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DOJ's Version of Unbiased Justice

My friend Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has a depressing and ominous assessment of the chance that Officer Darren Wilson, the Missouri cop who shot unarmed but huge 18 year-old Michael Brown, can get a fair shake from the federal grand jury looking into the case.

Eric Holder's Justice Department is in Missouri, some 50 strong according to Megyn Kelly, to investigate the shooting of Michael Brown and to decide whether to charge police officer Darren Wilson with civil rights crimes. The investigation and decision is in the hands of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.

How much confidence can Americans have in the fairness and objectivity of this unit? The answer, I submit, is little if any.

Christian Adams at PJ Media has been covering the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division for years. PJ Media had to file a lawsuit to obtain the resumes of the lawyers Holder has brought into that group. According to Adams, it turned out that every one of his hires is a left-wing activist, and that some have histories of anti-police activity. 

What follows is a hair-raising rundown of the background of the lawyers who will be running the grand jury.  The short of it is that they're a bunch of far left ideologues.  

If you thought the Rick Perry indictment was a creature of politics, you're right. But I fear it was just a rehearsal.


What kind of trial record does this Holder team have? How many convictions have they obtained against law enforcement officers? If any, how egregious was the conduct in those cases?

It is one thing to have a leftist-leaning Harvard plated resume. It is another to be able to win in the trial court trenches, especially when your adversary is highly-qualified and well-prepared, the judge presiding over the case is (hopefully) committed to seeing that justice is done, and the jurors truly are devoted to deciding the case on the facts and the law.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that Wilson and his supporters should prepare for a very tough battle and should have the financial wherewithal to mount a vigorous defense -- at least as "vigorous" as the one that the honorable Gov. Nixon demanded the prosecutors mount.

I think this whole situation is ridiculous. First, it is assumed that the police officer involved gunned down some innocent black kid trying to surrender. Now, it is assumed that a vast left-wing conspiracy is after some poor beat cop who defending himself against a crazed, 300 lbs, drugged up thug.

Of course, no one really knows what happened at all, but it doesn't stop the speculation. I think the two versions are so opposite, that the forensics and other medical evidence should be able to quickly shed light on what really happened.

Matt --

I don't think it's an "assumption" that the people DOJ is bringing in have distinctly left wing views -- read their resumes. Nor is it any longer an "assumption" that Wilson was defending himself. He didn't get a broken face from a big gust of air. We don't know that Michael Brown was "crazed," true, but we do know that he had illegal drugs in his system, drugs often associated with the relaxation of inhibition, and that ten minutes before the encounter, he had undertaken a strong-arm robbery against a person half his size. And, yes, we know that he was 292 pounds.

There are plenty of things not yet known, to be sure. How much distance was between the two men? Had they scuffled once, and then Brown returned, either to surrender or to finish it off. Did Brown ever have his hands on the gun? On Wilson's throat or mouth?

These are important questions, and I would feel more confident if the people searching for answers did not have an ideological thumb on the scale.

Once again, Bill, it is telling that you go after federal prosecutors for being political hacks when you fear they do not share your politics, while you elsewhere defend them against all political attacks when you think they do share your politics.

I am not eager to debate the particulars as much as I hope your own stated concerns about prosecutors with a hidden agenda here would make you more understanding of others' concerns that prosecutors always have a (hidden?) agenda to expand the power of the state and diminish/undercut the rights of individuals. And that is why I want there to be more transparency and review on the exercise of prosecutorial powers.

" ... understanding of others' concerns that prosecutors always have a (hidden?) agenda to expand the power of the state and diminish/undercut the rights of individuals."

Always, Doug? Always? Are you serious? The daily work of most prosecutors is prosecuting people who are clearly guilty of conduct that every rational person agrees should be criminal -- murder, rape, robbery, burglary. Anyone who thinks prosecutors always have the agenda you speak of is a crackpot who need not be taken seriously.

Doug --

I go after prosecutors for being political hacks when their backgrounds indicate they're political hacks. Just so. This will continue, as will, I unhappily assume, your pretense that it's impossible to differentiate a politically-laden resume' from a normal one.

"I am not eager to debate the particulars..."

Translation: At some level you well understand that the bunch flown into Ferguson ACTUALLY ARE political hacks, but would prefer to walk past this fact. I understand.

