Short one today.
My feed elsewhere is all abuzz about a certain individual testifying in exchange for a plea deal. And the usual suspects are all chortling “Ah hah! It’s over now!”
And this brings up something I absolutely despise: the offering of a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony. As the authors of the book Three Felonies a Day point out, this provides an incentive for the person not only to sing, but to compose. If you don’t give them what they want, even if you have to make something up, they will impose serious sentences on you. You’re innocent, you say? Are you sure? US law is so intricate, so all encompassing that you almost certainly are guilty of something. (Thus the title of that book from their contention that the average person commits three felonies in an average day.) If nothing else, all they have to do is question you until you make a statement that isn’t factually accurate. (Are you sure you can go through long sessions of questioning without making a single mistake? Misremembering something?) That becomes “lying to investigators”, the same charge that Martha Stewart was convicted on.
I utterly despise testimony given on the promise of a reduced sentence. I don’t believe it’s reliable and it should not be admissible in court. At most it should serve as probable cause for further investigation, but the final case should be able to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” without using that testimony itself.
And while I haven’t named names, I’m pretty sure everybody here knows that the “buzz” is around Cohen and Trump and the statements Cohen has made. And while that triggered the particular post for today, this is a subject I’ve had on my mind for a while–really ever since reading “Three Felonies a Day” some years back.
Of course, some folk will say that I’m only saying this because I like Trump (in which case I’d say you don’t know me or my views as well as you think) and will grab at any straw to save him from impeachment. Even if true, it does not change the basic principle. The principle needs to stand or fall on its own strengths regardless of who it’s applied to.
And if this latest in a long line of “We’ve got Trump now!” things does actually come up with the Brass Ring? I don’t think the people directing their witch hunt at Trump will be any happier with President Mike Pence.