Friday, July 27, 2007


The news was full of the arraignment of Michael Vick. Celebrity show time, similar to the parade of beautiful people on the red carpet at the Oscars. No substance, however. The federal Court put itself and its personnel through a useless procedure. Lawyers for the government and the accused could have handled the matter by email to the clerk of the Court. They could have told the Court, “Here is a grand jury indictment; a copy has been received and read by the accused; this defense counsel represents the accused; this counsel is satisfied that the accused understands all of his rights; and this accused, for now at least, chooses to put the government to the proof; so we enter a plea of not guilty. As to bail, all of the parties are satisfied with the present conditions of release, a copy of which is in the Court file. Motions may come later, in accordance with the Court’s instructions, rules and schedule.”

At the time of the arrest, the accused is taken to a Magistrate for an initial appearance, advised of his rights, given an opportunity to ask for conditions of release (including bail and ankle bracelet, if any), and the case is dismissed (no probable cause) or held over for action of the grand jury (the grand inquest), for no one may be prosecuted for felony unless on indictment (or in some state Courts, on information, a charging paper signed and filed by the District Attorney). The accused can ask to be allowed to talk to the grand jury, subject to cross examination by the prosecutor, but may choose to “lawyer up,” as Sipowitz and others on NYPD say. No inference is supposed to be drawn from an accused remaining silent.

Money (salaries and fees) could have been saved, to be applied to the criminal justice system in more worthwhile ways. Incidentally, there is no legal difference between the wording of the plea made by O. J. Simpson, and that made by Vick. O. J.’s plea of “absolutely, 100% not guilty.” or words to that effect, should have brought more heat on him and his lawyers than Judge Ito meted out.

It may be said that this post is much ado about little. Actually, it is a lead-in to general, overall discussion of reform of the procedure that we use in the criminal justice system, State and federal. Most cases end in plea agreements. Why waste Court (judges, lawyers, bailiffs, security people) time on this procedure? In New Mexico we have brought prisoners down from Santa Fe (in cases in which they were accused in Albuquerque but held for safekeeping, as very dangerous, in the penitentiary in Santa Fe), for arraignment in Albuquerque. That is a waste.

There is one reason that I can put forth for the ritual of arraignment. It is a show for the public and as such perhaps increases the deterrent effect of the criminal law. You may say that the accused may waive arraignment, but only with consent of the Judge and prosecutor. I propose the email arraignment, and let all public records be on line.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


It is time for impeachment. Up until now, I have felt that the American people can let this administration go, as a bad period, and go forward with some new administration, Republican or Democrat, or Third Party.

The new (renewal of the old) position of the President on torture [our people (CIA) authorized to act as the SS, Gestapo, and KGB] pushes me over the line. The American people are deserving of a better reputation than the President is giving us. We ought not to have to defend our country’s refusal to abide international treaties and moral codes. I am so ashamed of the image of America brought about by this President [Vice President at the helm] that I want to speak up now for impeachment, rather than let the time pass and be put in the silent group.

I am hereby going on record. Without hate, "With malice toward none ....", I favor impeachment of the Vice President and the President and the Attorney General. Now when I face a foreigner, I can say I objected, I am not of the same mind as President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Put yourself in the position of those who are delegates to the United Nations. They see what they consider to be a disregard and violation of international law, in the actions of these American leaders. They wonder whether the American people are like their leaders, whether they approve of what their leaders are doing. Perhaps impeachment will offset most of the damage to our country’s image. Perhaps impeachment, not for lying under oath about sexual misconduct and crimes, but for violation of international law, a part of our law, will send the message that we are governed by a rule of law and are not international outlaws.