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Hastert Sentencing

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday on one count of “structuring” bank withdrawals to which he had pleaded guilty last year. But of course it wasn’t at all about a financial technicality. Hastert was confronted in the courtroom with testimony from one of his victims, and from the sister of another victim now deceased. The hearing lasted about two hours, with Judge Thomas M. Durkin taking the last forty-five minutes to explain his sentence of fifteen months, far more than prosecutors recommended.

Hastert, who sat in a wheelchair through most of the hearing, was helped to a walker and apologized from the podium. “The thing I want to do today is say I’m sorry to those I hurt and misled,” he said, “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach. What I did was wrong and I regret it.”

Judge Durkin then asked Hastert if he had in fact sexually abused his victims. After some hesitation Hastert answered, “Yes” to sexually abusing victim B. For two other victims he said he couldn’t remember, and that it was “a different situation,” but didn’t dispute the accusations.

“The defendant is a serial child molester,” said Judge Durkin. “Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works. Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”

” What A Maroon ! “

Hip-Hop tweeting Tea-Party Republican congressman Trey Radel (third from right) pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in DC Superior Court this morning and was given a suspended sentence and one year probation. He is on the record, having voted in the House, in support of drug testing food stamp recipients.

You can read about it here.

 

I Am Guilty, Your Honor

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A sad day yesterday as a tearful Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in a courtroom filled with friends and family, including his father, Jesse Jackson Sr.
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The Judge who accepted Jackson’s plea, Robert L. Wilkins, had, while a student at Harvard Law, supported the presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson Sr., and offered to recuse himself. Neither side thought that necessary.
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Shown above, Jackson is at the lectern flanked by his lawyers. Supporters and family are in the background, while government prosecutors sit in the right foreground. 6a00d8341cd0df53ef017d4132f7cb970c-800wi

Jackson’s wife, and former Chicago alderman, Sandi Jackson also entered a plea for hiding income. She is shown here with her lawyer, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Dan Webb.6a00d8341cd0df53ef017c3703a8ac970b-800wi

She too wept …
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Chicago Sun-Times story here.

 

 

Turkey in the Straw

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In the late seventies, during one of those end of the term marathon sessions of congress, then majority leader Senator Byrd invited members of the press to his office for an early morning briefing at the conclusion of which the Senator, wearing a bright red vest, picked up his fiddle and bowed a hot “Turkey in the Straw”.  I wish I could find that sketch.

The above sketch shows Senator Byrd during the Clinton Senate Impeachment trial in 1999.

RIP Senator Byrd

The Trend Toward Anonymous Juries

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When former congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson stood trial in Alexandria last summer sketching the jury was not permitted.  Three decades earlier, at the bribery trial of congressman “Dapper” Dan Flood, the “jury-shot” was a standard among the images an artist was expected to turn out, along with the required wide-shot and head-shots.  What happened?

While forbidding artists to sketch the jury is not the same as juror anonymity it is part of the same trend.  Maryland and Virginia are both currently considering proposals to make all juries anonymous.

The reasons usually given for an anonymous jury are : (1) the defendant’s involvement with organized crime, (2) capacity to harm jurors, (3) interference with judicial process, (4) possibility of a severe sentence, and (5) extensive publicity that could expose jurors to harassment.

At the Oklahoma bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh a wall was built in the courtroom specifically to block the artists’ view of the jurors, which while perhaps excessive (trust us!) was understandable.

On the other hand, why the jury in the “Scooter” Libby trial was anonymous (identified by number only) escapes me.

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Historical note: the jurors in Rep. Dan Flood’s trial voted 11-1 to convict on five bribery counts and three counts of perjury.  There followed a jury tampering investigation in which the only juror to vote for acquittal failed two lie-detector tests, but no further legal action was taken.

Flood entered a guilty plea before the start of his second trial.

More about anonymous juries here.

 

Jefferson Sentenced

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Former congressman William Jefferson stood with his attorney, Robert Trout, his clasped hands resting on the lectern, as Judge Ellis sentenced him to 13 years in prison. Jefferson, 62, infamous for the $90,000. in cold cash found in his freezer made no statement.

WaPo story here.