Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

UNITED STATES v. THOMPSON....Consider a case with the following facts:

The state of Wisconsin is evaluating bids for travel agencies. Under the scoring system used by the evaluation committee, the two top candidates are Adelman and Omega. Adelman scores 1026.6 and Omega scores 1027.3 out of 1200. That's a difference of .06%. However, Adelman is an in-state company, and one member of the committee, a civil servant named Georgia Thompson, says something along the lines of "our bosses won't like it if we choose Omega." Since Adelman is in-state, and also the low bidder, and the scores were essentially tied, why not choose Adelman?

That's it. That's all that happened. Now, suppose you're the U.S. Attorney for Wisconsin and someone brings this case to your attention. What would you do?

  1. Sigh, say you'll look into it, and then get back to your real work.

  2. Assign someone to investigate. They report back that Thompson gained nothing from this, so whatever else it may be, it's not a violation of federal law. Return to your real work.

  3. Think to yourself, "Hmmm. Governor Jim Doyle is a Democrat, and he's up for reelection. If we could manufacture a case making it look like Thompson was trying to pay off one of Doyle's campaign contributors, that would be pretty sweet." Then assign a prosecutor to the case and take it to trial.

This being the Bush Justice Department at work, do I have to tell you which one is the right answer? Not only did Steven Biskupic take this absurdly insubstantial case to trial and win a conviction of Thompson for violating federal law, he even persuaded the Republican judge in the case to toss Thompson in jail immediately instead of letting her remain free pending appeal. This is very unusual. (Do you think Scooter Libby will be hauled off to prison immediately after his sentencing?)

But then another unusual thing happened. A few days ago an appellate court heard the case and was plainly appalled that Thompson had apparently been railroaded by evidence that it called "beyond thin." The court unanimously overturned Thompson's conviction within minutes of hearing oral arguments and set her free. This only happens if the court is convinced not merely that the government is unlikely to win the appeal, but that the government literally had no case to begin with.

So why was this case ever brought in the first place? Do you have to ask?

POSTSCRIPT: Watching Those We Chose has been following this case for the past few days. Links here and here provide some background. Audio of the appellate hearing is here. Their latest post is here, with the good news that Thompson will probably be back to her old job within a few days. The post also includes some speculation about just how this case got so far in the first place.

Kevin Drum 3:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (90)

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Comments

I'm confused. If the evidence was so bad, how was the original conviction obtained?

Posted by: urkel on April 10, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Darkness at Noon" was a warning, not a guide!

Posted by: anonymous on April 10, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Urkel: Probably really bad jury instructions. But that's a bit mysterious.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 10, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious how she avoided sharing a cell in the brig with Padilla.

Posted by: steve duncan on April 10, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Kevin! Corpus Juris and bmaz have been dedicated to this issue, and it's nice to see them recognized for that.

Urkel, follow the links that Kevin provided. Your questions are answered in the posts by my colleagues Corpus Juris and bmaz.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 10, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

If the dems want to handle this intelligently, they should award her damages. (ie, a small earmark).

Posted by: Josh Yelon on April 10, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

That's an okay example of the FARK a), b) or ,c) cliche, but way too wordy.

Two travel agencies bid for state work. The lowbidder scores 1026.6, the highbidder who is out of state 1027.3 out of 1200. A member of the selection committee says, "our boss won't like it if we pick the out of state agency." As US Attorney under Gonzo do you a), GBTW b), Investigate determine nothing happened, STFU and GBTW or c) manufacture a case to look like a pay off to governor's campaign contributor and take it to trial just before the election?

Better, and I hope you get the idea.

Posted by: jerry on April 10, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Both Randa and Biskupic are members of the Federalist Society. It really does seem like a sinister organization, given the egregious nature of the case. There's no legal philosophy that I kow of which could justify they're behavior, but it was good power politics.

Posted by: John Emerson on April 10, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

yet another AH sockpuppet for the mods to play whack-a-troll with

Posted by: Disputo on April 10, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Better link

Duncan, did you read anything about the case, or are you just responding automatically?

Posted by: John Emerson on April 10, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

If the case really is as stupid as it sounds, then congress should investigate the judge to determine why the trial led to a conviction with an eye towards impeachment.

Posted by: Boronx on April 10, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Try this: here's todays news on Biskupic and a new headache for Gonzales.

Posted by: notthere on April 10, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Scooter who?

