Detroit Free Press on Fieger acquittal

by Walter Olson on June 8, 2008

Detroit’s liberal newspaper voice, which supports extending campaign finance law, has this to say in an editorial:

…There is no doubt that Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger completely subverted [the aims of campaign law] when he essentially laundered through employees of his law firm hefty contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Edwards.

But can you make a federal case out of it? A U.S. District Court jury didn’t think so, refusing Monday to convict Fieger and law partner Vernon (Ven) Johnson of doing anything illegal. So congratulations to Fieger for gaming the system and then beating it.

But that doesn’t make what he did right. …

…the system ought to have some integrity, and the limits established by law ought to be enforced. Fieger got around them by being clever, pleading ignorance, then getting a jury to see it his way. It certainly helped that the local U.S. attorney’s office had been frighteningly aggressive in its pursuit of Fieger, and that he had the cash to hire an attorney who reputedly has never lost a case. Yes, money matters in criminal justice at least as much as it does in politics.

No doubt, Fieger’s acquittal gives a little more mettle to other fat cats who want to skirt the law. It’s a victory for him, but a step back for the political process.

Fieger himself has tried to put out the line that it is only because of some mean old plot against politically active trial lawyers that he was ever prosecuted at all. If the Free Press editorial is any indication, it doesn’t look as he’s getting very far with that line. More here and here.

Further: Scott Greenfield, and Freep reporter Dawson Bell (unless your name is Geoffrey Fieger, don’t try to get away with doing what he did: “It’s still a crime.”). Ted in comments adds: “And let’s not forget the all-too-typical and appalling sight of the defendant partying with the jurors he snookered.” Per the account in the Free Press, “Champagne sat on ice at each table” in the Greektown establishment. “A stocked bar was in the corner.” Earlier on post-trial juror fraternization with winning disputants and their lawyers here, here, etc.

{ 1 comment }

1 Ted Frank 06.08.08 at 11:34 pm

And let’s not forget the all-too-typical and appalling sight of the defendant partying with the jurors he snookered.

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