November 24, 2009 4:11:17 PM by
In a front-page article in today's New York Times, Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak writes about how former ideological adversaries are uniting under the banner of criminal justice reform. Conservatives, libertarians, and liberals have all found common ground in seeing the dangers of overcriminalization, Liptak writes, citing Three Felonies a Day as an example.
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Harvey A. Silverglate, a left-wing civil liberties lawyer in Boston, says he has been surprised and delighted by the reception that his new book, “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent,” has gotten in conservative circles. (A Heritage Foundation official offered this reporter a copy.)
The book argues that federal criminal law is so comprehensive and vague that all Americans violate it every day, meaning prosecutors can indict anyone at all.
October 12, 2009 4:30:46 PM by
Today's New York Times features an article on a federal law that typifies the problem laid out in Three Felonies a Day. Known as "Honest Services" Fraud, this elastic, 28-word statute has been used by U.S. Attorneys to criminalize all manner and kind of activity, ranging from political corruption to sharp-elbowed business practices. What the Supreme Court will soon decide, Adam Liptak writes, is whether the law is unconstitutionally vague. My take: It unquestionably is.
The honest services law is but one example of what Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties lawyer in Boston, calls “an over-criminalization problem.” His new book, “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent,” argues that the average American professional unwittingly commits several serious crimes each day.
“Even the most intelligent and informed citizen (including lawyers and judges, for that matter),” Mr. Silverglate writes, “cannot predict with any reasonable assurance whether a wide range of seemingly ordinary activities might be regarded by federal prosecutors as felonies.”
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