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The American "Justice" System Strikes Again

 
 
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 01:57 am
Pitfalls abound for prosecutors in Edwards case

Quote:
RALEIGH, N.C. – Two crucial witnesses are dead. Another is 100 years old. A fourth was recently held in contempt of court. The daring indictment of two-time presidential candidate John Edwards has pitfalls at every turn for federal prosecutors, adding strain to a Justice Department section still trying to recover after botching its last major political case.
Government attorneys are relying on an untested legal theory to argue that money used to tangentially help a candidate — in this case, by keeping Edwards' pregnant mistress private during his 2008 presidential run — should have been considered a campaign contribution. Edwards' attorneys counter with an argument that's reprehensible but could raise reasonable doubts with a jury: He was only interested in hiding the affair from his cancer-stricken wife, who died in December.
The six-count indictment accuses Edwards of conspiracy, taking illegal campaign contributions and making false statements. On Friday, appearing both defiant and contrite, he insisted he did not break the law.
Some legal experts tend to agree.
At the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which typically criticizes the Justice Department for not pursuing enough cases against public officials, executive director Melanie Sloan questioned why federal officials were spending resources on this one. She said it is unlikely prosecutors can prove that participants of the scheme intended for the money to aid Edwards' candidacy, and Sloan said it was a stretch to argue that private plane flights provided to mistress Rielle Hunter should somehow be considered campaign contributions.
"This is a really broad definition of campaign contribution," said Sloan, a former federal prosecutor. "It has never been this broadly interpreted."
Sloan predicted a judge will toss the case before it goes to trial.
The federal investigation focused particularly on money coming from two Edwards supporters — former campaign finance chairman Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon. Combined, they provided $925,000 used to help hide Hunter, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors contend the money was intended to aid his campaign by preventing public disclosure of the affair, which would have destroyed his candidacy. But prosecutors could have difficulty proving intent, given that Baron died in 2008 shortly after the scandal surfaced and Mellon is now 100 years old.
Andrew Young, a former Edwards aide who initially claimed paternity of Hunter's baby and helped keep her in hiding, will likely be a key government witness. Edwards' attorneys have already tried to portray him as being motivated by financial gain.
Hunter sued Young around the time he was releasing a tell-all book, and her attorneys aggressively questioned his credibility. A North Carolina judge said he was troubled by a series of seemingly conflicting statements Young made under oath in the lawsuit involving a purported sex tape depicting Edwards. Superior Court Judge Abraham Penn Jones held Young in contempt and considered sending him to jail before backing away as Young's lawyers argued that the discrepancies were memory lapses.
Young has said he found the sex tape among trash left behind at a home he was renting for Hunter, and he said he held on to the tape to corroborate his story. And if it weren't for Young's book, the plot to conceal Hunter may never have been exposed.
Prosecutors did cite some evidence in their indictment that could be used to argue that participants of the conspiracy knew the money was going to aid Edwards' candidacy. A note from Mellon in 2007 indicated that she wanted to help pay Edwards' bills "without government restrictions."
In another section, prosecutors claim Edwards told a former aide that he was aware of Baron's payments even though he publicly claimed otherwise.
White-collar attorney Matt Miner said although the four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions may be novel applications of the law, the false statement and conspiracy charges are more straightforward and could be the most problematic for Edwards.
"If Edwards can be shown to have conspired to receive contributions in a way that he would not otherwise have to report — and then those false reports were filed under his signature — both charges are fairly straightforward conspiracy and false statement charges," Miner said.
Still, Tara Malloy, associate legal counsel at The Campaign Legal Center in Washington, said she expects the government to rely heavily on Young's testimony and credibility.
"I don't see an enormous smoking gun for Edwards' involvement," Malloy said.
Edwards initially denied having an affair with Hunter both during his candidacy and after his campaign ended. Baron continued his support of Young and Hunter after the campaign ended as well, adding support to the argument that the money wasn't necessarily related to his candidacy.
In August 2008, Edwards admitted the affair. But he denied fathering Hunter's child until the beginning of last year.
The prosecution is being handled jointly by the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh and the Justice Department's public integrity section, which is coming off the bungling of its last high-profile case against a public official. Attorneys from the section are under criminal investigation for their handling of the case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, whose guilty verdict was vacated after the department admitted it withheld key evidence from the senator's legal team.
Stevens had been convicted of lying on financial disclosure forms about gifts, which ended his political career in 2008. He was killed last year in a plane crash.
Miner said he expects prosecutors were especially careful building their case against Edwards after the Stevens debacle, though Sloan said it could leave the public integrity section with another embarrassing conclusion.
"I think the prosecution is ludicrous," she said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110604/ap_on_re_us/us_edwards_investigation_pitfalls;_ylt=ApmL0WhpIC4r0LUQOyEsHoWs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTQ1ODhiYTc0BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNjA0L3VzX2Vkd2FyZHNfaW52ZXN0aWdhdGlvbl9waXRmYWxscwRjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzUEcG9zAzIEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl9oZWFkbGluZV9saXN0BHNsawNwaXRmYWxsc2Fib3U-

