Hello everyone. I've been away for a good long time. I'll try to be more diligent in posting.
Anyway, I wanted to let you all know about a great book entitled "Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent" by Harvey A. Sliverglate, with a foreward by Alan M. Dershowitz.
Over the course of about 300 pages, Mr. Silverglate examines how federal prosecutors can selectively use vaguely worded federal criminal statutes to unleash the full power of the US government and bring criminal cases against people who may only be guilty of unethical, unsavory, incompetent or foolish behavior. In some cases, the criminalized behavior is none of the foregoing and evokes the notion that"the road to hell is paved with good intentions".
The author cites many examples of the ways in which US Attorneys over the past several decades obtain indictments based on questionable legal theories then bolster their cases by pressuring co-defendants to become government witnesses by allowing them plead guilty to lesser charges like mail fraud or wire fraud.
Although, if used fairly, this is a legitimate prosecution technique, but as Sliverglate observes, often leaves the case-in-chief untested by the triers of fact. And the defendant's exposure on the "lesser charges" often equates to a hefty fine and many months in prison.
The book also shows how Uncle Sam overcharges indictments, uses obscure and hypertechnial regulations or employs coercive methods to deliver justice. And when all else fails, settles for a conviction on charges of lying to the FBI, even when the person is lying about actions which do not amount to criminal conduct!
The most disturbing aspect of this book it that it makes one realize that lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professionals acting in good faith, can commit "three felonies a day", simply by discharging their fiduciary responsibilities to their clients. In one case history, Silverglate describes how a defense attorney can be charged with obstruction of justice, even in the course of attempting to represent a criminal defendant. In another, the author describes how a corporate executive was accused of destroying evidence even though he was attempting to comply with his organization's established document retention policies.
The book is well written and well documented. You should enjoy reading it.
It may also scare the hell out of you.