power to scum bags..In other words, if lying would get me out of harms way, who cares...

They have no character or honor, so you get what you give....

Anyone who serves a single term of office and gets that salary for the rest of their life and can lie and take kickbacks doesn't deserve any respect....In general Congress SUCKS...

Not even aware of the bills they vote for.
How many of the understood the crack bill, that it actually increased a vast number of sentences for the future. They didn't understand that all of those other amendments after the 18:1 part, are more layers added upon the other layers that
is already grossly over done..

But thats our Congress...They SUCK, big time...

Posted by: Abe | Aug 23, 2010 10:24:34 AM

federalist (and Bill): I very much would like to see any and every public official who is a tax cheat (including Charlie Rangel) subject to prosecution. I think allowing public officials --- or celebrities like Wesley Snipes or Richard Hatch (the "Survivor" winner) or other high-profile people like Marc Rich --- to get away with illegal tax shenanegans is even more problematic than potentially allowing folks like Roger Clemens and Scooter Libby and Bill Clinton get away with lying under oath.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 23, 2010 12:14:26 PM

Bill - Don't forget that prosecutors lie too, AUSA's included, and you know it. Most lawyers - defense lawyers and prosecutors - don't lie. But some do; there are bad apples in every barrel. You lose credibility, though, when you focus almost exclusively on only one barrel. (And, yes, I teach my kids not to lie.)

Posted by: lawyer | Aug 23, 2010 12:33:24 PM

Bill: We basically agree at the morality, teach your children to be good people level. Of course, you are absolutely correct. But this is jurisprudence, not child raising.

How about starting by cleaning up the lawyer side of lying, to set an example?

Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731 (1969)

In other cases, police have posed as fences, as contract killers, as inmate roommates, as drug seekers. The resulting confessions, conspiracies, solicitations, all perfectly admissible in court with praises to the clever officer. Should the malum in se of lying by the police be rewarded with a conviction? Sometimes the idea of the crime was planted into the mind of the defendant by the police.

How about the defense atty who offers the location of the body of the raped and butchered little girl in a plea deal, gets rejected, and mounts an all out attack on the parents as the real murderers during trial? This is professional and perfectly ethical, indeed, a duty of zealous representation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 23, 2010 11:17:34 PM

It should be pointed out in the prior comment, the police are the agents of the prosecutor, and agency rules apply.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 24, 2010 3:10:48 AM

SC --

The police are also entitled to pull a gun and fire it in situations where, if a private person did the same, he would (properly) go to jail.

There is a difference, which I'm sure you see, between using deception, and force for that matter, to confront crime, and using those same things to commit crime. I don't know of any society in the world, ever, that has not recognized that difference and acted on it. Do you?

The lessons of childhood have more relevance to public policy than you give them credit for. If morality is good for children, it's good for the rest of us. And, yes, I know the adult world is complicated and exists in shades of gray. But it is not so much in some confused moral wilderness that normal people -- much less intelligent people like you -- can't see that any justice system worth the name MUST be able to enforce a requirement that people be truthful with it.

That government officials in the present Administration (and past ones) do not uniformly honor this requirement is reprehensible. If I were still a prosecutor, something would get done about it. But for as bad as it is, the idea that dishonesty in the government creates a license authorizing tit-for-tat dishonesty everywhere is preposterous, not to mention fatally corrosive.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 24, 2010 1:05:54 PM

sorry bill but i disagree with this

"The police are also entitled to pull a gun and fire it in situations where, if a private person did the same, he would (properly) go to jail."

Who said! Sorry i still say if it's ILLEGAL for me to do it. IT'S ILLEGAL for the govt that get's it POWER FROM ME to do it either!

Sorry you can't convict people for lieing to the govt! at the SAME TIME your lieing to the very people you report to I.E the VOTERS!

you have yet to answer the main question in fact you tend to ignore it!

How can i give the govt to authority to do something i am LEGEALLY prohibited from doing? and let's not forget our govt get's its AUTHORITY from US!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 24, 2010 1:31:27 PM

rodsmith --

"How can i give the govt to authority to do something i am LEGEALLY prohibited from doing?"

By virtue of both common law and statute. The Framers recognized this, as does every civilized society I ever heard of. I don't know of a single country, democratic or otherwise, in which those enforcing the law do not have the authority to employ means that would be criminal if used by private persons for private purposes.

