"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What The Delay Conviction Proves

I would have posted on this earlier, but there's just too much other news in the world, especially with the Tucson murders burning up bandwidth. It's interesting how the really important stories get buried under the avalanche of news that grabs peoples emotions.  The tragedy in Tucson has affected many people, but only because they know about it.  The miscarriage of justice on Tom Delay in Texas signals terrible consequences for all of us.  Most people won't understand why until they find themselves in the same situation.

I have to say that I wish I could be writing about something happier.  I have a bit of cabin fever.  It's the middle of January, 22° F outside, there's snow on the ground, and worst of all I'm still nursing a couple of broken ribs. Sometimes, I get tired of all the bad news and wish I could ignore it.  But the busybodies and power hungry are relentless and the Tucson tragedy proves that.

If you have cared at all to surf the web to find information on the Tom Delay case, no doubt you would read story after story that tells you that he illegally laundered campaign money to campaigns.  The idea on the face of it should give you pause and make you say, "What the he##?"

Mark Levin had Tom Delays attorney, Dick DeGuerin, come on his radio show right after the jury convicted Delay, to explain what happened.  Levin had read transcripts of the trial and, as a lawyer, could see that the case never should have even come to court.  The reason I knew Mark had legitimate concerns is because I remember when the case got started years ago.  There was a rabid leftist district attorney in Austin, Texas who just hated Tom Delay with a passion.  Much like the left hates Sarah Palin today.  This DA tried many times and failed initially to get indictments from grand juries on various charges against Delay.  I wish I could have kept the stories from back then, but that was a couple of computers ago.  I found it interesting at the time because it was an obvious case of abuse of prosecutoral power.  No attorney, especially for the State, should ever be using the power of his office to carry out vendettas against people simply because he doesn't like their flavor of politics.

It is important to note that the rules about how campaign funds had to be handled were written by the democrats in power.  They were rather convoluted, because it suited their purposes, and the average man on the street doesn't pay any attention to such matters anyway.  Essentially, what Delay did was form a PAC which legally received donations from all over, including donations from corporations.  Later on, Delay's PAC gave money to various Republicans running for State house seats in Texas.  Texas law passed previously by the democratically controlled Texas legislature made it illegal for corporations to contribute directly to political campaigns.

First, the law is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution per several rulings by the Supreme Court. The court has rightfully stated that people should be free to contribute their own money to support political causes and speech as they see fit. Such money serving to support those who speak on their behalf.  That fact aside, by Delay's PAC giving money to campaigns, the recipients didn't know and therefore were not beholden to any corporations.  The law clearly said that corporations cannot directly give money to individuals campaigning for office in the State of Texas.  This is pretty clear.

But the DA with a hate on for all things conservative or Republican got enough people from a predominantly leftist district to indict, and a similar group of folks to convict, and a judge to go along with it.  Now think about what that means to every individual.  And of course, it could happen with an ostensibly conservative prosecutor and a "liberal" politician, and it would be just as wrong.

What this means is that justice has just taken another big leap into the realm of non-existence. I saw this coming with the trial of O.J. Simpson.  Did the prosecution in that case make mistakes? Oh, you betcha. They made mistakes because it looked like such a slam dunk case to any person with an IQ above room temperature.  The cops, the forensic team and even the lawyers seemed to forget that stardom and enough money, combined with the joke of being tried by 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty would end up in such a miscarriage of justice.  After all, here was a case of the stupidest people, star-struck, who were salivating at the chance to go down in history as having served on that jury. Their statements after the trial proved that they didn't give a rat's patootie about the evidence.

And that's when I saw the writing on the wall. We were quickly becoming a society that could not care less about oaths of impartiality or being committed to justice in spite of our own prejudices.  When the average person on the voter rolls who can be selected for jury duty sees the court system as a venue to correct things that they personally "feel" are not right, regardless of the facts and evidence, we are all in a lot of trouble.  We might as well just do away with the jury system completely and let politically elected and appointed judges make the decisions.  You know, like the federal judge who told the whole State of California that amending their own Constitution according to the rules wasn't good enough, so he alone would decide what the law is and ought to be.  Totalitarian?  Dictatorship?  Naw.  Couldn't be.

The founding fathers gave us the jury system as a way for the people to keep the reigns on the court system and to keep it from being abused.  We the people have pretty much abdicated that right, and other countries can laugh at us for doing so.  We complain about how outrageous medical care costs have gotten, but we helped it happen by not expressing outrage and demanding tort reform when it comes to medical malpractice suits.  At the very least, we should have "loser pays," when it comes to bringing civil suits of any kind.  You think you have a legitimate case of injury and can convince a jury? Fine. Bring it on.  But if a jury decides that you were just hoping to win a lawsuit lottery, getting something for nothing, you should have to pay all the costs to the court system and the party you brought suit against.

I'd like to go one step further.  While I believe the identities of jurors in criminal cases should be confidential where necessary, I believe there ought to be publicity for jurors who sit on civil cases like the most famous McDonald's hot coffee suit.  Such people should be humiliated in public at the very least, even though the case never should have gotten past the judge.  After all, what is the point of having judges if they can't look at a case like that and laugh it off the docket?

If you don't care about what happened to Tom Delay, ask yourself how you would feel if you found yourself in the defendant's chair facing a jury who doesn't like the things you believe and just decides, "To hell with the facts and the law, we think you should go to jail.  We'll make an example of you."

The Delay conviction proves that we are there.  How far and wide this disease has spread is yet to be seen, but the camel's nose is under the tent.

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