Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If you're looking for motives...

As to why some or all of those 8 U.S. Attorneys were fired, here is something to consider. The Boston Globe is on the case, and has so far determined that at least 3 of them bucked the A.G.'s mandate to seek the death penalty.

As has been pointed out on Liberal Lean, very many decisions in criminal matters come under the heading of prosecutorial discretion. I think an appropriate question here is whether it is a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial discretion to seek the death penalty in a situation where your case is so weak that you ultimately cannot even get a conviction. (such were the facts of "The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Robot Dog Mail Bomb". No, you will not find this title in your Sir Arthur Conan Doyle collection.)

Is this discretion even less legitimately exercised when it is pursuant to a mandate from higher-ups 3,000 miles away who do not even know the facts of the case? I am certainly not what you'd call an anti-death-penalty zealot, but in my view at least one prerequisite should be that you are absolutely sure that the accused did in fact commit the crime, and merely thinking that maybe you can convince a jury that he or she did it does not satisfy this prerequisite.

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