April 17, 2006
Comments on the Ryan Verdict
Some random thoughts on the Ryan Verdict:
1. These days, one finds a very supportive public if bringing a corruption case with believable witnesses.The public is not tolerant of public officials who are accused of misusing their office.
2. People who judge these cases are individuals who might not read the newspapers and might not watch TV.
3. What may start as a minor issue can become a nightmare to the accused in a corruption investigation. The Ryan case was initially a license for bribe investigation.
4. Those at the top, like a former or present Governor, have the most to lose when the government is conducting an investigation as they are likely to be last to be offered any deal. Because they are a front-pager, they are the ones who stand the most to lose. See, e.g. Rowland, Edwards
5. White collar cases can be lengthy trials and costly to the public. Is it wise for the government to bring a case with so many counts against Ryan? It resulted in a lengthy trial, a trial more likely to contain error subject to reversal, a trial that proved to be an enormous cost to the jurors and parties to the proceedings. Could the same result be accomplished with fewer charges, less witnesses, and a shorter trial. After all, how many years can a man of 72 years old serve?
6. Sometimes the government is lucky - like here, when the verdict, which includes a tax offense, comes out on the very last day for individuals to file tax returns or extensions.
7. Why is it that the government will comment on some items after a trial and refuse to comment on others? Were there leaks in this case? What happened to merit replacement jurors in this case?
8. Patrick Fitzgerald is a no-nonsense prosecutor and those who might have links to "Scooter" Libby should be getting nervous. He will not let political party affiliation stand in his way.
9. Seventh Circuit prosecutors have never been shy to bring RICO charges in corruption cases. But it was the Supreme Court decision in the McNally case, a case pertaining to intangible rights used in a mail fraud prosecution that destroyed many a Seventh Circuit conviction coming from Operation Greylord. Will the Supreme Court now reexamine the new "honest-services" doctrine in this soon to be Seventh Circuit appellate case?
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Does anyone, including the acedemics, really understand the honest services fraud charge? It is not the bucolic view from some ivory tower that this question addresses, but rather, the view from the trenches. It is not the theory, it is the application. The federal evidentiary rules seem to leave individual prosecutors, supervised or not, the discretion to charge adn interpret local, state, but rarely federal office holders actions as motivated by bad intent even if the underlying actions do not violate local, state or federal law and may not even be an ethical violation. Does anyone out there question the application of the flexable rules that create such discretion, the flexable rules that govern who or what constitutes "illegal" activities within the gambit? Why in the world would there be one set of court imposed elements for a honest services fraud for someone charged as a private person versus one charged who is a public employee or office holder? Who says? Not Congress. How many of our best minds charged and ruined without conviction, how many are guilty of an ethical mistake who are now felons? Can we really afford the cost? What in the world can be done to refashion the power of federal judges to do their job, JUDGE! With every wrongful conviotion hundreds of people are turning away from automatic loyalty to the governments operations. With every rightful conviction which is over sentenced, thousands metally revolt. No government, not even ours, can work successfully if the general population does not cooperate or fears it to the point that seems to be occurring wiht the prosecution as crimes thta which at worst was a tort, and at best was an ethical lapse. LPS
Posted by: L Sutley | Feb 1, 2007 12:26:12 PM