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Scooter Libby is facing one of the most fearful things of modern life: a lawsuit brought by the United States Government. The government can and will spend millions of dollars to convict him. He will probably spend everything he owns to defend himself. If he is found innocent, the government will not issue an apology, nor will he be compensated. Your tax dollars and mine will pay for Mr. Fitzgerald's adventure.
If he is innocent, Libby is as good as bankrupt. If he is guilty, he is as good as bankrupt, and there will not be a dime in his pocket to pay a fine. He will be sent to jail. You and I will pay "our fair share" for incarcerating him.
The public has just lost the services of a career lawyer and Federal official. Admittedly, that is good news, but the man might someday have a more productive career: flipping hamburgers. If he goes to jail, he will miss that opportunity.
The American legal system is unjust. It stacks prosecutorial system that can fund itself by money extracted from taxpayers against people who are said to be presumed innocent. The accused, who may be innocent, is automatically ruined. He has no way to get his money back if he is found innocent. The government's agents will simply walk away, either silent or complaining about this or that technicality. Once the government targets you, you're finished. You may be innocent, but you might as well be guilty. Only your lawyers will benefit.
Consider what he is facing. He has lost his job. He was once a top lawyer, but then he went on the government's payroll. Top lawyers make big salaries, but most of them spend it. They are rarely rich. He now has no income. What will a legal defense team cost him? A good Washington lawyer will cost at least $400 an hour. That's $3,200 a day. There will be bills for every expert witness, every piece of paper, every long-distance call. Then there will be paralegals to pay for. Will he get out for under $3,500 a day? Probably not. That's $70,000 a month, after taxes. The case may take two years. It may take longer.
His meter is ticking. Fitzgerald's isn't . . . at least not for Fitzgerald. For taxpayers, yes.
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If someone else pays his bills, he will be brought under suspicion. "What's the deal here?" If he pays his own bills, he will lose a fortune. If he has no fortune, he will not be able to pay a lawyer. He will have to defend himself. Legal wisdom announces: "A lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client."
What if this happened to you? What would you do? Plea bargain? Even if you're innocent? It has been known to happen. Our legal system pits a government team against a lonely citizen. "You're innocent until you're proven guilty." That one is right up there with "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you." In a system even vaguely just, Fitzgerald should be given a tight budget: no overruns allowed. For every penny his staff spends, an equal amount of money should be handed over to Libby's defense team, with no taxes owed by Libby. That would be equality under the law. That would be innocent until proven guilty. We do not have equality under the law. We have a runaway State going after people it has targeted for destruction, guilty or innocent, with no consequences on the State for bringing false charges.
He is about to get a lesson in government service. The government goes by this rule: "You play ball with us, and we'll smash you in the teeth with the bat." I would like to say that it could not have happened to a more deserving guy, but injustice is never deserved. Our legal system is unjust.
What is about to happen to Scooter Libby, I would not wish on my worst enemy. That's because I could be next on some prosecutor's list. The government just handed down a 30-year jail sentence on an aged Irwin Schiff for daring to tell people that the income tax is unconstitutional and encouraging them to fight back.
Do not be naïve about the nature of the present judicial system. It is owned and operated by a government that is under few restraints and is getting more ruthless daily.
(This article first appeared on www.LewRockwell.com)