Showing posts with label criminal justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label criminal justice. Show all posts

Mar 15, 2014

Prosecutors Getting Away with Disgrace, Insult to Humanity

The Divine Right of Kings
Update: When prosecutors do their job and hold corrupt public officials accountable, like the detestable Kelly Rindfleisch, Scott Walker trusted aide and felon, we ought consider giving prosecutors kudos. Hey, Kelly, are you saying you're innocent now?
JUDGE HAYWOOD: Herr Janning, it 'came to that' the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.
- Judgment at Nuremberg (Kramer. 1961)

A telling glimpse at the American political culture is seen in the reaction to the January 2014 legal opinion of Richard Posner, judge on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The case, Fields v. Wharrie and Kelley (No. 13-1195) (740 F.3d 1107; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 1333), drew a few notices in legal journals and blogs, even though Posner blasted corrupt prosecutors for their mendacious, "breathtaking injustice" that landed an innocent man in prison for 17 years.

Beyond that, the silence out was deafening.

"If the old Lord Acton axiom is true — that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely — enormous power with no accountability can be enormously destructive," opines Radley Balko on the case. (Washington Post)

This is precisely what happened, as Posner notes of Mr. Fields who "until he was acquitted in a retrial; he later received a certificate of innocence from the court in which he had been tried," was the victim of "coerced witnesses to give testimony that the defendants (prosecutors) as well as the witnesses) knew to be false."

Much good may come from Posner's decision demanding accountability, affirming the right of the innocent and wrongfully convicted to sue for damages against deceitful prosecutors.

Absolute immunity for prosecutors, what former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell correctly notes is prosecutors' License to Lie, may go the way of the divine right of kings.

What I can guarantee you is that the speeches of Robert Jackson will not populate the campaign webpages of most candidate for District Attorney and Attorneys General across the nation. Jackson's words should. Said Jackson 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.
Today, police, prosecutors and judges all too often engage in careerism and are laden with defects of character, imprisoning millions of Americans in creating what Glenn C. Loury in the Boston Review terms "a leviathan unmatched in human history." I know of Dane County (Wisconsin) police who have intentionally corrupted the judicial process for civil traffic violations.

This must change.

Face it. We live in a society so putative that innocents are routinely sent to prison, and killed.

You may see a case covered in the 'news' once every three or four years like Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas, but innocents suffering in the American leviathan face perpetrators and bystanders.

The words of Posner in Fields do bring some comfort:

A prosecutor cannot retroactively immunize himself from conduct by perfecting his wrongdoing through introducing the fabricated evidence at trial and arguing that the tort was not completed until a time at which he had acquired absolute immunity. That would create a 'license to lawless conduct,' which the Supreme Court has said that qualified immunity is not to do. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 819, 102 S. Ct. 2727, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396 (1982). [Prosecutor] Wharrie's interpretation of our decision in Buckley would place that decision in conflict with the Supreme Court's Buckley decision, by giving absolute immunity to prosecutor-investigators who having fabricated evidence make sure that the evidence is used to convict the innocent victim of the fabrication. (emphasis mine)
The criminal justice system is a horror show and prosecutors are a big part of the problem.

Here's Sidney Powell's latest commentary, and as Powell knows the ethical violations by prosecutors are committed by local district attorneys' offices as often as by the federal DoJ:

By Sidney Powell

The Project On Government Oversight published an extensive report yesterday revealing that Department of Justice has been concealing hundreds of ethical violations by its prosecutors.  Adding to this injustice, the Department refuses to identify the offending prosecutors or to inform defendants who have been affected by their misconduct.
In the majority of the matters—more than 400—OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) categorized the violations as being at the more severe end of the scale: recklessness or intentional misconduct, as distinct from error or poor judgment.
The information the Justice Department has disclosed is only part of the story. No less significant is what as a matter of policy it keeps from the public.
As a general practice, the Justice Department does not make public the names of attorneys who acted improperly or the defendants whose cases were affected. The result: the Department, its lawyers, and the internal watchdog office itself are insulated from meaningful public scrutiny and accountability.
We can say from our own experiences with the Department’s “Office of Professional Responsibility” that it is ineffective if not complicit. Legitimate grievances go ignored. Their primary expertise lies in circling the wagons and protecting the offenders. This report makes it all the more clear. There is no transparency, and consequently, the Department of Justice can be given no credibility. It is way overdue for a  major clean-up, and as Judge Kozinski, and the Washington Post and others have said recently, it is time for a national discussion of these issues crucial to the administration of justice–if there is to be any justice at all.
For my part, I know of a district attorney in northern Wisconsin who should he attempt to maliciously prosecute an innocent again, I will dedicate myself to making him the most famous DA in Wisconsin history.

