Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Better late than never: the scales fall from former-Sen. Stevens's eyes

Sandy Levinson

I am very glad that Attorney General Holder has dropped the charges against former Senator Ted Stevens. But what most intrigues me about a story posted in today's NYTimes noting that the federal judge in the case has ordered an investigation of the DOJ attorneys for possible criminal misconduct is Stevens's own reaction:

“Until recently, my faith in the criminal justice system, particularly the judicial system, was unwavering,” he said. “But what some members of the prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith. Their conduct had consequences for me that they will never realize and can never be reversed.”

How could an 85-year-old man with literally decades of service in Congress, with every opportunity to be well aware of the actual operation of the American system of criminal justice, have "unwavering" faith in its operation, even at the federal level (which I assume is significantly better than many state systems)? Is he stupid, or merely a raving ideologue? Has he really been living a totally sheltered life, in which he believes that there are no innocent people on death row who were victimized by ambitious prosecutors (and, in judicial-election states, judges) who wanted to prove to the public that they were "tough on crime," that there were no differences, correlated with race and class, in the plea bargains and recommendations for sentencing (e.g., "community service") that are put forth, and the like?

Might we not expect more from civic leaders who actually pass laws regarding the operation of the criminal justice system (including, of course, regularly cutting the funds available to criminal defense attorneys--fortunately, Stevens could hire a tiger from Williams & Connolly)? (Coming up: Norm Coleman says "it never occurred to me that there could be any problems in the operation of elections in America other than failure to demand voter ID"!)


When I first read the title, I thought Stevens might have admitted at least the appearance of impropriety in accepting personal gifts from those benefitting from his work in Congress. I guess that would be asking too much.

Former Senator Steven’s faith in the judicial system was that people with power and influence never get run through the justice system as though they were common criminals.

He was actually shocked by the idea that he could be brought to trial just for decades of graft.

The dismissal of the charges against him has restored his faith in the judicial system.

Unfortunately, some people, such as former Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, are still disillusioned.

Is he stupid, or merely a raving ideologue? Has he really been living a totally sheltered life ... ?

How about: Is it that, because he is a politician, he must be lying? How can you take seriously anything that a politician says? He certainly doesn't take what he says seriously; it's all strutting and preening.

Isn't that what we'd expect a victim of prosecutorial wrong-doing to say? I mean, would you think he'd say, I knew they were a crooked bunch of Dems there in that so-called Public Integrity section, but, really, this is even worse than what they did to X or Y.

No, I think I'd expect someone to say, you know, the system we have, it isn't perfect, but it's good, really good, and that's why I'm so disappointed with the conduct we saw here.

Reading this, I thought about a Chappelle skit regarding how differently white collar and drug offenders are treated by the justice community.

While I don't condone the violence that the white collar criminals were subject to, it kind of puts in perspective that money buys privileges that often seem at odds with the idea of impartial justice.

To rephrase Beretta, "if you can't afford the legal fees, don't do the crime."

This is just another example of

(a) The unfairness of the criminal justice system
(b) The innocence of Ted Stevens
(c) The innocence of Don Siegelman
(d) Bias against Republicans
(e) The politicization of the Bush Justice Department
(f) [If none of the above work for you, please insert whatever it is you already believe here]


What else is a political leader going to say? If our citizenry loses faith in the rough justice of our criminal justice system, they will seek alternative ways to resolve crime.

What else is a political leader going to say? If our citizenry loses faith in the rough justice of our criminal justice system, they will seek alternative ways to resolve crime.

Bart assumes that our citizenry is so stupid that it will lose faith in the rough justice of our criminal justice system unless politicians lie to it. He believes that the citizenry would not understand if a politician were to assert that there is rough justice in our criminal justice system but that it contains specific problems, such as those Sandy Levinson lists, including the execution of innocent people.

Bart advocates that politician routinely lie to us because they believe us to be too stupid to handle the truth, but he does not recognize the effect of what he advocates. The effect of what he advocates is what he fears: our loss of faith in the system.

(f) Deep down, Bush and his DOJ did not want to prosecute Stevens (plan A) but could not drop the case for political reasons of great magnitude. So perhaps (plan B) Bush's DOJ could create, inadvertently or otherwise, legal landmines that just might result in a reversal of a jury's decision against Stevens.

