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Prosecution of Swartz Typical for the "Sick Culture" Pervading the DOJ 443

tukang writes "According to a report in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, State prosecutors had planned to let Swartz off with a warning and Swartz would not have faced any criminal proceedings or prison time had it not been for the decision of Carmen Ortiz's office to intervene and take over the case." Although the CNET article focuses on Aaron Swartz's particular case, the original article calls attention to general abuse of power within the DOJ: "It seems never to have occurred to Ortiz, nor to the career prosecutors in her office in charge of the prosecution, Stephen Heymann and Scott Garland, that there is something wrong with overcharging, and then raising the ante, merely to wring a guilty plea to a dubious statute. Nor does it occur generally to federal prosecutors that there’s something wrong with bringing prosecutions so complex that they are guaranteed to bankrupt all but the wealthiest. These tactics have become so normal within the Department of Justice that few who operate within the bowels of this increasingly corrupt system can even see why it is corrupt. Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power, no longer see what’s wrong and even play cheerleader."
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Prosecution of Swartz Typical for the "Sick Culture" Pervading the DOJ

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  • What about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:00AM (#42723741)

    ...making Carmen Ortiz an "example" of this kind of abusive behavior from the prosecution?

    US-citizens, your future is in your hands.
    We, as in "foreigners", can only look at all this mess and shake our heads, which we do alarmingly and increasingly often...

  • Re:what (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlad30 ( 44644 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:38AM (#42723847)
    I think when they started calling themselves journalists they knew they dropped quality :- note the definitions

    journal - Noun

    1. A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity.

    2. A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.

    report - Noun

    1. An account presented usually in detail.

    2. A formal account of the proceedings or transactions of a group.

    Journalists give personal opinions Reporters give detailed facts

  • Re:Borrowing money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:44AM (#42723867)

    It's how the plea bargaining system is.

    The US has decided that the 6th Amendment was a bad idea. That jury trials just aren't worth it. The only way to strip criminals of their rights is by "rewarding" them, by dropping some of the charges. And since dropping reasonable charges will be too soft on criminals, you have to keep increasing sentencing guidelines.

  • Re:Nope (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:44AM (#42723871)

    He actually had a fourth choice, which Americans have increasingly taken up over the last couple of decades - go postal and shoot a bunch of people. I'm sort of surprised he didn't try and take the prosecutors with him. If you want to look at reasons for those sort of things, maybe you need to pay attention to the pressure corrupt systems like these place on individuals.

  • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @05:51AM (#42723889) Homepage

    it should be illegal via sentencing the prosecutor to the maximum sentence of the charged crime for charging someone with a crime only to inflate charges.

    Yes, that'll keep prosecutors from charging anybody with anything serious... how is that good?
    Lessig said it "proportionality", I think that should apply both ways.

    That said plea bargains are absurd.
    Either you did the crime and you do the time, or you didn't.

    Maybe countries don't have plea bargains, and usually only for minor offences.

    Another bug, in you system is the idea that if you're guilty of two crimes, you the sentences will be accumulated.
    In many other countries, the judge must make an overall sentence based on what is fair.
    Accumulated sentences is just about throwing away the key.

  • Re:Nope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @06:00AM (#42723909)

    He had a choice - fight and go bankrupt, then to jail. Plead guilty and goto jail, Or take his own life.

    That is a really, REALLY unfair claim to make.

    And I say that as someone with multiple suicide attempts behind me (yes, I'm a failure, I know), so allow me to rephrase that.

    That is a really, REALLY stupid and ignorant claim to make. There - much better.

    People do not commit suicide because of a single thing. It's not the rape alone that makes rape victims suicidal, it's the associated shame, social isolation, finger pointing and blame (it's never the victim's fault) as well, and those come from society - not the rapist, no matter how despicable the crime is.

    Pinning Swartz' suicide on overzealous prosecutors is as fair as pinning Jacintha Saldanha's suicide [] on the radio hosts. It may be a contributing factor, but not the only one.

    People are WAY too keen to blame a single thing (person or otherwise) as the cause for whatever evil they see, and are WAY too scared of thinking let alone saying that people may have a mental illness. Just look at how quick people are to blame video games for the acts of murderers these days.

    You don't attempt suicide (successfully or otherwise) if you're not mentally ill, be it temporary, short term, long term or chronic.

    Yes, he made the choice to take his own life. He also made the choice of knowingly breaking the law (unreasonable or not). Rosa Parks made a similar decision as did Nelson Mandela and many others around the world. But unlike Swartz, they didn't choose to take their own life.

    And you can say a lot of things about the US prison system, but I'm pretty sure it is a LOT more comfortable than what Mandela went through.

  • by berashith ( 222128 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:43AM (#42724609)

    I was threatened years ago by the ATF. They had nothing on me, and we both knew it, but once the feds are knocking on your door, you are in big trouble. My crime was knowing someone who was playing with small black powder pipe bombs. They tried to threaten me with ten charges at ten years a piece, for each explosion that I could be linked to. This included an accessory charge that the actual person doing the mayhem wasnt going to get, because you cant be an accessory to yourself. This is when I knew they were just playing to scare me ( it worked however , tough to play chicken with that much of your life). These 10 sentences would have been served concurrently, so my max time would have been ten years. The volume of charges would have just looked bad on my resume.

  • by divisionbyzero ( 300681 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:08AM (#42724787)

    The DOJ criminal division hasn't done a thing to prosecute any of the heads of Wall Street firms that have destroyed the lives of millions by engaging in fraud but is willing to destroy the life of a promising young men for a victimless crime.

    See: []

    Thankfully, Lanny Breuer resigned after this documentary came out but it seems like the DOJ is rotten to the core. Eric Holder needs to go next. Obama should get someone in there to clean out the stables.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"