May 13, 2014

Book Review: The Federal Prosecutor, An American Horror Story

Licensed to Lie by former Assistant
United States Attorney and Chief of
of the Appellate Section for the
Western and Northern Districts of Texas,
U.S. Department of Justice
At no time in modern American legal history has this book been needed as urgently.

"Overcriminalization is a dangerous trend that should alarm everyone. With over 4,450 crimes scattered throughout the federal code, and hundreds of thousands more hidden in federal regulations, “doing the right thing” just isn’t enough to keep you on the right side of the law. Every day people can become overcriminalization victims in a heartbeat and the consequences can be devastating," notes the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

In Sidney Powell's Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice (Brown Books Publishing Group, 2014) the villain is the United States Department of Justice and a host of federal judges.

In tales rivaling legal thrillers by John Grisham, Ms. Powell cogently lays out stories of death, and corruption plaguing the DoJ in this non-fiction account of the betrayal of America.

The stories are familiar to us as recent history—the Enron collapse and the wrongful prosecution of a beloved U.S. Senator—but what we think we know is turned on its head.

With this work, the former federal prosecutor and appellate attorney Ms. Powell stands among the great whistleblowers in modern American history as she exposes the injustices and inhumanities perpetrated by the self-aggrandizing members of two federal DoJ Task Forces, who had a license to lie and destroy innocent lives.

Many jurists already know of Sidney Powell's brilliance and dedication, and Licensed to Lie should be required reading for every high school political science class, every undergraduate college constitutional law class and is a must-read for any American with a passing interest in freedom.

No one reading this work—with a jaw-dropping foreword written by Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—can do so without being appalled.

Ms. Powell working in various capacities in defense of the innocent faced down prosecutors acting as a veritable Star Chamber in some instances, aided by an oppressive judiciary, unyielding and obtuse.

Powell names the names, and tells the facts, and nothing in the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) ought to be the same after this story is told of criminal justice as an American horror story.

Lawful duties of federal prosecutors such as the disclosure of exculpatory information to the defense (the Brady Rule), were abandoned in the quest to secure criminal convictions of innocent people.

In roughly the same timeframe as the Enron Task Force, DoJ prosecutors from the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of Main Justice targeted U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska; 1968-2009) in a prosecution so contrived, the presiding federal judge, Emmet Sullivan, ordered a special prosecutor empaneled to investigate the prosecution.

The DoJ PIN in this period operated an ongoing investigation into alleged public corruption in Alaska, nicknamed Polar PEN, begun in 2004.

Sidney Powell chronicles the criminal prosecutions and miscarriage of justice committed by Polar PEN, resulting in at least one suicide, the unlawful and wrongful 2008 conviction (later set aside at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009) of World War II hero and Senator Ted Stevens in a repulsive tableau of prosecutorial misconduct.

"I wondered how much the Enron Task Force had collaborated with the Polar Pen prosecutors and  who had concocted all of these overly creative cases without crimes as bogus 'honest services' allegations. The prosecutors had obviously cross-pollinated to produce baseless crimes and tortured law in both major investigations. The Enron Task Force cabal had about a two-year head start on Polar PEN, but the investigators and prosecutions overlapped for several years," writes Powell. (pp. 238-239)

Similar cases of prosecutorial torture of federal statute occurred in the contemporaneous U.S. Attorneys scandal as the creative employment of the Honest Services statute was used by unscrupulous U.S. attorneys such as Steven Biskupic.

Honest services. This is an ironic statute used by prosecutors who have no conception of honesty and even less regard for public service.

We can be grateful to Judge Richard Posner, of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, for writing an important opinion this last January (Fields v. Wharrie, 2014) establishing the right of the wrongfully convicted to sue corrupt prosecutors, who in Posner's opinion, no longer enjoy the absolute immunity used by prosecutors as a license to lie.

Every prosecutor who withheld exculpatory evidence, as demonstrated by Powell, should face a civil action.

Powell's appellate brief on Honest Services devastated the DoJ's use of its myriad honest services prosecutions, but Powell’s work is about the innocent and the prosecutors, guilty of betrayal.

Someone should write about Sidney Powell, the advocate from the south who just blew the lid off the hidden history of the judiciary and the American prosecutor.

(A longer version of this review appeared here in April 2014.)

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