Of senators and justice

1 Apr

The masses are outraged. Turns out the Democratic Obama Administration is not going to pursue the case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens any further.images

The longtime Republican  senator was found guilty last fall of concealing $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and others by not listing them on his Senate disclosure form. He lost his bid for reelection to an eight term in the Senate just days after the conviction. But he hasn’t been sentenced yet.

That’s because the defense has moved for a new trial because of alleged misconduct by the government prosecutors in the case. The trial judge has criticized those attorneys for what he has called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. The Justice Department actually replaced the trial team.

And now Attorney General Eric Holder has said he agrees that things were botched.

In a Tuesday statement, Holder said, “After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

Of course, that prompted outcries of outrage from politicians and populists. How dare Holder back off! This proves that the Obama Administration isn’t about change. This proves it’s business as usual in Washington. This proves that the fat cats are a protected species.

Actually, what it proves is that the justice system works. If prosecutors can get by with ignoring the rules in Ted Stevens’ case, they can do the same to your case and mine. And how much would we like that?

images1If guilt or innocence is decided by popular opinion instead of by due process of law, we would be just as much a dictatorship as any nation governed by an individual tyrant. In our case, the tyrant would be  “the majority.”

It may well be that Ted Stevens was guilty of the charges against him. But he was as entitled to a fair trial as anyone. Holder recognized and affirmed that with this ruling. For that we should be grateful.


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