Via the spokesmodel for Occupy Main Justice, Bill Otis:
The Attorney General announced last week that he would support the Durbin-Lee bill pending in the Senate. That legislation would drastically cut back on mandatory minimum sentences for drug pushers – not just for pot, but for all drug offenses, including major and repeat trafficking in heroin, meth, PCP and other extremely dangerous, and often lethal, drugs.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be sentenced to life plus cancer, but that judges won’t be constrained to do so. That alone provoked outrage.
As career DOJ prosecutors know, strong mandatory minimum statutes are essential to rein in the sometimes ideological, sometimes naive, and sometimes careless decisions of sentencing courts.
When the Attorney General decided to join the effort to kneecap mandatory minimums, career attorneys could remain silent no longer.
Built into Bill’s whine is the flaw of his complaint. Career DOJ prosecutors? Of course they know that “strong mandatory minimums” are “essential” to rein in those crazy, bleeding-heart judges. Well, actually, more that they know how mandatory minimums give them the clout to coerce pleas, which is, as any career prosecutor knows, the only way Justice is done. Their way. Boom!
And don’t forget to note the “kneecap” allusion, raising images of mobsters teaching Lady Justice with breasts bare but appropriately draped getting a lead pipe beating. That’ll teach her.
Without unbearably harsh mandatory minimums, defendants might do the unthinkable. Go to trial. Not go to prison forever. Not fear the career prosecutors. At least not as much as they do with them.
And so, career prosecutors sent their political boss and knee-jerk liberal, Attorney General Eric Holder, a letter. While Otis has yet to reveal its full scope, he gives us a glimpse to whet our appetite.
Today, Chuck Grassley, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, read aloud from a letter the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys sent Mr. Holder three days ago. The part Sen. Grassley read states:
We believe the merits of mandatory minimums are abundantly clear. They reach to only the most serious of crimes. They target the most serious criminals. They provide us leverage to secure cooperation from defendants. They help to establish uniform and consistency in sentencing. And foremost, they protect law-abiding citizens and help to hold crime in check.
Leverage to secure cooperation? No, you wont find that in Blackstone, but then, he was able to get cooperation through his soothing tone. Career prosecutors? Not so much.
Despite Bill’s frank admission that the value of mandatory minimums is to achieve the illegitimate purpose of coercion, regardless of guilt or innocence, he makes one point that really nails the career prosecutor’s position down:
Career prosecutors, I can tell you from experience, are uncomfortable taking any role in what could be portrayed as a political issue. They are Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and generally have all the differences of opinion one would expect from a group so large and diverse. They view divorcing themselves from politics as essential. That they have spoken up here, and done so publicly, is a testament to how dreadfully damaging they know the Durbin-Lee bill would be.
Liberal or conservative. Democrat or Republican. Liber-friggin-tarian of all flavors. They don’t care. They just want to convict, and any weapon they can use to overcome free will, to subvert the need for proof, to undermine the values of the Constitution and this Great Nation, is critical to their mission: Convict at all costs. Imprison forever.
So what if that Holder-guy, who sits in the big office at Main Justice for a few moments while the career guys wait out his tenure in the hope that someone who truly understands them,. like John Ashcroft, will soon imprint his butt cheeks in the rich, Corinthian leather seat. The AG isn’t one of them. He’s political, an appointee, off to make huge bucks in his next job when he tries to sell his influence to the highest bidder.
Career prosecutors think they are above the will of the people. They know better. They are the unappreciated warriors who protect us in the middle of the night from mother rapers, father rapers, terrorists and people who sell hard drugs. They know that without their vigilance and artful manipulation of our visceral fears, we will be quickly overrun by marauders with civil rights. They will never let this happen on their watch.
And if you wonder why they are career prosecutors, as opposed to prosecutors who work in Justice for a while and then go out to drive in a Mercedes to their biglaw white collar law office, maybe it’s because they can’t get a decent job when they’re frothing at the mouth about mandatory minimums and how they lack the skills needed to obtain convictions unless they are handed weapons to subvert anything remotely resembling a fair and viable legal system.
Last, their stance is an act of courage. These people are subordinates of the Attorney General. Stepping up to blow the whistle on what he’s proposing — and telling the truth about what is actually going to happen with crime and crime victims if we slash sentencing for the most dangerous drugs traffickers — exemplifies guts, and a devotion to public service in which the country can take heart.
To my former colleagues for their courage, my hat is off.
Memo to Bill: Even when you take that tin-foil hat off, it still leaves its imprint.
Update: Bill Otis is apoplectic that the mainstream media isn’t “covering” the career prosecutor revolt:
When Eric Holder endorses legislation whose principal beneficiaries will be drug pushers – and we’re talking here not just about pot, but about the mortally dangerous drugs like heroin, meth, PCP and Ecstasy – and does so contrary to the views, not of dozens, but of hundreds of career lawyers, do you think the mainstream media would do a story about that?
Wrongo. Not a peep.
Why would they be so neglected, their courageousness ignored?
When hundreds of them take the risks of speaking out against the Attorney General on a matter this important, that is a news story.
But not, it seems, if the news is being fed to us by those who prefer to see drug pushers get a windfall, and Eric Holder get a pass.
Don’t blame me, Bill. I’m doing everything I can to get your story out. In spades.
Update 2: As Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft points out, it’s not like the bill going to Congress hasn’t already been beaten up, weakened and otherwise watered down. Yet, still too much for the career prosecutors to bear.
Update 3: At Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy, Bill Otis is doing everything in his power to persuade people that mandatory minimums in the hands of career prosecutors are handled with the utmost care and concern for society, except the guilty, because they’re GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!
Seriously, the comments are fabulous.