This is long, but if you don’t read it please take me off your list because you should and it only will take five minutes of your day but educate you for a lifetime.
I don’t give two shits if you are liberal or conservative. This country has gone to Hell in a hand basket.
I remember the first time I heard a man say that at a rest stop in Kentucky when I was little on a family trip. He was a Vietnam Vet wearing his jacket and medals, which had seen worse days, but a guy spit at him.
There have probably not been words that impacted me more than that in in my life by a stranger. He fought for the rights of the guy who spat on him and just turned the other cheek.
If only he could see what we have become now.
“Hell in a hand basket.”
I didn’t fully understand it then but quickly learned what it meant as I grew older. I realize that sometimes my blog, while always controversial and receives death threats on every post, has gone from humorous to serious lately.
I even laid off writing for a while after receiving even more death messages that said to shut up or I would pay for it.
Screw you and comment all you like. At least have the guts to put it in an open forum which most of the people who complain do not have the balls to do.
Today’s target shall be “Grand Juries.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) once noted that the Grand Jury, originally established by the Founding Fathers as a means of protecting American citizens against government excess, is today a captive of prosecutors.
The prosecutor exercises enormous power, unrestrained by law or judicial supervision.
The Grand Jury process itself is largely devoid of legal rules. The process has become one that wholly fails to protect ordinary American citizens.
The balance has shifted so dramatically in favor of the prosecution that it has been noted, time and again, that a first year law graduate could get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich for not having some mustard on it.
I know most of you will read this and think this is a joke but it is not.
You are tried and basically 90% convicted in a Court of Law without the right to defend yourself.
That’s right…no defending yourself.
Most people have no clue this can happen but it does everyday.
Whatever some wannabe jackass says or presents in a second-hand suit goes and you have no option to even rebut what he or anyone says about you.
Almost all Grand Juries formed find guilt in the accused party.
“Skippy stole Steve’s fishing pole and hit him with it to boot.”
“Skippy, what do you have to say to this charge?”
Oh yeah, Skippy is not there.
He doesn’t even know people are talking about him let alone charging him with a crime.
Skippy does not find out until he is subpoenaed to appear for something he knew nothing about until that moment.
No chance to prove guilt or innocence…not even evidence from people saying saying it was impossible because he was at Inspiration Point making out with Daisy Mae that night.
Good Lord, if I was on a Grand Jury and only heard one side of the story, I would indict someone too.
Innocent until proven guilty…my skinny ass.
If you walk into a courtroom and a “jury” has already found you “guilty” enough to be there and you are not OJ Simpson, who are they going to believe?
The Commission to Reform the Grand Jury, which comprises individuals of unsurpassed expertise in the criminal justice system, has worked intensely over the past few years to examine whether reforms of the grand jury system are required.
The findings suggest that fundamental changes are required to restore balance and equity between individual citizens and their government in certain States where people had the balls to do so.
We can all call upon Congress to do the same at the federal and state levels avoiding the dangerous prosecutorial rubber stamp that constitutes today’s Grand Jury.
I certainly hope that Congress will take the first steps toward eliminating this problem and restoring justice to America’s heralded criminal justice system as it was meant to be.
In 1791, when the Grand Jury was incorporated into our constitutional structure, its primary role was to protect the individual from unfounded accusations.
It was even noted, “the Grand Jury has achieved renown as a bulwark against despotism, a protector of the common man against oppressive prosecution. The institution’s investigatory role was secondary.
However, in the subsequent 200+ years the protective function has been trivialized and the investigator’s function expanded to the point where the institution is almost precisely the opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended. It is amazing that has happened to almost all of our laws.
I think everyone would agree with the observation of William J. Campbell, a former federal district Judge in Chicago: “Today, the Grand Jury is the total captive of the prosecutor who, if he is candid, will concede that he can indict anybody, at any time, for almost anything, before any Grand Jury.”
