Thursday, March 3, 2005
With the upcoming release of Martha Stewart from prison, the press is writing of her experiences and future. The Wall Street Journal provides a view of her life in prison here, AP here, and there have been many a story on her upcoming TV show. (see e.g. here). Also see our post here.
But I keep wondering about what is happening in the background, namely, Martha Stewart's appeal. Normally, the appeal would be crucial - a chance to vindicate oneself. The brief filed by the government and the defense here and here demonstrates some fascinating legal issues, including a Crawford issue. But what if Martha wins the appeal?
Normally when the defendant wins the appeal, it can mean not going to prison. But Martha Stewart has already done her time. If the result is an out and out reversal then yes, it is clearly beneficial to vindicate her. But what if the result is a retrial? Will this assist Martha Stewart in going on with her life? Or will it keep her from putting the focus on the new TV show and her new life? Would she be better off with it being affirmed?
No one wants a conviction on their record, but this case is challenging a basic premise in our system of justice. Does a conviction really matter? Will it be a deterrence? And more importantly, should the government have prosecuted Martha Stewart? Irrespective of where you stand on the guilt or innocence of Martha Stewart, one has to ask themselves if this was an appropriate case for the federal government to prosecute? Should this case have been handled through civil remedies?