Remember, this was on HN just a week ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5003335
Once again we see the true nature of criminal prosecutions: the prosecutor's tactic is to bring outrageous charges that could result in decades in prison, bankrupt the defendant one way or the other (seizing assets or making the case so complex it bleeds him dry), and then use that to coerce a guilty plea. It's no wonder that trials by jury are becoming so vanishingly rare that even the Supreme Court has written that "in today’s criminal justice system, the negotiation of a plea bargain, rather than the unfolding of a trial, is almost always the critical point for a defendant." 
Do we really want to live in a country where your right to a trial is an empty right?
Edited to add: many people in this thread want to name and shame the individual prosecutor in this case. That is seriously misdirected effort that is not going to solve the systemic problems. It may even exasperate them, as it falsely implies that the problem is with individual overstepping prosecutors rather than a system in which it's the norm.
Seeing her dismissed and disgraced is in fact the only thing that will send such a message to such Javerts, as they have disabled the voice of the people by routing around jury trials and they are appointed rather than subject to elections. Carmen M. Ortiz is running for higher office on the backs of high profile prosecutions, and now on the body of Aaron Swartz. It is incumbent upon us to see that she does not get there, that this behavior is NOT rewarded.
Lyons is the first defendant in the U.S. to be charged and
convicted of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The statute was enacted by
Congress in 2006 to deter the use of the U.S. banking
system to pay Internet gambling debts incurred by U.S.
Unites [sic] States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said,
“Today’s convictions should serve as a message to those
involved with illegal gambling schemes that the government
will apply the full weight of its resources to identify,
investigate and prosecute individuals who seek to profit
from offshore gambling.”
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison on the RICO
charges; five years in prison on the illegal gambling
charges; and two years in prison on the wire act charges.
Lyons also faces three years in prison on the tax charges,
five years in prison on the interstate travel in aid of
racketeering and UIGEA charges and 20 years in prison on
the money laundering charges.Additionally each count also
carries three to five years of supervised release and
fines up to $250,000.
The wording of the petition should be as strong as possible. I'm off with my children now, but if I get back tonight and I see a decent petition on this, I will definitely sign it.
Edit: D'oh, the petition has already been written. I just had to sign it.
And a second petition to pardon Aaron:
As with the Enron fellow who died during his appeals, Aaron will never legally be guilty of whatever it was he was specifically charged with because his case was never adjudicated to finality.
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Proclamation_4311 is a famous example disproving that.
0) Start with background:
Looks pretty senior. Runs the federal government's DOJ office in Massachussetts, with an office of 200 people. By no means the SecDef or anything, but senior enough that serious pressure will need to be brought to bear.
How to do this?
1) Research her past cases and start blogging them/analyzing them. Almost certainly she has a history of extremely aggressive prosecutions. Find any statements from her on this or past cases that are factually inaccurate; highly likely as we are talking about a technical matter where "series of tubes" comments are likely. By the end of this you will have a profile. Perhaps you can show that she disproportionately pursues excessive sentences, or perhaps you can show that she makes technical mistakes about the internet. There are few records that will stand up to deep critical scrutiny. Maybe a bit of statistics to see if she is an outlier relative to other US Attorneys or to her immediate predecessor.
2) Go to LinkedIn. Find your closest contact at the Boston Globe. Work with them to write a story on Ortiz. Tell them they are the only ones that can do it. It is important to actually get a reporter to get Youtube video of Ortiz either answering questions or running from them, as they have much more license to get in the face of a US Attorney. A guy on the street who tries Michael Moore-ing Ortiz with an ambush interview on her way to work is likely to get cuffed for harassing a peace officer or something.
3) Repeat the above step for anyone in Boston with a media credential. A good step is to find anyone who has gotten Ortiz on the record before, e.g. Elizabeth Murphy from the Boston Herald (http://www.mainjustice.com/2013/01/07/mass-u-s-attorney-carm...). Tell them the truth, which is that only the press can hold a prosecutor like this accountable. They need to push for quotes on the record and press conferences, and ask over and over whether she believes her actions were right and her conduct was justified.
4) Determine who her technical superiors are. These are the people in DOJ who are above her on the org chart:
Looks like US Attorneys report to the Deputy Attorney General (James Cole), who reports to the Attorney General (Holder), who reports to Obama. A direct top-down attack is going to be tough as these are national figures.