What this means is that a Grand Jury is a secret “ex parte” (the accused left out) proceeding where the evidence is presented by the prosecutor and those shown any evidence choose whether to indict without ever hearing from the court (other than a preliminary session welcoming the “Grand Jurors” and giving some general guidelines about their duties) or defense counsel.
A free lunch and a day’s pay to do the government’s bidding.
I wonder why under these circumstances the grand jurors (and eventual “Judges”) tend to bond with the prosecutor and indict when the prosecutor indicates there should be an indictment.
What do any one of them have to lose?
It is not their life…just yours.
Your life is worthless, right?
The Grand Jury today functions primarily as a tool of the prosecutor and his investigative underlings to produce a case that looks good.
“Skippy stole Stevie’s cat. Here is a picture of Stevie and the cat. What else is there to deduce?
He is obviously guilty.
“Skippy, do you have anything to say for yourself?”
Oh Jeez, I forgot, Skippy is at work with no clue this is going on. Maybe we should add on a charge of kicking the cat which would be a pattern of corruptive behavior.
Now we can indict Skippy under the RICO Act as well.
Employing the power of compulsory process in a secret proceeding, the prosecutor investigates and determines, with virtually no check, who will be indicted and for what.
In the Grand Jury, the prosecutor exercises this enormous power unrestrained by law or judicial supervision. The Grand Jury process is largely devoid of legal rules. The prosecutor can present the evidence he or she wants to present in the manner he or she wants to present it.
The only theoretical restriction is that, if an indictment is rendered, the evidence should be sufficient to establish probable cause that the accused committed the crime charged.
Even that minimal test, however, finds no mechanism in the system for its enforcement.
Any claimed insufficiency, unfairness or abuse in the grand jury proceedings is said to “merge” in the trial and all prejudice from Grand Jury impropriety is deemed “cured” by a fair hearing.
Unfortunately, an indictment alone can cause enormous harm to an individual or business accused.
Skippy had a successful business but the newspaper and television report him as indicted.
What is the first thing you come up with in your mind?
Skippy did something wrong and I am not doing business with him anymore…a “Grand Jury” indicted him so he must be guilty.
Of course, the Judge and potential “jury” of his peers believes the same as that is all they have read.
One person’s life is virtually over in order for another getting home in time for dinner.
What if it was you on the line?
It didn’t used to be the way things are but sure as Hell is now.
Everyone wants to get out of Jury Duty. I have done it and I am sure you have done so as well.
Not important unless you are the Defendant.
The result is a Grand Jury process virtually immune from judicial supervision. Because the Grand Jury procedure presently is given little legal significance, courts engage in little scrutiny of what happens there. While some prosecutors may conduct Grand Jury proceedings with meticulous care and concern for fairness to targets, others may not.
If abuses do occur, they will rarely come to light. Most times, it is a “leg up” for their career and many become defense attorneys that make money from this corrupt system.
That includes bargains made on individual’s lives for their own advancement. Blind faith that misconduct does not occur behind the Grand Jury door or even a trial would be naive in the greatest extreme by the most simple of people.
Now, this problem of virtually unbridled prosecutorial power over the Grand Jury has been exacerbated, too frequently, by a lack of prosecutorial restraint and the ignorance of those who serve on one.
From recent formal testimony before Congress: “Most prosecutors . . . work long hours with little glory trying to bring about a just result. The problem is at the margins.
Unfortunately, the margins are growing. Increasingly, the high public profile of a target or the attention-grabbing nature of the alleged wrongdoing may have more to do with a matter’s “prosecutorial merit” than the strength of the evidence or the seriousness of the crime.
The problem has become endemic, and the solution will need to go beyond “ad hoc” displays of judicial exasperation and oversight.
What has been lost is a sense of proportionality and identification of priorities.”
Reinforcing this observation are the many recent opinions of respected jurists sharply castigating prosecutorial misconduct. These are qualified legal attorneys and judges…not your neighbor who is pissed off you sprayed cut grass on his lawn while mowing or raked leaves in his yard.
