Monday, October 13, 2014
I'm Back, And Book Review Three Felonies a Day
Good news for my loyal readers, both of them. I'm back to posting on my blog. I've been away for other reasons (missionary in Mexico, doing other work etc.) but will try to post once or twice a week for the foreseeable future. I may even post excerpts from a book I'm working on. I'll start with a review of a book that I encountered while doing research for my book which I expect to publish within a few months. Book Review, Silverglate, Harvey A. Three Felonies a Day, How the Feds Target the Innocent, Encounter Books, 2009. “Silvergate believes that we are in danger of becoming a society in which prosecutors alone become judges, juries and executioners because the threat of high sentences makes it too costly for even innocent people to resist the prosecutorial pressure. That is why nearly all criminal defendants [in federal court] today plead guilty to 'reduced' charges rather than risk a trial with draconian sentences in the event of a conviction.” (From the Foreword by Alan M. Dershowitz) This is a frightening book, giving examples of how federal prosecutors pressure witnesses to testify against friends, bosses, even family members. It describes how they “climb the ladder,” starting with low level employees and getting each to agree to testify against those higher on the organizational chart. The problem is that truth in testimony becomes less important than digging up dirt on the ultimate targets. The book presents evidence that prosecutors encouraged perjury, even telling people what to say in their testimony. Companies such as AIG and Arthur Anderson, along with their executives, fell victim to this type of prosecution. Another major tactic is to use vague laws to prosecute people for what most of us would agree is legal. For example, Walter L. Lachman and Maurice H. Subilia, Jr. were charged with selling materials that would help India develop nuclear weapons. The case hinged on the definition of materials “specially designed” for such weapons. The jury convicted, but then lawyers discovered an appellate case that decreed that the materials were not specially designed for nuclear uses. In addition, Commerce Department officials had given seminars where they taught that such materials did not meet the “specially designed” criterion. Judge Douglas P. Woodlock declared a not guilty verdict. The government appealed and that same appellate court that had ruled that the materials were not so designed turned around and said that they were specially designed for nuclear weapons. That court also ruled that, in spite of the same court giving diametrically opposed rulings on the wording, the wording was not unconstitutionally vague. This book is well worth reading – if you can stomach it. I find it sickening that our government would twist our justice system in the manners described. And such legal blackmail can threaten almost any citizen who has a job, especially a job with a large company. Though the major targets are people in fields such as accounting, they could go after anyone who might provide testimony about other company employees.