Stevens insisted upon a speedy trial to resolve the matter before the Alaska senatorial election. Bush's DOJ could have added many more counts against Stevens; but then jurisdiction in the District would have been lost and Stevens could get an Alaskan jury of his peers. But the additional counts might have brought in much more negative evidence than could be brought in in the District proceedings. Perhaps the venue change would have delayed a trial in Alaska until after the election. Politically there was a lot of balancing to be done, both by Stevens and Bush's DOJ.

Perhaps Judge Sullivan's follow up contempt procedures will get to the bottom of things. Were Bush's DOJ prosecutors inept, evil or whatever with their failings?

Ted's comments here are typical of him: self-serving, angry, hypocritical, and ignoring any amount of inconvenient reality.

Of course he knows that the judicial system does things that could hardly be called just or justice. He prefers to pretend that his case was a nearly unique travesty that has at long last been corrected.

He's not an idiot. He knows that if he were poor he'd be in jail right now, getting ready to cop a plea, his public defender having explained to him the alternative.

We may however indulge in the satisfaction of getting a man who claims to be so naive about the judicial system out of the legislative.

i've often wondered if this misconduct was a deliberate attempt to sabotage the prosecution of a republican by the bush doj.

Just so people know: the Public Integrity section was run by a Democrat during the relevant time period, and, as with the rest of the DOJ, the career staff is also overwhelmingly Democratic. (William Welch, the man in question, was reportedly under consideration for an appointment as US Attorney in Massachusetts under Obama. At least, prior to the recent reporting on this scandal.)

This is exactly the sort of prosecution we'd expect from Democratic lawyers, who tend to be dishonest, unethical, mean spirited, partisan, and incompetent.

A doubting Thomas might ask or address the supervisory role of the Attorney General regarding all the alleged democrats in the Bush/Cheney DOJ, especially with the high profile Stevens case. Perhaps Yoo and others in OLC with their torture memos were deep down DOJ democrats? I sense some nooks and crannies need careful examining with No Doubt Thomas' promises of democratic hanky-panky in Bush/Cheney's DOJ.

Ah, I see: It was Mukasey! Well, I suppose we'll see what the good judge finds, won't we? I mean, we could just make shit up, like Shaq does, or we could, you know, look at the facts, at the people who did wrong and their partisan affiliations, and at the people running the office and their partisan affiliations. If you want to suggest, despite no evidence for the propositions, that Mukasey interfered in the Stevens case, and interfered because he is somehow a hard-core Republican partisan, well, good for you, I'm sure you'll love the Obama years, but your opinions are absolutely worthless.

I made no such suggestion about Mukasey as No Doubt Thomas states. Rather I raised the question of Mukasey's supervision, or lack thereof, in the Stevens matter. Where does the buck stop in the DOJ, whether under Bush/Cheney or Obama/Biden? What steps, if any, did Mukasey take in response to Judge Sullivan's complaints about Mukasey's AAGs last year before Mukasey left office? We know what action Holder took. Perhaps Judge Sullivan will come up with Mukasey's role.

As for making shit up, which No Doubt Thomas may have expertise in, I was merely accepting mls's invitation to come up with a substitute for his "(f)" as a possibility. Do I believe this to be the case? I don't know, but with information coming out in dribs and drabs, were these AAGs just inept or evil or was there some other motivation? Consider what Judge Sullivan told Holder about DOJ. From 1/20/01 - 1/20/09, the Bush/Cheney administration was in charge of DOJ. If No Doubt Thomas has evidence that democrat AAGs in DOJ during that period were sabotaging DOJ and justice, he/she should produce it: Take a closer look in those nooks and crannies. How long has Holder been in office? How long did it take for him to take action? I don't know if I will love the Obama years, but I do love justice. Does No Doubt Thomas believe that justice was served Stevens by Holder?

For comparison purposes, a case or two where the Shrub admimistration engaged in political interference of DoJ.

I have no idea whether DoJ was told to botch the case against Stevens. I'd say that's an open question.

The context however does seem relevant to the question.

Shaq, how clever! It's Mukasey's fault, because he either was involved, in which case there's a suggestion of political interference, or he wasn't, in which case he was negligent. What a fucking joke.

Yes, we know what actions Holder took. And we know that Holder took them after an FBI whistleblower said the prosecutors conspired to deprive Stevens of a fair trial. The whistleblower came forward in February, which is after January 20, if you're wondering.

