Monday, April 17, 2006
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?