Mar 7, 2014

Harry Belafonte: We Must Stop Throwing People Away

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker drew derision when he declared he couldn't pardon a Marine.

Eric Pizer was convicted on a trumped-up charge and wants become a police officer to continue serving his country. Scott Walker won't pardon Pizer because in Walker's words, "if you pick one [to be pardoned] there's thousands of other examples out there of people who may not have the media or other outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who probably have a compelling case to be made that we don't yet know about."

There are 1,000s in Wisconsin prisons, innocent and with compelling cases to be freed, even if Walker doesn't "pick one." Walker is a moron, lightweight human garbage.

Mr. Belafonte is not.

Here's Belafonte sounding the alarm, Scott Walker should listen to his betters.

By Harry Belafonte

There is a crisis that demands our urgent attention. For the last four decades, this country has been obsessed with expanding the number of people we throw behind bars and the length of time we hold them there. Crime rates have been falling for the last 20 years, but still we have a massive and unsustainable prison population, particularly targeting the poor and powerless. We're not strengthening communities, we're using our criminal justice system to throw away certain people's lives – disproportionately the lives of Black and brown men, women, and children. This has decimated communities around the nation and it's gone on for far too long.

But we're not stuck with a criminal justice system that is hurting us. Solutions exist, and the ACLU's Smart Justice Fair Justice Campaign is already working to put them into practice. Bad laws and policies are created by the politicians who are supposed to represent us. Police departments choose how to enforce these bad laws.  Bad policies are made, and bad policies can be changed.

Here's what we can do. Over a million people are sitting in a cell for a non-violent offense. These people pose no threat to public safety, but many will be locked away for years because of extreme sentencing laws and selective prosecution. We can get rid of mandatory minimums and extreme sentencing laws.

We can end the War on Drugs, which has really been a war on communities of color. This is one of the main ways we can cut down the unbridled racial bias in our criminal justice system.

We can remake our policies so that they're smart. Studies have shown that prison does not deter crime. In a lot of cases, it creates many more problems than it solves. Locking up huge swathes of our population makes communities less safe by because huge numbers of people are torn away from their families and from the ability to hold down a job, because we're warehousing people in overcrowded jails and prisons, and because having a record can cut away at someone's ability to vote or seek employment after they get out. We must do better.

We spend $80 billion dollars a year incarcerating people, which is 400% more than we spent twenty years ago. Some of the money could be better spent on raising healthy kids, not feeding a morally corrupt network that connects our children in their classrooms to the prison industrial complex.

Get Involved
Stop Extreme Sentencing from Destroying Families

We do not have the luxury of waiting decades to undo the failed policies that have caused so much damage. It's time for Smart Justice. It's time for Fair Justice.  And we need your help.

Please visit to learn more about solutions to mass incarceration and how you can get involved.

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Feb 26, 2014

Why Scott Walker Won't Answer Questions

Question from Luke, Green Bay, WI. - A simple yes or no question "Did you Governor Walker know of the secret e-mail system?" Why won't he just answer the question? We are paying his salary. It is a simple yes-no question.
Answer from Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel  - Why won't he answer the question? My guess: He is paying his lawyers very good money, and they have told him, "Do not answer that question."

-- From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Columnist Dan Bice's Online Question and Answer

Feb 25, 2014

New Journal-Sentinel Column Signals Press Tired of Scott Walker Lies, Evasions

It's no wonder Gov. Chris Christie has done over 100 listening sessions and Scott Walker had done zero.

Walker is afraid to face the people of Wisconsin, and more afraid to face the press in an extended press conference explaining the new release of emails and the emails' writing that points to Walker cheating, lying and stealing from the taxpayers of Milwaukee County.

Scott Walker had his own illegal, secret email account, emails show.

Scott Walker ordered his personally hired Milwaukee county staff to post fatuous pro-Walker comments on Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel news online pieces, emails show.

Scott Walker and his staff campaigned on Milwaukee County time, emails show.

Scott Walker is correct in pointing out that he was never criminally charged in the first John Doe investigation, to the chagrin of the Wisconsin people who see the evidence of Walker's criminally campaigning on the taxpayers' dime, in taxpayers' space and on taxpayers' time in black and white in the court-ordered released emails.

This is what is called felony misconduct in office, as convicted Walker aide, Kelly M. Rindfleisch, will tell you.

Milwaukee County DA John T. Chisholm had the discretion in the first John Doe probe to decide whom to prosecute and he chickened out, fearing blowback in prosecuting a sitting governor.

That decision of Chisholm's is not final. The evidence for prosecuting Scott Walker is plain to see and is certainly with the scope of the John Doe II probe. The DAs now investigating if and by whom crimes were committed should prosecute those who broke the law even if this someone is a sitting governor.