You haven't disputed the fact that the section was run by a Democrat and that the overwhelming majority of the prosecutors in the section are Democrats, have you?

jpk--Yeah, it's an open question, like you have an open mind. Let's think a little: the section's run by a Democrat, a career prosecutor, but still, a Democrat. Most of the career staff are Democrats. And yet you think it's likely that they conspired with Mukasey--a federal judge for 18 years prior to becoming AG, and a man with almost nothing in his background to suggest that he's a partisan Republican--to derail the Stevens prosecution by railroading him, costing him re-election, likely costing them their professional reputations and possibly their freedom, all with the thought that, on the back-end, when it's all discovered, Stevens gets to go free? Really?

No Doubt Thomas seems to have no doubt about this:

" Just so people know: the Public Integrity section was run by a Democrat during the relevant time period, and, as with the rest of the DOJ, the career staff is also overwhelmingly Democratic."

I assume No Doubt Thomas can back this all up by naming those rest of the DOJ overwhelmingly Democratic. And No Doubt Thomas can back up that they acted not strictly as AAGs but as Democrats in performing their duties, against the wishes of the AG, whether Not So Speedy Gonzales or Mukasey. And in the time period 1/20/01 - 1/20/09, Bush/Cheney's AGs (either one) were not aware that these Democratic AAGs were performing their duties in pursuance of their Democratic party affiliations. We all know that Gonzales was Not So Speedy, but Mukasey with all his years serving as a judge has what excuse for not uncovering this dastardly Democratic plot to unseat Stevens? And why didn't Mukasey respond to Stevens' attorney Brendon Sullivan (no relation to the judge) as reported in the referenced NYTimes article?

No Doubt Thomas should keep in mind that never having doubt is not redoubtable. So he can continue to scour those nooks and crannies to blame the Democrats for the failures in the Stevens case, as well as the failures of Bush/Cheney over the 8 year period. For some reason No Doubt Thomas does not wish to await the results of the upcoming investigation by the Special Prosecutor appointed by Judge Sullivan to look into the contempt matter regarding these AAGs. Keep in mind that the injustices in the Stevens case took place under the watch of the Bush/Cheney DOJ and justice came about in the early months of the Obama/Biden DOJ.

By the way, there were items going back to last year reporting an FBI agent expressing problems with the prosecution.

Could we forego the potty talk? It does not add anything to the discussion, and it is the kind of thing that might push yet another poster to shut off comments.

Check out TPM Muckraker for Zachary Roth's "Who Are The Stevens Six?" posted 4/9/09 and note this excerpt:

"In other words, these are by and large career prosecutors, none of whom have obvious records of political activism on either side. These were serious missteps by veterans who should have known better -- and an independent prosecutor will determine whether they were deliberate enough to qualify as contempt. But by all appearances, they were the product of incompetence, poor oversight, turf wars, and an overzealous approach to the job, which led them to run roughshod over established legal procedure -- rather than of the overt politicization we saw, for instance, in the US Attorney firings scandal."

No doubt, No Doubt Thomas will dispute this.

Shag, yes, career prosecutors. But: William Welch is a Democrat. And though I haven't seen any public records or press reports describing Brenda Morris's partisan affiliations, we have a pretty good statistical basis for believing she's a Democrat, since she's an African-American woman living in DC and working for the federal government.

And I'm supposed to find it persuasive that TPM doesn't see any political bias in their decisions? Of course they don't--TPM is as partisan a site as there is on the internets.

No Doubt Thomas expresses his true conservative colors with:

" ... we have a pretty good statistical basis for believing she's a Democrat, since she's an African-American woman living in DC and working for the federal government."

Who's this "we," Kemo Sabe? And just how might this statistical basis apply to your namesake Clarence?

And what about the other four of the Stevens Six? What does the "we" have to say about that, statistically or otherwise?

"We" is people who are familiar with the facts. According to polling surveys, 95% of blacks voted for Obama. A smaller percentage are Democrats more generally, but it is still the overwhelming majority. Justice Thomas is an outlier, which is why your political allies call him ugly names and insist that he's not really black.

I don't have any information about them. Why isn't it enough to focus on the team's leadership? And why can't you admit the facts?

When we're talking about the Shrub administration, the burden of proof is not on me to prove political interference in Justice. With their record, it's the other way around. If they would care to make the case that they botched the Stevens prosecution this badly through mere sheer incompetence, I'm listening.

No Doubt Thomas has his own "We the People" to rely upon. Of course Jefferson's "We the People" did not include African-Americans, at least based upon the Constitution.

Perhaps No Doubt Thomas should apply this:

"Why isn't it enough to focus on the team's leadership? And why can't you admit the facts?"

to the supervisory role of the Bush/Cheney AG.

