Showing posts with label Public Integrity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Public Integrity. Show all posts

May 22, 2014

Wisconsin Whistle-blowing Veteran Vindicated as Neocons Target Shinseki

To listen to Republicans today, the decades-long culture of the VA of Delay, Deny and Hope You Die sprung into being in January 2009.

During the Bush-Cheney administration Vietnam-era veteran, an early whistle blower of VA abuse and neglect, Keith Roberts of Wisconsin, navigated through the maze-like process of filing his claim for disability benefits for his diagnosed PTSD.

Roberts accused the VA officials at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center of fraud, fabricating the minutes of a benefits hearing and altering his C-file (claim file).

Roberts said the VA were a "bunch of crooks." In retaliation top VA officials and a corrupt U.S. attorney indicted and criminally convicted Roberts in 2004-05 to shut him up. The indictment was based solely on the testimony of VA special agent with the VA regional Inspector General office in Hines, Illinois.

When President Obama announced on December 7, 2008 that he would appoint Eric Shinseki to become veterans affairs secretary, Roberts and a small band of veterans' advocates said Shinseki needed to clean house at the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA) (VA).

Rid the VA of bureaucrats from the some 1,700 medical centers, the deputy assistant secretaries at the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) like Michael McLendon who during the Bush administration blamed PTSD on lack of belief in God and country. (McKelvey, Boston Review) and search out and can the people who don't want veterans to receive benefits.

What eludes most mainstream news is that embedded neocons throughout the VA have sabotaging the VA for decades because they are ideologically opposed to the mission of caring for veterans in the first place, and want to privatize the whole agency.

While former VA staff attorney and Vietnam veteran Robert Walsh (who now works for veterans in private practice), former VBA staffer Paul Sullivan, and Anthony Hardie (Gulf War veteran and advocate) and veterans’ advocate Steve Robinson (a veteran who served in Ranger and Special Operations units) kept spreading the word about the neocons and anti-veterans' cabals at the VA, they found in Secretary Shinseki who a man who didn't listen.

Said Robinson in 2010: "(Y)es, there have been some improvements, ... but it baffles the mind to think that the Administration believes change will occur if they don’t clean house, and remove the entrenched bureaucrats, and policy wonks, who are gatekeepers to affecting that change. I don’t know why they haven’t moved them out, but they are still there, and they are, in fact, sabotaging Shinseki on several fronts."

Shinseki, as noted on the Rachel Maddow Show last night, was a whistleblower himself as a military general on the Bush-Cheney 2003 invasion of Iraq, and now Republicans want him as a fall guy and political punching bag for "(c)hronic VA problems." 

I don't feel too bad for Shinseki. 

As a whistleblower, he didn't bare anything like the injustices of Wisconsin veteran Keith Roberts at the hands of the VA and U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic.

Shinseki never listened to the likes of Keith Roberts, Bob Walsh, Paul Sullivan, Anthony Hardie and Steve Robinson.

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.)

Apr 27, 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
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 that would rival any legal thrillers or action-packed novels by John Grisham or Nelson DeMille, Ms. Powell systematically and cogently lays out stories of death, deceit, and corruption plaguing the DoJ in this non-fiction account of the betrayal of America.

The stories are somewhat familiar to us as recent history—the Enron collapse and the wrongful prosecution of the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history—but what we think we know is turned on its head as we learn what really happened.

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 truly had a license to lie and to destroy innocent lives without any federal prosecutor having conscience enough to even acknowledge the suffering they caused.

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 a must-read for any American of whatever political persuasion with a passing interest in freedom.

No one reading this work can do so without being appalled by the intentional and repeated injustices inflicted onto the innocent.

Steven J. Phillips published No Heroes, No Villains (Vintage, 1978) explaining the procedures of criminal law in a gripping account of a real-life criminal law, murder case. Phillips' classic work today is quaint. In today's culture, the American prosecutor is not a friend, not a force dedicated to justice, and in a civilized and truthful explication is a villain.

"The right to do what the law does not prohibit, without fear of harassment or punishment, is one of the hallmarks of a free society." —Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (foreword)

"I wondered if my friends, Judges Carl Stewart, Jacques Wiener, and, Pete Benavides, along with (Judge) Ewing Werlein, who denied all our motions for release twice, even knew, considered, or cared about what their wrong decision had done to this young man [the proven-innocent Bill Fuhs, represented by Seth Waxman] and his family." —Sidney Powell, Licensed to Lie (p. 144)

Enron Task Force

The Houston-based Enron Company morphed from a hard asset pipeline company into a sociopathic energy-trading company in the 1990s, led by Jeffrey Skilling and Chief Financial Office, Andrew Fastow. (p. 13)

In 2001, Enron—with its myriad equity funds, frauds and shell games—imploded into the largest corporate collapse in United States history.

This collapse was a good thing for some, a perfect opportunity to make careers for a collection of prosecutors lacking ethics and working pathologically in pursuit of power—their own power.

Find some people, make up crimes, prosecute these people, and these innocents and their families will just have to suffer.

This is precisely what occurred, during the Enron Task Force prosecutions that saw innocent Americans implacably pursued by a criminal, out-of-control band of prosecutors operating under cover of the United States of America.

As noted by Sidney Powell, "Incited by public outrage, political pressure and cries for vindication from Enron shareholders, the Department of Justice promptly [January 2002] assembled the Enron Task Force—a joint effort of the department, the SEC, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Because of the Bush connection to Ken Lay, the Enron Task Force was untethered from the department." (p. 25)

The Task Force was staffed with ambitious prosecutors from across the country, and was given virtually unlimited resources.

The Task Force was also untethered from ethical adult supervision and prosecutors looking to make a career from the ashes of Enron determined to get somebody, anybody in their pursuit of a group of innocents, along with the perpetrators at Enron.

Ms. Powell working in various capacities in defense of the innocent (particularly James Brown of Merrill Lynch) worked tirelessly in her advocacy, facing the corruption of the prosecutors of the Task Force acting as a veritable Star Chamber in some instances, aided by an oppressive judiciary in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, so unyielding and committed to letting obvious injustices go uncorrected that this brilliant veteran jurist, Sidney Powell, witnessed the physical disintegration of innocent people and their families as an oblivious nation immersed by the trauma of 9/11 never knew their story, until now.

