A few weeks ago, I wrote about being arrested on a warrant for a year and a half old traffic ticket in a small Nevada county.
Now the toll for that was steep. I had to pay a state trooper’s salary for a day (not exactly, but that was the net effect) and spend eight hours in the Washoe County Jail waiting for my bond to post.
What happens to you if someone in power REALLY wants to get you? Maybe the whole Democrat party?
Say, you were the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, elected from Texas, and you really pissed off a Democrat District Attorney. And he decided to “get” you.
You get indicted for violating some relatively obscure campaign contribution laws. Then, he stacks a jury of Democrats and you get convicted of a felony and sentenced to three years.
Ask Tom DeLay.
He paid over $5 MILLION in legal fees until, the other day, his conviction was overturned on appeal because the appellate court in Texas said that “the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay’s convictions” (which, translated into English, means that the whole episode was trumped up because someone wanted to “get” DeLay.)
So, he won, you say. No harm no foul. Right?
Not so much.
In the immortal words of former Labor Secretary Ray Donavan, who faced a similar situation, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back? Who will reimburse my company for the economic jail it has been in for two and a half years?’’
DeLay is broke. And because this thing has been ongoing since 2005, it’s not like he could resign from Congress and take a lucrative K street job. In fact, you might remember that he did a season on “Dancing With The Stars”, largely to feed his family.
And the prosecutors who brought the charges? They have immunity.
Our system of justice is out of control. At all levels.
At the level you and I live, it serves as an extra tax to raise money that politicians cannot get by, well, raising taxes.
If I succeed with a citizen’s initiative I am planning to remove the use of fines, fees, and cost assessments from funding anything but the cost of judicial enforcement at all, the real truth about who funds police departments in Nevada is going to come out.
At DeLay’s level, we have succeeded in criminalizing normal political and business behavior and put a political weapon in the hands of the people who control the justice system at any given point in time.
This is NOT what our forefathers intended at the Boston Tea Party.
Here’s the basic problem.
Police agencies at all levels and prosecutors at all levels face almost no consequences for, in the best case, sloppy work and, in the worst case, criminal offenses.
Nobody polices the police and the prosecutors.
Occasionally, a jury rebels and essentially nullifies a prosecution. The appellate courts are more likely to get it right. But that takes time and money.
And, in most cases, if you win a seven year battle, nobody is sitting in a room at the courthouse waiting to write you a check to reimburse you for your defense.
So people cop pleas because it is too expensive to go to trial.
And the best justice becomes the justice you can afford.
Perhaps the answer is to restrict career prosecutors to violent crime and have everything else prosecuted by people who will have to eventually defend these prosecutions to make a living.
Or, maybe it’s time to revisit our prosecutorial immunity rules.
Granted, it’s a slippery slope. But so is the criminalization of everyday life.
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