Posted by: Martin on April 10, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The other nifty item here is that the scores are actually tied. Apparently that scores were calculated in a way that the last decimal place is insignificant and the actual scores (for the numerate) are 1027/1200 for each travel agency. This is the source of one of the judges comments that just "because some of the panel memebers flunked high school math doesn't mean a federal crime has been committed." That is an issue that should be mentioned more in connection with this case.

Posted by: rk on April 10, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Duncan,Esq. There is a problem with the theory that "liberal democrat appellate judges let her go." The particular judges involved are Republicans.

Listen to the tape. It's shocking.

The jury probably convicted because the Judge gave bad instructions. I don't know if he is just green and didn't know the law, or a Bush toodie who went along with the instructions provided by the US Attorney. Either way, his reputation has been badly damaged in this case.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 10, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Duncan, if the "esq" means you're a lawyer, you must not handle criminal cases. If you did then you would know that the Seventh Circuit is actually a fairly conservative court. Two of the three judges who heard oral argument in this case were appointed by Republican presidents.
Reversing a conviction after trial on the basis of insufficient evidence to convict happens a lot less than once in a blue moon. Anyone who does criminal law for a living will tell you that releasing a defendant from prison literally minutes after concluding oral argument is even more rare. I have been a prosecutor in Wisconsin for 14 years and have never even heard of it. That it happened here is highly indicative of the weakness of the evidence.

Posted by: wihntr on April 10, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

WIHNTR: Duncan doesn't want to hear that kind of thing. He likes keeping his mind open and free from facts.

Posted by: John Emerson on April 10, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

WIHNTR, excellent comment.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 10, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

For the latest news, email archives, hearings, legal filings and other essential documents on the Bush DOJ prosecutor firings, see:
"The U.S. Attorney Scandal Documents."

Posted by: AngryOne on April 10, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Competetive bidding is one of the fundamental ways that fairness is maintained in government contracts. Liberals rightly scream when conservatives violate this practice. But they want to overlook corruption when one of their own do it.

None of this is surprising.

Posted by: Al on April 10, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I also agree that WIHNTR's comment is well made. I would like to clarify one aspect of Kevin's post (and I may be responsible for the misunderstanding in the first place), namely that it is not necessarily unusual for a federal trial judge to deny a defendant release on bail pending appeal in general, but it is unusal in a hotly contested white collar political case. Denial of bail was certainly egregious, arbitrary and capricious in this case.

Posted by: bmaz on April 10, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

That audio file is very interesting. Worth a listen.

Posted by: jefff on April 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

The oral arguments for the appeal are a fun listen. Everything from Brad Pitt to failing high school math. But best of all is the quiver in the voice of the prosecutor when he quickly realizes he really has very little to stand on.

Posted by: Royko on April 10, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Next time Bush makes a decision to break a statistical tie, we're impeaching him, and you know it, Al.

Posted by: neil on April 10, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

for those that prefer their own mp3 player:

http://www.jsonline.com/graphics/multimedia/media/apr07/thompson_hearing.mp3

Posted by: abe on April 10, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

I live in the Milwaukee area, and the reason this case had legs was because the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is part of a right-wing wacko pseudo-news conglomerate that includes WTMJ 620 with Charlie Sykes, and their other right-wing daily radio hosts that drove the case home as examples of Governor Doyle's 'corrupt' administration. The radio station is owned by Journal communications along with the Journal Sentinel, and of course neither reported any of the facts in any detail you mentioned that call the case into question.

Charlie Sykes is the same guy that railed on Al Gore when he was VP for gas prices above $1.50, but said it wasn't a big deal when they were $3.25 with GW as Prez because it's still lower than under Carter when considering inflation.

Hypocritical MORON = right-wing republican.

Posted by: Brian on April 10, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

jerry, better to you, maybe, but I find that pretty ugly. There are points for style as well as brevity.

Sadly, the FARK administrators tend to agree with you.

Posted by: jerry on April 10, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's a good thing that Bush has never been held accountable for his deeply criminal behavior, from statutory rape, to possession of narcotics to sodomy to drunk driving, to vandalism to insider trading to election theft. This deeply criminal man needs a hardass judge to throw the book at him!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 10, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

This all seems pretty weird. Are there any Wisonson Law Bloggers?

Posted by: jerry on April 10, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Wisconsin Wisconson Wisonson Wisconsin.

I swear I knew that soy sauce was fermented, but I didn't realize it was so hardcore!