Feb 23, 2014

Two Largest Wisconsin Dailies Call for Scott Walker to Hold Press Conference on Emails

From left to right: Tim Russell, Scott Walker and Brian Pierick
"Don't think for a minute that Walkergate or its effect will end ... ." 
Update: Even Fox News host, Chris Wallace, grows frustrated with Scott Walker's evasions.

WALLACE: Did you have your own private e-mail account?

SCOTT WALKER: It’s one of those where I point out district attorney has reviewed every single one of these issues.

WALLACE: But sir, you’re not answering my question.

SCOTT WALKER: No, because I’m not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal are both editorially supportive of Scott Walker to a fault.

Now, the two largest Wisconsin dailies are calling on Walker to come clean with an extended press conference that ends when the press is done with questions, not when Scott Walker declares this is "old news."

It's not old news when the probe that resulted in 15 convictions involving his former top aides, who as the emails reveal, acted on Scott Walker's orders, is now a public fact shown in black and white. Walker knew, was a participant and lied about it. Why?

Scott Walker cannot weasel away on this one.

From a PR perspective, as the editorials writers at the Journal-Sentinel and State Journal are aware, a hours-long, question-and-answer session explaining and apologizing is the right thing to do.

From a good government perspective, it's imperative.

Everyone is wondering why Scott Walker was not prosecuted when the court-ordered release of the 27,000 emails shows Walker was the top dog in the conspiracy to run a secret political campaign out of a public office.

Scott Walker even parades this fact of not being prosecuted in his seconds-long encounters with friendly, GOP-aligned journalists.

I wasn't prosecuted is a fair point.

As are the voluminous emails proving Walker knew and directed action on the secret email system, and after his aide was caught ordered that the use of the secret email system stop, shortly before the Milwaukee County Executive office was raided by law enforcement.

As noted by Ruth Conniff in The Progressive Magazine, there's nowhere left to hide now.

Scott Walker Is Desperate So Wisconsin State Journal Runs Pathetic Flack Piece

Here's Steven Verburg's (GOP) fronting for Scott Walker in his piece on Sunday's front page.
More than 28,000 pages of secret emails and other documents released under court order last week illustrate in sharp detail the extent to which modern electronic devices allowed Scott Walker’s top taxpayer-funded staff in the Milwaukee County executive’s office to be secretly converted into political campaign assets in 2010.

But his former aides were betrayed by the supposedly hidden laptops, wireless connections and Web-based email accounts after prosecutors seized hard drives that stored reams of messages. ...
Scott Walker used the secret, illegal router email system; he "urged both county employees and campaign aides to go to news websites and post comments promoting him and his record, " (Stein, Marley and Bice. MJS), and after his aide Darlene Wink was caught, Walker then Walker ordered the system shut down.

To state his aides were "betrayed" is like saying an idiot who fires a pistol at a man for being black was betrayed by the bullet.

No, Walker and his aides were not "betrayed," as Steven Verburg writes while pretending to be a journalist, instead of a Walker flack.

Walker and his aide are perpetrators who ran a campaign for governor from the office of Milwaukee County Executive, and even found time during business hours to sneak in their own brand of humor about Jews, blacks, gays and disabled Americans on emails that no decent person regards as anything but vile.

As Democurmudgeon writes (and I am posting almost his entire text; he won't mind as he as repulsed as I am) watch this video at bottom:

MSNBC's Chris Hayes hit on the real revelation of the newly released stack of emails. Hayes points out "the shear jaw dropping offensiveness" of a few of those emails.
Hayes: "What kind of work environment exactly would it be all okay to get this in your inbox and then forward it to an unspecified amount of coworkers and subordinates...but think about the kind of work environment in which a chief of staff sends this kind of email to his subordinates. An email that is explicitly homophobic, racist, antisemitic and offensive in every way possible? ... These are the thoughts people who are in charge of things like, oh I don't know, running the states welfare system." 
This is who Scott Walker and new Republican Party are.

If anyone is wondering if Republican officeholder criticized Scott Walker's former chief of staff and other Walker aides for this crap, forget it, no GOP officeholder in Wisconsin ever publicly criticizes Scot Walker and his staff.

Feb 22, 2014

Emails: Scott Walker Urged County Staff to Comment on News Websites and Promote Him

"In the heat of the 2010 governor's race, Scott Walker urged both county employees and campaign aides to go to news websites and post comments promoting him and his record, newly unsealed documents show." (Stein, Marley and Bice. MJS)

We know Walker used the illegal email system; we know he knew about it though even now, incredibly, Walker will not admit this; and we know Darlene Wink got busted for promoting Scott Walker on County time, a crime that Walker urged County staff to commit.

