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May 31, 2007


Good points. I think I will start my own legal defense fund right now. Not that I am under indictment, or even suspicion (as far as I know), but who knows what the future might bring?

EW, I sympathize completely with your thoughts here (like you wouldn't know that; especially in relation to Libby, Goodling, et.al.); however, I wonder if this doesn't run up against free speech concerns as well as various Constitutional due process issues in relation to a person's right to defend himself. I don't know if the transparency part is subject to these concerns as much as the limitation portions might be. Not saying this is any definitive thought I am expressing here, just that the issue might be a bit more complex than you and Nevada are thinking.

Call it what it is: hush money. And the donors should be subject to the same criminal penalties as the felon if that's found to be the case. In other words, you don't charge someone with a crime for contributing to Scooter's legal defense fund. You double Cheney's sentence, when and if you can nail the bastard, because he paid Scooter hush money.

I suspect you're right about the monetary limit (though Nevada may relate to people in office, as Gibbons still is, which would make it milder than the national). But transparency?

this is an example of how the rest of the nation needs to be ruled. washington is not only out of touch, but in defiance of our wishes. The legislatures of our states are the only remaining chance we have to maintain democratic government before it is gone for fascism. think we can get 34 states to agree on anything we find important?

Don't get me wrong, I am not necessarily against this, I just think it is more complex than most might initially give it credit for. I tried to get across that I don't see nearly the concerns with the transparency portion as the limiting portion. My one question on transparency revolves around what is the definition of "legal defense fund"? Do parents contributing to their children's defense count? How about other friends and family? How many people does it take to constitute a fund? What about businesses and their respective liability coverage modalities indemnifying acts taken in relation to employment? I see the ability for the government to use this as a another oppressive dagger to put the screws on suspects and their ability to fight back. Again, I am not talking this idea down, I just want to be very careful in thinking through it. I expect I will get little appreciation for this point of view from anybody who hasn't seen the criminal justice system up close from the defense side of things. But, hey, I call them as I see them.

Does the Nevada law apply only to public officials for acts in their capacity as public officials? EW, I love you, but based on bitter experience in the trenches, I have seen proceeds of crime forfeiture laws used by zealous prosecutors to try and strangle a legitimater criminal defence in the cradle, or at least use up defence time, capital and resources in asset disclosure and tracing hearings. The application of money laundering laws to lawyers receiving retainers from criminals is another form of hardball, and gravely threatens the right of full answer and defence. I'm not talking about taking gold bars for fees, just reasonable retainers for criminal defence work. One of my predictions BTW has been the application of laws used to target "terrorists" to ensnare ordinary criminals. Not just the Stone Phillips- Dateline type of "To catch a terrorist" sting that they used for the Fort Dix Stupids, but you cn interpret a lot of crimes as terrorist activity under these broad new laws. Let's be careful out there people!

Ismael - Yep. that is exactly what I am talking about.

I cede to the lawyers experience on this. The question is--is there a way to limit it to make it accomplish teh worthy goal of making it harder for public officials to broker influence in exchange for legal defense funding?

bmaz, Ishmael,

at least you two have an idea of what can happen with unexpected boomeranging from hastily and vindictively passed laws and rules.

$10,000 isn't much when you think of even poor parents morgaging their homes to defend their children.

Transparency wouldn't appeal to emptypockets when he supports a cause. What do you think the ACLU would think about that when they defend unpopular causes. Do you think that they want their donors and donations scrutinized?

There is just really a whole lot of overkill in the left/liberal/Democratic blogging circles with very little thought as to repercussions for all causes in the future, some of which they might have more sympathy for.

Cede nothing. Just because I ramble off some thoughts, doesn't make me right. In answer to your question, there probably are some intelligent ways to do something; I am just not sure the mole like creatures that inhabit legislatures, both state and federal, will ever find them. At first glance, I see no problem with there being strict disclosure requirements for activity by anyone in the employ of the government, similar to other ethical disclosure rules. Have to think about that more, I am not sure......

EW - it's difficult to imagine an effective system. Even if there were a system of disclosure that passed constitutional muster, it would be easy to circumvent. Did you see Syriana - when Chris Cooper talked about receiving a one line bill from a law firm for $36,000,000 for "services rendered"? I always assumed that was what happened when salaried civil servants acquired expensive counsel like John Dowd - they would make up the lost time by padding another bill for an "interested party". Remember, Goodling never said she paid anything, only that she "intended" to start a legal defence fund - the right question for Miss Monica Goodytwoshoes was, what are the terms of your retainer of Mr. Dowd? As I understand it, he is under no obligation to charge her anything at all for representing her - but he can charge whatever he wants for work to the RNC, and it is the client who has the right to ask for a detailed accounting, as long as the money is declared to the IRS and his partners, its hard to see what could be done in such a case - clearly he would have to be careful in his timekeeping because legal bills are not protected by solicitor client privilege, although they are presumptively confidential.

May I be the first to suggest [on this thread]: Don't. Feed. The. Troll.

But but on this thread, I may be the troll; and I am hungry.

all your trolls are belong to me

and I agree with mauimom

no troll biskets for the shit stain ...

EW - perhaps one way to do it, at least in public corruption cases, is to make contributions to legal defence costs over a certain amount discloseable as a "gift" to the public official? I understood that Bill Clinton was not allowed to accept free legal services, nor were the lawyers allowed to write them off, I assume because it would be deemed a gift, but I don't know the statutory reason.

Freepatriot - thanks for the assist!

from the linked article:

The measure defines such funds as accounts created to pay legal costs associated with any allegations of wrongdoing arising from a campaign, the electoral process or the performance of official duties.

I think that goes a long way towards addressing the concerns of ordinary folks. I'm not sure I buy the idea that $10,000 cap is a good idea, but requiring public disclosure of donations is absolutely necessary.

Wouldn't the high moral rectitude (if it existed) of those charged with these crimes inspire some attorney to work pro-bono for such a meritorious case? To the contrary, all the high-priced legal firms are treating them like common criminals.

William Ockham - Doh! Links are my friends. Links are my friends. Comments are so much better when done on an informed basis, and I am a serial violator in that regard. That removes most of the objections I had. I still have some issue with the dollar limitation as you appear to as well. I would also probably like to see an exception for direct family members. I will say this, if they think they will ever get this law applied to Gibbons in any regards, I think they are nuts. There are some pretty technical legal arguments that will likely prevent that, but I am liking it a lot better on the whole.

I hope they plug the DeLay defense fund defense: DeLay ran for Congress, even though it appeared he would be arrested before he could serve his 11th term (I think). So all those people who thought they were contributing to a Congressional run were had - it went to his legal defense fund. I think there should be a law regarding election contributions: you can use the funds for elections, and for election defense (recounts and the lawyers), but you may not use the funds to defend yourself against criminal charges.

Sailmaker - Now that is an EXCELLENT point. That practice has pissed me off for years and I see absolutely nothing legally preluding legislation banning it.

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