Powell names the names, (Task Force leaders and prosecutors, Leslie Caldwell, Andrew Weissmann and Matthew Friedrich, for example) 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 American criminal justice as an American horror story inflicted by federal prosecutors.

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

The former federal prosecutor, Powell, concludes: "As long as they [a small group of federal prosecutors] are free from accountability, the innocent are at risk and the public can have no confidence in our legal system." (p. 403)

Polar PEN

In roughly the same timeframe as the Enron Task Force was unleashed, overzealous 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 disingenuous and self-consciously artificial that the presiding federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan (aided in part by an FBI agent who blew the whistle on the prosecutors), after learning of massive and systemic withholding of exculpatory evidence by federal prosecutors, ordered a special prosecutor (Henry F. Schuelke III) be empaneled to investigate the criminal wrongdoing of 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 blatant miscarriage of justice caused and committed by Polar PEN, that resulted in at least one suicide, heroic whistle-blowing of prosecutorial misconduct by a FBI agent, Chad Joy, 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 that ruined Stevens' political career, and the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the prosecutorial misconduct.

Two main perpetrators of Polar PEN are Matthew Friedrich and Rita Glavin. who took over control and manipulated the prosecution of Stevens, but who, Powell notes, "were way too politically connected and savvy to take the fall." (p. 8)

The failure of the Polar PEN prosecutors of Stevens to turn over exculpatory evidence the prosecution had in its possession should have landed the bunch of legal thugs in prison; the Polar PEN persecutors were guilty though not ultimately held accountable, the grisly suicide of Nicholas Marsh, PEN prosecutor notwithstanding, who found himself on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

Marsh committed suicide after being investigated for his (and several others') criminal withholding of exculpatory evidence from Sen. Stevens.

Cases without Crimes

"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)

Powell does not put the corruption of these atrocities in the context of American legal history, in the context of what Attorney General Robert H. Jackson warned federal prosecutors about in his memorable April 1, 1940 address: "Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character. Whether one seeks promotion to a judgeship, as many prosecutors rightly do, or whether he returns to private practice, he can have no better asset than to have his profession recognize that his attitude toward those who feel his power has been dispassionate, reasonable and just."

It's for the reader to decide the relevancy of jurists like Jackson.

Nor does Powell mention the contemporaneous U.S. Attorneys scandal though the creative employment of the Honest Services statute was used extensively by unscrupulous U.S. attorneys such as Steven Biskupic (Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2001-2008) in his infamous Georgia Thompson prosecution, a case without a crime reversed in oral arguments in a spectacular action by a three-judge panel for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2007.

Wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook: "Thompson was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1341 as well as under § 666. Section 1341 forbids 'any scheme or artifice to defraud' that predictably employs the United States mails. What 'fraud' did Thompson commit, and who was the victim? Thompson did not bilk the state out of any money or pocket any of the funds that were supposed to be used. ... (I)n response to McNally v. United States, ... Congress enlarged the scope of criminal fraud by enacting 18 U.S.C. § 1346. This statute provides: For the purposes of this chapter, the term 'scheme or artifice to defraud' includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services. ... It is linguistically possible to understand 'private gain' as whatever adds to the employee's income or psyche-anything the employee would pay to have, rather than pay to avoid-but the Rule of Lenity counsels us not to read criminal statutes for everything they can be worth. ... Thompson's conviction is reversed, and the case is remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal." (U.S. v. Georgia L. Thompson, argued and decided on April 5, 2007)

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

We can be grateful to Judge Richard Posner, also of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, for writing an important opinion this last January (Fields v. Wharrie, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 1333) that establishes 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 from his and her victims.

Powell's appellate brief on Honest Services devastated the DoJ's use of its myriad "honest services" prosecutions in several cases, a catch-all invention that these prosecutors used for its apparent fun and their profit. (pp. 298-99)

But the suffering endured by the many innocents she describes, and the utter lack of integrity, fair play and justice by the federal prosecutors leave Ms. Powell without faith in the American legal system as a forum where justice might be attained.

Outside of a small group of jurists, and friends and family of the innocents, who among us knows and cares that deceitful federal prosecutors remain free as victims struggle to build shattered lives?

Powell throws this question to the reader:
The games and tactics of (federal prosecutors) Friedrich, Ruemmler, Weissmann, Caldwell, and others on the Enron Task Force should never have been tolerated by the Houston federal judiciary or by the Fifth Circuit—much less invigorated by Friedrich and Glavin as heads of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to pervert the trial of a United States Senator. There is no telling how many others have been or will be wrongfully convicted as this cabal of corrupt cronies ambitiously climbs and weaves through the highest ranks of the Department of Justice, the FBI and the White House—in between their powerful partnerships in some of our country's most prestigious and influential law firms.

What happened to the defendants in this book can happen to anyone. Blind judges do not render blind justice.

If it were your husband, your sister, your child on trial, what should the rules be? Should the prosecutors be required to disclose everything that only he possesses that is favorable to the defense? Should those who are supposed to enforce the laws be required to abide by them?

Senate Bill 2197, the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act (codifying the Brady Rule), is still sitting in Congress. It would create a clear rule that federal prosecutors must produce all evidence favorable to the defense. (pp. 402-403)
Its fate, and the fate of justice is ultimately up to the American people.

The United States of America seems to have lost its way; it surely has lost its moral compass as the prosecutor and the judiciary inflict grievous harm onto innocent people in the name of justice.

A problem for the public is that what Sidney Powell writes about, what Powell warns us about, occurred and is occurring off the public's radar, beyond our awareness and thus beyond the reach of decency and the rule of law that could not be found by the innocent.

Dec 10, 2013

Wrongfully Convicted: Keith Roberts Redux

PTSD fraud at the VA is like voter fraud on a national level, there is no 'there' there

Had an interesting exchange with Attorney Robert P. Walsh, a Vietnam War Army combat veteran, who devotes his life to helping military veterans in his law practice.

Walsh was the attorney of Wisconsin's Keith Roberts, a Navy Vietnam-era veteran, unjustly convicted of wire fraud in 2006. [The conviction was upheld on appeal to the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a July 2008 decision reading in part: "The record might also have supported a jury determination that Mr. Roberts sincerely believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention to defraud the Government," by Justice Kenneth Ripple. But Ripple notes of the guilty verdict, that, "It is beyond our authority to disturb such a finding on appeal."]