Posted by: jerry on April 10, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Like Jeff, I recommend the audio. 25 minutes but it's worth listening to the whole thing.

The appelate court has obviously read the briefs carefully and have concerns. They grill the defence attorney to clarify facts then the attorney who's representing the AG's office is slowly torn apart. It makes you squirm uncomfortably as they dismember his case.

There is no there there.

Posted by: notthere on April 10, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

urkel: "I'm confused. If the evidence was so bad, how was the original conviction obtained?"

People are wrongfully convicted more often than we care to openly acknowledge. That fact shouldn't render their innocence any less valid than if they were never indicted in the first place.

Al: "Liberals rightly scream when conservatives violate this practice. But they want to overlook corruption when one of their own do it. None of this is surprising."

On the other hand, no doubt Al's justifiable conviction on multiple counts of gross right-wing ignorance, rank neocon stupidity and GOP partisan slander will withstand any appeal to a higher court.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, Who Lives Only Two Blocks from "Dog the Bounty Hunter" on April 10, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

...But they want to overlook corruption when one of their own do it....

Posted by: Al on April 10, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al, as the most basic elements of politics, economics and international relations are beyond your grasp, I certainly wouldn't expect the process of law to be within your ken -- even if you did bother to read about it before posting.

Posted by: notthere on April 10, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

It would be interesting if the standard used by the USA in this case were applied to the no-bid contracts that Bunnatine Greenhouse objected to before the war.

From Wikipedia:
Bunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse is a former chief contracting officer (Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting (PARC)) of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. On June 27, 2005, she testified to a Democratic Party public committee, alleging specific instances of waste, fraud, and other abuses and irregularities by Halliburton with regard to its operations in Iraq since the Iraq War. She described one of the Halliburton contracts (secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR)—a subsidiary of Halliburton) as "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."
A long-time government employee, Greenhouse was hired by Lieutenant General Joe Ballard in 1997 to oversee contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers. After Ballard retired in 2000, Greenhouse's performance reviews, which had been exemplary throughout her public career, suddenly soured. Greenhouse filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint alleging race and gender discrimination, which her attorney states has never been investigated. In August 2005, she was demoted in what her lawyer called an "obvious reprisal" for her revelations about the Halliburton contracts.

Posted by: me on April 10, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

urkel: I'm confused. If the evidence was so bad, how was the original conviction obtained?

I'm confused:

Is urkel not aware of the scores of innocent death row inmates who were convicted on flimsy evidence and were subsequently exonerated?

Is urkel not aware that the American judicial system employs rules that stack the deck against defendants and allow prosecutors great latitude in presenting flimsy evidence and preventing the introduction of exculpatory evidence?

Is urkel not aware of the amount of corruption in the American law enforcement and prosecutorial system where prosecution witnesses are coerced into giving perjured testimony or manipulated into giving false information through brainwashing techniques?

Is urkel not aware of the amount of corruption in the American law enforcement and prosecutorial system where law enforcement officers and prosecutors hide relevant and exculpatory evidence from the defense and use unethical trial tactics that judges routinely ignore or shamelessly declare to be "not prejudicial" when they clearly are?

Posted by: anonymous on April 10, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

The best part is that Thompson was originally a Republican appointee. In other words, Biskupic and his crew grabbed one their own, fed her into the meatgrinder and then used her as chum in their fishing expedition against Doyle.

The Dems could learn a few things about how to be ruthless from this gang.

Posted by: Peter Principle on April 10, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well anonymous, I have to admit that I'm unfamiliar with all but the first item you listed.

Do you have any links to further information?

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 10, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

ME - Thank you for bringing that up. No one should EVER forget the story of Bunny Greenhouse; she is truly one of the unsung heroes of the last decade. In return for her non-political outstanding work on behalf of the American taxpayer, she was absolutely shit on by the Bushies.

Posted by: bmaz on April 10, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

> Is urkel not aware that the American judicial
> system employs rules that stack the deck against
> defendants and allow prosecutors great latitude
> in presenting flimsy evidence and preventing the
> introduction of exculpatory evidence?

I am sure he is, but the responses to his posts will be collected and used to spin a similar story line for Scooter Libby.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on April 10, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

I hope that Congress follows up on this rank judicial travesty, instead of looking the other way and leaving this blatant corruption of our federal legal system unchallenged by anyone other than the defendant Georgia Thompson. From all indications, she was a political prisoner in the most basic and egregious sense of that term.

