Oct 5, 2009

How the Feds Imprison the Innocent

If you are targeted by a U.S. Attorney, you are pretty much out of luck. Innocent? That's no defense.

Just ask Wisconsin's Keith Roberts and Georgia Thompson.

From Paul Craig Roberts' How the Feds Imprison the Innocent:

Harvey Silverglates’ Three Felonies A Day focuses on how federal prosecutors invent creative interpretations of statutes, sometimes creating new felonies out of vague language or thin air, felonies never legislated by Congress. Federal criminal law is today so vast and so poorly worded that Silverglate reports, truthfully, that each of us, every American, commits three felonies every day without knowing it. ...

Federal judges, an increasing number of whom are former federal prosecutors, permit the prosecution of Americans for crimes that the defendants did not know were crimes, crimes that never before existed until the federal prosecutor brought the charge. The invention of crimes by prosecutors violates every known legal principle in Anglo-American law. Yet, it has become commonplace. Defense attorneys, a group that also increasingly consists of former federal prosecutors, as Silverglate accurately reports, have lost confidence that it is possible to defend a client from a federal prosecution and see their role, not as the defense, but as negotiators of a plea bargain that reduces the charges and prison time of the defendant, no matter how innocent. Silverglate shows that many of the plea bargains create precedents that prosecutors can exploit to trap more innocent victims. ...

This is the way America works today. Just as state and local police cannot stand up to the FBI, elected state and local officials are powerless in the face of their pursuit by corrupt federal prosecutors.

Silverglate himself was the attorney in some of the landmark cases that he reports. The reader, even one with the usual illusions and delusions that blind Americans to their predicament, will be scared by Silverglate’s documented account, case by case, of how easy it is in 'freedom and democracy' America to frame the totally innocent.

In Silverglate’s concluding chapter, 'For Whom the Bell Tolls,' the answer is obvious even to a naif: 'It tolls for all.'

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