(The gun being held to the signer’s head is out of the frame…)
The resignation of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R), a result that appears to have been over-due, deserved, and necessary, also involved a common form of unethical prosecution. The device is called Release-Dismiss, and it looks, smells and feels unethical. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court and most of the states continue to allow it. They shouldn’t.
Greiten’s resignation came as a result of a plea deal after St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner agreed to dismiss charges that Greitens tampered with a computer donor list of a veterans’ charity he founded. The deal also included Grietens’ promise not to sue Gardner or her office.
Greitens’ legal fees were over $2 million, he said, and he could not afford to go to trial on the charges. Gardner said she was confident she had the evidence required to convict Greitens. (That’s what they all say.) But the fact remains that the threat of criminal prosecution was used to pressure Greitens into giving up his civil rights.
In a scholarly paper on this maneuver, one authority writes,
A phenomenon exists in the criminal justice world which allows a prosecutor to strike a bargain with a criminal defendant, permitting them both to cut their losses and walk away from a mutually bad situation. On occasions where arrested individuals may have been wronged by public officials in the course of their arrests, prosecutors may legally agree to dismiss defendants’ criminal charges in exchange for releases by the defendants of any civil claims arising from the arrests. The release-dismissal agreement, and variations upon its theme,’ have been the subject of controversy for several years.
Its supporters rely on the obvious efficiency embodied in the situation. Despite this efficiency, such agreements are dangerous, detrimental to the criminal justice system, and against the better interests of society.
I agree. So does Professor Turley, who wrote, Continue reading
This is how a society erodes respect for the rule of law. It is a good way to pander to political correctness and social justice warrior jerks, though.
At the height of the mad fervor to tear down Confederate hero memorials and statues over the summer, Takiyah Thompson, 22, Dante Strobino, 35, Ngoc Loan Tran, 24, and Peter Gilbert, 39. pulled down a century-old statue of a generic Confederate soldier in Durham, North Carolina. This was done in front in front of news cameras and during the day.
Thompson is a student at North Carolina Central University, a black institution. The three men belong to the Workers World Party, which organized a Durham protest to piggy-back onto the Charlottesville, Virginia protests around the removal of a Statue of general Lee.
Notably, police spotted Tran at the court hearing for Thompson when a deputy asked him to help identify two people . Tran refused and he was arrested.
Tran explained the justification for the vandalism thusly: “Monday night hundreds of people gathered in front of the statue, and it was the will of everyone there that that statue come down knowing that in the state of North Carolina there is no legal route for removing Confederate statues.”
Of course there is a legal route for removing statues. Continue reading
This morning, my mind is occupied by one long-standing ethics issue, and the rest seem trivial in comparison. Let’s warm up by trying to find some way out of this mess.
The ethical problem seems increasingly beyond our ability to solve. Yesterday there was second mistrial in the retrial of Raymond M. Tensing, the former University of Cincinnati police officer who has been charged with the 2015 murder and voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Samuel DuBose, an unarmed motorist. This is the third example of a police officer shooting a black man under questionable circumstances being found short of being criminally responsible in a week:
In St. Paul, police dashboard video showed Officer Jeronimo Yanez shoot into the car where Philando Castile was sitting with his fiancée and her daughter, and acquitted the officer. In that case, the officer appeared to have panicked after Castile reached into his pocket for his wallet after telling the officer, unasked, that he was carrying a firearm. In Milwaukee, jurors acquitted Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown after watching frame by frame as he shot once at fleeing armed suspect, Sylville K. Smith, then fired a second time after Smith tossed the gun he was holding and lay on the ground. Now, in Cincinnati, jurors couldn’t agree on the proper culpability of Officer Tensing. He stopped DuBose for a missing license plate, then asked him for his driver’s license. Instead of producing it, DuBose pulled the door closed with his left hand and restarted the car with his right hand. The officer reached into the car with his left arm, yelled “Stop!” twice, and used his right hand to fire his gun directly, into Mr. DuBose’s head, killing him.
What can we say about these scenarios, and many others? Continue reading
Why is Pam smiling?
After his election victory, Donald Trump agreed to pay out $25 million in settlement of claims against the new defunct Trump University. In September, before the election, the Florida Attorney General’s office had announced that that there were “insufficient grounds” to proceed with a fraud probe of the school. Three years earlier, it had announced that it was considering such a probe in anticipation of legal action against Trump University.
Four days after that threat, Donald Trump’s personal charity illegally donated $25,000 to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign. Bondi personally solicited that donation from Trump just as her office was deciding whether to pursue the Trump U. investigation. (This is almost certainly an prosecutorial ethics violation, as well as being obviously corrupt.) This revelation by the Associated Press emerged during the campaign, and was swamped by all the other Trump controversies at the time.
Yesterday, Trump’s transition team told Bloomberg that Pam Bondi has accepted a job in Trump’s White House. Continue reading
The other shoe dropped: prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers accused in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, following the acquittals of three other officers by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams. He was expected to preside over the remaining trials, and, as the Bible says, the writing was on the wall.
Make no mistake: this result was completely and entirely the result of the incompetent, unethical conduct of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who vaingloriously announced charges against the officers in the immediate wake of rioting in Baltimore, following the dictates of a mob. She did this without sufficient investigation, evidence or, despite the ethical requirements of her office, probable cause. She had the city of Baltimore agree to a large damages settlement for Gray’s family before any of the officers were tried, prejudicing their cases. She spent millions on the prosecutions, and shattered the lives of all six officers, and yet never made a case that justified any of it.
There are more unethical things that a prosecutor can do, and they certainly do them. Some prosecute individuals they know are innocent, which is a bit worse than prosecuting someone who might be guilty because a mob wants blood. Those unethical prosecutors, however, try to cover their tracks. Not Mosby: she’s proud of being unethical, because its the kind of unethical conduct that African-American activists think promotes justice. Justice is when someone pays with their life or liberty if an African American dies, regardless of law or evidence. That’s the theory, anyway. Continue reading