How the US Justice System Can Put You in Jail Forever…When You’re Innocent

American Thinker:

The American justice system works well.  It does not work perfectly.  Like a well running, expensive automobile, a single malfunctioning part can result in minor inconvenience or, sometimes, disaster.  Our justice system has several defective parts in it.  At the least, they undermine confidence in our system.  At worst, they can ruin your life — yes, your life.

They have been used against President Trump in an effort to destroy his effectiveness as president and even to seek his removal from office.

A few recent cases, well publicized, have provided an oil dipstick by which we can measure the threat.

One of them involves the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  It states that, among other protections, no “person [shall] be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”

The ordinary, man-on-the-street interpretation of this, is that if someone is charged with a particular crime and acquitted, he cannot be charged a second time for that same incident — but there are several ways to get around that expectation.  One of them is for a separate jurisdiction to file charges.  Oftentimes, this means that if a defendant is found not guilty in a state court, he can then be tried by a federal court for essentially that same exact incident.  The power to do this undermines the power of President Trump to issue pardons.  Presidents can pardon only those charged with a federal offense, not with a state offense.  This means that if President Trump pardons Paul Manafort, a state court can try him and convict him, sending Manafort to state prison and rendering the federal pardon inconsequential to Manafort.  His political connection to President Trump, not the crime itself, seems to be the primary purpose of the charges.

Complicating the matter, there are borderline cases, involving something called “severance.”  A single incident may violate more than one law.  Robbery and assault, for example, can be charged as separate crimes, even for the same incident, especially if one law is state and the other is federal.  The scandal is that severance can be selectively applied based on political considerations.

Over-charging is a common ploy in high profile cases.  The practice of over-charging puts pressure on those accused to accede to plea bargains, even when the accused is innocent of any crime at all.  It has been successfully used against both Martha Stewart and General Michael Flynn for lying to federal investigators.  Of course, the crime is serious and deserves punishment, but in both cases, the prosecutors had ulterior motives.  Ordinarily, such cases do not result in the level of punishment that occurred.  Flynn was punished essentially as a means to harm the Trump presidency.

The same principle applies in the case of families who have paid bribes to college officials in hopes of obtaining college admissions for their children.  The crime, no doubt, is serious, but prosecutors are seeking excessive penalties, including for mail fraud.

Apart from that obvious injustice, there is the issue of unequal application of the law.  As Tucker Carlson recently pointed out on air, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of a former president, was admitted to Stanford, despite an utter lack of demonstrated scholastic ability commensurate with that required of her college classmates.  Numerous other offspring of politically connected and influential parents are routinely admitted based on favoritism to premier universities such as Yale and Harvard.  Each one of them displaced a more deserving student, whose admission was denied.

Perhaps the most unjust violation of all is that of prosecutors charging defendants whom they know to be innocent.  One of the most egregious cases is known as the Duke Lacrosse Scandal.  read more

11 Comments on How the US Justice System Can Put You in Jail Forever…When You’re Innocent

  1. Read Mark Ferman’s book “Death and Justice” it may make you rethink your views on the death penalty.

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  2. All of the abuses that Mr. Arvay mentions are infuriating. The WHOLE POINT of our govt is to protect the rights of its citizens. To use the huge powers we have given the govt by our consent to be so governed to then violate our rights is tantamount to treason: overthrowing the purpose of govt is not far enough removed from overthrowing the govt itself.

    One abuse the author doesn’t mention is the overly restrictive definition of standing, particularly when it comes to abusive legislation. For example, look at the currently left-popular concept of red flag laws. Using current standing standards, I would have to be actually SWATted and possibly killed in the process before I would have been sufficiently injured to sue the govt for passing and acting on an unconstitutional statute. Fooey! When it’s one citizen and another citizen, simply threatening violence is considered a crime, and rightly so. But when the govt threatens violence, they give themselves a get-out-of-jail-free card.

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  3. The swamp/left/axis was formed during the bush days, into clinton, into bush2, and into overdrive during obama. It’s in hyperdrive now.

    2A!

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  4. We don’t and never did have a ‘justice’ system.

    We have a ‘legal’ system.

    Vast difference.

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  5. @ Anonymous JULY 12, 2019 AT 4:08 PM:

    We don’t and never did have a ‘justice’ system.
    We have a ‘legal’ system.
    Vast difference.

    Quite right. DOJ? More like DOFU.

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  6. If someone wants to put you in jail, there is something that will let them do it. I would love to see the SCOTUS rule against charging someone in another jurisdiction for the same action against the same victim.

    I have heard cases of somebody being charged with murder AND manslaughter — against the same victim. I understand the concept of “lesser included offences,” and I agree with that. You simply tell the jury, “If you don’t think it was premeditated murder, you can’t ingnore the fact that the defendant did kill the victim. You should at least consider manslaughter.

    The problem with the Rodney King case was that the prosecution wanted all or nothing at all. Since they over-charged the officers, they got nothing at all. If they had left the door open for a lesser charge, they probably would have gotten a conviction.

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  7. @RadioMattM:

    I have heard cases of somebody being charged with murder AND manslaughter — against the same victim. I understand the concept of “lesser included offences,” and I agree with that. You simply tell the jury, “If you don’t think it was premeditated murder, you can’t ingnore the fact that the defendant did kill the victim. You should at least consider manslaughter.

    I was on such a jury quite a few years back in Montgomery County MD. It was a drug deal gone bad, both guys pulled out pistols (both the guy with the drugs and the guy with the money wanted to end up the only one with both drugs and money, duh), and the slower one ended up dead. The surviving druggie was charged with both 1st and 2nd degree murder.

    He claimed self-defense (HAHAHAHAAAHAAAHAAAHAHAHA!) My fellow jurors and I found that the prosecution failed to prove premeditation, so we found the guy guilty on the 2nd degree murder charge and not guilty on 1st degree. He got 20 years in the state pen.

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  8. Uncle Al: it just seems to me that he did one or the other. What would happen if he was found guilty on both? If they can give the jury instructions to find him guilty on one then they can give the jury instructions to consider lesser charges. To actually charge him with both tells me they really don’t know what they guy did.

    Jury duty is actually pretty scared.

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  9. “Over-charging is a common ploy in high profile cases.”

    Bullshit. It is also used in the most pedestrian of minor offenses.

    Cop tells you to exit the vehicle, you ask “why?”. Bang, there’s your ‘Obstruction’ charge.

    Been in a hotel for work away from home for the last week? Cop asks, holding your license, “this your current address?”. Bang, ‘Providing false information to a Police Officer’.

    Ever seen TWO people charged with drunk driving involving one car and one instance? Car off the road, no wreck, no damage to structure or automobile. I have.

    I can go on for some time with these but nobody really wants all that shit. Overcharging is common as herpes.

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  10. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
    And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.

    Exodus 18:21-22

    The type of men seem to be the real problem, here.

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