I have yet to come across anyone stating of prosecuting Edwards "WHAT A GREAT IDEA!" Good point that the prosecutorial misconduct in the Stevens case came from same of the same people who decided to go after Edwards. Edwards is slime, but that is irrelevant.
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OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 02:13 am

I don 't like Edwards because he is an anti-freedom person (leftist),
but there is no merit to this prosecution.





David
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 02:44 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Quote:
If the Edwards matter came before the FEC as a civil complaint, it is not clear how it would rule. There are conflicting FEC opinions in similar cases. In 2000, the FEC issued an advisory opinion saying that the only way a gift to a candidate could be considered personal and not an illegal contribution motivated to help the campaign would be if there was a pattern of gift-giving before the candidacy. Yet in 2002, the FEC dismissed a complaint against Rep. Jim Moran, who had gotten a $25,000 loan from a drug lobbyist, because the loan was not used for campaign purposes. The complaint alleged the loan was an illegal campaign contribution, but Moran signed the check from his lobbyist friend over to pay his divorce lawyer. In the Edwards case, the parties have been throwing around these conflicting precedents to support their case.
But this is not a civil complaint. It's a criminal indictment. It's going to be tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Edwards was taking this money to save his campaign rather than his marriage. (In the end, of course, neither survived.) Politico reports that the prosecution has been looking around for former FEC commissioners to testify about how to interpret the campaign-finance law, and at least one of these commissioners has turned the government down, viewing the case as too murky.
If the law is so murky that the government needs an expert to testify as to what it actually means, there's a decent argument that it would be unconstitutional to use that law as the basis for a criminal prosecution. It is just too vague. (The government might have a better case against Mellon. According to the indictment, Mellon, incensed about a furor over Edwards' expensive haircut, sent a note to Andrew Young saying that "from now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for the campaign—please send the bills to me. … It is a way to help our friends without government restrictions.")
The court of public opinion has long since issued its verdict on Edwards. In the court of law, however, it could be hard to prove the case against him.
http://www.slate.com/id/2296188/