This must not stand.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 10, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"it is not necessarily unusual for a federal trial judge to deny a defendant release on bail pending appeal in general, but it is unusal in a hotly contested white collar political case."

Note the class bias of the system: bail pending appeal is unheard-of for ordinary convicted defendants, but so routine in high profile white collar cases that the failure of the judge to give it in this case seems shocking.

Judges are notably more hesitant about jailing people who resemble themselves.

No one wrongfully convicted of holding up a liquor store was ever ordered released the day of oral argument . . .

Posted by: rea on April 10, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Over the past few years, a number of Wisconsin legislators have been convicted of political corruption (Google Steve Foti, Tom Loftus, Scott Jensen, for starters). The U.S. Attorneys Office simply rode the wave of public outrage against a perceived "culture of corruption" to convince the jury that there was a quid pro quo between the contractor and the Doyle administration, even though such a quid pro quo had to be inferred - there being no evidence at all.

Posted by: CT on April 10, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus - Believe it or not, there is a lot more truth to what anonymous said than people know or want to admit; and I say that from 20 years of involvement in criminal an civil rights law. However, I don't believe that most of that is relevant to this case; this was a Republican partisan political hit job.

Posted by: bmaz on April 10, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Are there any Wisonson Law Bloggers?"

Well, there is this one:

http://althouse.blogspot.com

Mercifully, she doesn't seem to have commented on this case.

Now, if you had asked, "Are there any sane Wisconsin law bloggers?" I would have gven you a different answer . . .

Posted by: rea on April 10, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm in Madison, where all this went down. I suspect part of why the jury convicted was the ridiculous local media coverage of the case. The whole thing was broken by the local ABC affiliate, and reporting basically these and only these facts:

* Omega had the better score
* Adelman gave money to Doyle
* Thompson "bent the rules" to give Adelman the contract

After the case, despite no evidence being presented and no case being made by the prosecution, at least two jurors said they we sure Thompson had been directed by someone higher up to give the contract to Adelman.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on April 10, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

I was honestly confused, not trolling. Of course, I'm not saying it is impossible that the conviction was obtained on shoddy evidence, I was just curious about how that might exactly of happened. I'm not still not 100% clear on that point, but listening to the recording seems to make it clear that the evidence was rather shoddy. Geez people. Letting Al get to you I'd say.

Posted by: urkel on April 10, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK
...he even persuaded the Republican judge in the case to toss Thompson in jail immediately instead of letting her remain free pending appeal. This is very unusual.

I'm not sure its as unusual as you think.

(Do you think Scooter Libby will be hauled off to prison immediately after his sentencing?)

As I pointed out before on this, federal law spells out quite specifically the limited exceptional circumstances in which the recipient of a federal criminal sentence may be allowed to remain free pending appeal, and makes it quite clear that they are exclusive and in their absence the sentenced person may not remain free, and they are pretty narrow and seem unlikely to apply to Libby. So, yes, assuming the law is followed, I expect Libby to go pretty much directly to jail when sentenced.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 10, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous: "I'm confused: Is urkel not aware ..."

I believe that urkel was asking a legitimate question that is probably also on the minds of a great many other people in this country.

urkel should therefore not be subject to your scorn and ridicule, but should instead be commended for trying to personally reconcile the baldly unpleasant facts of this unfortunate matter with his own unspoken but strongly implied misconception regarding the true state of his own nation's legal system.

I can't help but think that such over-the-top political emoting on your part not only transends the vicious right-wing stereotype of a liberal Democrat, but if left unfettered may ultimately do your cause more harm than good.

There are a lot of moderate Republicans, "Blue Dog" Democrats and independents out there who are trying very hard to understand what's happened with this administration. And if we are to ever save this country from going over the precipice into the swamp of fascism, then we will ultimately need to persuade such people as to the logic and justice of our cause.

Instead, your lecture-cum-political rant might well give them great pause, and thus an ample reason to simply turn away and not give a rat's ass.

I'm probably picking on you when I really shouldn't be, because this particular argument could well be projective and thus probably applicable to many of my own past and present tirades. Perhaps we both need to learn to take a deep breath before hitting the keyboards.

Now, let's calm down and go blend ourselves a pitcher of margaritas, and try to think of more positive manners in which we might yet channel our raw and unfettered -- yet still personally admirable -- passion for progressive liberal values.

Aloha, friend.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 10, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely-

You are so naive. Scooter does not go to jail. It is a secret law attached to the Patriot Act in invisible ink.

