Sunday, July 6, 2008
The Paul Minor case is an intriguing one. When prosecutors were unable to secure convictions on the first try, they came back for a second shot. And according to the recently filed appellate brief, this time the rulings were different and the defendant had a tougher road. Abbe David Lowell's 28,816 word brief presents an interesting contrast between trial one and trial two. The Appendix to this brief charts some of the differences.
Minor, a trial lawyer and a leading one at that, was accused of engaging in "fraud, bribery, and racketeering when he provided loan guarantees to three Mississippi state court judges who were running for office." A key issue on appeal is whether there was a quid pro quo and whether the jury received an instruction explaining this aspect of the law. The appellant argues that "[a]t the first trial, the court instructed the jury that the government's case required a finding of quid pro quo, yet it refused to provide that same instruction in 2007." The brief goes on to note that the bribery standards were, however, used for sentencing. And here is the classic line from this brief - "It was as if the indictment was the government's accordion, contracting at trial to allow the government to obtain a conviction, and then expanding at sentencing to inflict the greatest punishment on Mr. Minor."
Appellate Brief -
See also Scott Horton's Harper's Magazine - A Minor Injustice: Why Paul Minor?