A List of People Who Should Never Be Democratic Nominees For Office

Teresa Nielsen Hayden does typically invaluable work by noting the public officials responsible for the abusive prosecution of Aaron Swartz:

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz

Special Agent in Charge Steven D. Ricciardi

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen P. Heymann

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland

Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas

The U.S. Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Force

The Cambridge Police Department

The MIT Police Department

Most immediately relevant is Carmen Ortiz, who is apparently considered a candidate to replace Deval Patrick.   Obviously, this should be out of the question, even if the only other alternative for the Democratic nomination is “Martha Coakley, tanned, rested, ready, and let’s hope she learned something about campaigning.”

Relatedly:

Just days before he hanged himself, Internet activist Aaron Swartz’s hopes for a deal with federal prosecutors fell apart.

Two years ago, the advocate for free information online, who was known to have suffered from depression, allegedly used the computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to download nearly five million articles from a fee-charging database of academic journals. To some in the Internet community, it was a Robin Hood-like stunt.

Prosecutors disagreed and threatened to put him in prison for more than three decades.

Mr. Swartz’s lawyer, Elliot Peters, first discussed a possible plea bargain with Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann last fall. In an interview Sunday, he said he was told at the time that Mr. Swartz would need to plead guilty to every count, and the government would insist on prison time.

Mr. Peters said he spoke to Mr. Heymann again last Wednesday in another attempt to find a compromise. The prosecutor, he said, didn’t budge.

…a list of crimes that carry shorter prison sentences than the time Swartz was being threatened with.   They include manslaughter, bank robbery, and knowingly spreading HIV.

93 comments on this post.
  1. somethingblue:

    But if Carmen Ortiz is in fact nominated, we should vote for her, right?

  2. tonycpsu:

    mmmmmm…. pancakes.

  3. Pinko Punko:

    If this is reason enough to not vote for this person, where does lesser evilism come in? What about every single elected official and the entire system that participates in what you rightly consider the war on some people who use some drugs? I am really sad for this guy dying. I do think that there really should have been more prosecutorial discretion. It might be considered trolling, but I feel it is reasonable to consider thinking about this issue how we have a hard time imagining well off white dudes going to prison for crimes they do commit let along crimes they don’t. I don’t like reflexive arguments of “do the crime do the time”, and this case is really unfortunate.

  4. Murc:

    Depends. Who is she running against?

  5. L.M.:

    Let’s not forget that Ortiz’s office was also responsible for the prosecution of Tarek Mehanna under 18 U.S.C. § 2339A (providing or attempting to provide material support to terrorists), where the “material support” in question was political speech on the Internet .

  6. Thers:

    PP

    If this is reason enough to not vote for this person, where does lesser evilism come in?

    At local and state levels. Mostly. Depending.

  7. RIP Aaron Swartz « jazzhunt:

    [...] http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/01/a-list-of-people-who-should-never-be-democratic-nominees… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this.   Leave a comment [...]

  8. Lee Rudolph:

    In general, no prosecutor (or ex-prosecutor) should be elected to an executive or legislative post; the (general, with occasional honorable exceptions) prosecutorial mindset that never, ever admits error (often, even error by one’s predecessors in office) is far too dangerous to the polity. Coakley on Fells Acres is an excellent example.

    It’s also, of course, a dangerous mindset for prosecutors who are serving as prosecutors. Coakley on Fells Acres is an excellent example there, too, of course.

  9. Emily:

    there should have been more prosecutorial discretion

    There is TONS of prosecutorial discretion, you, and I, just think it should have been exercised differently. Prosecutorial discretion, and lack of judicial discretion, is a huge problem in this country. Especially in federal court prosecutors have almost ALL the discretion the system has to offer and that is a bad situation.

  10. glasnost:

    One of the many serious and horrible problems with our political system as currently structured is the rate at which prosecutors become judges and politicians. It’s wildly unbalanced. Every time we vote for a former AG, it gets worse.