The very first question of Walker if he has the guts and decency to answer questions should be: Governor, do you think you really have the credibility to deserve reelection?

Darlene Wink had to plea bargain for doing precisely what Scott Walker in black and white urged her and others do to.

Feb 21, 2014

Scott Walker Says He's "Done" with Scandal; Claim Not Supported by Facts

Title 18 USC § 201 - Hey, Scott Walker if you do take
questions from the people, I have a question RE the above
federal statute. I just don't trust you, Mr. Governor.
Check out Mining Mogul's greasing Walker and Co.
Scott Walker has still refused to hold one extended news conference, or one listening session to answer questions about the emails bombshells revealing his tenure as Milwaukee county executive that resulted in some 15 criminal convictions, a racist culture and what appears be grounds for criminal investigation into a political operation run out of a public office.

Wisconsin's largest daily newspaper that is editorially supportive of Walker, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, has demanded Gov. Scott Walker must answer questions raised by release of emails.

"The longer he dodges questions, the more he undercuts his reputation as a straight-shooter. There are questions that need answering that only the governor can answer. The people of Wisconsin deserve those answers," concludes the editorial.

One extended news conference won't do the job either; Walker needs to follow the example of Chris Christie and hold regular listening sessions, partially because Scott Walker was in charge.

Jim Myers reports from D.C. that Walker won't answer questions because he says he's "done" now, and hence Wisconsin voters are not owed any explanations.

Reports Myers:
Walker was asked if he would agree to hold a news conference to address the document disclosures, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did when controversy erupted over the closure of lanes heading into the George Washington Bridge.

"No, because I am done," Walker said. "The difference is he (Christie) was just at the beginning of his process. This has been done. Your paper and others have reported on it. You are basically getting a splash because political opponents of mine want to draw attention to something that has already been resolved as of last March."
Actually, Walker is anything but done, because the five district attorneys and supervising judge are looking into a "wide variety of state-related issues, including the recall races, ... a current legislative leader and the governor's contest." the John Doe probe began in part because the "investigation is following up on a number of leads turned up by an earlier John Doe probe ... ." (Bice. MJS; Oct. 21, 2013) So, even the first John Doe is not done in that in carries on into John Doe II.

While Scott Walker may believe he has the power to declare a criminal matter done and resolved, law enforcement, the rule of law and the Wisconsin people are going to have the final word on Walker's scandal.

Walker is exposed to the public and he does not like it. Seeing how petty, hateful, bigoted and obtuse Walker and his minions are is a PR disaster for this bunch.

Personally for Walker is the exposure of the man as a liar, seemingly pathological. As Dave Zweifel writes in his Plain Talk column: "There were several revelations that came from the thousands of John Doe emails released Wednesday by the Appeals Court, but what caught my attention the most was how the emails confirmed just how much Gov. Scott Walker lies.

Yes, he lies and he was in charge of a criminal rise to political power.

The Wisconsin John Doe statute is 968.26. Remember that because attacks on law enforcement investigating Walker and the Money are going to increase.

This is a legal investigation convened and supervised to find if and by whom crimes have been committed. Let's not kid ourselves, there are huge-moneyed forces that want to stop this law enforcement investigation and they have the money to apply pressure to try to get their way. For now, the John Doe probe II is anything but done.

Speaking of not being done, check out the continuing coverage of Wisconsin's venerable The Progressive Magazine, the scourge of Joe McCarthy in 1954 and of Scott Walker 2011-?

My favorite is Walker's Denials No Longer Hold Up by Ruth Conniff.

The Progressive is poring over the 27,000 pages of emails and is pumping out precisely written scoop after scoop daily.

Illegal Email System Will Cost Scott Walker, Says Expert, as Walker Stands Mute

When Multiple Kelly Rindfleisch learned she is a target
Talking Point Memo has two pieces worth reading as national media pundits are doing their best to pooh pooh the vile racism and Walker's clear complicity in the illegal enterprise run out of the Milwaukee County Executive's office.

See How Scott Walker's Secret Emails Could Doom Him for 2016 and Scott Walker Isn't Taking Questions About Secret Email Club.

TPM's Daniel Strauss writes:
A massive document dump released this week about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has revealed some embarrassing tidbits about former aides to the governor. So far there hasn't been a bombshell directly linking governor to legal misconduct, but the the slow burn of the scandal -- and his reluctance to answer questions about it -- may drag down any presidential or vice-presidential ambitions Walker had in 2016.

"I think it's damaging, not because there was a lot of new information in the emails that were released, but because it put the story back on the front pages and it's really displaced the other things that the governor would prefer to talk about in an re-election year," University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry C. Burden told TPM.
Walker's credibility had been nuked nationally, and his penchant for surrounding himself with dumb, racist hicks is on full display, as the national know-nothing talking heads and hacks laugh off venal racism and duplicity of Scott Walker and his closest staff.