Of course the writing of vague laws is a sort of American Specialty.....
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 06:48 am
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
Quote:
If the Edwards matter came before the FEC as a civil complaint, it is not clear how it would rule. There are conflicting FEC opinions in similar cases. In 2000, the FEC issued an advisory opinion saying that the only way a gift to a candidate could be considered personal and not an illegal contribution motivated to help the campaign would be if there was a pattern of gift-giving before the candidacy. Yet in 2002, the FEC dismissed a complaint against Rep. Jim Moran, who had gotten a $25,000 loan from a drug lobbyist, because the loan was not used for campaign purposes. The complaint alleged the loan was an illegal campaign contribution, but Moran signed the check from his lobbyist friend over to pay his divorce lawyer. In the Edwards case, the parties have been throwing around these conflicting precedents to support their case.
But this is not a civil complaint. It's a criminal indictment. It's going to be tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Edwards was taking this money to save his campaign rather than his marriage. (In the end, of course, neither survived.) Politico reports that the prosecution has been looking around for former FEC commissioners to testify about how to interpret the campaign-finance law, and at least one of these commissioners has turned the government down, viewing the case as too murky.
If the law is so murky that the government needs an expert to testify as to what it actually means, there's a decent argument that it would be unconstitutional to use that law as the basis for a criminal prosecution. It is just too vague. (The government might have a better case against Mellon. According to the indictment, Mellon, incensed about a furor over Edwards' expensive haircut, sent a note to Andrew Young saying that "from now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for the campaign—please send the bills to me. … It is a way to help our friends without government restrictions.")
The court of public opinion has long since issued its verdict on Edwards. In the court of law, however, it could be hard to prove the case against him.
http://www.slate.com/id/2296188/

The unconstitutionality is plausible.
Congress has no authority
to stop anyone from giving a present to someone else.





David
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  0  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 09:56 am
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:


I don 't like Edwards because he is an anti-freedom person (leftist),
but there is no merit to this prosecution.





David
I don't like him either, for being too free... He only went to bed with that girl to prove he was not one...
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 11:03 am
Heck, you could even argue that since revealing the affair would have derailed his campaign, that this was a legitimate campaign expense! OK, kidding there, but I don't see the merit in this case and he's already been hammered so I don't know what there is to gain here.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 02:52 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

Heck, you could even argue that since revealing the affair would have derailed his campaign, that this was a legitimate campaign expense! OK, kidding there, but I don't see the merit in this case and he's already been hammered so I don't know what there is to gain here.
The point would have to be the supply of easy money to people trying to reach office... Does it not bother anyone that people who plead poverty when it comes time to pay their share of taxes have all those millions to buy the affection of office holders??? If they have that sort of money they should start by paying their share for what they get, and I don't care if what they pay is 90% of what they start with and they get 10% to keep... We do not just defend this country, but the land in it and wealth which is mostly in the hands of the rich... Why do they get a free ride and the right to influence the course of government... It is the power of money... So; efem...
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 04:53 pm
@Fido,
Quote:
The point would have to be the supply of easy money to people trying to reach office... Does it not bother anyone that people who plead poverty when it comes time to pay their share of taxes have all those millions to buy the affection of office holders???


That the American way and now the SC have open up the flood gate for companies including foreign companies and if the GOP can destroy the major source of democratic funding public employees unions beside what a "wonderful" country we will end up with.

We the Corporations and rich of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote our wealth , and secure the Blessings of wealth to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 06:04 pm
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

Quote:
The point would have to be the supply of easy money to people trying to reach office... Does it not bother anyone that people who plead poverty when it comes time to pay their share of taxes have all those millions to buy the affection of office holders???


That the American way and now the SC have open up the flood gate for companies including foreign companies and if the GOP can destroy the major source of democratic funding public employees unions beside what a "wonderful" country we will end up with.

We the Corporations and rich of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote our wealth , and secure the Blessings of wealth to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The sooner the whole system is corrupted and seen to be corrupted and unable to save itself from corruption the sooner will be revolution... So long as people have faith they will fill up their hope bags with it...Jefferson was right that people do not change their forms for light and transient causes... Did I paraphrase that correctly... Responsibility comes hard for people and the changing of forms is both dangerous and demanding, expecially when people are not formally conscious and the founding fathers were...
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 06:27 pm
@Fido,
There is a tipping point but I know of no way of predicting where it is and the problem is that more often then not even if you get to kill one group of SOBs overlords you will end up with another.

For references see the French revolution and the fall of the Roman Republic.

