“Mugged by the State: When Regulators and Prosecutors Bully Citizens”

by Walter Olson on June 16, 2014

“We are in a situation now where most Americans are criminals, but they either don’t know it, or they think they will not be prosecuted” says Tim Lynch in his introduction to this Cato panel last month. Perhaps even worse, “federal regulators and prosecutors have so much power that they can pressure people who are totally innocent into pleading guilty and paying fines.”

Discussing their experiences with agency and prosecutorial power at the panel are: Kevin Gates, Vice President, Powhatan Energy Fund, subject of a FERC investigation for vaguely defined “market manipulation”; William Yeatman, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who studies FERC as well as other energy and environmental agencies; Lawrence Lewis, who as a building manager at a military retirement home got a criminal record after diverting a backed-up sewage system into a drain he believed fed into the sewage treatment system; and William Hurwitz, M.D., specialist in pain treatment and target of a controversial prosecution of which John Tierney wrote: “Lapses in medical judgment – or even just differences in medical judgment – have been criminalized…. All it takes is a second opinion from a jury”.

{ 1 comment }

1 DensityDuck 06.16.14 at 1:53 pm

The problem is that everyone thinks of themself as a reasonable and intelligent person, and figures that if they ever get in trouble then they’ll just calmly and reasonably explain what they were doing and why they thought it was OK, and that the regulator will reply “oh, well, that’s all right then, I’ve explained why it’s wrong so don’t do it again, run along now”.

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