Walker's habit of appointing racists has continued in his tenure as governor. See Scott Walker aide behind ‘Black Friday’ fundraiser fired for racist tweets (December 3, 2013), Top Scott Walker Aide Fired for Recent Racist Facebook Rant Had Earlier Directed Staff to Withhold Information About Free Photo ID to Low-Income Wisconsinites (August 9, 2013) and on and on.

Meanwhile the national treasure known as The Progressive Magazine has more pieces eviscerating Walker:

As for Scott Walker's legal future bear in mind that John Doe investigators under the statute 968.26 (2) (b), under the the supervision of the judge of the investigation may approve subpoenaing (and certainly considering records already subpoenaed) "written records that the judge finds relevant," and this would include rereading the 10,000s of e-mails that the investigators may have missed.

The point is just because the focus of John Doe II appears to be illegal coordination, adding to the scope of the investigation is certainly within the John Doe II's probe's charge, and just like everybody else who has seen the emails by Scott Walker on the illegal email system, there appears to be no reason why investigators and district attorneys could not reach the conclusion that crimes have been committed.

Feb 20, 2014

Scott Walker Meltdown Lesson: Don't Trust National Pundits, Except Nate Silver

From left to right: Tim Russell, Scott Walker and Brian Pierick
"Don't think for a minute that Walkergate or its effect will end ... ." 
Even today the well-regarded Larry Sabato ranks Scott Walker as a "First Tier" candidate, along with Chris Christie and Rand Paul.

Dr. Sabato should perhaps update that Crystal Ball.

Sabato was joined by virtually the entire D.C. commentariat in this ridiculous assertion that this corrupt lightweight from Wisconsin could ever function on the national stage, though most progressives just wanted Walker out front so he could take a fall.

Political writers at Cognitive Dissidence and I am proud to note, this site have been saying for years that Scott Walker as a presidential candidate is a joke that is not going to happen.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice also knew better, saying Walker is not an "ideas guy" who could quickly become the Rick Perry of 2016 if Walker ever threw his hat into the ring.

Now, that Walker's political trajectory is plunging towards the bottom of Wisconsin's Lake Mendota, time to say I told you so. From last year:

Put aside the fact that the national press would look much more carefully than the Wisconsin press has at the machinations of WalkerGate and Walker's aides stealing money from veterans.

Put everything aside that we know about Walker's extremist, Tea Party-crazy ideology, and the growing currency of the Walker image as a petty, vindictive politician.

The heavies in the GOP know they cannot go with this crazy hick—way too much baggage, horrible optics, and the guy is a lightweight. 

And about that other guy from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan ... Paul Ryan will never be president of the United States. He's as fake as Walker, just not as dumb.

Scott Walker Exceeds Probable Cause for Criminality and Venality

Wisconsin John Doe probe is testimony to
our faith in the Rule of Law
Update: A corrupt U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa steps in and orders halt to John Doe probe.
Last October, Scott Walker refused to engage a question about the John Doe II probe and offered an evasive statement, "We expected that with a new Democrat candidate for governor in the race that there would be stories like this along the way." (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) and (WPR)

No Wisconsin journalist expects a straight answer from Scott Walker anymore, something the nation is now finding out as another republican mentioned as a presidential candidate has fallen in a spectacular fashion.

Right about now, it can be said with certainty that Scott Walker did not expect the myriad stories after the court-ordered release of some 27,000 documents reveals the depravity and duplicity of his former top aides and him in black and white.

Walker is now drawing unfavorable comparisons to Chris Christie, and it won't be long before national Republicans begin to walk away from Walker with the same urgency they now employ in avoiding Christie.

Not that this white flight matters a great deal in this post-Citizens United era in which billionaires determine who the Republicans nominate for president, and not GOP politicos or voters.

Now that a fraction of emails from Walker's secret and illegal email system used to campaign in the offices of Milwaukee County has been released, Walker and his administration are equally evasive about John Doe I as about John Doe II: "The recently released communications of a county staffer from several years ago are part of a legal process that was completed early last year,' said Jonathan Wetzel, the spokesman. "Governor Walker is confident that during that legal process, these communications were thoroughly reviewed by the authorities." (Davey, Yaccino. NYT)

Wetzel's two former two predecessors have been granted criminal immunity, and 15 criminal convictions resulted, including Walker's top aides, with no claims of innocence from this "legal process" referenced by Walker.

