Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Annals of prosecutorial discretion: the absent witness

How do we prepare our children to understand a political trial predicated on collusion against the integrity of the electoral system involving, as an indispensable principal, one of the very least self-interested donors in the history of gratuity, itself? Well, we begin, I suppose, by confiding that the trial is taking place in the United States, just to establish the plausibility of the surreal. But we move from there to inquire, how this prosecution could be mounted without calling this conspirator as a witness. The answer to this question can certainly not be prosecutorial courtesy, to a quiet lady of advanced years, and must touch upon the implausibility of the underlying charge, which is, that she wrote cheques at the drop of a hat, to respond to any demand her accomplice might present.

The very idea that such a quiet lady would so much as possess a checking account in her name, much less operate it with the dimmest accord of her own hand, is so laughable that any physical evidence for it must be suspected as forgery, on its face. Quiet ladies I have known, of not one thousandth of this one's degree of quietness, have been protected by so many tiers of trusts and quite anonymous accounts as to make the spectacle of a portable little stack of chits requiring one's autograph, just about the most hilarious image since Preston Sturges retired from cinema. 

But there is a second reason why this witness will not be called, and that is that so few have mastered what she is to be called. She is so widely referred to by a sobriquet drawn from that portion of the animal kingdom associated with Easter, that she might as well not exist from the point of view of the law. You can just see, the prosecutor's painstakingly crafted chart of that literal maze of trusts from which her conspiracy is said to have drawn its financing, and while at the pinnacle of this elaborate structure he purports to place her lawful name, by which she seemingly doesn't exist. It's not as if her alias were Bugsy. One would not like to go to a jury on the mortal threat posed by a heroine of the nursery.

So the quiet lady is not likely to appear in court, the jury is not likely to credit any scraps which might bear her name, and the case is likely to misfire before those deliberations are even convened, under the general astonishment of mankind at the very thought of disturbing the quiet lady with such a slight in the first place. That some species of judge is actually presiding over this drama without sneezing it off his cuff, will be hard enough to explain to the young, without having to admit to them how discriminatory on their face all such prosecutions are, any more, after the Bush Court outsourced the administration of our elections to what is touchingly called, the private sector.

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