Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Justice

(1)

The changing of the judge that was going to decide Tom Delay's case is unreal. The message it sends is that if a wealthy and powerful person does not like the way their case is shaping up, they can use wealthy lawyers to get it changed. In this case, Delay wanted his judge removed because he's a Democrat who's donated to Moveon.org, and his trial moved out of Austin because it's a liberal college town. This is a bad, bad precendent to set. This means that Ken Starr shouldn't have investigated Clinton, and that we need to check the political alliances and contributions of our Supreme Court justices before they decide cases.

(2)

Harry Reid forced the Senate into a rare closed-door session yesterday for a sweet partisan huddle about the intelligence failure leading up to the Iraq war. Republican leaders quickly derided the move using all sorts of fancy words devoid of content, like "grandstanding" and "stunt." But I think Harry Reid is right: this was a victory for the American people. Ask yourself this question: is more or less information about Iraq going to come out because of this? The answer CAN'T be less, and more information about the political workings of the most powerful politicians is ALWAYS a victory for the people.

QED.

10 Comments:

At 11:23 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

it's just convenience that a victory for the people should coincide with a victory for Harry Reid personally. Harry Reid isn't looking to increase transparency so much as his own popularity and assert himself as a political figure, and that's what his detractors are upset about. I see your point, but I think you're ignoring the fact that this is just another political game. I am glad we benefit from it, but I can still be upset that it wasn't his primary objective.

The Iraq war is similar. Bush and Cheney are grandstanding, show boating, driving the war machine for what are probably less than democratic motives. Iraq will come out of this as an amazing democracy, if we're allowed to stay and finish this job, and the middle east should be more peaceful, and the American people will benefit in many ways also. This doesn't deter you from being upset about it though, and I'd never say it should.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Jackscolon said...

In regards to #1, I don't think I would go as far to call that a precedent. Change of venue has long been an option when partiality has been an issue. I think the question is, "Will a judge with a historic alliance to the fringe left be more likely to be partial against Delay (a prominent Republican) than one with no obvious alliance?" Until this question can be answer with a definitive "no", then change of venue should be a legitimate option.

When it comes to wealth and justice, I think everyone already understands that there are some major issues that need to be addressed. This is hardly going to be more than a blip on the radar.

Finally, political bias has nothing to do with prosecutors like Ken Starr. Prosecutors are around to make a case on whatever flimsy evidence may be available. If anything, they are to be the representation of the bias against the defendant, whereas the defense attorney is supposed to be biased towards the defendant. The purpose of the judge is to determine which bias is accurate...

 
At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the purpose of the JURY to determine which bias is accurate, unless the accused has foregone a trial.

 
At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Minor Prophet said...

I don't exactly disagree with redhurt, but I'd like to point out that there is a huge moral difference between showboating by calling for a closed Senate session and showboating by sending troops into harm's way with no plan to get them home again. The problem in Congress is they seem to end up taking themselves more seriously than they take the shedding of human blood. "How dare Reid do this, it's an insult!" says Frist. Why isn't the continuing blood-letting in Iraq more of an insult to the Congress and to all of us?

Now don't jump on saying that Saddam was bad and Iraq is better off without him. Granted. But our plan for what to do after Saddam was overthrown was nonexistent, and Americans and Iraqis have died simply because we didn't send enough soldiers to occupy the country. And when I say "we" I mean Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Jackscolon said...

Ok right, I slipped up there, but the judge needs to be as objective as possible in order to avoid steering the trial toward a personally decided outcome.

Witness: "Tom Delay slaps babies"
Defense: "Objection!"
Judge: "I'll allow it..."

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Jackscolon said...

No plan? What about winning and then withdrawing when Iraq can support itself? Would you rather have the administration say, "We will fight in Iraq until we take an arbitrary number of casualties and Harry Reid calls a closed session based on an indictment of a non-crime, and then we will abandon the Iraqis to their fate like we did in the Gulf War after instigating a popular uprising..." ?

 
At 5:11 PM, Anonymous minor prophet said...

"winning and then withdrawing when Iraq can support itself" is a goal, not a plan. You are right about our abandoning the Iraqis after the first Gulf War, but that doesn't mean we did things right this time.

We went in with too few troops, assuming we would be welcomed as liberators. When that didn't happen, we had no plan B. Iraq is better off, but we should have used more soldiers and made the country secure.

I would link to the New York Times here, but it requires registration and the stuff becomes unavailable after a week. Here's something from Sunday's paper:

"So the Army's original battle plan for 500,000 troops got whittled down to 160,000. If Gen. Tommy Franks 'hadn't offered some resistance, the number would have dropped well below 100,000', Packer says. [This is from a book review.] At one point, Franks's predecessor, Anothony Zinni, inquired into the status of 'Desert Crossing', his elaborate postwar plan that covered the sealing of borders, securing of weapons sites, provision of order and so on. He was told that it had been discarded because its assumptions were 'too negative.'"

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger StandingOutInTheCold said...

Anyone who wants to can request a new judge in most criminal proceedings. If you can make the case that the judge assigned to you cannot be objective then you get a new judge. Its not something that DeLay made up to protect himself. I think that given the current political atmosphere in the US (i.e. deep partisan hatred) and the position DeLay held (one of the most prominent, and therefore probably most hated Republicans), I don't think that its unreasonable to believe that a judge who donated money to a radical (or at least very passionate) group on the opposite side of the spectrum that is dedicated to getting DeLay (among a long list of others) out of office may have outside influences making it hard for him to oversee the court objectively and make sure that justice is served. I don't think that this is any kind of precedent since it something that has been around for quite some time. Whether the rich and powerful white people are more likely to get their judges changed than others is a seperate issue. If it is the case that they do then there is a moral problem with the court system in America and they need to stop being racist or biased by socioeconomic factors (and that probably is the case). But that doesn't mean that rich white people can't get their judges changed on the same basis as everyone else, which is what appears, at least to me, to be the case in this situation.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

Wow, great discussion here. Thanks, everyone.

standingout: thanks for the comments. I agree with you. I'd have to read up to know about all the specifics having to do with change of venue, judge, etc., because Delay certainly wasn't doing anything illegal, or without ANY precedent. I just worry about the principle ("judges with partisan connections can't preside over cases featuring their ideological opponents") being broadly applied. To make a more well-argued point, I could have argued abstractly instead of concretely, just throwing out some examples to illustrate a reductio ad absurdum of what Delay's doing. So, I'll grant that I could have made a much better case by making a narrower point. I appreciate your fair and cogent analysis.

To restate my point about Harry "Showboat" Reid: the bottom line is that we won't come out of this knowing less than we did before, even IF all the arguments against him stick.

My verification word is Dgrntxya, who I believe was one of the characters in Mos Eisley spaceport in A New Hope.

 
At 11:03 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

I think you're the first anti-war rally point who's said we need MORE troops in Iraq. I'm all for it. I don't know that we went in with too few, but then again, I haven't read that one book you did.

 

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