A Newark federal jury acquitted a former New Jersey assemblyman on all charges of official corruption Dec. 16, thereby underscoring the abusive Justice Department prosecution methods of former U.S. attorney Chris Christie and his successors under the Obama administration.

Democrat L. Harvey Smith put his head on a courtroom table and wept after the judge acquitted him of all six counts of involving claims he took $15,000 in bribes from a federal informant last year. Smith, who turns 62 Sunday, had testified he accepted money only as a campaign donation. 

The 46-defendant prosecution had been initiated by the Republican Christie, who went on to win his state's governorship in part because of his image as a crime fighter. 

Christie's successors failed to call informant Solomon Dwek after his credibility was destroyed in the previous trial in the case, in which Ridgefield's mayor was acquitted.

Dwek committed a $50 million bank fraud and ran a brothel before authorities recruited him and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to help win convictions against New Jersey politicians (nearly all Democrats), rabbis and others. The Justice Integrity Project has attacked the fairness of the prosecution and the vast waste of taxpayer money repeatedly thsi fall in such articles as "Christie's Corruption Case Shows Horrid Legacy of 'Loyal Bushies,' Cover-ups," published Dec. 3 by OpEd News.

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Editor's Note: Below is a selection of significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media dimensions. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, Getting to Assange through Manning, Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 16, 2010.

In The New York Times this morning, Charlie Savage describes the latest thinking from the DOJ about how to criminally prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange…. [T]he Obama administration faces what it perceives a serious dilemma:  it is -- as Savage writes -- "under intense pressure to make an example of [Assange] as a deterrent to further mass leaking)," but nothing Assange or WikiLeaks has done actually violates the law.  Moreover, as these Columbia Journalism School professors explain in opposing prosecutions, it is impossible to invent theories to indict them without simultaneously criminalizing much of investigative journalism.

Huffington Post, The Media Gets It Wrong on WikiLeaks: It's About Broken Trust, Not Broken Condoms, Arianna Huffington. Dec. 15, 2010.

The first important aspect of the revelations is... the revelations.  Too much of the coverage has been meta -- focusing on questions about whether the leaks were justified, while too little has dealt with the details of what has actually been revealed and what those revelations say about the wisdom of our ongoing effort in Afghanistan. There's a reason why the administration is so upset about these leaks.

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Editor's Note: Below is a selection of significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media dimensions. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

 Huffington Post, Obama's Judges Blocked At Historic Rate, Ryan Grim, Dec. 14, 2010.
As the first congressional session of Obama's presidency draws to a close, what began as a slow process of confirmation has ballooned into a full-blown judicial crisis. The Senate has overseen the slowest pace of judicial staffing in at least a generation, with a paltry 39.8 percent of Obama's judges having been confirmed, according to numbers compiled by Senate Democrats. Of the 103 district and circuit court nominees, only 41 have been confirmed. By this time in George W. Bush's presidency, the Senate had confirmed 76 percent of his nominees. President Clinton was working at a rate of 89 percent at this point in his tenure.
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By Andrew Kreig / JIP Director's Blog

USA Today continued last week with its important investigative series about how the Justice Department poorly monitors misconduct by its personnel. Meanwhile, significant developments occurred in the New Jersey and Connecticut cases that our Justice Integrity Project has probed. Listed below are links to this and other articles of recent days, with excerpts.

USA Today, Misconduct at the Justice Department, Kevin McCoy and Brad Heath, USA TODAY, Dec. 11, 2010. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Kent unexpectedly found himself in the legal cross hairs in 2003…."The so-called ethics police violated the same rules they falsely accused me of violating," says Kent, now 66 and retired. "They created false evidence and hid exonerating evidence. How can that system be trusted?"  The case spotlights questions about the Office of Professional Responsibility, the Justice Department watchdog agency that can save or ruin a federal prosecutor's career as it enforces legal and ethics rules.  For full USA Today series begun on Sept. 23, 2010, see Index
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By Andrew Kreig

TruTV host Jesse Ventura has been raising important and rarely answered questions recently on his show. On Dec. 10, for example, the former Minnesota governor, Navy SEAL and professional wrestler explored on Conspiracy Theory, "Gulf Oil Disaster Planned?"


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Editor's Note: Below is a selection of significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media dimensions. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

ABA/USA Today, Federal Prosecutors Rarely Lose Their Jobs, Despite Misconduct Findings,Debra Cassens Weiss, Dec. 9, 2010

Justice Department investigations of prosecutor misconduct rarely result in serious sanctions for wrongdoing, according to a newspaper investigation. “Prosecutors have little reason to fear losing their jobs, even if they violate laws or constitutional safeguards designed to ensure the justice system is fair,” USA Today reports. Most violations result in reprimands, suspensions or agreements that allow lawyers to leave their jobs “with their reputations intact and their records unblemished,” the newspaper says.

The U.S. Justice Department refused USA Today’s request for a list of disciplinary actions taken against prosecutors, so the newspaper sifted through a decade of annual reports that summarize some of the cases investigated. The documents revealed just one termination. A Department of Justice lawyer was fired because she had been unlicensed for more than five years after she was suspended for failing to comply with legal education requirements, according to the 2009 report. The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended the firing of four other lawyers, but they either resigned or retired. According to the reports, OPR has investigated 756 complaints from 2000 to 2009 and found misconduct in 196 cases. Justice officials say they can’t release investigation details because of privacy laws.

 

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