Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blago Trial, Recap

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was recently found guilty in federal court--of one charge, one out of twenty-four. I hate to brag, but I called it.

OK, I called it wrong, but at least I took a stand--something Camera-Hoggo Blago himself declined to do. Fourteen days ago I considered

the curious case of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose political career has been ruined not so much by his impeachment as by his ineptitude and irrepressible camera-whoring, but whose trial for conspiracy to sell a Senate seat seems destined to end with his acquittal. The jury is still out, but all signs I can see point to a not guilty verdict; the government, the defense argued effectively, has proved nothing.


The one charge Blago was found guilty of was making false statements to federal investigators. That carries a prison sentence of up to five years. On the other twenty-three charges, the jury was hung. The feds may retry him, but then again, they may not; public sentiment is against a $25 million retrial when Illinois can't pay its teachers to teach. For all intents and purposes, the former governor is getting off easy.

In my previous post I considered the Bush doctrine an accomplice to the criminal negligence (if I may be melodramatic for a moment) of the federal prosecutors. The Bush Doctrine was drafted early in President Bush's first term as a mandate to act pre-emptively against anticipated threats to the United States, a policy that made the Iraq War possible. President Obama has effectively killed the Bush Doctrine, but as presidential directives often do, this one has taken root. Blago was stopped before he committed the crime he was accused of; consequently, the jury couldn't bring themselves to find him guilty.

The governor has become a laughing-stock, so it's hard to take his case seriously. But there are other, more serious cases that seem to suffer from a similarly itchy trigger finger. Most notably in my mind is the case of Warren Jeffs, who presided over the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and allegedly (and almost certainly) helped adult men marry little girls. He was convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape of a minor, but his conviction was overturned on a technicality: since the man who married the little girl hasn't been convicted of rape yet, Jeffs can't be convicted as an accomplice. It only goes to show (if I may resort to violent imagery for a moment) it doesn't matter in a gunfight how quick you draw your gun if you can't hit your target.

Fortunately, Jeffs is facing extradition to Texas to be tried on charges of his own sexual violence against children. Texas, it's safe to assume, still loves the Bush Doctrine, and they love to put people on trial.

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