Opinion: Feds squander prosecutorial resources
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The New York Post on Roger Clemens being acquitted of charges he lied to Congress about banned substances:
Former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens shut out Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department, winning acquittals on all six lying-to-Congress counts brought against him.
So here's a thought: Maybe the feds should take a little more care with the cases they bring against high-profile defendants.
Clemens' verdict came just weeks after a jury failed to convict former Sen. John Edwards of campaign-finance violations, prompting prosecutors to drop what many believed from the outset to be a shaky case.
Clemens just simply refused to believe that he'd perjured himself by telling a congressional inquiry that he'd never used steroids or human growth hormone during his Major League career.
An earlier case against Clemens ended in a mistrial on only its second day because of prosecutorial misconduct.
The feds certainly might better have let matters lie back then. Instead, they followed through on a case that had lasted nearly four years and cost taxpayers millions.
Clemens, of course, isn't the only superstar targeted — vainly — by the Justice Department. Home-run slugger Barry Bonds was convicted on just one count last year in a case involving performance-enhancing drugs. That one ended in a sentence of 30 days of house arrest.
And a two-year criminal investigation of champion cyclist Lance Armstrong ended without charges — or public explanation.
Armstrong, of course, was back in the news recently when new — noncriminal — substance-abuse allegations were leveled.
And neither Bonds nor Clemens is likely ever to escape suspicions of steroid use.
Not that we're suggesting that celebrities deserve special protection from the law.
But prosecutors have a responsibility to allocate their limited time and (taxpayer-funded) resources wisely. And the Clemens case in particular — like the Edwards prosecution — was a waste of both.
Both may be reprehensible human beings — but that's not against the law.
Their respective juries appear to have performed responsibly. Which is more than can be said for the Justice Department.
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