  11. Erik Loomis:

    Don’t know what I’d do in a general election. But it’s our job here to create change where change is actually created–in the primaries and before. We have to make sure Carmen Ortiz is not the nominee.

  12. Scott S.:

    I’m kinda dying to know how many people Ortiz prosecuted for more serious offenses who were sentenced to less time than they wanted to give to Swartz. ‘Cause I bet there were a lot…

  13. rea:

    Being a prosecutor is not healthy for the soul.

  14. IOKIYAR(ight-wing):

    uhm,

    OBAMA appointed Carmen M. Ortiz.

    Queue the smears of anyone who thought Obama had Free Will. Clearly anyone that thought Obama had Free Will is just a {pick a smear, this week it’s “Green Lantern” last week it was “Firebagger”}.

    An honest accounting of responsibility would include Obama, who appointed Ortiz, the people who elected Obama (which includes me for voting for him twice), and the society that creates and allows the sicker acts of these politicians and prosecutors to get away with these abusive acts without consequences.

  15. Joe:

    Orin Kerr was cited by one of the links in a past thread as a voice of reason, so this discussion might be relevant:

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/14/aaron-swartz-charges/#disqus_thread

  16. Rarely Posts:

    This. Currently in federal elections, any Democrat who will vote for Pelosi in the House or Reid in the Senate is better than the Republican alternative. In contrast, although Democrats are also almost always better at the state and local level (in part because they then influence redistricting and thus federal elections), crossing party lines can occasionally make sense in state and local elections.

  17. Steve LaBonne:

    If it’s done right- and it can be (by remembering that a prosecutor’s paramount duty in our legal system is to see that justice is done, not to collect scalps), that needn’t be the case. I think that without meaning to you’re letting bad prosecutors off too easily.

  18. Scott Lemieux:

    Depends. Who is she running against?

    This is the wrong question. As a real toughminded leftist like somethingblue understands, if you vote against a bad Democrat the political office in question immediately defaults to someone who agrees with you about everything.

  19. Scott Lemieux:

    If this is reason enough to not vote for this person, where does lesser evilism come in?

    This is why they need to be stopped at the Democratic primary level.

  20. Scott Lemieux:

    Finally, someone to argue against the zero people who believe that the president doesn’t have substantial discretion over executive branch appointments.

  21. RhZ:

    I think you have to lay blame when due. Maybe its silly, but if these folks don’t get to move up (especially publicly don’t get to move up) to some extent that could send a message.

    Ah, who am I kidding?

  22. IOKIYAR(ight-wing):

    Scott, again,

    Obama appointed Carmen M. Ortiz as well as a growing list of extreme right-wing enablers: Brennan the torturer, sleazy Corporatist Emmanuel, Sunnstein and his disturbing right-wing libertarian foolishness that measures human lives against whether a Corporation can profit from such misery, et. al.

    In world with consequences none of them would ever be Democratic nominees.

    But since legitimate criticism of Obama’s Republican enabling appointments and policies are smeared by the likes of yourself, those egregious right-wing enabling pseud-Dems are elevated to positions with ever more serious consequences.

    For your smears of those that challenged Obama’s right-wing appointments and policies that produced outcomes like Swartz and Manning, consider adding yourself to that list above.

  23. Mo:

    Martha Coakley lost to Scott Brown in large part due to her role in the Fells Acre – Amirault case. I know lots of vote straight Dem ticket in every election who refused to go to the polls for that special election. I went gritting my teeth and very angry at the state Democratic Party.

    Having female political hopefuls be prosecutors or State Attorneys to burnish their tough on crime credibility runs into real problems because there will inevitably be some “tough on imaginary crime” in the mix.

  24. Scott Lemieux:

    But since legitimate criticism

    So your position is that the only “legitimate” criticism of Obama comes in the form of throwing elections to Republicans? Because that’s the only kind I oppose.

