Saturday, July 29, 2006

More William “Freezer” Jefferson

Drudge links to: “Court Blocks Feds on Congressman’s Files”, and my first thought was Uh-oh. Every Congressman’s office now a safe zone for criminal activity.

The actual story doesn’t seem as bad as the headline – The appeals court mandated that Jefferson get copies of all of the seized material, and that he can ask the trial judge in private to exclude documents on legislative privilege grounds in a private hearing.

Still, I think that we can all assume that Freezer will claim executive privilege over every single scrap, regardless of merit, in an effort to a) tie up the prosecution as long as possible; and b) continue to be allowed to hide evidence of his wrongdoing. Since when do the crooks get to pick the evidence to be used against them?

Key question: if the trial judge excludes some of the document, can the prosecutor appeal? After all, a good, solid, working assumption seems to be that someone accused of accepting bribes and storing large sums of cash in his freezer may not be above attempting to exert undue influence over a trial judge. A private, uncontestable meeting with some judge doesn’t provide a whole lot of credibility in the process.

CNN Provides a further summary here. Additional BMD on Freezer here, here, and here.

Update: Volokh notes the story. It will be interesting to get his thoughts on the actual opinion.