5) Determine who her political superiors are. This is a much broader list. Everyone from the mayor of Boston to the governor of Massachusetts to both MA Senators to the chair of the MA Democratic party can take a swing here. Those are all players within the MA political establishment that she needs to listen to. Might be obvious, but it's critical (and easy) to make the case to other Democrats, as Swartz was a Democratic activist and this was truly blue-on-blue violence (though Ortiz is hardly a "Democrat" in the sense of mercy and fairness). Undercutting her political support and making her realize she has no more political friends in the world will cause her big problems.
6) Relatedly, go through the press and make a list of everyone who has ever endorsed her in public for anything, from the local Latino/a groups to the people who got her on Obama's shortlist to the local Democratic politicians. Call them up, explain that her overzealous prosecution led to the suicide of a 26 year old computer wizard (and Obama activist!), and ask them on the record whether they will support her for higher office. Ask them whether Ortiz shoudl resign. Blog this, with SEO for the headline: "X declines to support Carmen M. Ortiz for further office." or "Y calls on Carmen M. Ortiz to resign for spurious prosecution of Aaron Swartz."
7) Asymmetric warfare. This one is not illegal, but you would want one of your law school friends who worked in the US Attorney's office or in the press to do it (especially the latter as they will have some immunity). The concept is to interview as many of the 200 people in the MA Attorney's office as possible to determine how many of them feel good about these events, think Ortiz was in the right, or feel like Ortiz has been a good leader. It is quite possible that someone will describe a political or even personal scandal known only to subordinates or immediate associates. An Eliot-Spitzer-Client-9 level scandal uncovered in this fashion would absolutely knock her out of the ring, though it wouldn't be as satisfying as seeing her forced to step down for pursuing this case. But getting Capone for tax evasion is still getting Capone.
8) Swartz's friends. Anyone who has blogged or written about this case is someone who can likely be counted on to amplify the messages above and keep the pressure on.
EDIT: Aha. Looks like this same person went after online gambling under UIGEA to "send a message".
However, it is a story that could serve a larger purpose than just ruining this woman's career. I would like to this effort put into something more constructive like the decriminalization of copyright infringement. It could be relegated to a civil issue, especially online (versus manufactured goods).
There will be other overzealous prosecutors to replace her, but if the law is changed. It could serve a greater purpose.
"Naming and shaming" gives her name recognition and boosts her credentials as "tough". Any publicity is good publicity for a politician.
Instead, you and your friends should be asking the Senators and Governor of Massachusetts (aka the gatekeepers to this person's career path) why someone who demonstrates such contempt for the concept of justice is representing the United States government. You should ask President Obama and the Attorney General why their administration tolerates that contempt.
If you want the law changed, you need to attack those who are perpetrating injustice.
Fixing one statute isn't going to cut it; they'll just keep on at it with the ones remaining. The fix has to be systemic or it's nothing but a band aid on a gunshot wound.
My point is simply that this is a systemic problem. We can't have one prosecutor removed and then stop. We have to make this entire model of prosecution illegitimate. It's going to take a sustained, organized movement to make real change.
Which isn't to say it can't be done. It damn well has to be done. But it isn't going to be easy.
If the likes of 4chan or reddit attack a federal prosecutor personally, all they will do is spur political action against reddit and 4chan. The underlying cause of their action will be ignored and forgotten.
(Note: SOPA is not an exception; major Silicon Valley companies spent serious amounts on lobbying to get that bill dropped. The internet opposition had exactly zero impact on its political fate.)
Identifying the tactics used to effectively strip people of their rights to open trials is the object here. Juries exist specifically to guard against abuses like this. If the DOJ has found a way to make getting in front of one exceedingly risky and certainly ruinous, then they should be called to account for what is a clear subversion of basic Constitutional protections.
We can't get Aaron back. But we can make sure that everyone understands why he found himself in such a desperate situation in spite of having done nothing to warrant the insane penalties he was facing.
I still like the idea of doing something bigger to help keep this situation from happening again.
I unfortuantley do not know how I would even start doing one, but some comments have data like "97% of all people plead guilty" we could see what the average number of time in Jail is, pull out some quotes.
I posted abt it here http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5048729
and the types of question we would need to figure out relating to court costs and things like that.
From a practical matter a prosecutor might decline to prosecute if they can't get the cooperation of someone (needed to testify or provide evidence) but this should have no bearing on whether to prosecute or not.