  25. Uncle Kvetch:

    the (general, with occasional honorable exceptions) prosecutorial mindset that never, ever admits error (often, even error by one’s predecessors in office) is far too dangerous to the polity

    Cf. Giuliani, Rudolph

  26. FLRealist:

    Having female political hopefuls be prosecutors or State Attorneys to burnish their tough on crime credibility runs into real problems because there will inevitably be some “tough on imaginary crime” in the mix.

    Because, of course, male political hopefuls don’t ever do such things.

  27. Lyanna:

    He’s not getting attention because he’s a well-off white dude, but (1) because he was threatened with 3 decades of prison for something so utterly harmless, even more so than drug possession, and (2) he was a political activist.

    His whiteness and well-off-ness is, at most, the icing.

  28. BarrY:

    I’d like to know how many high-level financial crooks were sent to prison by her.

    My money is on zero.

  29. Lyanna:

    Right. I get a bit uneasy with the sometimes-reflexive lefty condemnation of prosecutors, for precisely that reason. It can be done right, bad prosecutors are more than just passive corruptees of their job status, and good prosecutors are essential to the lefty vision of a free and equal society.

  30. Remembering Aaron Swartz « shouting loudly:

    [...] Lemieux has compiled a list of people who were involved in this abuse of justice.  The top of his list includes: U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz Special Agent in Charge Steven D. [...]

  31. Bill Murray:

    where does IOKIYAR say that it’s the ONLY legitimate criticism? You’re doing your standard intentionally misreading criticism of you, to deligitimize a criticism I assume you can’t actually argue with

  32. Chatham:

    Do you see any large-scale effort to do this?

  33. Tybalt:

    He was also beloved by a LOT of people. Including a lot of people I love and respect myself.

    But while I am entirely on board with “do the crime, do the time” the problem here is that Swartz didn’t commit any crimes here. He didn’t come within a country mile of any crimes. This was a political revenge prosecution to punish Swartz for the PACER/RECAP incident, a high-profile case where they failed to convict him (for downloading and making available documents that are in the public domain by US federal law).

    No one was harmed by Swartz’s actions downloading JSTOR articles and he never even violated a term of service. MIT’s network was open, unsecured and access was not limited to anyone for any reason; JSTOR placed no restrictions on downloading its articles over this network. To attempt to prosecute him for these actions is like trying to give an invited guest 35 years in prison for eating sandwiches from a free buffet.

    For more on the ridiculous case against Swartz, see forensic expert Alex Stamos’s extensive discussion here.

  34. bradP:

    Obama hates him some cyber crime and open government.

    Those folks were high-risers before this occurred. May still be.

    Maybe the White House can get past deliberating secession and the Death Star and get to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-free-access-over-internet-scientific-journal-articles-arising-taxpayer-funded-research/wDX82FLQ this.

  35. Malaclypse:

    When you are right, you are spot-on, Brad. Nice find.

  36. Bill Altreuter:

    DOJ policy is that after indictment only a plea to the top count is acceptable. Although both state and federal systems typically make sentencing decisions the exclusive prerogative of the judge, in federal court this is much more strictly adhered to, and federal judges mostly defer to the Sentencing Guidelines. State court judges are somewhat more invested in clearing their dockets and are therefore somewhat more invested in the negotiation process. As a result there is no real room for negotiation on sentencing in federal prosecutions—the judge gives defendants who plead guilty the sentence the guidelines provide for. If you believe, as I happen to, that US sentencing practice is wildly out of step with much of the rest of the world than the insanity is compounded.

    Add to all this that defending a criminal charge is an expensive process and it all adds up to a system which is in dire need of reform.

  37. Chatham:

    Well, I suppose if later on someone with more recent prosecutorial abuses is running, we’ll see posts telling us to vote against them, even if the alternative is voting for Carmen Ortiz. And to support whoever wins in the general.

  38. Emily:

    Yes, most judges follow the guidelines, and prosecutors control both the charges and the statement of facts, which is what controls the guidelines (other than a defendant’s criminal history which presumably is not this guy’s problem). If these prosecutors had wanted to indict fewer or lesser charges I’m sure they could have. Not doing so is an exercise of their prosecutorial discretion. They know the limitations policy puts on their discretion ahead of time and can work within those confines to a just result if they choose to. They just don’t choose to.

