March 17, 2013 6:34:59 PM by
The states are often described, in the memorable words of Justice Louis Brandeis, as the “laboratories of democracy,” places in which new laws and practices can be tested and perfected on the local level before spreading to the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, this process can occasionally go awry, as it did with Massachusetts’ recent anti-corruption law. Modeled after the vague and excessively broad federal “honest services fraud” statute, the Massachusetts law ended up criminalizing vast swaths of ordinary political activity.
The first test case pursued by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley was a prosecution of former state Treasurer Timothy Cahill. In light of the jury’s acquittal of the co-defendant and its hung verdict in Cahill’s case, my latest column, which ran in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, takes a look at the anti-corruption law and the alleged “criminal” activity that Cahill engaged in while making a third-party bid for governor in 2010.
You can find my column on the Wall Street Journal’s website, or, for those without a subscription to the Journal, you can find the full column after the jump.
January 23, 2013 12:14:11 AM by
June 11, 2012 11:51:07 PM by
The day that I read the judge’s instructions to the jury in the John Edwards campaign financing criminal trial, I predicted a deadlocked jury on all counts. I was close. Why was I so certain of this outcome despite Edwards’ exceptionally unsavory character? Because the jury instructions were so obtuse that not even the judge herself (were she honest about it) could understand them. The Edwards trial provides yet another example of overzealous federal prosecutors using dangerously unclear statutes to go after whomever they choose, regardless of whether the person in question has actually committed a crime.
The column after the jump...