You could have a crime committed and the crime is worthy of prosection. The fact that someone believes (as an extreme example) that a person who committed assault against them shouldn't be prosecuted doesn't and shouldn't really matter (keeping in mind of course the practical nature of prosecuting without cooperation). Unless of course they say "no assault occured" which is different then "assault occurred but I don't want anything done".
"We were just following orders" and "We were just doing our jobs" and "We were doing what the law told us to do" aren't the indefensible moral positions you seem to think they are. Laws are written by men and enforced by men. Just the idea that all prosecutors are slaves to these laws is so incredibly naive I almost don't know what to say to you, but I'll try to sum it up:
At best, this was a simple copyright issue that the two parties chose to work out. At worst, this was a white collar crime, and with all white collar crimes, your political capital determines what happens to you. Aaron had no political capital. The support of people like Lessig or Doctorow or the EFF is meaningless in DC. Carmen Ortiz understood this. Now here we are.
Having carefully reviewed all of the facts and
circumstances of this matter, as it does in every case
involving firearms-related offenses or any other potential
violation of D.C. law within our criminal jurisdiction, OAG
has determined to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to
decline to bring criminal charges against Mr. Gregory, who
has no criminal record, or any other NBC employee based on
the events associated with the December 23, 2012 broadcast.
Careful; that's a double-edged sword. Would you prefer that individual prosecutors have the authority to ignore the law? That didn't work too well in the pre-civil-rights South, when lynchings went unprosecuted.
It's far better to have a government of laws and not a government of men; then you can assign responsibility where it belongs, with the people who write the laws.
Who do you think decided to tell JSTOR to shove it and prosecute him anyway under a federal computer crimes act? All prosecution is political and white collar crimes doubly so. Men decide to be vindictive, men decide which laws, and the men who prosecute knowing it takes millions of dollars to successful defend from a false accusation from the federal government.
We don't live under laws. We live under men. There's no politically neutral AI calling the shots. Its people trying to get promotions and making names for themselves and who knows what other motivations. The selfless prosecutor exists only in movies and TV.
No, all laws are political. Enforcement of the law, especiallly at the federal level, is apolitical. White collar crimes are not special; indeed, white collar crimes are by far the worst types of crimes because they strike directly at the foundation of the system itself (i.e., trust).
There's no politically neutral AI calling the shots.
Exactly. Letting prosecutors pick and choose which statutes they enforce would make prosecution political. This is what happened in the South for 100 years when blacks were prosecuted aggressively and white defendants were not (especially in cases with black victims). It's also the reason why prosecutors at the federal level generally do not have discretionary authority to decide what crimes they will enforce absent a presidential directive or a directive from the head of their agency.
It's also the reason why prosecutors at the federal level
generally do not have discretionary authority
The United States Attorney, within his/her district, has
plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters.
This authority is exercised under the supervision and
direction of the Attorney General and his/her delegates.
The statutory duty to prosecute for all offenses against
the United States (28 U.S.C. § 547) carries with it the
authority necessary to perform this duty. The USA is
invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney
General with the broadest discretion in the exercise of
The authority, discretionary power, and responsibilities of
the United States Attorney with relation to criminal
matters encompass without limitation by enumeration the
Investigating suspected or alleged offenses against the
United States, see USAM 9-2.010;
Causing investigations to be conducted by the appropriate
federal law enforcement agencies, see USAM 9-2.010;
Declining prosecution, see USAM 9-2.020;
Authorizing prosecution, see USAM 9-2.030;
Determining the manner of prosecuting and deciding trial
Recommending whether to appeal or not to appeal from an
adverse ruling or decision, see USAM 9-2.170;
Dismissing prosecutions, see USAM 9-2.050; and
Handling civil matters related thereto which are under the
supervision of the Criminal Division.
I have had several friends prosecuted for trumped up nonsense that should have been slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanors at the most.
I would prefer to see an AG exercise their privilege to not prosecute in cases where, even assuming the facts in the complaint are true, it is unclear that a crime has been committed. Particularly where there is no individual who has been harmed.
"Tough on Crime" is a messed up way to operate a justice system. "Fair on Crime" should be the standard we hold our officials to.
Pull the other one now.
You are implying things that I did not say.
Please quote specifically what I said that gives you the impressions that I am "so incredibly naive". In other words indicate where I said or implied that prosecutors don't have discretion and what that has to do with what I did say which had to do specifically with the person "harmed".