As far as the Thompson case- wow- listen to the tape. I do not even recall any of the death row inmates who were exonerated by DNA evidence having been released the same day... just doesn't happen. Those jugdes were offended.

Posted by: Out on Bond on April 10, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

JUDGES JUDGES JUDGES

going to have a margarita with Donald from Hawaii now. (Note that I can spell Margarita)

Posted by: Out on Bond on April 10, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

There has been a lot of news recently about many convicts in Texas being released because of being railroaded by the county DA. Obtaining a conviction of innocent people is not just a Bush phenomenon.

here

Posted by: Brojo on April 10, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well, there is this one: http://althouse.blogspot.com Mercifully, she doesn't seem to have commented on this case.

If it's getting media attention and Althouse hasn't commented on it, that can only mean there is no imaginable way to contort the story so that it's wingnut-friendly.

Posted by: bobb on April 10, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

How many other Georgia Thompsons are out there?

Posted by: Tithonia on April 10, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

The last election cycle in New Jersey was equally about the "corruption" of Senator Menendez and Governor Corzine. I think I smell many rats. It is clear that rigging elections had become too dangerous, so Rove decided to imprison the other side. This all stems from the foul mind of that moron. This was a fantastically ballsy plan to rig the elections using prosecutors. Wow. This is probably the biggest scandal ever in national electoral politics, besides maybe stealing the 2000 election. Maybe Sandra Day O'Connor should confess.

Thanks, Kevin for neutering A-Hawk and his many sock puppets. I think anyone using a Rove server like Al should be blocked too. Norman seems to be coming around. He hasn't cursed you or your cats lately. . .

Posted by: Sparko on April 10, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

The Senate Judiciary Committee today requested the paperwork on the Thompson case from main Justice.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 10, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is unfortunately the sort of thing I have feared for years was going in within the Bush Administration. Like many Americans I did not want to believe it, but the patterns were clearly there if one was willing to believe that this Administration was so partisanly political in inherent nature that it would do so. Well, when they started a war with Iraq on clearly bogus threat evidence and blatantly lied about nukes because they needed to tap that specific fear to get the public behind such an invasion they convinced me of that sufficiently to be willing to make that assumption. A few weeks back I called the prosecutor scandal unfolding critically important because I believed it to be the Rosetta stone to truly understanding the Bushco/GOP domestic agenda of the past 6 years (in this case to turn the tools of government into their personal electioneering tools). This case only underscores that conviction.

I am very impressed with what I have seen already from Watching Those We Choose, and this in particular shows me that this is a place well worth checking regularly for those with an interest in serious political affairs. I am glad to see them increasing in prominence with this posting of KD's here.

Posted by: Scotian on April 10, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

They should give the judge and the USA the same kind of trial they gave Thompson. And then let their asses rot in jail while they're appealig.

Posted by: jussumbody on April 10, 2007 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

"As I pointed out before on this, federal law spells out quite specifically the limited exceptional circumstances in which the recipient of a federal criminal sentence may be allowed to remain free pending appeal, and makes it quite clear that they are exclusive and in their absence the sentenced person may not remain free, and they are pretty narrow and seem unlikely to apply to Libby. So, yes, assuming the law is followed, I expect Libby to go pretty much directly to jail when sentenced."

Hey cmdnicely - when you pointed it out before was there more detail on what the spelled out circumstances are? If so, mind giving us a link? I'd love to see what they are.

Posted by: chaboard on April 10, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. I too live in Madison and this really concerned me when I voted for Doyle last election cycle -- I almost didn't. Just wow.

earl

Posted by: Earl on April 10, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

The question I have is whether Thompson will be suing for malicious prosecution. Doyle has a dog in this fight too, but he did not suffer directly. And even if he lost the elections, he would not be able to contest the case. But that does not mean that Congressional Democrats cannot make the USA's job hell for the next three months. And, to top it off, any admissions would go to enhance Thompson's civil case, should she choose to file. Congress cannot give immunity in a civil case. The real question is whether the DOJ will settle to prevent any embarrassing facts from coming out on discovery.

I have also been pondering the same issue with respect to the fired USAs. Does anyone know if the US government can be sued for unfair employment practices? I believe, despite some limited immunities for the US government, that DoJ is not immune from this particular set of labor laws.

Here's the point--in most states, even employment at will, which is essentially what these positions are, despite their political connections, it is either statutory or common law that firing someone in contravention of public policy amounts to wrongful termination.