    There are also a LOT of federal crimes with mandatory minimum sentences where the judge has no discretion not to impose a horribly long sentence if the prosecutor chooses to bring those charges. All discretion rests with the prosecution. The system is out of balance and people are paying with their lives.

  39. jeer9:

    As a real tough-minded leftist like Lemieux understands, if you call for opposition in a primary to a horrible Dem who was appointed by Obama and that Dem still gets the nomination, you stifle your criticism and vote for them in the name of Lesser Evilism. Swartz would have been treated much worse by a Republican. Rumor has it that Ortiz opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare and is open-minded about the platinum coin.

  40. rea:

    I don’t intend a reflexive lefty condemnation of prosecutors. I recognize that we have to have prosecutors. But, as I said above, it’s not healthy for your soul to be in a position of having to pass judgment on the conduct of others, and push for their punishment.

    Aaron Swartz was almost certainly guilty of the charges against him–the Orin Kerr link below does a good job of explaining why. A bit of mercy would have been a good thing–but you know, that’s true in most cases that get prosecuted. Mercy on the part of a prosecutor is not a thing our system values.

  41. Murc:

    you stifle your criticism and vote for them in the name of Lesser Evilism. not letting someone much more awful get in.

    Fixed that for you.

    Ortiz might be running for statewide, rather than national (in this context, anything that doesn’t send you to DC is national) office. Assuming she navigates a Democratic primary successfully, the two choices will be her, or a Republican.

    I can respect the position that Ortiz is so awful you can’t bring yourself to cast a ballot for her no matter what. I feel the same way about Andrew Cuomo. But not voting for the lesser evil is, in fact, tacit acceptance of the greater evil. You seem to be having some trouble with that concept.

  42. jeer9:

    Only if the Massachusetts Republican is clearly worse than someone who would hound AS over such actions. Glad to see there’s no ambiguity for you.

  43. Murc:

    An honest accounting of responsibility would include Obama, who appointed Ortiz, the people who elected Obama (which includes me for voting for him twice), and the society that creates and allows the sicker acts of these politicians and prosecutors to get away with these abusive acts without consequences.

    Okay?

    I don’t think many people here, including our hosts, would disagree with this. I may be mistaken, but the tone of your post would seem to indicate you are posting something which is a matter of controversy around here.

  44. Murc:

    Why shouldn’t Scott delegitimize criticism that is completely ridiculous?

    IOKIYAR is the latest in a long, long line of people to attribute views to Scott he not only doesn’t hold, but has repudiated in both word and deed many, many times. He also accuses Scott of smearing people, something that to my knowledge he’s never done, assuming that you can’t be doing a smear job if you’re saying something that both is true AND that you believe to be true.

    So why shouldn’t he get a little bit bitchy?

  45. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    There have certainly been cases within living memory of Massachusetts Republican candidates for governor who were, in fact, the lesser evil.

    Bill Weld was a better Governor than John Silber would have been.

    Obviously it’s less likely today that the Massachusetts GOP would nominate someone less awful than Ortiz. But it’s at least within the realm of possibility.

  46. L2P:

    Yes, most judges follow the guidelines…

    Most? They don’t have any choice, except in compelling circumstances. The Court let them have some leeway, but very little.

    So it really comes down to charging and pleas. If I charge with 10 counts, the sentence is going to come down to whether I decide to let the defendant plea to only 1 or 2. Must Federal PDs will tell you that the biggest abuse in the system comes from overcharging.

  47. rm:

    When David Duke ran against whathisname Edwards for Governor of Louisiana, even Republicans recognized that the other party had the less bad candidate. I can imagine an extreme case that would make me vote for the Republican.

  48. Murc:

    Only if the Massachusetts Republican is clearly worse than someone who would hound AS over such actions.

    Wouldn’t this go without saying?

    I mean, why would I ask who Ortiz was running against if it literally did not matter?