So how about you save your emotionally charged call for an internet brigade until everything has settled down, yes?
What I do know is that the issue is larger than Aaron himself.
And what part of forcing a single attorney out of her job is "greater change"? What part of that is being "proud"?
Hey guys! You might be effective if you do this now, so don't do it! Wait for no one to care before you start trying!
Agreed. She should lose her friends and family too, if they are good people. They should drop her out of their lives.
Because of this, advocates for reform risk playing right, straight, smack into the hands of the system by resolving to do nothing more than stop one out-of-control public official. Soon enough, others will rise (in fact, they already have). And what will happen when the unlucky victims of malicious prosecutions don't have "the Internet" to back them up? To protect the public at large, the system itself must also be changed.
"Seeing her dismissed and disgraced is in fact the only thing that will send such a message to such Javerts, as they have disabled the voice of the people by routing around jury trials and they are appointed rather than subject to elections."
Could the real cause be that federal criminal statutes are too broad, and often shoved into bills at the last minute or for no good reason, and that mandatory minimum sentences for poorly-defined crimes litter every major piece of legislation to come out of Congress recently?
Before casting blame for malicious prosecutions entirely on prosecutors who are merely enforcing laws passed by Congress, let's look inward at ourselves, and wonder how we could be so stupid as to vote for people whose philosophy it is to write criminal statutes so broad that all justice is left to prosecutorial discretion. It could be argued that it is the American public who are ultimately responsible for malicious, pointless prosecutions.
But that's not the whole story. Currently, the public is totally cool with voting for people who write criminal statutes so broad that falling out of favor with the government can mean prosecutors can jail you for the rest of your life for no reason any empathetic person would agree with. It is also the public that is voting for people who appoint prosecutors incapable of using appropriate discretion.
"It is incumbent upon us to see that she does not get [to higher office], that this behavior is NOT rewarded."
And this is why your post is good and useful. Let's just remember that the legislative process, and therefore voters, are ultimately responsible for the lack of empathy and discretion in our judicial system.
I hope some time justice will also spread in judiciary...
...as they have disabled the voice of the people by routing around jury trials.
Aaron had the option of going to trial. It was his constitutional right. He chose to kill himself instead.
...and they are appointed rather than subject to elections
The history of the South should provide enough justification for why federal prosecutors are never elected. You do not want enforcement of federal crimes subject to popular whims or to political pressures. Too often, political pressure leads to overzealous enforcement of criminal statutes, not reasoned enforcement (see, e.g., Maricopa County).
No matter. The fact that this woman cannot be disciplined by electoral measures is what necessitates the use of the Internet and the press:
Isn't that part-and-parcel of naming-and-shaming?
Most of the commenters seem to think that name-and-shame means "write about it on your blog" or "retweet something", I guess. A tweet doesn't get someone fired; calling your local congressperson is definitely the thing to do.
It was not a real option. He had run out of money for an expensive, complex case. He was sure to lose.
For someone of Aaron's talent and reputation there is no reason that he could not have gotten past a felony conviction and lived a successful life.
I can only interpret Lessig's post:
"...the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept..."
I don't know what the government actually offered, but it doesn't seem unreasonable that Aaron would have been able to get a deal with a relatively light sentence, maybe just probation. It sounds from Lessig's post like his hangup was that he wasn't willing to accept a felony conviction. I hope that's not the case because even with a felony record he most likely would have lived a long and successful life.
Being sentenced and getting a record for doing something you feel is right is not something everybody takes equally lightly. Personally I couldn't care less but I can see how someone with stronger principles would react much stronger to this.
Almost certainly zero impact for this. Easily ignored. The prosecutor in this case, however, probably could not easily ignore her friends and family dumping her.
Getting 4chan to apply the right amount of pressure to the right place seems to be like trying to get an apathetic redneck to remove a tree stump for you. Chances are he's either going to whack it a few times with an axe and declare it unmovable, or blow it up. (To be fair, blowing it up works great, but can get people in trouble rather easily)
You talk to her friends and family about her, and you'll just make her a hero in their eyes, the same way Aaron's actions made him a hero to reddit and 4chan.
This is Timothy McVeigh thinking, and it makes you a loser just like it did to McVeigh. You can never kill or destroy enough people to defeat Washington, D.C.
