Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We Are All Potentially Roger Clemens...

Look, I hate the guy's guts; never forgave him for throwing a bat at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series (or the gutless umpire who allowed Clemens to stay in the game after assault with a deadly weapon).  But the government stepped over the line in prosecuting Clemens, and got its hand slapped.

The problem is that this kind of stuff happens to ordinary citizens all the time.  The feds need to show a "return on their investment", so to speak - when time/money is spent working on a case, they need to show results - either cash (via fines or seized property) or jail time.  And while Clemens was charged with perjury, very often the feds will use "providing false information to a federal officer" as their hook.  And they have wide latitude here.  Should the FBI show up at your front door with questions, and you say, "Oh, I deposited that check on Tuesday", and it was actually Wednesday...Bam!  You are facing time.  Seriously.

Contentions calls it the arbitrary use of government power in this piece about the Clemens non-conviction.  Except it is not that all that arbitrary:

The ability of the federal government to put an individual in peril of the law is virtually unlimited. Congress can force a celebrity to testify on matters that are of no material interest to the nation’s legislature. If the individual refuses to play along with the morality play narrative desired by the politicians who seize the spotlight, they can be charged with obstruction of justice or perjury and then paraded before a federal court and jailed. But sometimes the egregious nature of this charade is so great that the process is exposed as a sham. That is what happened on Monday when the Justice Department’s second attempt to imprison former baseball great Roger Clemens collapsed as he was acquitted on all six counts relating to his testimony before Congress on steroid use.

...the Clemens case illustrated as well as any of the recent celebrity prosecutions the perils of the arbitrary use of federal power against an individual citizen. Though it is difficult for most of us to identify with a snarling millionaire whose arrogance made him tough to root for even as he won 354 games and struck out 4,672 batters during his career, Clemens was the victim here, not the villain. The point is not whether he took certain drugs but that if the government can single out a Roger Clemens and devote its efforts to finding a pretext to putting him in jail simply because he is famous and unpopular, then it can do the same to anyone, including those without the ability to hire high-priced legal help. Clemens’ acquittal is a blow not so much to the drug rules as it is the misuse of government power. Let’s hope the government learns its lesson from this circus and never again repeats this egregious misuse of prosecutorial power.

Unlikely.  When the beast is not fed, it only grows more ravenous, when his hand is slapped, he only grows more enraged...

1 comment:

Jkw said...

Well Said