  49. L2P:

    *le sigh*

    Prosecutors almost always admit when they THINK they’re wrong. Prosecutors, like ALL attorneys, don’t think they’re on the wrong side very often.

    And prosecutors represent the People (or the State, or the United States). Not justice (although the goal is, in the end, to do justice), not “good government,” not “the truth” (whatever that is – I’ve never figured out the truth in any case). If a prosecutor has a case, the prosecutor has a duty to prosecute it.

    Think about all the times I’ve heard defense attorneys tell me the DV or rape victim is a liar, she’s got a history of starting trouble, blah blah blah. Maybe she’s told other stories to other people. Whatever. You think I won all those cases? Well, I didn’t, and those defendants certainly think I should have just dismissed the case. They’ll tell you they were innocent and I was railroading them.

    You think I should feel guilty about taking a case with less than 100% certainty I would win? You think I should now admit I was wrong, and that girl wasn’t raped? Do you think I should be barred from office because I’m pretty damn sure a crime occurred and I wasn’t just going to walk away from an iffy case?

    No thanks. Not buying.

    Prosecutors have a role to play, just like defense attorneys. Hating on either one because you don’t like the outcomes or litigation of specific cases (I’m looking at OJ here) is ridiculous.

  50. L2P:

    Standard 3 1.2(c)

    The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.

  51. Scott Lemieux:

    So, just to be clear, you argument is that one should only vote for the superior candidate in Democratic primaries? Fascinating.

  52. Malaclypse:

    Also, everybody should read TNH’s invaluable follow-up comment.

  53. Scott Lemieux:

    where does IOKIYAR say that it’s the ONLY legitimate criticism?

    Where have I ever said that any other form of criticism is inherently illegitimate?

  54. (the other) Davis:

    My former Trusts and Estates professor used to say that “AG” stood for “aspiring governor.”

  55. rea:

    Justice and mercy aren’t necessarily the same thing . . .

  56. Karate Bearfighter:

    I’ve always loved part of the “quality of mercy” soliloquy that is less frequently quoted:

    “Though justice be thy plea, consider this—
    That in the course of justice, none of us
    Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
    And that same prayer, doth teach us all to render
    The deeds of mercy.”

  57. Mister Harvest:

    That’s a very good article. Had Swartz’ actions been run on BoingBoing without any prosecution, my reaction would have been, “Dude, that was a dick move.” But 50 years in prison? A felony? That’s beyond absurd.

  58. shah8:

    I don’t know about the icing. It reeks of class traitor phenomenon.

  59. Richard:

    Plus there have been prosecutors who have made pretty good politicians and judges: Earl Warren, Pat Brown, Bobby Kennedy, Deval Patrick, Nicholas Katzenbach, many, many more. The idea that prosecutors are convinced of their own rightness and thus not amenable to considered decision making, either as a politician or as a judge, is just silly.

  60. Nat:

    Swartz might say that by focusing on Ortiz, we are ignoring the larger problem. Fix the machine, not the person.

  61. Dean:

    I’m not so sure that Martha Coakley should be held up as being any better than Ortiz when it comes to criminal prosecutions for political profit. When she was AG of Massachusetts, it became apparent that the conviction was based on testimony that was extremely suspect, and the parole board unanimously recommended commutation of his sentence. Coakley, however, did everything he could to make sure he stayed behind bars.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/201001/martha-coakley-and-modern-witch-hunting-ritual-child-sexual-abuse

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Amirault

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575003341640657862.html

  62. Eli Rabett:

    Missing the point all we are.

    Nothing will bring Aaron Swartz back

    But a good week of getting punched in the nose (INTERNET style) which leaves a google trail will cause Ms. Ortiz, Mr. Heymann and their colleagues to give a thought in the future.

    Everyone knows what the White House response to the petition(s) is going to be, but they will be noticed. Eli suspects that the people with connections to Swartz who are megarich might be calling some of those needy Senators and Reps up and bitching. That would be a good thing.