But the underlying facts remain to be proved by the court appointed Special Prosecutor assigned just a couple of days ago to investigate. Apparently he isn't working fast enough for No Doubt Thomas who seems satisfied with racial profiling, which is not very courageous, is it?

The fact that you find statistical inferences somehow discreditable says all that needs to be said. And yet I'll say more. You're a fucking moron. Now you're back to Mukasey, which you will promptly deny. Have some courage, my friend, and dive into your incoherence, swim around, luxuriate. There's nothing I can do to stop you.

No Doubt Thomas takes "fact" to oxymoronic heights with this:

"The fact that you find statistical inferences somehow discreditable says all that needs to be said."

No doubt No Doubt Thomas can surely locate good law to demonstrate the credibility of statistical inference that: because the DOJ lead attorney was an african-american woman living in Washington, D.C., she was most likely a registered (or unregistered) Democrat, and as such, while working in DOJ in the Republican Bush/Cheney administration under AG Mukasey (surely a Republican, at least statistically), she took steps in the prosecution of Stevens to screw Stevens, then a sitting Republican Senator, with perhaps the purpose of undermining the Republican Bush/Cheney administration in order to enhance the Democratic party with the election of a Democrat Senator in Alaska and perhaps even pave the way for the election of an african-american Democrat as President of the U.S. of A.

The nooks and crannies of No Doubt Thomas' brain will be put to the test of locating such law. "Evidence, we don't need no stinkin' evidence to justify racial profiling. Just look at her."

But somehow I'm reminded of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' statement in 1905 in Lochner: "The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's 'Social Statics.'" Surely No Doubt Thomas statistically does not have hemorrhoids, making (statistically and otherwise) No Doubt Thomas a perfect a**h**e.

Law.Com has an interesting piece by Mike Scarcella titled "Attorney General Weathers Stevens Fallout -- for Now" (4/13/09) at:

Cleaning up after the Bush/Cheney messes is no easy task, no doubt about that.

You're a fucking moron.

Why don't you show some respect for those you disagree with? Especially if you are going to complain about shows of disrespect!

Doesn't show a lot of sense.

mattski Why don't you show some respect for those you disagree with? Especially if you are going to complain about shows of disrespect! Doesn't show a lot of sense.

Nor intelligence, nor self-control.

Shag, I wasn't the one who started this discussion by suggesting partisan motivations were the source of the prosecutorial misconduct. You did. I simply pointed out that the relevant individuals are Democrats, and that if we're looking at partisan motivations, well, there's a more obvious story to be told than the incredibly stupid theory you came up with. You missed all that. You miss most everything.

Mattski and friends: you obviously are new around here. If you were more familiar with Shag's idiocy, perhaps you'd be thankful for my frankness.

No Doubt Thomas seeks to hide in his nooks and crannies the comments he/she has made on this thread. But subject to his ability to trash his comments (which, incidentally he seems to do with his own words that seem to favor racial profiling), they are here for all to review seriatim, as well as my comments (none of which I have trashed). One thing No Doubt Thomas has been unable to find in his nooks and crannies is a sense of humor. Maybe before this is all over he/she will get 'rhoids and no longer be perfect.

I'm willing to await the results of Judge Sullivan's special prosecutor's investigation.

No Doubt Thomas: "I simply pointed out that the relevant individuals are Democrats, ...." Of the Stevens Six, No Doubt Thomas identified one as a Democrat, presumably registered as such, the leader/supervisor of the group; a second, the lead prosecutor, a female african-american, was established by No Doubt Thomas' statistical methods as most likely a democrat based on her being an african-american living in the District, as he/she described it a 95% factor statistically. However, No Doubt Thomas seems to have given up on the other four of the Stevens Six in identifying them as democrats. Has No Doubt Thomas some doubts now as to those four?

Let's wait and see what the investigation reveals about Mukasey's role was in his supervisory capacity as AG in the Republican Bush/Cheney administration in the Stevens matter.

Also, we now know of No Doubt Thomas' "frankness." How humbling of him/her to tell us. But the only "frankness" I have detected on his/her part is "racial profiling." No Doubt Thomas has not specifically denied this "J'accuse."

Mattski and friends: you obviously are new around here.

"Obviously new around here?"

If there were any doubts about your ignorance, they've been dispelled. Thanks for doing your part to defile the comments here.

Poor little mattski, worried about defied comments so.

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