Example: You cannot legally tap the phone of your neighbor even if he's an al Qaeda munitions expert plotting to blow up the subway. But the government can, and (I sincerely hope) does, even in this what-me-worry Administration.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 24, 2010 3:34:08 PM

As I understood it, the public does have a right to fire a gun at people in the same circumstances as the police does. If it turns out, the person shot was innocent, the public may be sued in torts. The police is immune. However, I understand the argument by analogy you are trying to make. We grant the government privileges, such as having nuclear weapons.

As someone with above average ethical feelings (not being sarcastic here), do you have any opinion of the universal endorsement of deception by government, at the Supreme Court level?

To take the parenting analogy, parents tell children, never lie. However, the parents always lie. It's a problem because children learn more by imitation than by lecturing.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 24, 2010 5:28:55 PM

SC --

"As someone with above average ethical feelings (not being sarcastic here), do you have any opinion of the universal endorsement of deception by government, at the Supreme Court level?"

I don't know about "universal," but I approve of the practice in the case you mentioned, Frazier v. Cupp. In that case, the Court (per Marshall) approved of obtaining a suspect's statement in part by deceiving him about what a co-defendant had said. I might add that, while Justice Fortas did not participate in the case, it was unanimous -- this from one of the most liberal Supreme Courts in history (CJ Warren and William O. Douglas concurred in the result; Brennan joined Marshall's opinion for the Court, as did everyone else).

When I was a prosecutor, I neither used deception nor did I allow it to be used on me. But I was not a police interrogator.

As I mentioned before, the authorities are allowed lattitude in confronting crime and bringing criminals to book that private persons are not allowed in pursuing private purposes. As I also mentioned, every society I ever heard of follows the same rule. You have not mentioned one that is to the contrary.

"To take the parenting analogy, parents tell children, never lie. However, the parents always lie. It's a problem because children learn more by imitation than by lecturing."

It is not the case that parents ALWAYS lie. Most of the time, they tell the truth, at least in my admittedly limited experience. Because they are human beings, sometimes they lie, sure. But there is a huge and preternaturally obvious divide between a powerful and corrupt man (Blago) lying to protect his stash of bribe money, and a father lying to his five year-old by saying that much-loved Grandma is just under the weather when he knows Grandma will be dead of cancer in a year.

The problem with going through the list of exceptions to the general rule that a moral person must tell the truth is that, without fail, the list takes over the whole discussion, and the general rule gets buried. John K was starting down that road when he accused me of seeing only a black and white world.

In fact I see no such world. At the same time, however, I'm not going to get sucked into the sick and evil world where there is no identifiable distinction, or preference, between truth telling and lying. There most certainly is a preference. I insisted on it when I was with the US Attorney's Office and I shall insist on it permanently. To the coming charge (not from you) of being a Puritan jerk, my answer is that my way (and my parents' way, now that you mention it) is better than the sinkhole that is the alternative.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 24, 2010 7:54:39 PM

hmm lets see!

"By virtue of both common law and statute. The Framers recognized this,"

Want to provide a referece in the U.S CONSTUTION on this one?


"as does every civilized society I ever heard of. I don't know of a single country, democratic or otherwise, in which those enforcing the law do not have the authority to employ means that would be criminal if used by private persons for private purposes."


Last time i looked we were supposed to be ABOVE the others You know CONTROL our own destiny by placing a group of employess up there to run things for US.

"Example: You cannot legally tap the phone of your neighbor even if he's an al Qaeda munitions expert plotting to blow up the subway. But the government can, and (I sincerely hope) does, even in this what-me-worry Administration."

LOL talk about the wrong example. IF you go back to that actual document this country is founded on the U.S CONSTITUION they don't have that authority except in very limited conditions predacaked on WARRANT issued by a REAL JUDGE not some secret court if they even bother to get one or have you not heard about the ever popular NSA letter now used in 20-30 THOUSAND cases each year that NEVER SEE A JUDGE.

so AGAIN i say try again they are BREAKING the law.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 25, 2010 12:24:17 AM

you must also have missed the big blow up a few years ago when they were working to get their autority extended and claiming to congress they almost never used it at the same time prohibiting those hit with them from coming forward to call them on the LIEING CROOKS they are!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 25, 2010 12:25:16 AM

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