  63. Ed:

    It is within the realm of possibility. And if Ortiz can be taken down she should be. I doubt I could vote for her under any circumstances – a man is dead – but I don’t live in MA.

  64. bradP:

    I think it’s pertinent that law enforcement in that part of the world has a long history of vindictively prosecuting anyone who knows more about technology than they do. Unfortunately, that’s almost everyone.

    Absolutely correct.

    And its rooted in the fact that technology, and information technology specifically, are great levelers and empowerers. Those that have cannot exclude others on the internet. So they craft reactionary laws and turn lose naturally aggressive law enforcement.

  65. bradP:

    A huge part of the problem with the system is that folks like Ortiz don’t pay for crimes like this.

    For any legal system, public outcry is going to be one of the few disincentives to misbehavior.

  66. Chuchundra:

    Go read Orin Kerr’s analysis of what Swartz actually did and then tell me that you don’t think he committed a crime.

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/14/aaron-swartz-charges/

  67. Mister Harvest:

    So, you agree that he should have spent 50 years in prison for what he did?

  68. bradP:

    Note that “wire fraud” is contingent on his attempt to gain “property” by false premises. The “property” in question is a database of publicly funded research that JSTOR charges tens of thousands of dollars to access. Yes, Swartz may have committed a crime, but in my mind, that only brings to light how absurd the crime actually is.

    In fact, as you read that post you beginning to get the sense that prosecuters were tossing every law they could at him that might cover what he did.

    Without the downloading and the treatment of the JSTOR database as immensely valuable property, he basically did the same thing as a troll who gets repeatedly banned from a password protected forum.

    Prosecutors are obviously drumming up a case against cyber crime, not against anything in particular that Swartz did.

  69. mark f:

    There are likely to be at least three other candidates, probably four. I’d guess Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, and Lt Gov Tim Murray, the former mayor of Worcester, will each have a stronger position in the primary.

  70. Chatham:

    As a commentator there pointed out, under this reading of the law, many of the ways that people get around the New York Times (like deleting your cookies) constitute wire fraud.

  71. Chuchundra:

    It doesn’t seem absurd to me. The JSTOR digital library is a huge database of information compiled with significant effort and expense. If access to that database isn’t property, then I don’t know what is.

  72. Chuchundra:

    That’s a pretty facile comparison, although I expect if I snuck into the building, covertly hooked up a laptop to the NY Times network and started downloading their entire database, that’s something the police would probably be interested in.

    Of course, a New York Times digital subscription costs $35 for four weeks, so the value of the property involved in the circumvention is too small to trigger the wire fraud charge.

  73. Malaclypse:

    Well, even at the time, JSTOR called this “misuse” rather than “theft.”

  74. Chatham:

    Probably seems facile to those that don’t pay attention. You’re confusing 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C) – Fraud and related activity with connection to computers with 18 U.S.C. 1343, wire fraud. The latter of which doesn’t require the property value to be over a certain amount. The article you posted said that wire fraud (which Aaron was charged with) would be applicable since changing his IP to get around being blocked would constitute a “false pretense.” By this definition, so would deleting my cookies to get around a pay wall, or using a friend’s user name to read an article.

  75. Colin Day:

    But would representing such defendants increase a lawyer’s political prospects?

  76. Colin Day:

    Perhaps people who would vote for a male prosecutor would expect him to be tough on crime.

  77. RedSquareBear:

    Moreover, making “confidence in ones rightness” the sole province of prosecutors (especially when speaking in reference to prosecutors as a subset within the set of all politicians) seems, at best, questionable.

    Good public servants, by and large, deserve the chance to take a shot at higher offices (should they want to). Bad public servants, by and large, don’t (whether they want to or not).

  78. FLRealist:

    Perhaps those voters would be sexist.

  79. Lyanna:

    If I’m correctly understanding what you mean by class traitor phenomenon, then yes, I agree that his whiteness/maleness/general “People Like Us”-ness might be part of the reason why the government came down on him so hard.

    Or do I misunderstand?