Roberts' real crime, in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was hounding the VA (DVA) and taking seriously his right to pursue a disability benefits claim—a dangerous practice for veterans during the Bush-Cheney administration.

And to listen to Walsh, this is a danger that has been carried on in the Obama administration.

Personally, I thought the embedded neocons at the VA and Veterans Benefit Administration and the corrupt US attorneys were mostly gone.

Walsh doesn't give a damn about anything except helping veterans, so he is someone worth listening to, if one takes helping veterans seriously.

Some edited notes from Bob Walsh on veterans and VA:

The VA has used and continues to use the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) as their enforcer, a private police force.

Wisconsin's Keith Roberts is only one example.

The probable cause that a crime had been committed in the Roberts case: "there were inconsistencies in the VA benefits claims file."

Since the benefits disability system is ex parte and non-adversarial and dozens of employees have access to the file, that should not warrant a criminal indictment in Federal District Court, as it did.

Had the VA Office of General Counsel not been a No Show in the entire process (who knows what closet they were cowering in during the criminal proceedings) there would not have been an indictment.

The VA Regional Counsel in Detroit, Michigan, with jurisdiction over Wisconsin, had no knowledge of the indictment at the time Roberts' criminal trial began, as required by administrative law regulations.

The VA Regional Office in Detroit and the VA OIG had attempted the same ploy on a decorated WW II veteran in Michigan a few years earlier. We were able to increase that veteran's benefits to the Special Monthly Compensation rate for his war wounds. When he died he was receiving about $3,500.00 per month. We were never able to recover the $ 50,000.00 that VA stole from him and his family when they created the false overpayment in his case.

The VA had put him in overpayment and then attempted to have him prosecuted for fraud like Roberts.  Our U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan had the integrity to tell the VA OIG to go to hell. The political hacks in Milwaukee were only too happy to do the bidding of the Bush-Cheney White House and make an 'example' of Keith Roberts.

Roberts was to be the poster boy for PTSD fraud. The 'welfare Cadillac' of veterans benefits.

PTSD fraud at VA is like voter fraud on a national level. There is no 'there' there.

Most of the real fraud turns out to be VA staff and Service Officers, not individual veterans.

Most of the real waste to the taxpayers is in executive compensation and bonuses.

Where else but VA can you have an 85 percent error rate and get a promotion and bonus in the same year?

Maybe on Wall Street in a mortgage unit. Other than that, can’t think of an example.

Justice delayed is not justice in full measure. Veterans are not third-class citizens. They are entitled to the same due process a mass murderer is afforded.

High time the basic due process and the protection of the Administrative Procedures Act is imposed on the VA.

The path through which American citizens can impact the regulation-rulemaking process is through the federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act, mandating federal agencies solicit public comment before instituting new rules and regulations that implement legislative acts such as the Veterans Judicial Review Act and other statutes intended to help veterans, their families and our country.

Sep 13, 2013

Did Wisconsin District Attorney Indict Himself under Own Letterhead

Title 18 USC § 201
District Attorney Martin Lipske appears to be in violation of a federal corruption statute

Updated - When Iron County (Wisconsin) DA Martin Lipske sent a letter earlier this year to the man he unjustly prosecuted in 1997, Donald Miller, after destroying DNA evidence it appears Lipske conditioned the performance of a specific act of his public office upon Don Miller's parents' not complaining about Lipske's shady law practice to the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR).

A letter written by Lipske to Don Miller, dated July 11, 2013, reads in part: "My intentions were to send a copy of the stipulation in which I agreed to your release. However, between the time that I received the form and the due date, I received another letter through the actions of your parents challenging my license to practice law. Therefore, nothing was sent as I intended." (Copy of letter is below.)

The Millers, Norm and Patricia, say they received a Feb 21, 2013 response letter from the OLR, and word from up north is that Lipske was not happy about the OLR complaint.

Reached by phone, Norm Miller does not remember sending the OLR a complaint to begin with, but in any event retaliation by a sitting District Attorney, and the performance of an official action should not be conditioned upon what the Miller parents do, as they attempt to prove their son's innocence in their retirement as they live in Hurley, Wisconsin.

Put another way, Lipske's seeking to clear his name (he was suspended for almost four years for professional misconduct before Judge Patrick Madden recruited him to run for DA in 1994) by withholding a promised action of his office is a corrupt use of public office, and a violation of federal law.

The Wisconsin Innocence Project has taken up this case, and has not returned phone calls.

What appear to be clear, however, is that Lipske is using the power of his office to stop people from challenging his misconduct in public office, and this appears to be a violation of a federal corruption statute.

Title 18 USC § 201 reads in part:

Whoever being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:
 
(A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;

So Lipske on his own Office of Iron County (Wisconsin) District Attorney letterhead delivered his message to the Millers: Stop reminding people of my professional misconduct (as is your right), or I won't help release an innocent man, your son, from prison by stipulating to his release.

Lipske's letter is below:

Aug 20, 2013

Iron County Judge Patrick 'Madman' Madden—A Cornered Animal

Madden faces accusations he had an affair
with an alleged crime victim, Connie Vargovich,
before, during and after presiding over the 1997
trial of a defendant, the former live-up boyfriend
of the same alleged crime victim, Connie Vargovich.
Madden's legal career is on the line.
A supporter of a victim of Madden's
said of Madden, "the little prick's time is up soon,"
referring to Madden's 27-year reign as Judge.
Update II: "A free society can exist only to the extent that those charged with enforcing the law respect it themselves. 'There is no more cruel tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of the law, and with the colors of justice.'" 

- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Appellant in No. 81-1020 v. JANNOTTI, HARRY P. (D.C. Crim. No. 80-00166-02); UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellant in No. 81-1021 v. SCHWARTZ, GEORGE X. (D.C. Crim. No. 80-00166-04)
Nos. 81-1020, 81-1021
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
673 F.2d 578; 1982 U.S. App. LEXIS 21883
June 10, 1981, Argued
Decided February 11, 1982


Put succinctly, the reign of Iron County DA Martin Lipske, and Iron County Judge Patrick J. Madden is coming to an end. The rule of law will return to Iron County Wisconsin. 

Update: Note to Judge Madden and District Attorney Lipske, Ira Robins sends his regards and will be working on the reporting of this case, Wisconsin v. Miller. One Wisconsin attorney, speaking on background, said of Judge Madden and District Attorney Lipske: "They're human garbage."

