Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What do career lawyers think of the politicizing of the DoJ and US attorneys?

Loosheadprop (LHP) from FireDogLake attended a panel discussion among a number of highly respected lawyers (both Democratic and Republican) of the way the Department of Justice has been politicized and how the job of U.S. Attorney has been damaged under the current administration. LHP states that he was unable to determine from the positions taken which lawyers were Republican and which were Democrats. They were ALL outraged!

Go read it. It'll give you some hope that the America Bush has been working so hard to destroy is still out here and will be recovered after Bush/Cheney/and family leave.

I found the following quite reassuring:
Alan Vinegrad, who spent 15 months as United States Attorney in the EDNY when he was appointed by the judges of that district after his predecessor resigned, moderated the program and did not pull any punches with his questions. He dove right into the issue of whether it is ever appropriate for a US Senator to have a role in complaining that a US Attorney is not taking care of a crime problem in his state.

On this, the panel was unanimous. There is NEVER EVER a right way for a Senator (or any other politician) to attempt to complain about an individual case. However, let's say the Senator felt that the US Attorney was not paying enough attention to a particular category of case. Well, in that circumstance, there would be a place for that Senator to complain–the Office of Legislative Affairs. OLA's job is to act as a buffer and to insulate United States Attorneys from political pressure. [Snip]

Alan Vinegrad asked another question that brought a unanimous response from the panel when he wanted to know what the criteria for selective removal of USAs [as opposed to the wholesale removal when a new president is sworn in] would be. They all agreed, there have been only two reasons:


-severe management problems.

That's it.

When I say misconduct, we are talking about things like a US Attorney getting indicted himself. When I say major management problems, I'm talking about an office in complete disarray, the financials don't match up, the career people are leaving in droves, the judges are complaining.

Prof. Briffault pointed out that the Congressional Research Service did a little audit and found that in the 25 years from 1982 until the beginning of 2006, only 10, yes 10 TOTAL US Attorneys were selectively removed.
I really am beginning to believe that once the Republicans are moved from any controlling position in the federal government that the nation will not trust them again for at least another generation, perhaps longer.

I strongly agree with LHP's final paragraphs:
I remember what the rule of law looked like. More importantly, I remember what it felt like. It made me proud to be an American. It made me proud to know that although there were scary bad men out there who wanted to hurt us, grownups–talented, smart, hardworking, sincere and honorable grownups–were in charge. It was their respect for the Constitution, for both the spirit and the letter of the law THAT made me feel safe.

As long as our system of Justice and our whole country is in the hands of the
[current] Kiddie Kampers, no one will feel safe…because no one will be safe.

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