  80. Lyanna:

    Hmm, fair enough, I suppose. Though I’m not sure that it’s healthy for your soul to be in a position of constantly defending and excusing others, either, as defense lawyers do, come to think of it–but at least that’s a different sort of unhealthiness, which may balance out the prosecutorial kind if we had more former defense lawyers in office.

  81. Joe Citizen:

    Whoa – you are not being quite honest here.

    The charges may carry 35 year max, but obviously Aaron was never going to do even a small fraction of that.

    You report that the prosecutor was insisting that there be “some” jail time in any plea deal? How much time? 6 months? 30 days?

    You ignore that obvious point, and then proceed to claim that Aaron was still being threatened with more time than one gets for manslaughter or bank robbery.

    How much time was he offered in the plea deal? If you know this, why didn’t you report it? If you don’t know, then how can you claim he was threatened with much time at all?

  82. rea:

    You report that the prosecutor was insisting that there be “some” jail time in any plea deal? How much time? 6 months? 30 days?

    “Prison” time rather than “jail” time. There is a significant difference, and “prison” ordinarily implies more than a year.

  83. mpowell:

    The big thing is whether you are risking flipping the state house to the Republicans. Because then you get the 2010 redistricting. So I can imagine voting for state level Republicans in MA where I don’t think this is a problem. Or in NY in the lower house, I guess. But in Ohio? Can’t ever vote for a state level Republican for a legislative position no matter how terrible the Democratic candidate is. So you always have to think about the actual political dynamics that your expressed preference creates. People complaining about lesser evilism do not generally think about actual political dynamics, though, instead considering the ones they make up in their head.

  84. mpowell:

    Prosecutors are in a much different position than defense attorneys. The situations would be more similar if prosecutors had the resources to bring charges in every single case they possible could and an expectation to do so. But they don’t. There is a tremendous amount of discretion on the part of prosecutors. So WTF does it mean for them to represent the people? How do you decide which cases to pursue and what charges to press? I hope it’s not just about landing the highest profile cases and getting the longest prison sentences for defendants. Representing the interests of the people, in any coherent sense, means pursuing justice.

  85. L.M.:

    The charges may carry 35 year max, but obviously Aaron was never going to do even a small fraction of that.

    What’s your basis for saying this? Is it that, otherwise, our criminal justice system would be crazy? Because I’ve got some bad news.

  86. HillRat:

    Likewise, when Dave Treen ran against Edwards, even Democrats crossed party lines. But Louisiana politics make for strange bedfellows.

  87. HillRat:

    Yep, BugMeNot is basically a criminal enterprise under a plain reading of federal criminal law.

  88. bradP:

    According the Swartz attorney, prosecutors insisted that Swartz plead guilty to 13 felonies. If he refused and it went to court, the prosecutors were going to seek a prison sentence of 7-8 years.

  89. bradP:

    Likewise, I can make a huge stockpile of lawn ornaments and decorations by pilfering my neighbor’s yards. The act of gathering doesn’t make the hoard legitimately my property.

    And whatever your feelings on the IP issues involved here, the numerous charges were basically everything that could be thrown at Swartz that could be rooted in his attempts to obtain the contents of the database.

    12 charges for the same act.

  90. John Protevi:

    Brad, this is why I can never stay mad at you too long. Thanks for all your comments on this thread.

  91. bradP:

    John, you and Mal are fine fellows.

    From deep down in my stomach, with every inch of me, I pure, straight hate you. But goddammit, do I respect you!

    Not really on the whole hate thing (although I brush up against it in moments of weakness), just had to quote some Anchorman.

  92. Origami Isopod:

    it’s not healthy for your soul to be in a position of having to pass judgment on the conduct of others, and push for their punishment.

    Given all the people out there in dire need of punishment and unlikely to get it thanks to their privilege in society, I’d say your diagnosis is unconvincing, doctor.

  93. Origami Isopod:

    Martha Coakley lost to Scott Brown in large part because she ran a terrible campaign.

    Also, how about you stop justifying voter sexism, especially in the ~~~~liberal~~~~ commonwealth?

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