Still it would be enjoyable to set up old fashion French guillotines in front of the capital and put them to work.

In any case the GOP is busy concentrating the wealth and destroying the stabilizing middle class so the old tipping point may not be all that far into our future.

Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 07:02 pm
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

There is a tipping point but I know of no way of predicting where it is and the problem is that more often then not even if you get to kill one group of SOBs overlords you will end up with another.

For references see the French revolution and the fall of the Roman Republic.

Still it would be enjoyable to set up old fashion French guillotines in front of the capital and put them to work.

In any case the GOP is busy concentrating the wealth and destroying the stabilizing middle class so the old tipping point may not be all that far into our future.


What you say is true; but not the problem... All human progress involves a change of forms... If you have to throw out a dearly loved article of clothing it may cause pain, and growth... If people know they can change forms and that to change forms, while painful is progress, and that no progress remains progress for long before some one decides to take advantage of it for personal gain, then they are free... The consitution is a form, and we give to that form all credit and none of the blame, but in the process we wrong living human beings and people in the future... It cannot be all rights and Americans cannot be all wrong... And we cannot change people or their needs, and we know it is the most difficult thing to change even ourselves in slight fashion... We must change the only thing we can change, but change of forms when forms are made to protect us from change is the most difficult and fightening thing.... And we cannot expect what we do will last the ages... Build for the moment, build for tomorrow, but put a time limit on it... Expect that some day even the best of forms will some day have to be trashed....
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 07:34 pm
@Fido,
The founders was long term thinkers even those some of them would be surprised that the framework they set up had survive for over two hundreds years.

Now the problem with changing the form is to find a form that is likely to give better results and do the change over smoothly and peacefully enough not to end up destroying the very society you wish to aid.

I think that most people can see we are going toward the rule of a small oligarchy that is harmful to the majority of the people however counter pressures within the current framework might let us go on with our current system for a time at least.

Sadly I see no path forward that will get us long term out of the mess we have been drifting into since WW2 with or without our current government form.

Side note Franklin seem to had agree with you that nothing is permanent as he set up a trust in his will to aid the education of tradesmen/craftsmen in Philadelphia but did not have it open ended but set a two hundreds years time limit afterward the trust was broken apart and the funds donated to a numbers of group who names at the moment does not come to mind.


OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 02:44 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
Heck, you could even argue that since revealing the affair would have derailed his campaign, that this was a legitimate campaign expense! OK, kidding there, but I don't see the merit in this case and he's already been hammered so I don't know what there is to gain here.
Tho he is not a good American (anti-freedom), I feel safe from him;
i.e., he will not run for office again.





David
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 03:14 am
This thread is hilarious.
Fido
 
  0  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 05:21 am
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:

The founders was long term thinkers even those some of them would be surprised that the framework they set up had survive for over two hundreds years.

Now the problem with changing the form is to find a form that is likely to give better results and do the change over smoothly and peacefully enough not to end up destroying the very society you wish to aid.

I think that most people can see we are going toward the rule of a small oligarchy that is harmful to the majority of the people however counter pressures within the current framework might let us go on with our current system for a time at least.

Sadly I see no path forward that will get us long term out of the mess we have been drifting into since WW2 with or without our current government form.

Side note Franklin seem to had agree with you that nothing is permanent as he set up a trust in his will to aid the education of tradesmen/craftsmen in Philadelphia but did not have it open ended but set a two hundreds years time limit afterward the trust was broken apart and the funds donated to a numbers of group who names at the moment does not come to mind.



The problem with changing forms is to first change minds... Forms are nothing but faith, and people can lose their morals long before they give up on their forms, and in the process of becoming demoralized they lose the ability to change or do anything constructive... First kill the old form, and then people can talk freely about what they want from the future... As long as the old form stands there will be some, like Lot's wife who will keep turning back to it with longing...

