Yet all sorts of people who should know better are continuing the accusations of prosecutorial fear, along with warnings that if they fail to prosecute Trump, Garland and Bragg, et al., are letting our democracy die.
I just saw the word “bribery” to describe a confusing move in a federal court. “That’s how it works,” the Twitterer said. Nuts.
First, prominent trial lawyers on either side of the courtroom are an aggressive bunch. They don’t study law to express their desire to see no evil anywhere. To be kind and gentle, to tolerate gross misunderstandings about the law, to let everyone off the hook.
To be “bought” by rich people? I’m going to shock you: not everyone in the world thinks getting rich is the primary criterion in choosing a career. Prosecutors, whether elected or selected for their jobs, are dedicated to the public good, not to making a lot of money. To re-purpose a great line from Ron Kuby, a lawyer who wants to be rich becomes a corporate attorney, not a defense lawyer or prosecutor.
Trial lawyers are genetically disposed to be unafraid of people said to “have power.” The only power they recognize is the law. So what do you imagine those people who “have power” can do to them? Even Mike Pence, threatened with public hanging, didn’t cave to the mob and the people who summoned it.
I’ve recalled a couple of small true tales about fear and lawyers:
When I was working for Peter Neufeld, I often answered phone calls from anxious people who said they needed his help.
One day, a call came in from some smallish town in the South. The caller described a complex situation involving the abuse of civil rights, gross political corruption, a law enforcement community that was a constant threat.
The situation sounded — to a Northerner like me — a bit too Southern baroque to be entirely believable but, on the other hand, a Northerner like me did not have a full view of the dark possibilities in small Southern towns, and I knew it. So I listened carefully.
The question of legal help arose. The caller told me, “I’ve gone to lawyers down here but nobody wants to take the case. They’re too afraid of the people who run everything.”
After I hung up, I walked into Peter’s office and told him some of the story, including how the caller couldn’t find a local lawyer who wasn’t afraid. Peter stopped me right there.
“No lawyer is ‘afraid’ to take on a good case. If a case is solid, a lawyer will jump on it — it’s what we do. When someone tells you lawyers are afraid to take a case, the case isn’t a good one.”
Once, during a volatile criminal defense case, an inappropriately adversarial judge (I’m being ever so tactful here) threatened Peter with imprisonment for contempt. Since I didn’t know whether Peter would decide to go to jail the following day or not, I asked him, “If you go to jail, what do you need me to do?”
“Take the day off,” Peter said. Later, he told me, “Thing is, I’ve never been intimidated by anybody.”
He wasn’t bragging; it was the simple truth.
Merrick Garland and Alvin Bragg, milder public personalities than Peter Neufeld, aren’t afraid of anybody either. Certainly not by the bunch of Trump enablers and crazies, and most certainly not by Trump himself.
The only people who Trump frightens are the Republicans who sold their souls to him.