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Administration Indictments: A Pretty Safe Prediction

Here's my safe prediction of the day. You will never in your lifetime see a two term President who does not have someone at some level of his administration indicted. A less safe prediction is that you'll never see it in a one term administration either.

This has nothing to do with politicians all being crooked for anything like that. It is just a fact of life in land of millions of laws and microscopic investigations. Let me shift gears for a second to explain why I can say it..

I used to teach a safe boating course. A new boat owner would buy a boat them come to us to learn how to use it safely. 90% of what we taught was safety and regulations. (or safety regulations;) For those of you who are not familiar with it, there are hundreds of laws governing boats (and fishing), even in a state like Louisiana which has fewer than most states. Being instructors, we knew most all of them.

One day after class we were downing a few beers and I asked the other instructors, "OK Admit it; who if they got stopped today and had a complete inspection would escape without a ticket?"

At first everyone said they would except two other instructors. Then one by one as they thought about it, everyone had to admit they had at least one thing wrong. In my case, before I knew the regs, I had put my hull numbers too far back from the bow and never bothered move them.

Then I made my larger point. There was probably not a single boat in the local harbor that did not break at least ONE law. There were simply too many laws to track them all. (If you don't know how many laws there are about boats, trust me on this.) If the table full of people who TAUGHT the laws could not keep up with them, your average guy off the street had no hope at all.

Which brings me to Washington.

I don't know how many people are in "The Administration" but I'll say 1,000. These people have to tiptoe thru thousands of laws every day. Probably many laws are condradictory. Saying one word incorrectly could lead to an indictment. At some point it is a numbers game. 1,000 people X millions of tasks X thousands of laws = An Indictment

[None of this BTW has anything to do with Libby other than it allowed me to post something I've been thinking for a long time. Libby's indictment is what it is, I'm just making an observation. My example of too many laws governing boats can be used for dozens of other topics too. I'd bet you that not a single print shop in the country is in complete regulatory compliance either for example.]

So while I think administration indictments are now a fact of life, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I WANT our public officials to know they are being watched, but on the other hand, at some point, all the backside covering will harm their ability to get any work done. Potential prison time should not be a byproduct of public service. I see the trend, but I don't know if it is a good thing or bad thing. - I'll leave that for Jay Tea to ponder. ;-)


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Comments (23)

It is possible not to break... (Below threshold)
pinky:

It is possible not to break a law. If you lie in the basement, very quietly, and make no movement. Forever.

Quick question, do you thin... (Below threshold)
Radical Centrist:

Quick question, do you think in this case and others that may go foward, do you think potential jurors will be asked if they read blogs and what types of blogs they read.

Could this fact be used as ... (Below threshold)
Ikkonoishi:

Could this fact be used as a defense in a legal battle. Like say you are ticketed for breaking a law could you point out how you had to break that law in order not to break this other one?

This is an excellent point.... (Below threshold)
Kirk:

This is an excellent point. I want the liberal attack machine to name one administration that didn't have a chief of staff of either the vice president's or president's office that wasn't indicted for something. The boating analogy is great for legal laymen. Most of America is ignorant to the fact that this indictment is the equivalent of not putting your registration stickers in the right spot. What is really outrageous is that they can put you away for 30 years for getting those stickers wrong! This is government run amuck.

Hmmmm.I was watchi... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

I was watching OpinionJournal on PBS, no choice as the tv offerings in my dialysis unit are very limited, and an interesting bit of speculation came up. They were thinking that Fitzgerald knew that no underlying crime had taken place as far back as January, which is when he requested an expanded scope for his investigation.

So did he have anything on Libby then, or did he keep on interviewing people in the hopes of finding something to hang someone with?

I don't know what we expect... (Below threshold)
NtvAmrcn:

I don't know what we expect different when we have "professionals" who have been doing nothing but make laws for 200 years without eliminating outdated laws during the process.

I'll tell you what I don't understand about this entire "investigation" of the Plame "outing". The lib media have been telling us how great this prosecutor is. But if I had the powers he has been granted I believe I could start with Novac and go backwards from there and root out the leaker pretty dam quick. What the hell is the problem? This entire episode seems like a lot of bullshit to me. For the life of me I can't figure out what the big deal is about. It's all a bunch of crap. Plame has not been an undercover agent for many years before this whole episode. I don't see where any laws have been violated and I sure as hell don't see where a 2+ year investigation is justified for such insignificant results we have seen yesterday. But I guess it is our tax dollars at work?