I agree that those who wrote the constitution were thinking long term... They did not offer any protection from parties which was a mistake, since it added another level of inertia to government, they kept the outline and even the symbols of the Roman Republic on the verge of falling into tyranny, and they did not make certain that the house would be allowed to grow with a growing population... The most democratic arm of the government has become ever less democratic, and because of party divisions the house has become symbolic of the way a people can be literally divided by a divided government...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 05:22 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

This thread is hilarious.
All it needs is a kentucky fried clown...
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 May, 2012 09:53 pm
1 not guilty and 5 counts no verdict....as widely predicted the state came off looking out of line and out of control. One of these days the american people are going to have to own how fucked up our "justice system" is, as well as our government as a whole.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 May, 2012 10:10 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
1 not guilty and 5 counts no verdict....as widely predicted the state came off looking out of line and out of control. One of these days the american people are going to have to own how fucked up our "justice system" is, as well as our government as a whole.
I wonder whether obama will want Edwards as his VP candidate, now.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 May, 2012 10:44 pm
@hawkeye10,
Edwards jury got it exactly right

By Alan M. Dershowitz

Quote:

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The jury in the John Edwards case rendered exactly the right verdict. Of course they couldn't make up their mind on most of the charges. No rational person could. The judge essentially instructed them to get into John Edwards' mind (as well as into the minds of several other actors in this political soap opera) and to determine precisely what his intention was in receiving money from friends.
If his intention was primarily personal (to try to save his marriage and not humiliate his wife any further), then there was no crime. But if his intent was primarily political (to help him get elected president), then there may have been a crime. Precisely how many angels were dancing on the head of that pin?
No one, not even Edwards himself, could calculate the precise quantification of his complex and multiple intentions. This kind of decision should never be the subject of a criminal case, and the jury was right to find a reasonable doubt as to one of the charges and to throw its hands up as to the others.

All reasonable people should now hope that the Justice Department sees the light of day and does not seek a retrial. The jury has spoken, though ambiguously, and there is no reason to believe that another fairly picked jury will be able to discern the precise intentions of the actors with any greater certainty or precision.
This entire farce of a trial is part of a larger problem that infects not only America but other Western countries as well: the criminalization of policy differences and of personal sin.
No one can justify what John Edwards did to his family, to American politics and to himself. He will forever pay a steep price for his selfishness and arrogance. But it is not a price that all Americans should have to pay by the distortion of the criminal justice system into a Rorschach test, in which the jury is asked to interpret vague action and attribute precise intentions to actions done with mixed motives.

The criminal law should be limited to what I call "Hamlet decisions." Before a person is charged with a serious crime, the government should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actually engaged in a "to be or not to be" decision -- to be a felon or not to be a felon, to step over a clear line that separates criminality from sin. There is no reason to believe that John Edwards ever made that decision, because the law governing his conduct is vague, subjective and unclear in the extreme.

At the time of the founding of our republic, there was a common expression that said that a criminal law must be so clear that a potential defendant "can read it while running and still understand it." The law under which Edwards was tried was so unclear that a bevy of lawyers could not understand it while sitting and studying it for hours.
So let the remaining charges be dropped against John Edwards. Let him be relegated to his deserved place in history, and let us reserve the criminal law for real felons who knowingly violate clear criminal statutes. If Congress wants to criminalize what Edwards was accused of doing, let it enact a clear law that gives fair warning to all politicians that they may not accept any gifts, regardless of intent. I doubt Congress will pass such a law.


http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/31/opinion/dershowitz-edwards-verdict/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Dershowitz here largely makes a case that I also do, namely that our "justice" system and our government are both fucked in the head.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 May, 2012 11:05 pm
@hawkeye10,
Thanks for the post, Hawkeye; it was most apt.
Alan Dershowitz has a very fine, keen legal mind; admirable.
He is absolutely right !
The court shud have found the law void for unConstitutional vagueness.





David

 

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