If Wisconsin citizens were told a circuit court judge were to preside over the trial of an innocent man, and that the trial judge had an multi-year affair with the alleged victim before, during and after the trial, most Wisconsin citizens would respond this doesn't seem fair and proper.

It's not.

Jurists would cite the Wisconsin code of judicial ethics which is specific about the demands placed upon a judge to avoid the appearance of impropriety:
A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities.  ... A judge may not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment.

So, that's on paper in the books, how about real life?

One real-life relationship that would be a clear violation of judicial ethics is a presiding judge, Iron County Judge Patrick J. Madden, having an affair with an alleged victim, Connie Vargovich, before, during and after the trial of a defendant who was the live-in boyfriend of the alleged victim.

And this is precisely what happened, and has been so stated in several legal documents.

Connie Vargovich
Madden should have recused himself from the trial of Donald Miller, State of Wisconsin v. Donald R. Miller [Case Number: 97 CF 60], and the September 2012 hearing (over which he presided) at which both the District Attorney and defense stipulated an agreement to finally get this innocent man out of prison. Madden rejected the stipulation.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Innocence Project is representing Donald Miller, and was in Iron County again last week gathering affidavits not unlike this one below—by a brave woman standing up for truth against corruption, Michele L. Aspinwall.

Many other decent and courageous people in Iron County are standing up to the corruption in this small, isolated county of some 5,900 people.

This is not good news for Iron County Judge Patrick J. Madden and Iron County DA Martin Lipske, Madden's political protege who moved from Douglas County Wisconsin to run for District Attorney in Iron County in 1994 at Madden's urging after Lipske's three-year suspension for professional misconduct was lifted in 1993.

Three Affidavits

Ms. Aspinwall's affidavit is among the more tame descriptions of Judge Patrick J. 'Madman' Madden's socializing and liaisons before the trial of Donald Miller. Much more to come about the during and after phases of the trial.
Below are two affidavits of Iron County citizens who witnessed Patrick Madden intimately comforting the alleged victim, Connie Vargovich, during a break in the trial of Vargovich's former live-in boyfriend on trial because of Vargovich's allegations. Madden's presiding over the trial while having an affair with Vargovich is cause for permanent disbarment of his license to practice law in Wisconsin.



Aug 17, 2013

Scott Walker, Campaign Used Public Office to Flack for Walker During O’Donnell Park Death

Death of young man in 2010 concerned Scott Walker; Walker was
worried the tragedy would hurt Walker politically. Walker’s campaign
manager, put it immediately after man was killed: "Make sure there is
not a paper any where that details a problem at all." Cover-up and lies.
Lisa Kaiser has the must-read story on Scott Walker corruption and his appalling insensitivity to the death of a young man in 2010.

Walker's cynical and persistent actions in reaction was that the death of 15-year-old Jared Kellner and two others injured on June 24, 2010 at the Milwaukee County O’Donnell Park parking structure could hurt Walker’s political image.

Reports Kaiser:
In the initial phases of the John Doe investigation, the public learned how then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s county aides worked on his gubernatorial campaign while working at their taxpayer-funded jobs. Some of these aides were prosecuted for their illegal behavior.

But the release of hundreds of emails sealed for years under the John Doe’s secrecy order—recently released as part of the litigation involving the O’Donnell Park tragedy—reveals more serious evidence of how Walker’s top campaign advisers were actually calling the shots on county matters to protect Walker and his campaign for governor from political damage from this tragedy.

And make no mistake: Scott Walker was definitely aware that his campaign and county staffers were working together to shape his image as he ran for governor in 2010.

Walker was copied on almost all of the emails ....

Nowhere in any of the emails released is there evidence of Walker or any of his campaign or county staffers expressing sympathy or concern for the Kellner family or the public’s safety. Their only interest seems to be managing Walker’s image and distancing himself from any potential cause of the structure’s failures.

Aug 13, 2013

Iron County Judge and DA Are Focus of New Citizen Scrutiny

Madden faces accusations he had an affair
with an alleged crime victim while presiding
over the 1997 trial of the defendant,
the former live-up boyfriend of the alleged
crime victim. Madden's legal career is on the line
A supporter of a victim of Madden's said of
Madden, "the little prick's time is up soon,"
referring to Madden's 27-year reign as Judge.
Updated - A reader writes: "(Judge) Madden should have recused from the (Miller) case without a doubt. Note, in the interview transcript (between Judge Madden and Stephen Williams) (Madden) said he would recuse from any further proceedings to do with Don (Miller) but, some 6 months after the interview he then presided over the September 2012 post-conviction hearing. Very naughty. Any further action on Don's case he will not preside, he will be in the witness box answering to several affidavits attesting to the fact he had a relationship with the alleged victim before, during and after trial. After the judicial complaint is lodged after the next course of action he will likely become the 4th judge ever permanently removed from the bench in the entire state (of Wisconsin). That will make 2 out of 4 of them from Iron County."

No branch of government should be above public scrutiny. The case of Don Miller in Iron County Wisconsin is an object lesson on why this principle remains a bulwark in a constitutional democracy.

There's criminal corruption in Iron County, and to paraphrase an Iron County worker: Wake up and smell the roses.

Iron County (Wisconsin) Judge Patrick J. Madden and District Attorney Martin Lipske remain the focus of an escalating investigation by a group of supporters of an innocent man convicted in 1997 on allegations (now recanted, and then last year repeated) by his then live-in girlfriend, who became in embroiled in a multi-year affair with the presiding trial Judge, one Patrick Madden.

Disappearing evidence, no DNA evidence, a sexual liaison between judge and (alleged) victim, a sitting District Attorney taunting a man in prison serving a 42-year sentence: Welcome to Iron County Wisconsin, population 5,900.

The case has been taken on by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School's Innocence Project as law students and lawyers involved with the case have made numerous 270-mile treks by car from Madison, Wisconsin up to the north woods of Wisconsin to find out what the heck is happening up in Iron County.

Supporters of freeing Don Miller say they expect this isolated county to see Innocence Project staff this week. The case is State of Wisconsin v. Donald R. Miller [Case Number: 97 CF 60]. And this case stinks to high heaven.

Specifically, law students and lawyers are looking into why allegations (and I hesitant to specify what they are, but you can follow this link) that have been recanted by the alleged victim have landed Miller in prison to serve a 42-year sentence. Miller has been incarcerated since 1997.