It isn’t just the prosecutors either. It has been proven over and over again that criminal defense attorneys are part of the problem. They don’t want to lose but are often in collusion with the Prosecutor to get a verdict that saves face for them both.
Is that justice?
No, it is not.
It is someone furthering their life based on yours. They could not care less what happens to you as long as everything is square at the end of the day for them and they play their chips where they may when needed.
There have been hundreds of sting operations by people who cared and pushed it but rarely resulted in anything other than a sanction.
The one that glares at me the most resulted in just a sanction by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals after concealing evidence, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote: “I am troubled as we are by the prosecutor’s conduct, we’re more troubled still by the lack of supervision and control exercised by those above him…how can it be that a serious claim of prosecutorial misconduct remains unresolved even unaddressed until an oral argument in the Court of Appeals?”
Did he mean the same right the Defendant should have had before being handcuffed, perp-walked on television and judged guilty before proceeding to a “fair” trial by his peers?
As far back as 1990, a congressional sub-committee looking into the Justice Department’s internal controls asked the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) what disciplinary action it had taken in each of ten cases in which federal judges had made written findings of prosecutorial misconduct.
After a lengthy delay none of us could afford, the panel was finally informed by OPR that “no disciplinary action has been taken in any of the ten cases.”
The sub-committee observed that “repeated findings of no misconduct, and the Department’s failure to explain its disagreements with findings of misconduct by the courts, raises serious questions regarding what [it] considers ‘prosecutorial misconduct.’
Nothing done…closed network.
Now, on to the “Power to Harm:”
Representative Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, recognized the problem in statements supporting his important legislation of 1997, to permit motions for at least some recoupment of cost by individual and small business victims of “bad faith, vexatious or frivolous” prosecutions: “Some prosecutions are not just wrong, but willfully wrong, frivolously wrong.
They [prosecutors] keep information from you that the law says they must disclose. They suborn perjury.”
The legislative history accompanying the statute notes that the current Grand Jury does not protect citizens from a wrongful indictment and prosecution by the prosecutor in charge of that body.
The Conference Committee specifically notes that a finding of probable cause by a Grand Jury does not insulate the government from a judicial finding of a bad faith, vexatious, or frivolous prosecution.
The first successful Hyde Amendment case was United States v. Holland, in the Eastern District of Virginia. The case involved a Virginia state senator (Richard J. Holland) and his small-town bank, in which federal “banking regulators” took a small-time, technical violation that usually goes unchallenged and grew it into a 31-count indictment against Senator Holland and his son.”
Presiding Judge Morgan threw out the case before trial (virtually unheard of in the Eastern District of Virginia).
In explaining to the jury his reasoning for finding the Holland’s not guilty, the judge noted how the prosecution had picked and chose “only what it wanted from Grand Jury testimony” and had “ignored conflicting testimony and evidence.”
Why can’t we elect more Judge Morgan’s in this world?
I can’t say he didn’t (although I strongly believe he did not) accept a bribe. I have always been pressured for something by those in office for there gain or my demise.
I guess I will save those details for my book or when I need to play that card.
To date, I have not succumbed to my own detriment.
Similar to the above is the case of the first Hyde Amendment motion filed, U.S. v. Hogge, in the Southern District of Texas.
It was an investigation involving a former sales Vice President of a now-defunct (who could have predicted that?) defense contractor was indicted for conspiring to defraud the U.S. Army.
An FBI agent had assured Sharon Hogge that investigators were not focused on her. So, Ms. Hogge spoke freely with federal agents, pointing them to addresses where they found company records.
She took notes during her conversations with agents, transcribing the words reflecting the agents’ assurances to her that said, “no ambush,” and repeatedly scribbling, “I am not a criminal target, right?”
Unfortunately, I have fallen for that line of questioning before and it is never what it seems.