To win you have to think like Osama bin Laden: turn the system against itself. Wholesale, not retail. Scale up, not one off. TSA, not EFF.
It's appalling that your criticism of Timothy McVeigh is that he wasn't enough like Osama bin Laden. Do you really think either one of these should serve as a model?
(Shrug) bin Laden got shit done. McVeigh did not.
They both ended up exactly where they deserved, but you can't ignore the fact that one of them was an effective political strategist while the other one was nothing but a plain old mass murderer.
To the extent that bin Laden's ultimate goal was to cause severe financial damage to US interests, there's no question but that he succeeded grandly. Sure, 99% of the damage that resulted from 9/11 was self-inflicted by the Bush administration, but the outcome was the same as if bin Laden had destroyed trillions of dollars in US wealth himself.
That's the lesson of Timothy McVeigh: if blowing up an entire building full of your opponents has no effect, then writing a stern letter to your Congressman is laughable.
As far as bin Laden being a good role model, he won didn't he? He got inside Washinton, D.C.'s decision loop and systematically turned it against its own interests. Trillions wasted on war, distracted from fixing economic problems, Turkey handed to the mullahs on a silver platter, occupation of ungovernable territories, etc.
Second, that you think calling the poster a "loser" is important is telling. What do you think that will accomplish? Has insulting people ever won them over to your position, in your experience? Or were you banking on everyone's agreement, effectively forcing an internet shaming?
Nobody has ever won against Washington, D.C. by scoring a symbolic personal victory against a few minions. Even if you are like McVeigh and willing to accept a certain degree of collateral damage, it has no effect. It turns out that blowing up a Federal building is the political equivalent of putting itching powder in Uncle Sam's shorts.
So if that is the case, sending an outspoken email is a pre-defeated strategy. It is the action of someone who lost before they started, a loser.
What? McVeigh murdered innocent people. The parent is proposing investigating the prosecutor for breaching the mores and laws that govern her profession using the legal system already in place. These are not exactly equivalent.
I have no interest in defeating Washington, D.C. I have no desire to "win" if "winning" requires me thinking "like Osama Bin Ladin" (or do you mean not thinking? because I think he's dead, last time I checked).
There's no worse fear for a bureaucrat than to be hoisted by their own petard, to face a misconduct investigation, and possibly criminal and civil charges. A lot of harm can be prevented if her public service career is ended early on the count of what she has done to Aaron (and presumably others): I'd rather her career end as an associate in a think-tank (or whatever), rather than as the next Rudy Giuliani (who also started his career as a DA).
1) US Attorneys routinely routinely overcharge defendants to an almost absurd degree;
2) The most commonly used federal statutes, such as the Wire Fraud statute, are so broadly written that people with no criminal intent could reasonably be found guilty; and
3) The maximum sentences for convictions under these broad statutes are so absurdly high that no one in their right mind would dare risk a trial.
These factors, combined with often merciless prosecutors, add up to a recipe for a potential disaster such as the one we have seen here. The system is very much geared to send to prison anyone that is charged with a crime, based on the system's trust in the concept of prosecutorial discretion. Unfortunately, many prosecutors abuse their discretion, and there is no way to inject uniform sanity into our system as it currently exists. Sadly, the prosecutor in this case likely won't even offer as much as an apology to Aaron's family, as most of them seem to feel justified in their behavior.
Unfortunately that's down at the moment but you can use the Google Cache:
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plea_bargaining_in_the_United_S... and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044358930457763...
This is a decades old paper, but still quite relevant for the reasons why the conviction rate is so high in Japan.
No, it actually isn't. You have to look at convictions, acquittals, and dismissals to form an accurate assessment of the outcome of criminal prosecutions. When you factor in dismissals, the conviction rate, whether by a plea of guilty or no contest, or as a result of a trial, drops to 90-91%.
Moreover, in many cases the cause of a dismissal is that the prosecutor requested it, e.g. because the entire charge was a farce meant to intimidate the defendant and it by that point had either failed or (more likely) succeeded to do so and no longer needed to be maintained.
If someone is formally charged with a federal felony, that means they have been indicted by a federal Grand Jury; i.e., a majority of the 23 Grand Jurors felt that there is probable cause for charging the defendant(s) with the alleged offense(s). People indicted by Grand Juries should end up getting convicted the vast majority of time, otherwise Grand Juries (and the prosecutors that bring cases before them) aren't serving their function, and their findings of probable cause are erroneous.