The alleged victim is Connie Vargovich.

Iron County (Wisconsin) Judge Patrick J. Madden presided over the December 4-5, 1997 trial of Miller. The verdict was reached one day later by the jury who didn't take very long to deliberate.

Now, Madden faces new allegations he had an ongoing affair with Vargovich after the trial of Miller (other allegations place the affair before and during the trial).

Sources in Iron County, supporters of Miller, tell me several depositions placing Madden and Vargovich together at local bars and sex clubs include one witness stating under penalty of perjury in a new deposition that Madden and Vargovich once disappeared into a tavern bathroom together for approximately one-half hour.

Madden, say sources in this small community, was not happy, when these and other allegations were revealed on the website, Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction.

Madden has been a judge in Iron County since 1986, and was appointed by Gov. Tony Earl. Prior to the judicial appointment he served as District Attorney for two northern Wisconsin counties, including Iron County.

DA Lipske who succeeded Madden as District Attorney after Madden was appointed to Iron County judge, was reportedly urged by Madden to run for DA, some three years after Lipske's license was suspended for misconduct in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lipske is an incredibly capricious and vindictive figure for a sitting jurist, and one who has the highest rate of criminal cases overturned or dismissed on appeal of all of Wisconsin's 72 counties, according to the 2008 study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Journalism.

In the future, sooner than Lipske knows, a wider audience will know why.

Secrets often don't remain secrets for long in small towns.

During the trial of Miller's, Madden was observed in the courthouse hallway, hugging and whispering, and visibly reassuring the alleged victim, Vargovich, whom several say was involved in an affair with the Judge.

"When (Madden) noticed that he was being watched he quickly slipped back into his office," reads several affidavits filed at the Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction site.

Stay tuned.

Apr 20, 2013

Prosecutorial Discretion and Prosecutorial Protection

NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna: American fascist
In Boston and Watertown, America has seen the best of law enforcement working with citizens and communities in a common effort.

Now comes word of the worst.

"The [Manhattan] District Attorney’s Office has concluded, after a thorough investigation, that we cannot prove these allegations criminally beyond a reasonable doubt," says Erin M. Duggan, chief spokeswoman for the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance.

Duggan refers to the savage attacks by New York City Police Inspector Tony Bologna who sought out and assaulted peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters in 2011 with pepper spray in several premeditated acts of disgusting violence, captured on video, and plastered all over the Net in 2011. (John Del Signore, The Gothamist)

"Despite the overwhelming proof on videotape, seen around the world, (Manhattan District Attorney) Cy Vance Jr. has shown that it he will do nothing to disturb his cozy relationship with the police, even in the face of the clearest wrongdoing," attorney Ron Kuby said.

Consider also from late February (2013), the Milwaukee District Attorney's press release announcing the closing of the John Doe probe into Scott Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County executive in which Walker was not charged.

This February exoneration of sorts occurs—though Walker's e-mails on a secret, illegal e-mail system in his office were made public along with those of convicted felons' whom Walker hired and supervised—with the same explanation given about Inspector Tony Bologna.

The Milwaukee DA's press release reads in part: "I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded," per the Milwaukee DA John Chisholm's policy.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That's what it takes to convict a defendant.

Now, this standard is increasingly presented by prosecutors to justify not launching prosecutions against protected figures like Anthony Bologna and Scott Walker, because these prosecutions might take a political toll on the prosecutors' offices.

This quantum of evidence of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' is not the standard used by prosecutors' offices to prosecute cases, though this position is getting more use of late as bigger-name, would-be defendants are getting away with corruption and in Bologna's case, physical assaults.

The process by a prosecutor's office in evaluating whether to bring a criminal charge is not a mini-trial with evidential presentations that prosecutors use as the basis to proceed only if the faux mini-trials conclude with a 'beyond a reasonable doubt' quasi verdict, which is the same as the standard to convict in a criminal trial.

There is no finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt reached; that's what a trial in a court of law does.

The reality is a miscarriage of justice that applies only for some, namely Walker and Bologna, and is pernicious to our society and the rule of law.

For most everyone else, prosecutors determine whether there is sufficient evidence and facts establishing probable cause that charges against a defendant should go forward and a probability of guilt exists before trial in jurisdictions in which alleged crimes are the "most flagrant, the public harm the greatest, and the proof the most certain," to again borrow from Jackson.

In our criminal justice system in which law enforcement officials routinely cook police reports and lie in open court (testilying), America has seen the criminal justice system create a "leviathan unmatched in human history," as Glenn C. Loury writes in Boston Review, [and his book, Race, Incarceration, and American Values. Glenn C. Loury. (MIT, 2008)].

This leviathan has not been constructed by prosecutors engaging in bringing only prosecutions they think are supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.   

Ours is a punitive system that now nakedly protects high-profile, would-be defendants in the reasonable expectation that most people will not be paying attention, and most corporate press will work as stenographers.

Does any legal observer or defendant for that matter—surveying the mounting civil citations in municipalities as protests are deemed illegal, money is extracted from citizens, and the sheer number of criminal defendants incarcerated—believe the DA's offices (including Manhattan's and Milwaukee County's) prosecute only cases that prior to criminal trial and plea bargaining have been determined to have already met the legal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

Not a chance.

Surely, all of the innocent Americans persecuted by their local DA's offices would agree, and are critical of the corporate press that actually cheers innocent Americans being prosecuted.

Take an example, Stephen Biskupic, former U.S. Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2001-08).

After prosecuting proven-innocent voters, one Georgia Thompson and a Navy Vietnam-era veteran, Keith Roberts, Biskupic largely received a pass from the press and after 2008 worked for Scott Walker's campaign, before jumping ship early this year from the GOP's ethically challenged law firm where Biskupic was a partner.

Consider GOP mouthpiece Mike Nichols of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (May 11, 2007) who says though the evidence behind the prosecution of Georgia Thompson was a "bust," [Thompson's ludicrous conviction was actually tossed after oral arguments in April 2007, an occurrence that almost never happens] we should "admire" Biskupic.

That's giving an out-of-control US attorney a pass, certainly; one reads Nichols' piece and word "admire" rings out today.

Nichols is still writing for the Journal-Sentinel, despite issuing no apology or retraction for cheering on an innocent women being convicted of a federal crime by a corrupt U.S. attorney.

