Ted Stevens, Corruption with US Attorneys, Uninformed US Jurors and Technology
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There are times when important national matters must be discussed and exposed. Lawgorithms is a law and technology website. However, today we must discuss the Department of Justice or as the Wall Street Journal calls it, the Department of Injustice and the severe tragedy of the Ted Stevens trial.
Many in the legal community are aware of the Ted Stevens case. It is because of the Ted Stevens case that many in the legal community have lost all respect for the Department of Justice. This case should shake your belief in the Federal Department of Justice. The rampant prosecutorial misconduct is stunning. The same individuals who accuse certain defendants of gaming the system are the ones in fact gaming the system. This puts every American in jeopardy.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Ted Stevens case, I have attached links to help you become familiar. Every American citizen needs to become familiar with this case. The Stevens case represents what can happen to any American by an unchecked branch of the government.
The Wall Street Journal has done a stellar job of summarizing the misconduct exposed in Senator Steven’s case. You can read the most recent here titled “Department of Injustice”, here titled “How to Rein In Rogue Prosecutors” and here titled “Report Excoriates Stevens Prosecutors”. I am disappointed in some of the other national news outlets for their scant reporting of this significant uncovering of corruption in the highest prosecutorial office of the land. Fox News had one story. MSNBC had several, but barely touched the surface. CNN had one report. The Ted Stevens case is not a singular occurrence. The Stevens case simply exposes what has been occurring for decades in federal courts across the country.
However, I have yet to see any significant report or other investigation regarding the jury. After all, it wasn’t the judge that wrongfully convicted Senator Stevens and it wasn’t the dishonest, unscrupulous, unethical prosecutors... it was 12 jurors. These 12 jurors were blinded by the government’s version of the truth and therefore were unable to consider the consequences. The jury is just as much to blame as the government.
Let me be blunt. Jurors are quite simply stupid, especially in white collar related cases. Jurors in white collar cases believe the government. They want to believe the government. They defer their intelligence to the government.
Most jurors are uninformed. Most jurors do not listen to jury instructions and, in fact, many fall asleep while listening to evidence. Most jurors are uneducated as to how to weigh evidence. The truth is there are many ways to weigh evidence. Jurors should be taught the different methods. Jurors should be able to provide solid reasons for ascribing more or less weight to a specific piece of evidence. Most jurors are certainly technologically challenged.
The Stevens case proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the government attempts to win at all costs.
As some prosecutors will whisper, “why allow the truth to get in the way of a guilty verdict?” “The truth is just a bump in the road to get to a guilty verdict.” If I was a juror in the Stevens case, I would feel ashamed and guilty for allowing the government to get away with this criminal behavior. Wouldn’t you?
This is Lawgorithms though. So, how can Lawgorithms give this all too common situation a technology bent? Here’s how. The Stevens case was a problem because the fox was watching the hen house. The prosecutors were in control of the evidence they were to provide to the defense. They always are. They pick and choose what to give and what not to give. They do this based on what they believe is relevant and only provide the evidence that tends to show guilt not innocence. But how can a prosecutor know what is relevant to the defense? It cannot. That is not the prosecutorial role. The law must change to force the government to provide every item of evidence it has, whether exculpatory or not.
Technology allows more efficient checks and balances within the system because the government simply cannot have any excuse in producing every piece of evidence it has in its possession. We live in an age where the defense should not be fighting to obtain evidence from the government. Yet, this occurs every day. Production of evidence should not be delayed and should certainly never get lost. Yet, this occurs every day.
Internal conversations can be recorded “for quality assurance” and can easily be electronically stored and transcribed for easy retrieval. Google Voice does this. I bet the government can as well. Documents can be scanned and easily stored electronically. Evernote does this. I bet the government can as well. Investigators can be followed using GPS and their locations can easily be electronically stored. We all know Google and Apple mistakenly have kept these records. Investigative phone calls can be traced and can easily be electronically stored.
There simply is no excuse, except this one. The government may not wish to allow all their evidence to be produced especially if the evidence of the “guilty” shows the defendant is actually innocent.
I am not a proponent of big brother government being able to tap and listen to conversations of the American public. What I am saying is that the internal checks and balances of the Department of Justice should and must include tracking their employees actions, conversations, behavior and work product. After all, this happens in the private sector... Sorry, I forgot... the government lives above the private sector. Who’s fault is that? The uninformed voters who become the uninformed jurors who further embolden the unethical prosecutors who wrap themselves around the purity of the American flag to hide their shame.
Epilogue: So, now, after reading the Ted Stevens case, will you be as quick to pass judgment on someone who gets indicted or is found guilty of a white collar crime?