Stopping the Rot in the US Justice System

Via TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime, a pointer to an inspiring judicial decision to dismiss a criminal case in light of systematic long-running proprietorial misconduct. (I have not followed the case, so I'm taking the judge's decision at face value. For what it's worth, Judge Carney was appointed by George W. Bush in 2003, so he's unlikely to be a flaming liberal.)

It's increasingly clear that something very very bad happened to the US Justice system during the Bush administration. We've known about the guys in DC for some time, but it's gradually becoming clearer just how much it also happened in the hinterland. To its discredit, the Obama administration has been too slow about cleaning up the distributed rot.

As of this writing, a significant minority of the US Attorney positions remain in the hands of Bush holdover appointees:. A few do deserve to keep their jobs; for the rest it is long past time to go.

In this particular case, though, the man at the top is gone: In the Central District of California, the holdover resigned Sept. 1; no replacement has yet been named, much less confirmed, and the office is run by an Acting US Attorney. New leadership is needed; then we can see if that's enough or if we need further housecleaning.

(For a local example of a similar problem with proprietorial ethics, see this.)

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7 Responses to Stopping the Rot in the US Justice System

  1. Vic says:

    So let me get this straight:

    You point to a particular case of proprietorial misconduct, by people you don’t say are Bush appointees, who are apparently not working for a Bush appointee, and who were then slapped down by a Bush-appointed judge, as making it “increasingly clear that something very very bad happened to the US Justice system during the Bush administration.”

    Do I have that right?

    Your air-tight logical thinking again has left me speechless.

    And while we might even agree that SOME Bush appointees did wrong, for whatever reason, you can’t possibly be completely unaware of what has been going on in the Obama Justice Department, or so selective in memory that you think such misconduct is limited to people Bush appointed. Not to mention your wholesale ignoring of the blatant and rampant corruption being displayed right now in the Congress! Though, you’ve had your brains scooped out and replaced by Yale brains, so who knows. 😉

    It must be both amazing to have the whole world figured out, yet frustrating now that Evil has left office and no longer bestrides this world. (I assume Obama stabbing Lebanon in the back slipped your attention?) Maybe you can at least employ your steel-trap mind to helping to figure out where the Mystery Hospital in Ried’s Bill is located.

  2. michael says:

    If you read the court’s opinion you will see that the misconduct (witness intimidation) started a long time ago — while the Bush appointee was in charge. I think Bush’s US Attorney can fairly be blamed for creating an atmosphere in which this could happen. I believe in accountability. I recognize that this is not a popular concept on the right, since the consequences would be so dire for certain popular leaders, but I’m old fashioned.

    But as I noted, the old US Atty is not there any more to be fired, as a short time ago he left office for private practice. The current replacement is just an Acting, and odds are that he sees the role more as caretaker than clean house mode (plus it’s someone who prospered in the Old Regime, not necessarily a good sign). What’s needed is a new broom, new policies, and maybe some house cleaning.

    As for Bush judges, some are quite awful — think Bybee. But I don’t know enough about his district court appointments overall to have much sense of what they are like. Whether this is a good one, or the facts were just so awful that even a Bush appointee couldn’t stomach it, I honestly don’t know.

    The Obama justice dept has been disappointing in that it has tried to avoid investigating Bush administration misconduct, and has been rather slow on Guantanamo, and has upheld the Bush line on state secrets and no-civil-rights-for-people-accused-of-terrorism. But I’m not aware of any outright criminality much less stuff on the scale of the Rove-Gonzales justice department.

    As regards log-rolling to get votes in the legislature, I’ve never been against it. That’s democracy.

  3. I’m just kind of amused at the notion the rot started during the Bush administration. The Clinton administration had it’s share of corruption, (Anybody remember the perpetual IRS audits of anyone on Clinton’s fecal roster?) so did prior administrations. Corruption is the ground state for politicians.

    “But I’m not aware of any outright criminality much less stuff on the scale of the Rove-Gonzales justice department.”

    There have been some fairly blatant decisions to quash investigations, like the Black Panther voter intimidation case. Then there’s the Walpin firing. The fact that the MSM don’t have much interest in reporting Obama related scandals doesn’t mean there aren’t any. They just get swept under the rug.

  4. michael says:

    I think you are confusing Clinton with Nixon. He’s the one who tried to use the IRS against his ‘enemies’.

    A quick google search did find this fun quote, though, from a Clinton press secretary denying the accusation,

    “We may do dumb things from time to time, but we are not certifiably insane,” White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry said in denying the allegation. “The IRS, and IRS solely, is the one that makes decisions about the enforcement of tax laws.”

    (And, indeed, there was an investigation of those charges (both by the Justice Dept and later by the GOP witchhunt/impeachment committee and nothing came of any of it.)

    The Walpin firing is hard to figure out: there are a lot of conflicting stories, including many people who say he was doing a bad job and was impossible to deal with; he also has his defenders. I’m really not at all sure what went on, but if I’d had to bet I’d say this was a case of a holdover guy who the new crowd decided (rightly or wrongly) wasn’t up to his job.

    I don’t know anything about the ‘Black Panther voter initimdation case’. I didn’t even know there were still Black Panthers.,,

  5. No, Nixon is the one who threatened to use the IRS against his enemies. Clinton is the one who succeeded. No confusion about it at all. So, the IRS just spontaneously decided to continuously audit numerous right wing groups during the Clinton administration? I don’t buy that.

    If your gold standard is convictions, you’re not going to pin much on Bush, either.

  6. michael says:

    Nixon resigned in disgrace, and was pardoned, which is why he had no convictions.

    Clinton was probably the most investigated President in history, and the failure to find a smoking gun is pretty good evidence for me. (Did you read my note above? – there were two investigations of the IRS-related claims. Neither produced a thing.)

    But I fear you are right about Bush; the Obama people don’t have the stomach for digging for the truth, much less prosecutions.

  7. Vic says:

    How can you not know about the Black Panther voter intimidation case? It was one of the BIG stories of this election? There’s even video of it happening.

    Start here:

    As for the Clinton IRS audits, you can find lots of stories about that as well. Granted, very few of the dots between Clinton and the IRS have been connected, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty there and the IRS is an executive agency. If people who were outspoken against Clinton (, being one), then got audited… I don’t know one way or the other, and at this point, what does it matter, but the story was out there and a big one.

    I agree that this corruption is in every administration, including the current one. The problem is that the political leanings of those who talk about it tends to color it differently, depending who is in charge. i.e. When it was Clinton, he had nothing to do with his IRS, when it was Bush, he had everything to do with any agency that did anything wrong. And of course, Obama will have nothing to do with the incompetant Nepolitano when she’s hung out to dry for what she said and didn’t do.

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