I actually don't think a conviction rate of 9 out of 10 is too high; rather, too many things are illegal (and felonious in particular), and the penalties are too severe. But I don't think the actual trial and pretrial systems are irredeemably bad, as many of the posts here are suggesting.
Without knowing why the rate is what it is, it seems pointless to talk about it at all. A 99% rate could be great, and a 50% rate could be great, depending on why it happens.
This is profoundly ignorant. As a Grand Juror, you will have a mountain of documents dumped on you, alleging or suggesting various crimes. The validity, accuracy, or even meaning of those documents, isn't debated or even examined.
A Grand Jury will indict anyone where the law enforcement officers have done a minimal amount of investigation and have gathered something. The process is there to prevent mass prosecution, in other words, to make sure the government does some minimal amount of work at least.
It does not, in any way, suggest guilt of any sort.
They could present a Grand Jury with documents from another case and not a single Grand Juror would be the wiser. Obviously that would be illegal and grossly inappropriate, but the fact that this could easily be done suggests that the process isn't there to determine any realistic "probable cause" ... just to make sure a minimal amount of work was completed.
Don't be ridiculous. What I would prefer is that more of the innocent people who are currently charged not be convicted or coerced into a guilty plea by the prospect of outrageous penalties and soul-crushing legal fees.
>People indicted by Grand Juries should end up getting convicted the vast majority of time, otherwise Grand Juries (and the prosecutors that bring cases before them) aren't serving their function, and their findings of probable cause are erroneous.
It is pretty obviously the case that they fail spectacularly at this function.
"a grand jury would 'indict a ham sandwich,' if that's what you wanted." - New York State Chief Judge Sol Wachtler
And until that changes (if it even can), the conviction rate should not be anywhere near as high as it is.
>too many things are illegal (and felonious in particular), and the penalties are too severe.
On this we agree.
Swartz was guilty. Even Lessig's post decrying Swartz' treatment intimates as much. Again, perhaps the things he did shouldn't have been crimes, or at least not felonies, and the penalties shouldn't have been so severe, but you need to distinguish between innocent people being wrongly prosecuted for things they did not do and bad law making criminals out of good people.
> "a grand jury would 'indict a ham sandwich,' if that's what you wanted." - New York State Chief Judge Sol Wachtler
Judges, prosecutors and legal academics in general exhibit hostility towards juries, grand and petit alike. There are rare exceptions, such as Antonin Scalia. But in general, the legal profession resents the continued involvement of the common man in the judicial process, especially in as crucial a role as pre- and post-trial arbiter of fact.
Whatever perceived defects exist in the grand jury process, such as its secrecy or the absence of the accused, these can be remedied while still keeping intact the basic structure of 23 average citizens making, by majority, a determination of probable cause.
In fact, rather than being part of the problem, if juries were so emboldened, they could mitigate many of the injustices of our system themselves through the use of jury nullification.
I didn't read it as such. I read it as Lessig saying that what prosecutors accused him of doing was a crime, but that Swartz may have informed him of contrary facts in confidence which he was not at liberty to disclose.
Moreover, we don't know that someone is guilty until after they have been convicted, right? Swartz was never convicted (and obviously at this point never will be), so he is innocent until proven guilty.
But your point about distinguishing between guilt under the law and moral culpability is well-taken. I much more strongly care to ensure that the sort of thing Swartz was accused of doing not be illegal than care whether Swartz in actual fact did the thing that I believe should not be illegal.
>In fact, rather than being part of the problem, if juries were so emboldened, they could mitigate many of the injustices of our system themselves through the use of jury nullification.
I don't disagree with that, and it isn't the jury I blame for the outcomes, it's the process. As you mention, the Grand Jury hears from only one side in a sealed proceeding. The outcome of that is entirely predictable. And changing it would be quite welcome, but unless and until we change it, we can't assume that as-implemented it works as the theory says it should, contrary to all available evidence.
He may have been guilty of something. It sounds like the charges against him were at the very least trumped up far beyond what would have been reasonable for the actions he is known to have taken.
The grand jury hearings have no bearing on the determination of guilt, much less on the adequacy of the prosecution's case.
Still, wording is important: both I and the parent poster should have said 97% was the percentage of convictions which resulted from pleas, not the percentage of indicted defendants which plead guilty. I think taking percentage of convictions is the correct metric to use - given the ideals of innocent until proven guilty and the right to trial, you would hope that most convictions were the result of a trial rather than a vanishingly small (and getting smaller) 3%.
