Monday, March 20, 2006


When the law becomes no more than a shield for the criminals

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office is prosecuting Stephen Heller for transcribing, printing out, and exposing internal memoranda by the Jones Day law firm. Media accounts suggest (to me, at least) that that lawfirm was engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Diebold, Inc. to defraud the government of the state of California. At the very least, they suggest legal ethics that wouldn't disqualify Al Capone from the Bar. Kos has more. This is the kind of prosecution that strikes at the very heart of the rule of law. Confidence in the integrity of the voting system is obviously the foundation for the consent of the governed, so exposing corruption is A Good Thing. But even more, the American Republic is based on a very bold assertion: that the law has legitimacy only as we give our consent, and that the consent exists only to the extent that our rights,inherent in our humanity and not in laws,are respected by the people who are temporary stewards of power. In other words, laws that do not lead to just and equitable ends are not laws at all. Prosecuting someone for trying to stop a crime in progress is a legal abomination. It turns the law into a shield for criminals. You can give money to help Heller fight this. You can write a letter or make a call. What you cannot in good conscience do is walk away.
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