In Wisconsin, even as Scott Walker seems to believe he is above the law after DA Chisholm's refusal to prosecute Walker for misuse of public office, Walker has used the justice system and maintained his personal palace guard to issue civil citations to citizens expressing anti-Walker political thought at what has long been known as the People's House—our state capitol.

Wall Street bankers, Scott Walker, and Tony Bologna may think they are above the law as those prosecutors charged with building criminal cases and protecting the public decide the costs are too high to prosecute—too high for their careers—but refraining from protecting the public from the most egregious of baleful and illegal acts of powerful factions in our society is a betrayal.

As the great jurist, Robert Jackson said in 1940 while serving as U.S. attorney general:

The qualities of a good prosecutor are as elusive and as impossible to define as those which mark a gentleman. And those who need to be told would not understand it anyway. A sensitiveness to fair play and sportsmanship is perhaps the best protection against the abuse of power, and the citizen’s safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.
Citizens the nation-over need to ask: Does fair play, human kindness and truth, sound like our U.S. Attorney and local DA?

If not, then speak up.

If so, an occasional thank-you is in order.

Now, too many prosecutors are protecting powerful, unindicted criminals using the imprimatur of prosecutorial discretion as they look to the future with their eyes posted firmly on their careers.

Justice Jackson addressed this action as well: "Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character."

The statistics Jackson referred to are how well the actions of the office serve the powerful.

As for character, that seems to belong to another time.

Apr 19, 2013

Massive Propaganda Campaign to Privatize Wisconsin Public Schools, Exposed by One Wisconsin Now

Have some money; have some more. We're here to save
schools and just help. It's who we are. As Scott Walker says:
"I care too much about the people of this state
not to empower them to control their own destiny."
The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is among the "largest funder of the rightwing propaganda machine in the country," notes One Wisconsin Now.

But the Bradley Foundation's targeting of our state may have been understated.

A new report released by One Wisconsin Now (OWN) reveals the orchestration of the "funding of a massive campaign to advocate for the privatization of schools in Wisconsin."

This report comes right as Scott Walker and an extremist group of Republicans in the state legislature—elected to office through gerrymandered districts in 2012—push through Walker's 2013-15 budget.

In one finding, OWN reports Bradley has spent some $31 million since 2001 promoting education privatization and supporting various talking heads emitting rightwing propaganda.

One democrat, State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), is looking to grab some of that rightwing money for herself. [Taylor is a Democrat for 'school reform', and belongs to a front group, which the Washington Post notes is financed 'largely by hedge fund managers' on Wall Street].

The consequences for Wisconsin's public school system, already being systemically starved by the Republican Party, are grave.

And this diverting of money from schools to privatization schemes is estimated to cost Wisconsin taxpayers a whopping $1.8 billion in 2014-15, OWN reports.

The Bradley Foundation will do Walker's propaganda, with a lot of help from their friends.

As a whole host of rightwing-GOP outlets such as the MacIver Institute, the Wisconsin Reporter, and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (all of whom pretend their organizations are legit) make excuses or simply invent facts as Walker is forced to face the jobs disaster that is happening before our very eyes, the GOP's MacIver Institute will ask Wisconsin citizens to avert their gaze as Walker pretends to be preparing for his run at the 2016 GOP nomination for the presidency.

No comment though from the usual GOP suspects.

"Michael Grebe, president and chief executive officer of the Bradley Foundation, declined to comment on the One Wisconsin report, which notes repeatedly that he is Walker's campaign chairman," notes Dan Bice today.

ALEC, Koch Brothers, the MacIver Institute (arguably the most destructive of GOP front groups), the Wisconsin Reporter, and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute—not our parents' Republican Party.

Feb 25, 2013

Chief Couper on Police Investigating Police Misconduct

Why was this peaceful man shot and killed in 2012?
"It is very difficult (and painful) for a police department to criticize or discipline one of its own. Why? Because in many instances of police review, those who are doing the reviewing know that 'there but for the grace of God go I.' This has a chilling effect especially when it comes to the use of force. Policing is a difficult job. And a community needs to support their police when they are doing a good job and ask for change and improvement when they are not."
- Madison Police Chief David Couper (ret), author of Arrested Development - A Veteran Police Chief Sounds off About Protest, Racism, Corruption, and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation's Police

Thoughtful discussion is needed; though none of this will have an effect on Paul Heenan and his loved ones. Heenan was unarmed and shot and killed by Madison Police Officer Stephen Heimsness on November 9, 2012.

I know many law enforcement personnel. And they are appalled when an innocent man is killed.

But the fact is police do gin-up police reports, act on prejudices and biases, cover-up, and in the words of Alan Dershowitz: Routinely testi(lie) in open court.

Outside investigation (Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is open to the idea) is not an option; it's an imperative.

Paul Heenan's father, John: "John Heenan told 27 News' his lifelong confidence in the actions of police officers was close to shattered by his son's death. 'I used to trust them. I used to not question anything. I question things now,' he said."

Feb 7, 2013

Walker Still Keeps Criminal Defense Fund Contributors Secret

  • When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said. "I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said. (Jim Rowen. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Nov.21, 2012)
  •  My first question was a softball: “Will you pledge right now to run the most open, transparent gubernatorial administration in the history of the universe?” Gov.-elect Scott Walker’s one-word reply: “Absolutely.” (Mark Pitsch. Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal. Dec 23, 2010)
One typically does not begin a short column with bulleted quotes.

Then again we typically do not have a governor in Wisconsin accepting $100,000s given to a secret criminal defense fund, putting the lie to a central campaign promise vis a vis his direct predecessor.

As John Nichols writes: "While most Americans were preparing to celebrate New Year’s Eve, newly released documents revealed that Wisconsin’s governor was quietly doing something else: transferring $40,000 from his campaign account to the secretive fund he uses to pay some of the top criminal defense lawyers in the country."

If all Scott Walker wants to do is "cooperate" with the John Doe probe charged with finding out if and by whom crimes have been committed during Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive, he can stop his stonewalling and say to John Doe investigators and the Wisconsin people: 'Ask me anything. My commitment to openness and transparency is absolute. '

Feb 6, 2013

Will John Doe Probe of Scott Walker's Office also Result in a Civil Action

Informed Wisconsin jurists confirm that the documentary record of John Doe proceedings in Wisconsin can remain secret even after criminal convictions might be secured and the proceedings are declared to be ended, at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Irrespective of what happens after the proceedings are closed [no one knows when], Eye on Wisconsin asks today, When John Doe Ends, Will Civil Remedies Begin?