"... as much as I hope your own stated concerns about prosecutors with a hidden agenda here would make you more understanding of others' concerns that prosecutors always have a (hidden?) agenda to expand the power of the state and diminish/undercut the rights of individuals."

Ah, yes, the old equivalency trick. If Eric Holder's half dozen, hand-picked scalp hunters have a political agenda in a hugely unusual and incendiary case, then your standard-issue AUSA working in the field in Des Moines must ALSO have an agenda to attack the "rights" of smack pushers to peddle their wares.

Since you have zero experience as a prosecutor, I suppose you can be forgiven for thinking that they're all a bunch of moral cretins who go to work each day to trash the "rights" of the saintly smack pushers out there. But the time may come when it will occur to you that, in the great run of cases, politics has zip to do with it. Mr. Nicey wants to make a quick buck selling smack, gets caught, and the amount of his inventory is truthfully recounted in the indictment. Result? The defense bar -- often with you in the lead -- goes bonkers that the AUSA has, as you explicitly say, "a (hidden?) agenda to expand the power of the state and diminish/undercut the rights of individuals."

Newsflash: Mr. Nicey has no "right" to sell this stuff, which is illegal and dangerous; he has no "right" to a sentence other than that prescribed by statute; and the AUSA is doing his part -- for relatively low pay -- to make a better world (which is to say, a less drug-plagued one).

Nonetheless, we see once more in your post that the problem is never the quick buck artists and rules-are-for-suckers drug pushers; nope, the problem is the sleazy 29 year-old AUSA hatching his "hidden" fascist agenda.

I strongly suspect that if you'd spent even six months in an actual prosecutor's office, or would just go down to the courthouse to watch what goes on, you'd understand how far your in-the-academy bubble view of things differs from reality.

Bill -

I will have to take your word for it regarding the resumes (or c.v. for the academics here) being left wing. As to what is known and not known, I haven't seen anything definitive regarding the officer's injured face, but if is a "known fact", then it seems like there isn't much of a case of excessive force (given the other known factors, such as being 6'4 300 lbs).

Chiming in on prosecutors with a "political agenda", like the vast majority in any profession are professionals doing their job the best the can. There are of course bad apples.

What I find interesting about the bad apples is liberals complain about one certain set of bad apples (prosecutor in the Michael Morton case) and conservatives complaint about another set (Duke Lacrosse guy).

I don't know what happened in Ferguson. And, I wish everybody would just cool down and let the investigation proceed. Once we know the facts, then we can all start making judgments. There is one thing I know for sure, however, and it is that Doug B's comment about prosecutors having a hidden agenda to trample the rights of citizens is absurd.
-Wait and see

When I listen to Rush and Hannity (which I do a lot), I hear lots of talk about government agents/bureaucrats who are eager to grow government for government's sake (see, e.g., this Rush transcript: http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2014/05/21/the_regime_survives_on_good_intentions. I take these complaints to heart, and I worry that they often apply to government agents working in law enforcement.

I am not asserting that many or even any prosecutors are more interested in government growth than about doing their assigned jobs. But I do suspect most prosecutors are inclined to believe society would be better off if (1) there were more prosecutors/police, and (2) defendants had fewer procedural rights. This is not meant as an attack on prosecutors as a whole or on any single prosecutor in particular, but rather is an express of my own libertarian fear of the growth of government and the power of government officials to make the case for needing to continue to grow government.

Notably, when left-leaning prosecutors are going after individuals rights that right-leaning folks care about, there are lots of complaints about prosecutors from the right --- see, e.g., Fast & Furious, the IRS scandal, administration attacks on journalists. And here at C&C we have lately read lots of attacks from Bill (and others?) on the prosecutors involved in the Perry prosecution and now those investigating Ferguson.

I am not eager to defend any prosecutors from Bill's or others attacks, but I am eager to encourage Bill and others to better understand from these examples why some folks (on both the left and the right) are inclined to be worried about the agenda's of all prosecutors, not just those whose politics are most obviously on display.

Again, if I said anything to disparage or upset any prosecutors, I apologize. Like Matthew, I know that the vast majority of prosecutors (and police and judges and defense attorneys) are professionals doing their job the best the can. But I think it is useful for everyone to see how easy it can be to disrespect of the work of prosecutors once you believe/fear that an agenda of some sort is driving their activities.

