Silverglate writes that when he became a defense attorney, he expected to be representing criminals like bank robbers, murderers, and embezzlers. What he has been doing is defending doctors, businessmen and other professionals , people he says “…who have no idea they are breaking any laws, and I believe are not guilty of any crimes.” The problem is that the system is so heavily slanted in favor of the prosecution that it’s almost impossible to survive once the feds take aim at you.
It starts with Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Criminal Code, which makes it unlawful to tell a lie to a federal employee. Since there are over 2.1 million federal employees, it’s pretty easy to do, but the feds stack the deck against you even more. The FBI refuses to tape-record their interviews. They install two agents in the meeting, one of whom performs the interview while the other takes notes. They then return to their office and type up a report that becomes the “official transcript” of the meeting. So whatever the agents remember (or deem convenient) to put into the report is what becomes the testimony – accurate or not. This is why in so many high profile cases, the Justice Department can’t convict the defendants on the basis of the evidence, but nail them instead on phony-baloney charges of lying to a federal official.
Perhaps the scariest chapter describes how the feds are pursuing doctors over prescribing pain relievers. At a time when our population is aging – and pharmaceutical companies are developing medications to alleviate pains that often accompany aging – the federal government is unleashing a bunch of self-serving agents and attorneys to create a sense of panic among physicians whose only crime is helping their patients cope with physical discomfort. Once they have their eyes on a target – whether the doctor is innocent or not – his or her life is destroyed.
Mr. Silverglate explains how badly the system is poisoned. A large percentage of defense attorneys are former employees of the Justice Department, and they have a vested interest in not rocking the boat. Silverglate says they play ball with their former employer to gain clients, and the media doesn’t investigate the Justice Department because they want access to inside sources. These bogus cases demand ever more personnel, more judges and, of course, a never-ending stream of taxpayer dollars.
Case after case is described in this highly readable, riveting book that will make almost any honest, hardworking American citizen lose sleep at night worrying about what federal law they might be breaking and when the feds will be coming after them.
Next up on the docket is Lance Armstrong. The bigger the target, the bigger the gold star pinned on the U.S. attorney handling the case. Why the Justice Department would pursue these matters is beyond me, but I’m now convinced that the best way to stop these gangsters and their Mafioso tactics is to defund them. So here’s a suggestion – let’s cut the Justice Department budget by 30%. Then they’ll have to focus on core issues – and real criminals – instead of resume building. And perhaps they could have convicted those thugs who were blatantly guilty of voter intimidation in Philadelphia in 2008.