A good question to pose of the sordid affairs of the only sitting Wisconsin governor to ever have formed a criminal defense fund.

Feb 1, 2013

Scott Walker Still Refusing to Speak to Wisconsin People on Criminal John Doe Probe

Tim Russell and long-time aide and friend, Scott Walker
Update: Many outside Wisconsin -- following the news here the last two years as Scott Walker and Republican senators used Koch brothers money to hold onto political power -- have asked, 'what's wrong with Wisconsin? First Russ Feingold is gone and now ... ?' A big part of the answer is the amount of money the Republicans, with their hands out, have at their disposal. Perhaps equally important is the fact that the Wisconsin broadcast and corporate media have buried the Walker-Tea Party-GOP corruption, a part of which is under investigation by the criminal John Doe probe. Consider today's print edition of the GOP's Wisconsin State Journal. Buried on page five under the small AP "Digest" is some four column inches of the news that Walker "adds money to legal defense fund." No quote from non-GOP sources (though) they are readily available. Just a Walker-slanted piece with a reference to Walker spokeswoman, Nicole Tieman, who is quoted with no knockdown that Walker needs the money to "cooperate" with John Doe authorities.

Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on the other hand, quotes Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski: "It is beyond belief at this point that Walker had no role in crimes that have led to the convictions of six aides and supporters. Time will tell what's in store for him."
---

News today that "Gov. Scott Walker transferred $40,000 in campaign funds late last year to his legal (criminal defense) fund," has renewed questions about whether Wisconsin citizens' governor is a crook.

The three-year John Doe probe into Scott Walker's rise to political power during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive has discovered a rat's nest of criminal activity and secured the convictions of the nucleus of Walker's political inner circle.

As for explanation from Scott Walker to the people of Wisconsin, no one in Wisconsin's formerly squeaky-clean political culture expects Walker to visit all (or any) of Wisconsin's 72 counties in listening sessions and say: Ask me anything. You deserve to know your governor is not a crook.

No one expects Walker to explain why he refused to publicly call upon his personally appointed former aides (now convicted felons) to simply tell the full truth to John Doe investigators working for the Milwaukee District Attorney's office.

As noted in today's column by Cognitive Dissidence, not one convicted felon who worked for Walker has come forward and publicly declared Walker's innocence of misusing his public office for political, private puposes—a felony.

This complete silence of the Walker gang, including those who pled guilty to felonies and have been sentenced is not demanded by the secrecy codicils of the John Doe proceedings.

Reads Wisconsin statute on Criminal Proceedings (968.26 on John Doe Proceedings):

Subject to s. 971.23, if the proceeding is secret, the record of the proceeding and the testimony taken shall not be open to inspection by anyone except the district attorney unless it is used by the prosecution at the preliminary hearing or the trial of the accused and then only to the extent that it is so used. A court, on the motion of a district attorney, may compel a person to testify or produce evidence under s. 972.08 (1). The person is immune from prosecution as provided in s. 972.08 (1), subject to the restrictions under s. 972.085.
Point is: Nothing prevents Walker or his gang from saying: 'Look, I'm innocent. This slander must stop. And Scott Walker surely is innocent of misuse of public office, in my view.'

Or Walker could have negotiated an immunity deal; saying in effect: Anyone is my past administration breaks the law; they get what they deserve.'

Walker took a different way.

Walker's response has been to hire a PR firm; become the first sitting Wisconsin governor in history to form a criminal defense fund; and continually mislead the Wisconsin people and the gullible press about why the John Doe Proceedings were begun in the first place—Walker's stonewalling.

John Doe proceeding can be kept secret even after convictions might be secured and the proceedings are declared to be ended.

But the presumption of innocence under the law, and the right to declare one's innocence live on. This right is not negated by John Doe proceedings.

Why is no one in this matter declaring their own or past colleagues' innocence?

Jan 23, 2013

Christian Stork: Aaron Swartz' Prosecutors Employ Outrageous Bullying Tactics as SOP

Update III: From Bradley Manning to Aaron Swartz -- The Government's Inhumane Persecution of Brave Truth Tellers

Update II: Anonymous Takes Over Sentencing Commission Website

Update: "In my view, the Aaron Swartz prosecution is very typical of the Justice Department's policy of going after people in such a big way that the point is not necessarily to prosecute them, but it is to destroy them personally." See John Kiriakou Hopes Aaron Swartz's Death Sparks Discussion of Prosecutorial Overreach.

Christian Stork has a great follow-up on the Aaron Swartz suicide following the crusade against him by the local US attorney's office.

The US attorney in question, Carmen Ortiz, likely is no fan of Robert H. Jackson, who warned against this type of abuse of process by US attorneys in a famous address in 1940.

"Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character. Whether one seeks promotion to a judgeship, as many prosecutors rightly do, or whether he returns to private practice, he can have no better asset than to have his profession recognize that his attitude toward those who feel his power has been dispassionate, reasonable and just," said Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, April 1, 1940.

Ortiz is a politically ambitious hack; using the power of office with no apparent conception for the consequences other than her own advancement.

Jan 17, 2013

Holding Prosecutors Accountable in Killing of Aaron Swartz

Corruption
Update: US Atty Ortiz issues statement. Turley: "the statement is at best misleading and at worse intentionally deceptive."

"There's a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There's a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There's a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq." - Matt Stoller
When prosecutors become overzelaous careerists or corrupt partisans, injustice follows. Most prosecutors are careerists or corrupt partisans.

In Wisconsin, who can forget Bush-Cheney-Rove's US Attorney Steven Biskupic and his reign of terror against innocent defendants?

Well, most everyone.

Our country buries corruption, especially in the judicial branch of govenment where ignorance pervades the American political culture.

Now, we have a moment that can shake the political system.

After being literally 'hounded' to death by the US Attorney's office, 26-year-old Aaron Swartz' suicide should spell the end of the careers of prosecutors—Masachusetts' U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann—who are guilty of killing this brilliant young man who worked for free to better our society. But let's be clear: The US government killed Aaron Swartz.