One last point, Bill: I agree 100% that in most cases, "politics has zip to do with it." But, in part because you are so quick to highlight the politics you see in the work of prosecutors you dislike, I keep wondering and worrying that politics has a lot more to do with things in a lot more cases that I want to imagine.

Decencyevolves: There is an awful lot of worrying going on here, about the potential bad faith of the prosecutors, if they are affiliated with the evil Eric Holder, the good faith of the officer, the justification for the shooting, the fact that Brown's size and weight justify whatever happened. A few posts ago, there was mention of the fact that Brown may have smoked marijuana, although what that has to do with any of these questions is quite beyond me. There is a lot of supposition and precious few facts. Why don't we all calm down, take a breath and see what happens?

Decencyevolves --

"There is an awful lot of worrying going on here..."

As in almost all other legal blogs, the media, at water coolers coast to coast, etc., etc.

"...about the potential bad faith of the prosecutors, if they are affiliated with the evil Eric Holder..."

No one is worried if they are merely "affiliated" with Holder, as all DOJ lawyers are, at least in the technical sense. It's perfectly in bounds to wonder whether they are disposed to prejudge the case. I have referenced some reasons to believe they are, and you do not dispute (indeed you do not mention) any of them.

And I don't think Holder is evil. I think he's too political for the job he has, and that he has misled Congress more than once, you bet.

"...the fact that Brown's size and weight justify whatever happened."

Ummm, yeah, getting bullrushed by an NFL-sized 18 year-old male is different from getting bullrushed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You got me there!

" A few posts ago, there was mention of the fact that Brown may have smoked marijuana, although what that has to do with any of these questions is quite beyond me."

Marijuana relaxes inhibitions, which is one of the main reasons people smoke it. That it was in his system also shows that he wasn't the perfect angel his family's lawyer has tried to portray. Standing alone, of course, it's a minor factor, I agree with that.

"Why don't we all calm down, take a breath and see what happens?"

The reasons the case gets discussed here are identical to the reasons it gets discussed on numerous other legal blogs. Indeed, I'm quite pleased with the level of the discussion in the comments section. Is there a reason I shouldn't be?

Contrasting a bullrushing RBG to the alleged conduct of Brown ... brilliant imagery ... especially when one considers that RBG's head (presumably like that of a charging Brown's) is frequently bobbing downward (at the State of the Union, for example)

Bill & Kent, any chance of adding an Edit function to your blog so corrections can be made after a comment is published?

Decencyevolves: All we really know for sure is that (1) after Officer Wilson reprimanded Michael Brown for jaywalking, he and Brown scuffled at the police car; (2) Brown ran away; (3) the officer fired shots at Brown as he ran; (3) Brown turned back; (4) Brown was 295 and 6'4" and was the subject of a robbery report; (5) he was unarmed; and (6) he was shot at least six times. Everything else is conjecture at this point until more and clearer information is released. Officer Wilson reportedly received medical treatment after the incident, but the extent of his injuries has been the subject of conflicting accounts. Whether he was aware of the earlier robbery report at the time he fired his weapon has been the subject of conflicting accounts. What happened at the police car has been the subject of conflicting accounts. What Brown did after he turned around has been the subject of conflicting accounts. Whether investigative and prosecutorial authorities will behave fairly and whether Officer Wilson should and will be prosecuted is to be seen. There are things that can be said about the protests and the police response that are meaningful, but we don't know enough about the incident itself to say very much. From my perspective, conjecture here and elsewhere about the shooting and investigation of it by various prosecutorial authorities itself tends to add more heat than light.

Decencyevolves --

Your list is incomplete and partly incorrect. There are reports that Brown ran away, but they have not been confirmed to my knowledge. Also, he was struck only from the front. He was not merely the "subject of a robbery report;" he's on tape stealing and then forcibly shoving the much smaller clerk. Have you not seen that tape? Do you think it without significance?

In addition, the autopsy his family authorized found illegal drugs in his system.

Of course it's true that the behavior of the federal prosecutors has yet to be seen, but their resume's are a matter of public record at this point, and I have previously linked to the site where they are summarized.

There is enough known so that a discussion of this episode, which has been undertaken by no less than the President, is worthwhile, and it will continue in my remarks. Your own contributions, and those of other commenters, will continue to be welcome.

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