It's also quite telling that even with statistics haggling, the anonymous poster still conceded a whopping 90%.
If more people knew about it, do you think "we the people" could reign in out of touch congress critters that write these laws (don't repeal or change them) and the over zealous executive branch (prosecutors and police) that attempt to rack up and level up charges.
Didn't change the law in the direction they wanted, and didn't achieve justice either.
Also, one "short coming" of jury nullification is that it doesn't actually nullify the law, just the outcome of individual trials which, yes, can be abused as it was in the South. The precedent it can create, if enough juries nullify similar trials, is reducing over zealous prosecution and prosecutors. So, when a true RICO case comes up the law can appropriately be used. But when RICO is used in a case just to trump up charges, prosecutors will be less apt to pursue if its going to hurt their record of convictions and careers.
I have a friend who is a prosecutor and I had heard him talk about his work before. Everything he said was focused on winning. He was proud that he was able to dig out cases from the past where people went free, and then send them to jail. He was proud how good he was at prosecuting people. For all I know, he kept a score.
Is being so driven by the end goal a good thing? Sure it is, when you are prosecuting an actual bad guy. But, as it was my impression from my friend, it didn't really matter to him how bad the guy; all that matters is whether he can win. In that case, the system is at fault for allowing this kind of competition with human lives, but the individuals are at fault for playing the game.
Rosa Parks was not the first person to be denied a seat on a bus. The mishandling of rape cases has been a problem in India for a long time and it took the tragic case of the (so far, anonymous) woman who was brutally gang-raped to spur international furor. And think of the numerous laws named after victims...Megan, and so forth
The system is supported by people. Someone is responsible.
Not naming the people responsible is only good for them and is probably what they want.
Federal prosecutors are appointed, not elected, which makes the effort to name and shame them even more tenuous. Trying to fight the culture of overzealous prosecution as a whole would make it more likely that the elected official who appoints them (the president) does a better job.
I still support undermining any effort of hers to get elected to higher office, though.
Disagree. Ostracizing and shaming everyone who supports such tactics is the reasonable way to mitigate this crap. Ostracizing and shaming worked for the civil rights movement, it can work here too.
What services do you need to purchase/hire that you wouldn't get in a normal court case?
Is it because you spend a lot more time in court or in preparation?
Do you need to choose among lawyers with special certification? What type of paperwork do you need to produce?
In the Latin America (where I am) I could easily see the biggest expenses being bribes and it is in general what I think of when you need a problem solved. (Not a good thing at all...)
P.S. Making an infographic about a case like this vs a regular court case would be an interesting project and could help us make the case for Aaron...anyone want to help by looking for data / making one on your own?
Most of the rules are the same, but the game is played at a much higher level and the stakes are higher.
There's a good essay on exactly that point, descriptively entitled "Fix the machine, not the person". Written by... Aaron Swartz.
It's perhaps interesting that, in a thread with dozens of HNers calling for everything from naming and shaming to harrassment, no-one so far has linked to his opinion on this.
This kind of thing is far too common. The prosecution may be allowed to presume guilt, fine. But the law should prevent an overzealous prosecutor from rendering moot the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendments (not that I'm a constitutional scholar, just applying the "common sense" rule here).
Seizing assets is wrong in 99% of cases, and eliminates the right to mount an effective defense. It is morally bankrupt.
"Making an example" of someone is complete garbage. That is not justice, it is cruel and unusual punishment. It seems to more often be used by DA's with political aspirations than for legitimately egregious crimes.
This is why I vote against anyone who lists "tough on crime" as a credential. It's not. "Fair on crime" is a virtue, "tough on crime" is bullying and an abrogation of justice. Citizens should have an expectation that punishments for doing something wrong will suit the offense. Anything otherwise is a violation of the 8th amendment.
If there is doubt over whether or not an action is even a crime, a DA should be using their discretion to NOT prosecute. When the "victims" of a "crime" don't even want to press charges, you have to question the motives of a DA that pursues the case anyway.
This is such a disgusting violation of power it makes me want to vomit blood. Why on earth do judges have the right to prevent people from appealing to the court of public opinion? That's immoral, abusive, and absurd. If people can't disclose what is happening to them, then abuses of power become frequent.
The problem isn't with government per se, it's with the typical intellectual.