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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Eastern District of Wisconsin: Growing Concerns

Posted by: Hammer / 12:55 PM

Spotty has great coverage of the other kind of U.S. attorney scandal -- where a Bush appointee prosecutes a case so thin that the defendant is ordered released from prison with with a cinematic flair.

Look, this just doesn't happen. You're convicted by a jury of your peers. Happens all the time to the not guilty -- and the innocent, too. You take your right of appeal. After a period of years, you might get lucky enough to win on appeal. Then your case winds its way back to the original trial court for further action.

Except that's not what happened here:

The three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Thursday overturned a jury's conviction of state purchasing agent Georgia Thompson on charges that she illegally steered a state travel contract to a company whose officials donated to Doyle.

Former U.S. Attorney Frank Tuerkheimer said the case stood alone in his more than four decades in criminal law. The ruling was highly unusual, the UW-Madison law professor said, both for the way the judges ordered Thompson released from a federal prison and for the speed with which they did it.

"I can't think of any case where an appellate court after hearing oral arguments ordered the release of a person who's confined" the same day, said Tuerkheimer, who was a U.S. attorney under Democratic President Carter.

A note for those who dig deep into blogs. I had Ann Althouse for Civ Pro 2 and learned about nothing. That wasn't entirely her fault. Most of Ted Finman's Civ Pro 1 students had little left to learn in Civ Pro 2. I had Frank Tuerkheimer for Evidence, Trial Advocacy, and Appellate Advocacy. Those were the three best courses I took in law school. Which is all just to say that I have the highest respect for Frank Tuerkheimer.

This case from the Eastern District of Wisconsin raises questions about what being a loyal Bushie" really means. Were U.S. attorneys forced to resign because they refused to pursue specious indictments on the eve of the election?

This case should also highlight the enormous power that U.S. attorneys wield. With great power comes great responsibility, wrote Stan Lee. The Karl Rove version is slightly different -- great power brings great opportunity.



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