Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Empire Wiffs Back

KRT Wire 07/12/2005 Congressman's interest in court ruling raises ire of judiciary experts

Given the way the Plame investigation is going, and how hot the water in Karl Rove's bathtub/soup pot is getting, the thing I couldn't fathom is why Patrick Fitzgerald is still breathing. Given everything we know about the rigid omerta code inside the crime family, and the potential consequences of further revalations, I am simply amazed that they haven't found a way to torch him.

Well, it looks like they are finally trying, though the attempt is rather lame.

In an extraordinary move, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee privately demanded last month that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago change its decision in a narcotics case because he didn't believe a drug courier got a harsh enough prison term.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., in a five-page letter dated June 23 to Chief Judge Joel Flaum, asserted that a June 16 decision by a three-judge appeals court panel was wrong.

He demanded "a prompt response" as to what steps Flaum would take "to rectify the panel's actions" in a case where a drug courier in a Chicago police corruption case received a 97-month prison sentence instead of the at least 120 months required by a drug-conspiracy statute.
Sensenbrenner also wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, demanding that the decision be appealed further and that he investigate why the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago did not appeal Rivera's sentence.

Bryan Sierra, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said Sensenbrenner's letter was being reviewed.

"I can't say at this point when we might respond to the congressman," he said.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, declined to comment.
If that is the best the right-wing smear machine can do, I am even more impressed with the exemplary life Mr. Fitzgerald must have lived.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what the Chicago Tribune had to say about the situation last Sunday:

group assails lawmaker

By Maurice Possley
Chicago Tribune staff reporter
Published July 15, 2005

The American Judicature Society, a non-partisan group that works for judicial independence, on Thursday condemned a recent attempt by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to gain a longer prison sentence for a drug courier convicted in Chicago.

"Our concern is . . . that this incident is another in a distressingly long series of incidents that demonstrate Mr. Sensenbrenner's ignorance of the proper functions of Congress with respect to the federal judiciary and his arrogance in purporting to speak for the American people when attempting to bully federal judges," Stephen Burbank, chairman of the society's Task Force on Judicial Independence and Accountability, said in a prepared statement.

Last month, Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), whose committee controls the federal judiciary's budget, sent a private letter to Chief U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Joel Flaum, demanding that a decision by a three-judge panel be changed.

In the letter, first reported Sunday in the Tribune, Sensenbrenner said the 97-month sentence should have been 120 months and demanded a "prompt response" as to what steps Flaum would take "to rectify the panel's actions."

On Thursday, Judiciary Committee spokesman Jeff Lungren said, "Numerous federal judges have commended the committee for ensuring the law is being followed. That is Chairman Sensenbrenner's only interest--that the law is followed."

Responding to legal analysts who said the letter was an attempt to intimidate the judiciary, Lungren said the letter was "not a threat. It was an oversight [committee] request to follow the law."

Burbank said in the society statement, "Chairman Sensenbrenner is a bull in a china shop who cannot distinguish between `oversight' of individual federal judges and individual cases while they are pending, both of which are wholly inappropriate . . . "

The panel subsequently issued a revised final paragraph that added a legal citation explaining why it was not legal to do what Sensenbrenner demanded and why his legal argument was wrong.

In an interview last week, Jay Apperson, the congressional counsel to the Judiciary's subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, conceded that the failure to send a copy of the letter to the defense attorney in the case was a mistake.

House ethics rules forbid communicating with judges without notifying all parties. Apperson said the failure to send it to the defense lawyer in the case was "an error. We shouldn't have done it."

At the same time, he insisted the request for the court to change its ruling was "appropriate. . . . We have oversight."

"We can't have judges violating the law," he said. "This is the committee with oversight of the judiciary--that's exactly what we are supposed to do."

Lungren said the society's statement was "an echo chamber" of the Tribune story, which he characterized as "slanted."

"We got an unfair shake in the [Tribune] story and now an interest group is following up," Lungren said.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Dr. Bloor said...

Elliot Ness worked out of Chicago for a while, too, didn't he?

7:22 PM  

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