That is, despite the fact that one can be fired from such a job for any reason or no reason at all, if he is fired because he either refused to do something that is against public policy (read--"would not break the law on orders from his superiors", as in Paulose's staff case and for McKay) or he tried to follow public policy (as was the case for Iglesias and Lam, at the very least), he can sue for wrongful termination.

In Iglesias's case, it's even worse, since the DoJ's initial attempt to justify his firing included a claim that he was not in the office--as it turns out because he's a reservist, so the token reason for firing was itself in violation of public policy. I don't know if I've ever seen a labor case where the employer tries to prevent a wrongful termination case by claiming that they fired him for a different illegal reason.

That's how stupid these guys are. Who elected this bunch?

Posted by: buck turgidson on April 10, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Al said

Competetive bidding is one of the fundamental ways that fairness is maintained in government contracts. Liberals rightly scream when conservatives violate this practice. But they want to overlook corruption when one of their own do it.

So how is it crooked when the scores are the same that you choose the low bidder?

Posted by: modman on April 10, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

GC -
Shorter Leahy:
"Your ankles - sometime soon you will be grabbing them, I am thinking."

btw - many thanks for your sites and many links.

We have similar fetishes - at least some of them.

Posted by: kenga on April 10, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

EARL!
Time for you to send a letter to the editor, several, in fact.
You are undoubtedly not alone, and you confirm that this had an impact on the election.
I live in a blue state - I lived and worked in the two precincts that voted for Kerry at the highest percentages in the whole damn country in 2004 - my LTEs have minimal impact.
Yours will have much more.

Posted by: kenga on April 10, 2007 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. Morpheus:

There is plenty on the internet and elsewhere about the problem with fingerprint evidence (its a crap shoot in many cases with little standards and no scientific backing - its basis is experiential).

Additionally, there is the problem of eyewitness testimony, one of the most unreliable forms of evidence admitted in criminal cases, and the refusal of many, if not most, American courts to allow the testimony of experts about its unreliability.

A large number of convictions are based almost entirely or entirely on such eyewitness testimony and in fact a number of rape cases that have been successfully prosecuted on almost nothing other than eyewitness identification later were shown to be wrongful prosecutions and the convicted innocent person released.

Prosecutors and judges both know about such lack of credibility, yet nonetheless seek or allow conviction and do so in a system that does not allow the defendant to challenge the credibility of eyewitness testimony.

There are many, many cases like Georgia Thompson's, but we mostly only hear about the death row ones.

Try the Innocence Project if you want information on suspect prosecutions and the unjust results that arise from prosecutors hell bent on convicting anybody they can by any means they can get away with to boost their conviction rate, get the victim's families off their back, or to further their political career.

Sorry to urkel if you were sincere, but it sounded very much like the winger trolls meme.

Posted by: anonymous on April 10, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

"urkel should therefore not be subject to your scorn and ridicule, but should instead be commended for trying to personally reconcile the baldly unpleasant facts of this unfortunate matter with his own unspoken but strongly implied misconception regarding the true state of his own nation's legal system."

And now I go from being a crazed Rovebot to being a naive but honest fool. I know I am not a Rovebot; I hope I am not so naive. The point is this simply: The system isn't so corrupt that it commonly happens jurors convict because of party ID. It does happen. Maybe it happened here. All I am saying is a explanation is certainly in order. I'm not sure why that is naive or a sign of a gross "misconception" of our legal system, but I guess that's the thing about being naive--you can't know when you are...

Posted by: urkel on April 10, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding urkel's sense of humor:

"I know I am not a Rovebot..."

Unfortunately this can only be proved by watching you simultaneously rap and dance...

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 10, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Just a reminder:

You just cannot misunderestimate this administration. You just cannot!

It's unbleievable. They have no morals. They have no conscience. They have no self-criticism. They have no shame. And they deal with people in the most superficial and condescending way.

And then they say they are religious.

Wow! They are the anti-Supermen. That smacks of totalitarianism, doesn't it?

Posted by: notthere on April 10, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

...The system isn't so corrupt that it commonly happens jurors convict because of party ID....

Posted by: urkel on April 10, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's been expressed above your post how so may innocent people have been conviceted of crimes they did not do.

It arises from judge misdirection, jury bias (recorded by social or racial), suppression or amplification of evidence (and there are cases beyond the law, including the FBI doing same), hysteria among the populace.

