Over at the Huffington Post, Lord Conrad Black, himself the victim of some highly questionable prosecutorial decisions, picks up on a column I wrote recently for the Mobile Press-Register (linking to it within his piece) about a former Mobile County Commissioner hounded into a gun conviction in a wholly unfair way. There will be more to write on the extraordinary Nodine story later, but for now, let’s just focus on Black’s point, which was also my point.
I wrote: “Prosecutorial overreach (or outright abuse) also occurs far too frequently, with federal prosecutors using so much discretionary power that they run roughshod over citizens who exhibit not the slightest bit of mens rea, or “guilty mind” — in other words, no evidence of criminal intent.”
Black, much more colorfully, wrote: “Until prosecutors, too, are subject to a reasonable system of checks and balances like all other parts of government, the lady of American justice will be in danger of becoming a raddled strumpet, and the law an incurably spavined ass.”
This is a serious problem. It is related to the broader problem of “overcriminalization” which a coalition of right, center, and left-leaning groups, led by the conservative Heritage Foundation, has formed to combat.
By the way, as for Stephen Nodine: Black became aware of his case because both have been inmates at the same federal penitentiary. It is quite arguable that neither one of them should have been there.