Yet, one wonders if Walker truly expects this New York Times report as well, as he claimed last year:

The (court-ordered) messages showed how actively Mr. Walker’s campaign coordinated with county workers in 2009 and 2010, when he was running for governor. They shared emails about the proper wording of campaign news releases. They exchanged emails on county time promoting a birthday fund-raising event for the campaign. Some used private email accounts to communicate even, apparently, with Mr. Walker, according to an email from the county’s administrative director, who at one point advised a colleague to do the same, adding imprecisely, “Consider youself [sic] now in the ‘inner circle.’ ” And plans for a daily conference call, the newly released emails show, included members from both his campaign for governor and his county executive staff.
As noted here, John Doe I began after Walker and his aides stonewalled investigators looking into missing money embezzled from an event honoring veterans, and law enforcement investigators subsequently found a criminal political racket run by Walker.

Stealing from veterans was later found to exceed $10,000s by two perpetrators with no veteran advocacy experience, both of whom were appointed by Scott Walker.

Walker did not bring anybody else with him to the governor's office from his tenure of Milwaukee executive so his line that the governor's office is not staffed with convicted felons is meaningless.

On "May 5, 2010, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf filed a petition with court officials asking if his office could initiate a secret investigation into what happened with $11,000 in donations intended for Operation Freedom, an annual event honoring veterans," that was staffed with Walker appointees, reported Dan Bice. That's how this criminality that is Scott Walker and his aides began.

After the Milwaukee DA failed to bring charges against Scott Walker, and the DA implied the John Doe probe was a mini-trial requiring guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to move forward, many wondered why the John Doe proceedings did not result in Walker being charged.

With Walker now implicated in black and white, foiled by his own illegal email router system he personally used for electioneering, Walker may have a tougher time escaping criminal charges no matter how much money his billionaires pay Walker's criminal defense fund in exchange for Walker doing their bidding as Wisconsin governor.
Checking with jurists the past couple of years, without exception the belief is that Wisconsin statute 968.26, the John Doe statutory authority in Wisconsin, is a law enforcement tool used to establish probable cause, a standard or quantum of evidence typically sufficient to bring criminal charges.

Ask a black man in Milwaukee if probable cause is sufficient to convict him, and the reply is likely, 'no.' Just being black is sufficient.

But Scott Walker and his contributors are recipients of billionaires' treatment under the law.

The Wisconsin BenchBook reads in part regarding John Doe Proceedings:

"Proceeding to determine whether crime committed and by whom." ...
D. "Must conduct self as neutral detached magistrate in determining probable cause [47.47.]

Still, the prevailing consensus appears to be that in Wisconsin John Doe probes, determining whether to bring criminal charges is up to the prosecutor and supervising judge, who employ a standard of proof that is not clear.

As the late Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice John Coffey (1978-1982) wrote in Wisconsin v. Hooper, (No. 79-1580-CR.) (Supreme Court of Wisconsin) (April 29, 1981):

"(P)rosecuting attorneys possess broad discretion in determining whether or not to charge a defendant and thereby initiate criminal proceedings," and DAs enjoy "quasi-judicial prosecutorial discretion;" hence the enormous pressure brought to bear on the current John Doe judge, Judge Gregory A. Peterson, and the five bipartisan district attorneys whose probe is facing legal challenge in federal court and Wisconsin's Supreme Court from forces with seemingly unlimited financial resources.

The Koch-funded GOP front groups such as the Wisconsin Reporter have been attempting to apply political pressure to the John Doe proceedings as well.

It's not just prosecutorial discretion that will decide John Doe II, but also jurists able to withstand the pressure brought to bear by the huge-moneyed interests supporting Walker.

The courage of John Michael Doar and Robert H. Jackson is needed against this challenge to the rule of law supported also by hateful and bigoted political movements, the most prominent of which are underground.

Feb 3, 2014

U.S. Steps up Pardons, Commutations; Scott Walker Refuses

"President Obama finally used his power to pardon and commute sentences to order the release of 8 low-level drug offenders serving outrageously long sentences, but there are tens of thousands more in the same situation. The DOJ says it’s looking for others with similar sentences to commute," reads an item in FreeThought.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker maintains his refusal to consider pardoning the wrongfully convicted, including Marine combat veteran, Eric Pizer, innocent but convicted Green Bay ex-cop, John Maloney and Penny Brummer of Madison.

So why would a governor refuse to pardon the wrongfully convicted?

Walker says it's because there are probably 1,000s of wrongfully convicted in Wisconsin, hence Walker cannot use his pardon power.

"If you pick one there's thousands of other examples out there of people who may not have the media or other outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who probably have a compelling case to be made that we don't yet know about," said Walker in an interview with WKOW TV(Madison, Wisconsin), specifically referring to his refusal to consider pardoning or commuting the Pizer case.  

Moronic human garbage.

If Mary Burke had any decency she would issue a press release indicating her intention to pardon Pizer and so many others on Day One of assuming office. 