Sign me as a frustrated conservative. I've about had it with both parties.

Centrist --- If la... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

Centrist ---

If lawyers don't ask about blogs now, they need to start asking soon.

When I was in law school earlier this year, we had one of those simulated trials that law students love ... and during jury selection, one of the mock jurors mentioned that she was a blogger, but the mock attorney for the other side didn't follow up.

I was curious, so when our side's turn came for jury selection, I asked the juror about her blog. When I wasn't satisfied with her answer, I asked a more narrow question ... and got an answer that demonstrated why she shouldn't be in the jury for that little simulated case.

Now, out in the real world. Earlier this year, I was in the initial jury pool for a fairly significant trial. I didn't make the final jury (hardship issues, I suspect), but I recall several of the items asked about what kind of newspapers, magazines, and TV news programs I consumed ... but said nothing about my online media consumption.

Now, considering this was a criminal case, and considering that I regularly read Talk Left and other law-related blogs, that questionnaire should have included a question about online media consumption ... and I actually said as much to the judge's clerk, who was a colleague at law schol.

--|PW|--

I've read your post but I d... (Below threshold)
NtvAmrcn:

I've read your post but I do not understand what your point is. All of us read what we read and are active in one thing or another. That does not mean we cannot be fair in a jury trial. I have faith in my fellow man. I think that the vast majority of us can determine facts from bullshit during a trial of any sort. We can see through the obfuscation a trial lawyer might try to slip through on us. The fact that the law has been over complicated to the point of being rediculous does not mean that the average person cannot judge the facts of a case and come up with a just verdict. Even the dimmist among us can see through the bullshit that those who are supposed to be educated about such matters may try to obfuscate. I never ceased to be amazed how smart people who are percieved as being "dumb".

NtVAmrcn -- About ... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

NtVAmrcn --

About blog readers and sitting on a jury trial.

In the first place, there's the information issue. In a trial, certain information might be excluded because of trial rules. If a juror, or potential juror, reads a blog that covers the trial in-depth, then the contamination of that information is certainly an issue. That's an issue whether the person is reading information in the newspaper, seeing it on television, or learning it from backyard gossip.

In the second place, you have the issue of people who are lawyers, or who think they are lawyers. If jury instructions say one thing, but an individual juror believes the law says something else based on something he or she read in a lawyer's blog, you've also got an issue of jury contamination.

--|PW|--

Your prediction doesn't hol... (Below threshold)

Your prediction doesn't hold up with Democrats. Paul Begala said on CNN that Libby was the highest ranking White House official involved in a crime in 117 years, or some such thing. Nobody corrected him, pointed out that it was only an indictment, or asked for details.

Bingo! Pathway to turn Dem... (Below threshold)

Bingo! Pathway to turn Democracy into police state.

What created this problem o... (Below threshold)

What created this problem of over-regulation? Two things in my opinion.
1. The tendancy of the populace to respond to any and every problem by asking their elected representative to ensure it will never happen again. Nevermind that you can't stop future problems.
2. Year round full time legislatures. Lawmakers were regular citizens who had real lives/jobs away from politics and came to DC a couple times a year and dealt with pressing issues when they came together. Now it is a full time job which becomes a career. When running for reelection they tell their constituents looks what I did. I'd rather have mine tell me he did nothing and beyond doing nothing that he worked hard to stop other congressmen from passing laws and spending money.

Attorneys being demonstrabl... (Below threshold)
Bat One:

Attorneys being demonstrably no smarter than the rest of us, it will take any number of cases, mostly on appeal, before it starts to sink in within the legal community that tracking the online reading habits (and participation) of a potential juror, or is probably even more important than whether or not that potential juror watches GMA, Oprah, or Judge Judy.

Indeed, it is quite likely that within a very short time inferential evaluation of potential jurors and their sympathies based on their respective online behavior will become a much in demand and well rewarded specialty.

Paul Begala said on CNN ... (Below threshold)

Paul Begala said on CNN that Libby was the highest ranking White House official involved in a crime in 117 years, or some such thing.

Hmmm... I would have thought that the highest ranking White House official involved in a crime would have been Spiro Agnew.

I would have thought tha... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

I would have thought that the highest ranking White House official involved in a crime would have been Spiro Agnew.

