We often hear about the rule-of-law as if it some standard and unerring means of meting out justice. It is far from that. Despite the claim of “uniform justice” and “equal under the law,” the most cursory review of court cases will demonstrate that there is no such uniformity or equity.
We actually live under the rule of prosecutors and judges. There is what we call “prosecutorial discretion.” That by its very nature prevents uniform application of laws. Prosecutors determine the legal charges – and even for similar crimes, their recommended sentencing differs from case to case. They can even decide to NOT prosecute a person even when a crime has clearly committed.
In the worst cases of prosecutorial abuse, the legal bloodhounds can go after, indict and even convict innocent people. It was standard operating procedure in the old Democrat southland in the days of segregation and Jim Crow. The legal system, itself, was committing crimes and brazenly violating the Constitution. Political prosecutions were not rare in our major cities where political machines controlled the police, the prosecutors and the judges.
In recent years, we have seen an increasing politicization of “lying to prosecutors.” That is one of the charges that got political gadfly Roger Stone a conviction in the federal court. Same with General Michael Flynn and Scooter Libby, long ago aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Often – too often – it is charged when there is not underlying crime to cover up – just the suspicion of a crime. That is why lying to investigators does not sit well with we the people – especially if there is not underlying crime.
When one takes an oath to tell the truth in a court-of-law, that is perjury and should be legally punishable. Same with taking an oath before Congress. By fibbing to investigators, not so much.
In fact, the entire criminal and civil justice systems are predicated on divining truths in the face of lies. A person who pleads innocent to a crime they actually committed is … lying. Witnesses lie routinely. Even the prosecutors lie in proffering their cases.
The entire process of plea bargaining is based on unequal justice and lies. You cut a deal and you will not be charged with the most serious crimes you commit. The law did not rule — a prosecutor did.
The Stone case is just the latest example. Prosecutors initially requested a sentence between seven to nine years – using what they call “sentencing guidelines.” Trump opined that the recommendation was unfair and out of line with other similar cases. The leadership of the Department of Justice created a tempest in a teapot when it overruled the local prosecutors and recommended a lower sentence range – six to seven years.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that even the lower recommendations was too high, and she sentenced Stone to 40 months – just over three years. So, ever after taking a lot of heat from Democrats, it turned out that Trump was right – as was the DOJ, to a point. The Democrats and the #NeverTrumpers in the media were wrong – at least according to the Obama-appointed judge. She obviously agreed with the President.
If you still cling to a belief that law rules over the decisions of men (and women), recall that President Nixon’s folks lied to prosecutors to cover a statutory crime – the breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. One of the Nixon aides got 18 months another probation with no prison time. How does that compare to Stone who lied to cover up … what?
It is not nice to lie to prosecutors – and it does make their work more difficult. But that is not reason to have lying a major felony when there is no crime to cover up. At best, it should be a civil infraction with a $1000 fine. If you lie to cover up a real crime in which there is a conviction, that is a whole ‘nother thing.
We hear over and over that “the truth matters.” But if you take a close look at American jurisprudence, truth can matter less than appearances, less than biases of all kinds and less than the ethics of prosecutors and judges. Maybe even less than their mood of the day.
So, there ‘tis.