Running for political office seeking a mandate to correct injustice, now there's a thought.

Dec 20, 2013

Wrongfully Convicted: Scott Walker: No Pardons for 1,000s with "Compelling Case" of Innocence

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker explains why he has granted no
pardons to incarcerated citizens with compelling cases.
"If you pick one there's thousands of other examples out there of
people who may not have the media or other
outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who
probably have a compelling case to be made that we don't
know about," said Walker in an interview with WKOW TV (Madison).
Update II: Eric Pizer—the Wisconsin man trying to become a cop and blocked by Scott Walker—is Marine Corps Iraq combat veteran.

Update: From WKOW TV (Madison) and Democurmudgeon: Scott Walker's offers an incoherent and truly sociopathic justification behind his policy of not granting pardons:

"If you pick one there's thousands of other examples out there of people who may not have the media or other outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who probably have a compelling case to be made that we don't yet know about," said Walker in an interview with WKOW.

Walker states there are a lot of people with compelling cases for pardons, so we should pardon none of them. This is a not a logically compelling argument.

Wrongfully convicted? What matters is whether the media or other outlets are behind them, suggests Walker, a bizarre position.

What about innocent Green Bay ex-cop, John Maloney; the innocent Penny Brummer of Madison who police went after because she was an out lesbian, and the innocent Don Miller of Hurley just released on parole? 

And there are surely many more innocents incarcerated.

The great English jurist, William Blackstone, wrote that "the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1769), the source of Common Law in the United States courts, and often cited in opinions in the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States.

Walker went public with his disinclination to pardon in the Spring 2012, although he has broad power vested in Article V, section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution, after being challenged not to pardon his aides and appointees convicted in WalkerGate. 

In Feb, 12, 2012, this mal contends site challenged Walker not to pardon his personally appointed, long time aide, Tim Russell.

"Gov. Scott Walker says he won't pardon anyone charged in the ongoing John Doe investigation of former aides who worked for him as Milwaukee County executive," Walker later said in a Wisconsin Public Radio report in May 30, 2012.

Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel reported Barrett's call a week before the Recall Election in June 2012:

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stepped up his criticism of Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday by questioning whether [Walker] would pardon any of his aides charged in a John Doe investigation.

“I want to be certain that we’re not going to have this election and he’s going to turn around and pardon all these aides of his who have been charged,” he said after a campaign stop at a Baraboo coffee shop. “I just want him to say that he’s never going to pardon any of these people. These are close associates of his.” (MJS. May 29, 2012)
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie actually thinks the power of clemency and commutation belongs to the Judiciary branch. Gov. Walker "believes these decisions are best left up to the courts," Blogging Blue writes, notwithstanding Article V, section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution which reads:
SECTION 6. [Pardoning power.] The governor shall have power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses, except treason and cases of impeachment, upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations as he may think proper, subject to such regulations as may be provided by law relative to the manner of applying for pardons. Upon conviction for treason he shall have the power to suspend the execution of the sentence until the case shall be reported to the legislalure at its next meeting, when the legislature shall either pardon, or commute the sentence, direct the execution of the sentence, or grant a further reprieve. He shall annually communicate to the legislature each case of reprieve, commutation or pardon granted, stating the name of the convict, the crime of which he was convicted, the sentence and its date, and the date of the commutation, pardon or reprieve, with his reasons for granting the same.
When Walker implies 1,000s of people do not rightfully belong in prison, and Walker justifies this state of affairs by saying not all advocacy groups and media support are, equal this seems capricious and bloodless.

And Walker's chief spokesperson doesn't even know to what branch of government the power of commutations and pardons belongs.

Does Scott Walker hear himself when he suggests there are 1,000s of innocents in Wisconsin prisons and jails, but as they all do not have the same advocates and media attention so they should all stay in prison?

From Tony Galli at WKOW:

Mar 4, 2013

Questions Exist for DA and Presiding John Doe Judge on Using Wrong Standard of Proof

DA's policy on John Doe Probe
Update II: I think DA Chisholm and Judge Nettesheim should be moving ahead with charges against Scott Walker; and predictably the GOP-front group that laughably calls itself a news service, the "MacIver News Service," is attacking Chisholm for the costs of the John Doe probe, begun because of Scott Walker's stonewalling. Great, so release the records of the proceedings and to the extent possible give the GOP-front group, Maclver an accounting of the costs of the John Doe probe. What do ya say Maclver 'News Service,": Open up the John Doe records proceedings?

Update: The Wisconsin Benchbook reads in part RE John Doe Proceedings:

A: "Proceeding to determine whether crime committed and by whom."