How naive are you. Look around. Read. Find out. Why do we have to educate you when you say you have an open mind and are on the internet? It's all there to find out.

Posted by: notthere on April 10, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

John Emerson,
I noticed that the original story on Paulose also mentioned that she was a member of the Federalist Society, just as you noted that Randa and Biskupic are. That has nothing to do with their behavior--the connection is correlated but largely incidental.

The Federalist Society is unquestionably a conservative organization. They have, according to their charter, a particular view on constitutional law that is clearly not shared by the majority of lawyers in the field. Basically, they dismiss history as a factor--essentially by claiming that cultural factors don't matter and that language does not change with time.

But the criminal behavior of this administration and its minions is not derived in any way from those principles. Damn, there was a bunch of criminals in the White House--including thieves and pedophiles--but was this based on their membership in the Republican party?

There is no causation here. The Federalist Society has its own problems and it is certainly a union based largely on ideology, but don't draw the connection that isn't there.

The explanation is very simple. The people who hold ideological allegiances in one area are likely to do the same in other areas. And, because of the unquestioning loyalty that the current crop of Republican leaders demands, the allegiance to them is also ideological, bordering on fanatical. Bending a few rules and skirting a few laws in pursuit of an ideological agenda is really small potatoes for these guys, but the ideology in question is not the one they share through the Federalist Society.

I have no love lost for crazy ideological associations. But let's call a spade a spade.

Posted by: buck turgidson on April 10, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just listened to the audio, wow-- THAT was a hot bench! The male Judge (not Easterbrook) that sounds like Art Donovan started on the US Attorney before he got through "may it please the court", and the other two were loaded for bear as well.

Judge Easterbrook (Gregg's older brother) is very sharp, he basically picked apart the government's case in the last two minutes of the session, it was impressive.

Posted by: beowulf on April 10, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Competetive bidding is one of the fundamental ways that fairness is maintained in government contracts.

In case anyone hasn't pointed this out to make fun of that particular troll, the bid accepted *was* the lowest bid. Kevin says so, or you could listen to the audio link and find that out in the first minute or so.

Posted by: bobb on April 10, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

I finished listening to the audio. I highly recommend it. Listen all the way through to the end so you hear the incredibly flimsy attempts to try to justify the case.

What monstrous sort of person could even conceive of putting an innocent person in prison for political gain? That's what it means to be a "loyal Bushie"?

Posted by: bobb on April 10, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

So it is only innocent republicans you want put through the wringer. Sounds like the case against her was better than the Liby case.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on April 10, 2007 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the case against her was better than the Liby case.

I'm sure lots of things sound different as they echo through your hollow head.

Posted by: haha on April 10, 2007 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that bothers me is that she was convicted by a jury. The judges overturned the conviction due to lack of evidence however the jury convicted on the same evidence. Who was right?? She was certainly trying to influence the contract award in favor of the Governors contributor but I don't think that alone merits a prison sentance. However I don't think she should ever be put into a position of trust again.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on April 10, 2007 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Truthpolitik: Huh? No. You are completely wrong.
There was nothing to the "case." This was simply a malicious prosecution and a Kangaroo court. And instructions to a jury that instructed them to convict.

You must be a concern troll out for a drive-by damage control post. Why do you guys dissemble so?

Posted by: Sparko on April 10, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the case against her was better than the [Libby] case.

Prove it. Lay out your argument. I dare you.

Sparko: Truthpolitik: Huh? No. You are completely wrong.

It appears that the concern troll didn't bother to click the links or read about the case.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 10, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo: the "she must have done something wrong if she was convicted" talking point was the one American Hack kept posting and having removed. It really pisses me off too. That is a perfect analogy for the Gulag rationalization. I mean, they know dissent was a crime, right? Yow. How far we have sunk. Maybe these trolls are from Regency U. Their aptitude has never been their strong suit. Only their loyalty to the message (not the Gospel--gospel means truth. It has no effect on these guys. Shameless.)

Posted by: Sparko on April 11, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Jim Doyle is a jackass. He is now grandstanding, when before he tossed this poor woman to the curb. Here is Doyle after the conviction:

"It is clear that Georgia Thompson acted on her own, and that no other state employee was involved," Doyle said following her conviction. "As I have stated before, I have zero tolerance for ethical lapses in government. When public servants abuse the public's trust, they forfeit their rights to continue in the state's employ."

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=6219

Posted by: Bubba on April 11, 2007 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, you're right Bubba, what a total jackass. What's that saying about "all it takes for evil to win is for the good to stand by and do nothing"?

