Random Thoughts on US v. Sullivan

Reading about this incident, wherein Andrew Sullivan apparently caught a break from selective prosecution, brought to mind several things.

1.  Favoritism:  Yes, prosecutorial resources are limited.  Yes, you fight the fights you can win.  Neither appears to be in evidence here.  Perhaps the federal prosecutors in this district have standing orders to seek dismissal of charges in cases where someone’s immigration status is at risk?

2.  Jerry Pournelle’s notion of “anarcho-tyranny“.  It’s not difficult to imagine this sort of prosecutorial behavior developing into a client-patron relationship.  (No, I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here.)

3.  Red Emma’s recent post, which has me wondering whether l’affaire Sullivan is unusual only because some federal district judge bothered to complain about it in writing.

4.  Presidential Pardons:  I.e., the proper way to seek criminal-justice favoritism.  (Not via de facto dereliction of a prosecutor’s duty to enforce the law.)  Were the people of this country ever foolish enough to elect me President, I’d be strongly tempted to start issuing pardons, as a matter of course, to anyone charged with a federal crime which a) carried a mandatory minimum sentence of excessive severity, and/or b) struck me as being unconstitutional.  E.g., all federal drug offenses.

5.  ISTM we actually have two justice systems in this country.  There’s the formal one, with actual civil & criminal trials like in Law & Order and John Grisham.  Then there’s the “shadow” one, comprising (inter alia) plea bargains & probations on the criminal end, and ADR & civil settlements on the civil end.  I really must read about the shadow one at some point.  I wonder what the relative market share is between the two systems….


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