Saturday, January 15, 2011


I'm the least gung-ho lawyer you'll ever encounter. I don't wander around yapping about "The Majesty of the Law" or "The sanctity of the courts" or the wisdom of of judges. But it irks me, as both a lawyer and a citizen, when people use the phrase, "He got off on a technicality." The word "technicality" usually refers to a mistrial being declared or a conviction being vacated or somesuch because there was a violation of procedural rules, a breach of judicial or attorney ethics, or a misapplication or subversion of a Constitutional protection. Those rules, norms, and protections exist for a reason: to protect the rights of the defendant and to uphold the integrity of the legal system. If you don't think those things are important, you're nuts, frankly, and I hope you're never at risk of losing your reputation, your livelihood, your liberty, or your life due to a flawed indictment, prosecution, or trial.

So in hindsight, I'm ashamed to admit that I giggled fiendishly when Ted Stevens was convicted and lost his senate seat back in 2008, and that I barely noticed when his conviction was vacated a little over a year later. But I stopped laughing and took notice when I read this New Yorker piece about Stevens' trial and the misconduct of the people who prosecuted him. There are people -- some of whom I call "friend" -- who will say that Stevens "got off on a technicality", but they are wrong for the aforementioned reasons.

Anyway, the piece isn't online, but if you've got old issues piled up (as I do, which is why I only got to the Stevens story yesterday), ferret out the January 3rd issue and read Jeffrey Toobin's story about the Stevens prosecution.

And now onto the December 13th issue and what promises to be a fun-filled story about a native American tribe that's going to build a casino in the Hamptons!


pansypoo said...

butbutbut the massage chair!

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