D. "Must conduct self as neutral detached magistrate in determining probable cause [47.47.]

In the Milwaukee District Attorney's press release last week announcing the closing of the John Doe probe into Scott Walker's tenure as Milwaukee County Executive, the 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's policy.

What about possible charges that are supported by the standard of 'probable cause', referred to in both the Wisconsin John Doe statute and Wisconsin Benchbook.

Why did the John Doe probe (presided over by Judge Neal Nettesheim whom right-wingers predictably slurred) use the high threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt" as the basis on whether to bring criminal charges, as stated by the Milwaukee DA.

A call on this matter made this morning to the Milwaukee DA's office has not yet been returned.

John Doe probes examine, investigate and determine if and by whom a crime has been committed, per Wisconsin statute

John Doe probes are not mini-trials; full evidential trials in which a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is reached. [Consider the cases Wisconsin v. Hooper, 101 Wis.2d 517, 544, 305 N.W.2d 110 (1981)) and Wisconsin v. Dunn, 121 Wis.2d at 396-97, 359 N.W.2d 151 (1984).]

The probe's purpose and charge 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 at trial.

The significance of using this threshold of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' is that there may well be a rat's nest of facts and evidence gathered that would establish probable cause that a crime has been committed, and charges would ensue in a different prosecutorial forum like a federal grand jury or other such criminal investigation.

So, what's the deal? Did the Milwaukee DA use a policy that is at odds with standards suggested by the preliminary examinations (hearings) discussed in the two Supreme Court cases referenced above?

It is noted in Hooper (a John Doe case) that "prosecuting attorneys possess broad discretion in determining whether or not to charge a defendant and thereby initiate criminal proceedings," and that DAs enjoy "quasi-judicial prosecutorial discretion."

Still, since when are John Doe probes the forum in which a DA and judge choose among conflicting gathered facts, evidence or inferences, and in which the DA and judge weigh evidence and make a finding of guilt or innocence? I thought that criminal trials do that.

The John Doe probe is the start of the trial process; not the judge and jury and concluding forum. So, why the heightened bar? Consider Dunn:

The parties in this case disagree as to what quantum of evidence is necessary at a preliminary hearing to establish to a reasonable probability that the defendant committed a felony. The court of appeals held that the probable cause requirement is satisfied if any reasonable inference supports a conclusion that the defendant probably committed a felony even though there are equally strong inferences to the contrary. In such instance, the state's evidence would not be required to reach the level that guilt is more likely than not.

Justice Louis J. Ceci. (STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Appellant, v.Ronald J. DUNN, Defendant-Respondent-Petitioner)

Now, I always believed that the DA's office criminally charged when they thought they had probable cause, and went to trial when they thought they can win cases involving alleged great public harm. They go to court to win; so does the accused's defense.

A John Doe probe finds you likely to have committed a crime, then you are sentenced? No, you have a right to a trial, and a right to a presumption of innocence.

Consider grand juries in Wisconsin; they use the low standard of "probable cause" to determine whether to bring criminal charges against a defendant, thus the cliche, grand juries can indict ham sandwiches.

Different standards of proof are used in our criminal justice system processes; for example:

  • Beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Clear and convincing proof
  • Preponderance of evidence
  • Reasonable doubt
  • Reasonable suspicion
A John Doe probe is an extraordinary, secret investigation begun and conducted under Wisconsin statute 968.26.

The factor(s) causing a John Doe probe can range from conflict of interest to practical difficulties or in the probe into Scott Walker's office: Stonewalling by Scott Walker's office, (presided as mentioned over by Judge Neal Nettesheim).

Nothing in the Wisconsin statute 968.26 on John Doe probes mandates this very high legal standard, 'beyond a reasonable doubt', in determining if there is sufficiently credible evidence to warrant a prosecution.

The standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' typically is the standard that criminal juries use to determine guilt and innocence in trials. 

The Wisconsin BenchBook, a judicial guide, confirms no such high standard of proof as the threshold John Doe jurists must use to bring charges.

Let's take a look at a lay definition of 'beyond a reasonable doubt':  "The standard that must be met by the prosecution's evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty," reads one Legal Dictionary.

This is not the standard that prosecutors, or grand juries, typically use as the determining basis of whether to bring criminal charges.

Again why did the Milwaukee DA's office use this high standard, 'beyond a reasonable doubt' as the determining bar of whether the office should bring charges against Scott Walker?

I ask because if the lower standard of probable cause were used, Wisconsin likely would have a sitting governor facing multiple criminal charges.

For now, most of the John Doe's record of proceedings remain secret, but may be released at Judge Nettesheim's discretion, perhaps in a different forum.

The Wisconsin Benchbook reads: G. "John Doe Judge rendering judicial decision must create record for possible review [47.65]."

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."

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

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.