In which innocence can be irrelevant: the defendant “wept with joy. Then she stood before the judge and pleaded guilty to a crime she says she did not commit.” [Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic]
I’m in today’s New York Post. Excerpt:
“Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe,” Politico reported Wednesday. Commentators went wild.
What could be more exciting than for the special counsel investigating the Russian matter to team up with noted Trump foe Eric Schneiderman? Neither the president nor Congress can lay a glove on him; some of the legal weapons he wields go beyond what Mueller has at his disposal; and if Schneiderman obtains convictions in state court, Trump will have no pardon power. It’s like two superheroes with coordinating capes and powers!
Around liberal Twitter, it was a total game changer. “THIS IS BIG!!!!!!” typed Amy Siskind of New Agenda, hailing the sort of news for which four or five exclamation points won’t do. “What’s Russian for ‘Trump’s goose is cooked?’” crowed Harvard’s Laurence Tribe.
In the opposite camp, the Trumpian claque at Breitbart argued that with the combative New York AG on board — Schneiderman has long feuded with Trump, and is widely disliked by Republicans — the whole Russian probe can be dismissed as tainted. The connection “undermin[es] the integrity and impartiality of Mueller’s inquiry,” wrote Joel Pollak. “There could not be a more inappropriate person to be seen working with Mueller.”
Both sides should calm down….Federal and state prosecutors are supposed to cooperate when investigations overlap. That’s what they do.
I go on to discuss sharing of grand jury information, the ripples of dismay sent by Trump’s Joe Arpaio pardon (on which more from Josh Blackman here, see also and earlier), and New York’s Martin Act. Whole thing here.
Ken White at Popehat has written new explainers on how federal grand juries work and on search warrants. From the latter: “Even the best-trained and most responsible federal agents — and I mean this with the utmost respect — tend to act like coked-up raccoons when you turn them loose with a search warrant.”
- Clark Neily, who spent 17 years at the Institute for Justice and is the author of the constitutional law book Terms of Engagement, joins Cato as vice president for criminal justice [Cato press release]
- California is among 29 states that revoke drivers’ licenses for failure to pay tickets, which can knock poorer persons out of the workforce over minor offenses [Maura Ewing, The Atlantic]
- It’s quite rare for prosecutors to file felony charges against public defenders — unless you’re in New Orleans [The Guardian] “Jefferson Parish prosecutors used fake subpoenas similar to those in New Orleans” [Charles Maldonado, The Lens]
- To explain America’s love affair with incarceration, look first to ideology not race [Thaddeus Russell, Reason]
- North Carolina law bans persons on sex offender registry from using social media. Constitutional? [Federalist Society podcast with Ilya Shapiro, Cato on Supreme Court case of Packingham v. North Carolina, more on sex offender registries]
- Judge orders D.A. to return life savings seized from legal medical cannabis business owners; no charges had been brought [Institute for Justice press release] D.A. then files charges against him and his attorney [NBC San Diego]
Seems incredible: the district attorney’s office in the county-equivalent that includes New Orleans sends out bogus subpoenas not actually cleared with a judge ordering witnesses to appear for investigations. A spokesman says it’s been done for decades. Following press inquiries, “the District Attorney’s Office has said the practice will end.” [The Lens (New Orleans)]
New court reforms proposed by the U.K.’s Ministry of Justice would do away with many criminal defendants’ right to cross-examine accusers before a jury. The rules provide that what are deemed “vulnerable” victims and witnesses, mostly in sex cases, will instead be allowed to undergo cross-examination recorded in advance for later play in court. [BBC] Here in the U.S., the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause might have a thing or two to say about that.
Jonathan Abel, guest posting at Volokh Conspiracy, has a series on the numerous tensions affecting prosecutors’ Brady v. Maryland obligation to disclose impeachment evidence that may be available in police personnel files, that is to say, evidence unfavorable to the credibility of planned police testimony: intro, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth posts.
- Deferred prosecution agreements are a powerful new tool of the administrative state, with a tendency toward lawlessness [James Copland and Rafael Mangual, Manhattan Institute] Expected judicial deference to corporate prosecution deals: sign of a broken system [Scott Greenfield citing my April piece]
- Secrecy more common in criminal prosecutions: sealing of cases and documents, “gag orders… ex parte presentations, in camera submissions” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
- “In my heart, and in my approach to law, I saw rights as a challenge, as something to be overcome.” Confessions of an ex-prosecutor [Ken White (of Popehat), Reason] “Enforcement Gone Amok: The Many Faces of Over-Enforcement in the United States” [John Beisner et al, U.S. Chamber]
- Hunt County, Texas resident Kent Grady challenges county’s hiring of contingency-fee lawyers to go after him on environmental fines that via statutory per-day multiplication could turn a wrongly placed woodpile into a liability of $2 billion [WSJ editorial via Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
- “Don’t Ask Us to Turn In Our Own Executives, Business Lobby Warns” [Bloomberg on Yates memo]
- “Scientists Looking To Fix The Many Problems With Forensic Evidence” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]