And this death ought to shine a light on what is routine: Use of the prosecutors' office for political retribution and careerism, justice be damned. "The more savage the penalties prosecutors can threaten, the more likely the defendant (guilty or innocent) is to speed things along by pleading guilty and accepting a light penalty," writes Clive Crook in The Atlantic.

Notes Scott Horton in Harper's Magazine. "A petition has now been launched requesting that President Obama remove U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz over her actions in the Swartz case."

There is in this tragic injustice a window for some manner of reflection, and some measure of reform on the what prosecutors are doing to our families.

Ortiz and assistant US attorney Heymann, for their part, should be banned from the legal profession and face disgrace.

Writes Glenn Greenwald:

 [I]t is imperative that there be serious investigations about what took place here and meaningful consequences for this prosecutorial abuse, at least including firing. It is equally crucial that there be reform of the criminal laws and practices that enable this to take place in so many other cases and contexts. ...

This is not just prosecutorial abuse. It's broader than that. It's all part and parcel of the exploitation of law and the justice system to entrench those in power and shield themselves from meaningful dissent and challenge by making everyone petrified of the consequences of doing anything other than meekly submitting to the status quo. As another of Swartz's friends, Matt Stoller, wrote in an equally compelling essay:


What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn't just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It's also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There's a reason whistleblowers get fired. There's a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There's a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriakou - who told the world it was going on. There's a reason those who destroyed the financial system 'dine at the White House', as Lawrence Lessig put it.

There's a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There's a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There's a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq.

This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.
In most of what I've written and spoken about over the past several years, this is probably the overarching point: the abuse of state power, the systematic violation of civil liberties, is about creating a Climate of Fear, one that is geared toward entrenching the power and position of elites by intimidating the rest of society from meaningful challenges and dissent. There is a particular overzealousness when it comes to internet activism because the internet is one of the few weapons - perhaps the only one - that can be effectively harnessed to galvanize movements and challenge the prevailing order. That's why so much effort is devoted to destroying the ability to use it anonymously - the Surveillance State - and why there is so much effort to punishing as virtual Terrorists anyone like Swartz who uses it for political activism or dissent.

The law and prosecutorial power should not be abused to crush and destroy those who commit the "crime" of engaging in activism and dissent against the acts of elites. Nobody contests the propriety of charging Swartz with some crime for what he did. Civil disobedience is supposed to have consequences. The issue is that he was punished completely out of proportion to what he did, for ends that have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice. That has consequences far beyond his case, and simply cannot be tolerated.

Jan 14, 2013

U.S. Atty Drives Brilliant Net Freedom Activist to Suicide

Update II: See Freedom to Connect: Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) on Victory to Save Open Internet; Fight Online Censors; and

Update: An Open Letter to Aaron Swartz's Prosecutor: 'His Supporters Find You Guilty.'

'This sort of unrestrained prosecutorial abuse is, unfortunately, far from uncommon. It usually destroys people without attention or notice'

Here we have yet another example of a U.S. attorney, Carmen Ortiz, playing with the power of this office with the all the thought of a loose cannon.

Now, Aaron Swartz is dead.

One crime in which both major American political parties do share equal blame is the indiscriminate use of the prosecutor's office (local and national) in creating what Glenn C. Loury terms the current American prison system which has become "a leviathan unmatched in human history."

Some years ago, back in the Bush-Cheney years, a UW-Madison professor told me most US attorneys and district attorneys ought to be sentenced to reading the great American jurist, Robert H. Jackson, and his work on prosecutorial discretion.

Here is the petition to President Obama to remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.

Ortiz, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, threw the book at Swartz for downloading academic articles from a for-profit outfit called JSTOR ["an online publishing company that digitizes and distributes scholarly articles written by academics and then sells them," (Greenwald)]. That's it.

Swartz was an authorized user of JSTOR because he was a Harvard fellow.

JSTOR asked the US atty's office not to prosecute.

So, in rides U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz anyway with a ridiculous indictment against a former prodigy intent on helping the world.

"For Aaron Swartz, the act of sharing was a 'moral imperative.' In his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, released to the Web in July 2008, he specifically targeted the 'world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage,' which he said 'is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.' Swartz called for those with access to such knowledge to make it available to others,' writes Andrew Leonard in Salon.

Glenn Greenwald has more details on the repulsive affair.

But in July 2011, Swartz was arrested for allegedly targeting JSTOR, the online publishing company that digitizes and distributes scholarly articles written by academics and then sells them, often at a high price, to subscribers. As Maria Bustillos detailed, none of the money goes to the actual writers (usually professors) who wrote the scholarly articles - they are usually not paid for writing them - but instead goes to the publishers.

This system offended Swartz (and many other free-data activists) for two reasons: it charged large fees for access to these articles but did not compensate the authors, and worse, it ensured that huge numbers of people are denied access to the scholarship produced by America's colleges and universities. The indictment filed against Swartz alleged that he used his access as a Harvard fellow to the JSTOR system to download millions of articles with the intent to distribute them online for free; when he was detected and his access was cut off, the indictment claims he then trespassed into an MIT computer-wiring closet in order to physically download the data directly onto his laptop.

Swartz never distributed any of these downloaded articles. He never intended to profit even a single penny from anything he did, and never did profit in any way. He had every right to download the articles as an authorized JSTOR user; at worst, he intended to violate the company's "terms of service" by making the articles available to the public. Once arrested, he returned all copies of everything he downloaded and vowed not to use them. JSTOR told federal prosecutors that it had no intent to see him prosecuted, though MIT remained ambiguous about its wishes.

But federal prosecutors ignored the wishes of the alleged "victims". Led by a federal prosecutor in Boston notorious for her overzealous prosecutions, the DOJ threw the book at him, charging Swartz with multiple felonies which carried a total sentence of several decades in prison and $1 million in fines. ...

I always found it genuinely inspiring to watch Swartz exude this courage and commitment at such a young age. His death had better prompt some serious examination of the DOJ's behavior - both in his case and its warped administration of justice generally. But his death will also hopefully strengthen the inspirational effects of thinking about and understanding the extraordinary acts he undertook in his short life. ... From the official statement of Swartz's family: "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community's most cherished principles."

This sort of unrestrained prosecutorial abuse is, unfortunately, far from uncommon. It usually destroys people without attention or notice. Let's hope - and work to ensure that - the attention generated by Swartz's case prompts some movement toward accountability and reform.