Friday, January 19, 2007

Mr. Fitzgerald, Meet Mr. Nifong

The case against Lawrence "Scooter" Libby is about to go to trial, and things are starting to get interesting. Libby's lawyer has pushed for critics of the Bush Adminsitration to be removed from jury consideration, which had lead to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to push for critics of the Administration to be allowed on the jury.

Now, I can understand why Libby's lawyer is looking to get Bush critics off the jury because allowing them could taint the jury's decision. And in today's nitro-charged political environment, it's getting harder and harder for people to overcome their political biases and be objective.

What I can't understand is Fitzgerald's response. The purpose of a jury is to objectively review the evidence and render a verdict based on that evidence. To throw politics into this situation where a man's life would be impacted by a conviction is disturbing to say the least. But it's not unexpected. We've seen that sort of thing happen before, and not too long ago.

Michael Nifong, anyone?

Nifong's folly involved the lives of three Duke lacrosse players and an increasingly unreliable plaintiff, but is motivated at least in some part by politics, whether it be of race or of class. Fitzgerald's folly is based more on national politics, but is no less disgusting.

There is another thing that connects Nifong and Fitzgerald: their cases are woefully weak. The more we dig into the Duke lacrosse team case and the Libby case, the more we see that they're not operating from a position of strength. That may explain why they're injecting politics into the legal process. After all, if they stack the jury with people predisposed to believe the worst about the defendants, it's going to be that much easier to get a conviction, which vindicates them to some extent. And justice? Well, justice can just take a back seat to their desire for a conviction.

Justice isn't being served by Fitzgerald; it's being distorted for personal reasons. It's a good thing Lady Justice is blindfolded so she doesn't have to see what people like Fitzgerald and Nifong are doing.

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