Um. . Bill Clinton. Hard to get much higher up than POTUS.

Fancy running into you here... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

Fancy running into you here, Bat One.

A postscript:

Inquiry in to TV viewing habits or Web surfing habits is a thing undertaken chiefly by attorneys trying to put together juries for a trial; the questions are asked in the context of peremptory challenges.

As for looking into why a smart attorney would ask questions about these sorts of things, I suggest that the curious look into a phenomenon called the "CSI Effect."

--|PW|--

Generally speaking, a civil... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Generally speaking, a civil defense lawyer or criminal prosecutor will want people who read Michelle Malkin and Powerline, whereas a civil plaintiff's attorney or criminal defense lawyer will want jurors who read Daily Kos and Atrios.

In the releatively few minutes trial lawyers are given to evaluate a venire of about 60 or 75 and maniuplate the process in the hopes of selecting the 12 (or 6) best, people are crudely lumped into two general and imprecise categories:

1. Mature, responsible, no-nonsense people who make important decisions for a living, and who worked hard and followed the rules to get where they are. These are people you can generally trust to value personal responsibility, and to pay attention to details and apply the law even when the result means a widow and her children will live on the street.

2. People who feel entitled to everything they demand of society--basically socialists. People who do not value hard work, who do not observe rules, who make excuses for their lives, people who do not make decisions. These people tend to overlook the rules and facts and award the widow and her children millions simply because they seem nice.

It's an imprecise endeavor, and it relies heavily on stereotyping which can often be cruel. But jury selection is also one of the most important parts of trying a lawsuit; if done well, you've already won before opening statements. In fact, if you ask your questions in the right way, you've already told your story to their subconscious and they've already agreed to go along with you.

Knowledge of blog readership can may the whole process easier, and maybe a little more precise. For example, one must ask several questions to learn that the morbidly obese unmarried female works as a part-time social worker on the public payroll, has a degree from Berkeley in body painting, and never had a private sector job. Now we need only learn she reads Daily Kos, and she's immediately lumped in the proper stereotype.

Of course we try to be more precise than that, and some people charge hundreds of thousands of dollars as "specialists" who do nothing more than the same gut hunches. Still, for probably 80 percent of the litigation out there, the Daily Kos/Powerline dichotomy would probably get you as close as anything.

The problem is, most jurors don't read blogs, and most trial lawyers don't have the time to become familiar with them. But times are changing.

I recall taking the 6-8 hr ... (Below threshold)
DL:

I recall taking the 6-8 hr "stockbrokers" test only to find out that you could pass with a 70% correct, which means that when licensed by the government, it is permissable for you to not know 30% of the rules (there are oodles of rules not asked about)
However, upon receiving your license, you are responsible for following every minute rule written, and may/will suffer large bankrupting fines and prison should they decide to prosecute.
I'll wager people break a law every day on average (touch any double yellow lines lately?)
CT motorists must stop at stop signs for 3 seconds before moving) (Steak knives at a picnic without a receipt/hunting license?)

This all being said, overt and deliberate, provable beyond any doubt, attempts to break the law deserve punishment- the higher the office the stronger the punishment! Including Hillary!

Mark:I would think... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

Mark:

I would think that blog authors would be of more concern than blog readers, now that I think about it.

--|PW|--

Yeah, authors would be a mu... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Yeah, authors would be a much bigger concern, but a more rare one.

Still, you get my point about pigeonholing readers, right? If a juror says they read Wizbang three times daily, they've just exposed a long list of personality disorders and biases that may be useful in assessing their suitability to decide your client's case.

(Just kidding about the disorders and biases, but kinda sorta not really)

Mark:I know what y... (Below threshold)
pennywit:

Mark:

I know what you mean about pigeonholing; I know from personal experience that bloggers tend to have a ... ahem ... unique personality type.

And it occurs to me that if, for example, one of your potential jurors was a columnist at the local paper, or a producer at the local TV station, you'd want to know what kind of stories/opinions/etc. he's put out there.

Kind of like standard voire dire ... but you add the word "Internet" to it.

--|PW|--

pennywit:Exactly.<... (Below threshold)
Mark:

pennywit:

Exactly.

What year are you? You're gonna kick ass.

Mark, if simply reading Wiz... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Mark, if simply reading Wizbang is indicative of all those disorders, just what does that say about us authors?

Um, never mind. Please don't answer that.

J.




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