Posted by: bobb on April 11, 2007 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone else notice that Al did one perfunctory post that said nothing, then disappeared? This USA-stacking story has the GoOPers totally panicked and lots of Blue Dogs and self-proclaimed independents thinking that what Dem candidates were saying about the need to investigate and clean up GOP corruption was, um, like, maybe true! Go, Dems! Don't give an inch!

Posted by: W Action on April 11, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a Democrat living in Madison, and I always thought this prosecution was bogus. However, Biscupic's actions in this case have been supported recently by the Dane Co. DA (a Democrat) and our former state AG (also a Democrat, but not a friend of Jim Doyle). Also, a previous commenter included Tom Loftus in his list of state officials involved in corruption cases. I think he means Chuck Chvala, Loftus has been out of elective politics for years.

Posted by: cathy on April 11, 2007 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

The thing that bothers me is that she was convicted by a jury. The judges overturned the conviction due to lack of evidence however the jury convicted on the same evidence. Who was right??

TruthPolitik, on appeal, the odds in this case were stacked in favor of affirming the conviction (the opposite of the trial, where the presumption of innocence is with the accused). In order to reverse the conviction, the appelate court would have to find that, considering all the evidence, no rational jury could have convicted the accused. It is a very high standard. For the defense to have met it is unusual. For a summary reversal from the bench (an appellate attorney's worst nightmare) is extraordinary. That last fact alone should tell you how wrong the conviction was.

Posted by: DJ on April 11, 2007 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

How to explain the original verdict? By understanding the importance of a concept known as prosecutorial discretion. There are many more potential prosecutions than resources for prosecuting -- there is a presumption (fast fading for this crowd) that prosecutors don't waste their time on nothing. Obviously, people are acquitted, but the system is stacked in favor of conviction because of the reservoir of trust held in prosecutors. Moreover, the judge thinks that if there's a problem, the jury will sort it out -- and the jury thinks that if there really could not have been a crime the judge would never have given them the case. But it all comes back to the idea that prosecutors are trusted not to try to make something out of nothing. I hope Mr. Biskupic suffers lasting damage to his reputation and career by I doubt it. Kudos to the Seventh Circuit. I listened to the recording, everyone should, and it brought back fond memories of my own employment in a similar setting.

Posted by: Barbara on April 11, 2007 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

he even persuaded the Republican judge in the case to toss Thompson in jail

I don't think we want to be complaining about the political leanings of judges. That's what the bad guys do. Seriously, what's next? Justice Sunday III, this time from the left?

Posted by: mmy on April 11, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

It's unbleievable. They have no morals. They have no conscience. They have no self-criticism. They have no shame.

They can't even think of a word that rhymes!

Posted by: just sayin on April 11, 2007 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Really hilarious exchange at the end of the oral arguments...You almost feel bad for how stupid they make the prosecutor look. Until you think about the fact that he's trying to keep an innocent woman behind bars for purely political reasons and realize what a tool he is.

"Just because they flunked high school math doesn't mean a federal crime was committed."

Posted by: mark r. on April 11, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, democrat in Madison, I'm a Democrat in Waukesha county where we even elect republican nutjobs to represent the poorest of the county in the city of Waukesha. Doyle was up for re-election and being accused of corruption. If he comes out strongly for Thompson it just looks like a cover-up and hurts his re-election chances. Most of the polls had he and the republican challenger, Mark Green, pretty neck and neck. The state assembly and state senate were held by republicans and the fear of a republican governor to complete the trifecta truly had me looking for houses on the west coast (no lie). Given the choices I would rather have an elected Doyle who gave a lukewarm defense rather than vice versa. What was said above is also true concerning media coverage in Milwaukee. The twin right wing hammers of Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling (who subs for Rush) pushed this. There was also no 'real' journalism that took place with articles in the Journal/Sentinel or the local news shows. Nothing. It was all the governor and corruption.

Posted by: Bucky Blue on April 11, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but officials of both parties were involved in this investigation

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=364492

The investigation will be conducted by both the FBI and the state's Division of Criminal Investigation, which is supervised by Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager. Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard also will play a role in the process.

"By working together, we want to avoid any accusations of bias," said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic in Milwaukee.

Biskupic was appointed to the U.S. attorney's post by President Bush, a Republican. Lautenschlager, Blanchard and Doyle are Democrats

Posted by: Campesino on April 11, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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