Wednesday :: Jul 13, 2005

About Grand Juries

by dj moonbat

Around these parts, I find a tendency among our readers to think about these ongoing Rove developments from the perspective of whether they will or will not damage BushCo politically. They probably will, but as we're seeing, there's nothing the Right won't lie about to save Bush's ass. But don't worry yourselves too much over that. If Rove is indicted (and I think it's likely), the trial will be public.

One reason I think a lot of people don't understand the world of shit Rove's in is because the grand jury system is a little unfamiliar; most of us are more familiar with watching trials, which operate under very different rules. I spent some time last summer combing through banker's boxes of grand jury testimony, looking for evidence of perjury committed by one of the witnesses, so I have some thoughts.

Grand juries are wildly lopsided; throw everything you know about the rights of the accused out the window. The only protection for a witness is his/her right to plead the Fifth (or occasionally, a privilege against testifying). You don't get a lawyer in there to object to a line of questioning. You just have to sit there while a prosecutor hammers on you, and hope they don't already know enough about what you did to ask the right questions.

You don't get to exclude information from the jury's view because it might be prejudicial. You don't get to cross-examine the people who testify against you.

You don't get to speak in your defense. If you have something to hide, you either have to clam up entirely and plead the Fifth, or you have to lie your ass off, and hope that the guy who goes through the banker's boxes full of your testimony can't come up with statements that nail you to the wall.

The prosecutor can't go on pure fishing expeditions, but if, in the course of investigating one real crime, they find out that they're actually looking at a different crime? No problemo, they start investigating that. (Remember somehow Ken Starr came up with Monica? Hell, maybe they can go on pure fishing expeditions, now that I think of it...)

If Fitzgerald has gone to the extraordinary step of jailing a journalist, and the courts have gone along, he's very close to having what he wants. He still may not get it (Judy Miller may be the key, in which case I'll be pretty pissed), but he is close to something; don't stress yourselves out arguing about that, because it's just plain true, or the district court would have handed Fitzgerald his ass.

The Mighty Wurlitzer is on full blast right now, so it's very distressing to hear all these blowhards radically distorting both the facts and the law, insisting that everything's just fine--and to know that some people are actually listening!. It feels horribly, horribly unfair, I know. Console yourselves with this: Inside the grand jury room, things are just as unfair, but it's happening to Rove. And boy, he's had it coming for a while now.

dj moonbat :: 9:44 AM :: Comments (25) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!