Of course, when federal prosecutors convened a Grand Jury investigation into the company’s suspected over-billing of the Defense Department, they added Ms. Hogge to the target list and easily obtained an indictment against her.
All despite the fact that as a Sales Vice President, she did not bill the Army or even handle an inventory. She learned she had been indicted when her husband woke her one Saturday morning in 1996 and stuck a newspaper in her face.
That is how you should find out in a free society right?
Shouldn’t someone at least kick down your door in jack boots and make you “goose step” to the transport vehicle?
Prosecutors pushed their shoddy case to trial. In which, the government’s case fell apart as it does most of the time unless someone challenges it.
Judge Hoyt criticized the prosecutor for trying to “make a criminal case out of a dispute over an accounting principle.”
He added: “I don’t see any evidence suggesting . . . that Sharon Hogge should be charged in any of these counts” [against the company’s executives].”
Still, during the course of the prosecution, Ms. Hogge miscarried twice from the stress of the ordeal, considered suicide and for the first time in her life, had to start seeing a psychologist. Ms. Hogge was unsuccessful in her Hyde Amendment motion for fee and cost reimbursement for the ordeal, because the final order dismissing the case against her had come down two days before the effective date of the Hyde Amendment, and the law does not have retroactive application.
The Hyde Amendment is a very helpful measure for correcting wrongful prosecutions, but it comes at a fairly late stage of the proceedings.
A wrongful indictment in itself, regardless of ultimate outcome, remains devastating. As Justice Kennedy noted in his plurality opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court in Gentile v. Nevada, in the time period between indictment and trial, the accused may suffer ruinous consequences to his reputation and employment from which he may never recover even if acquitted.
Now, with the dramatic decrease in the proportion of federal indictments that go to trial as compared to that prior to the enactment of the sentencing guidelines in 1987, the Grand Jury has in effect become the body of last resort for many accused in the criminal justice system.
I know everyone will sit on their asses and let it go until it happens to them.
I vow to not let that happen as a citizen.
Can you wake up everyday, look in the mirror and say the same?
The government has twisted this law into the power to throw charges onto anyone they can and just see which one sticks. I am going to stop writing pretty soon and don’t want anyone to read it if they cannot see what is going on or just figures “it will not happen to me.”
Those of you who know me absolutely know the shit I have gone through in the past 20 years and I am no doomsday prophesier or splinter group supporter. I push the envelope and say what others do not but think about.
I am just been a loyal American citizen who has been continually fucked in the ass without the courtesy of a reach-around and if this helps one person not to have to go through the same it makes me happy.
I am merely pointing out the facts that we all let go on a day-to-day to day basis.
People in countries across the world are fighting for the rights we have and just assume they will remain intact rather than being gradually diluted.
They have all been distorted a little bit at a time and continue to be…nobody raises a fuss.
We are not to far from becoming one of those countries that you see on the news while eating your dinner….desensitized.
If you read this I hope it affects you in some manner on who you elect or support.
By the way, I have the utmost respect for our police, firefighters, EMS and military.
It is those who sit behind a desk or a bench I generally have a problem with that order those people to do their bidding for them with no consequence to them.
Maybe the term “Hell in a hand basket” will change when everyday citizens do not support these corrupt people or their security detail anymore.
I would love to see them have their guards turn their backs in unison to them and let them walk to their car or limo on their own.
That might change some people’s opinion on getting to the golf course to play a late nine or hit the tennis court before dinner on our dime.
I know some of you will read this that the above will piss off (mostly attorneys and judges) but I don’t care. If you are mad one way or the other at least you thought about it.
If you are weak and afraid then you believe in what is going on is fine and support everything regardless of who is in charge.
I don’t respect that but beg of you to make an effort to look at history and not just your own everyday life.
I for one am sick of it.
Elected officials– obey the Constitution and treat your job as the PRIVILEDGE it is meant to be.
Citizens-please get off your lazy asses and say or do something. Otherwise, don’t be upset when you no longer have the right to do so.