14 January 2013

This is One Way to Deal with Proprietorial Overreach

A petition at the White House has Called for the firing of United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz for her wildly disproportionate prosecution of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide while facing decades in prison for downloading public documents.

It is now about 80% of the way to reaching the 25,000 signatures to require a response from the Obama administration.

Needless to say, the administration response will be either to do nothing, or to promote her, because they see "tough on crime" as a political winner.

I called it "Murder by Prosecutor" last night, which is (of course) rhetorical excess, but this was proprietorial excess.

Of course, we don't know why he committed suicide, he did have a history of depression, but it's fairly certain that this did not help.

On the bright side, I think that this is driving a discussion of overzealous prosecutors, and even if Ms. Ortiz keeps her job, her political career beyond this, she is/was seen as a rising star in the Massachusetts Democratic Party Establishment, has been detoured if not ended, which should hopefully make prosecutors think twice when they decide to destroy someone just to make an example.

Over the past 30 years, US laws have been changed to grant enormous power to prosecutors.

Based on how they file, and what they choose to present at sentencing, they now have the ability to dictate sentences to an unprecedented degree.

This has been corrupting the operation of the federal justice system for decades.


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