We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
He has also recently written a short legal essay on a topic dear to my heart entitled HAM SANDWICH NATION: DUE PROCESS WHEN EVERYTHING IS A CRIME. Nobody knows what the criminal laws are anymore, especially the regulatory ones. It's like Alice's Restaurant. The Feds truly can indict anybody for anything if they want to.
It has not always been this way. As recent as the late 19th century, a researcher could study all the statutes in the United States in a reasonable time period. Now, one doubts they could cover the federal statutes adequately in their life time.
From an article published in 1887:
The writer of this article has for several years been occupied with a work which involved carful study and comparison of all the statute books of the United States. And the statutes, however contemptuously the court of law regard them, are after all on the utterance of the people's will. They are the direct speech of the "One who has authority.
Harvey Silverglate wrote a book, Three Felonies A Day, in which he points out that there are some 4500 federal felonies now, and he estimates everybody commits 3 felonies a day. That means you are just an unindited criminal.
due process* isn't a guarantee that things will come out right in the end. its a method of ensuring that the end result is acceptable to society and for the most part, it is.
my experience is that the government routinely overcharges but that this is part of the waltz between prosecutor and defense counsel, and ultimately with the judge. the typical crime is "worth" a certain level of punishment that will, almost always, be reached through negotiation (and probably will be even if the defendant decides to be unrepresented). you don't see every charged offense running consecutively, what you get is a conviction that for the most part gives a sentence that is fair. there are also built in checks too, the judge is the one who sentences, and often there are sentencing guidelines that are based on objective factual criteria to ensure uniform sentencing.
let's face it, after a grand jury or a preliminary hearing vets the charging document, you can be fairly certain the defendant is factually guilty -- and they always -- always -- lie about their own guilt. so defense counsel will put the government through the hoops, make the suppression motions, etc., so the defendants are really getting due process and maybe you'll catch the government and exclude the confession or evidence.
sure, there's always a carrot-stick approach to take a settlement, its a roll of the dice to some extent for the government as well as defendant and both sides have their own interests (a client might accept greater punishment to preserve immigration status).
that said, police discretion, selective prosecution of defendants and charges can and have been gravely abused, especially in death penalty cases.
As noted above, Due Process, is just legal manuvering. Anymore the real penalty is being caught up in the System. The official sentence is just the final pain the system can dish out. Proof? How many sentences are X years plus time served?
due process is more than just maneuvering. I'm there to make sure the government plays by the rules. we keep the government lies, beatings and evidence planting to a reasonable minimum. if the govt oversteps, the client -- who is always and by always I mean always guilty -- skates.
my experience has been x minus credit for time served.