Apr 25, 2015

Detecting Wrongful Prosecutions

During the Bush-Cheney years Karl Rove turned the DoJ's US attorneys into a political hit squad, and human rights attorney Scott Horton and others at Harper's chronicled some of the worst instances of wrongful prosecutions amid the purging of US attorneys refusing to go along. (Taylor, McClathchy Newspapers; Horton, Harper's Magazine)

Horton used to conduct an annual seminar (after the break-up of the Soviet Union) for the State Department entitled "How to Spot a Political Prosecution" in a foreign land (Horton, Harper's Magazine).

Political prosecutions in former totalitarian societies of the USSR bear resemblances to malicious and wrongful prosecutions domestically, and as Horton noted elsewhere, prosecutions by Rove and US attorneys whose victims include Don Siegelman, Keith Roberts, and Georgia Thompson lack any semblance of public integrity and the rule of law.

Horton points out some of the elements that should be examined to determine if a political prosecution has been inflicted:
  • Nature of the Charges
  • Timing and Circumstances of Criminal Investigations and Charges
  • Circumstances of Investigation; Arrest and Detention; Media Dealings
  • Conduct of the Preliminary Investigation
  • Conduct of Trial
  • Interview of Prosecutors and Defense Counsel
  • State Secrecy
  • Parallel Public Campaigns
  • Media Coverage

Writes Horton, "... you should be prepared to question the motives and conduct of the prosecutor. Is the prosecutor investigating and acting on a crime, or is the prosecutor 'out to get' an individual? The latter case is per se abusive. When the prosecutor is 'out to get' an individual as part of a political agenda, the act of prosecution is an assault on democratic institutions."

Horton cites Robert Jackson—whose wisdom and humanity informs jurisprudence today—but not in Iron County Wisconsin.

An interview with Iron County District Attorney Martin Lipske would rightfully ask Lipske to explain the volatile, arbitrary and disparate sentences Lipske sought for similar (and highly dubious) convictions because Lipske's conduct would not withstand Constitutional scrutiny or an objective and thorough ethics investigation.

Moreover, many of Lipske's prosecutions bear the hallmarks of wrongful/political prosecutions that one might expect of former totalitarian countries with no tradition of Constitutional safeguards against the state.

But this is Iron County, so I guess anything goes.

Maybe. Watch this space.

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