Thursday, March 07, 2013

Tipsters unite

Yesterday the Magistrate Appointment Committee, led by David Rothman, interviewed 15 applicants (which narrowed the field from over 50).

 The committee then recommends that the District Court interview 5 of those applicants. The process is very secretive, so I don't have the 5 names yet, but if you know of someone who got out of committee, let me know.

In other news, Eric Holder defended the Aaron Swartz prosecution yesterday. I think the exchange is pretty telling:
I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was," Holder testified, adding that Swartz and his attorneys had rejected the plea offers.
Holder was responding to questioning from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who suggested that the prosecutors handling the case were overzealous and guilty of misconduct.
In 2011, Swartz was charged with breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading 4.8 million documents from JSTOR, a subscription service for academic articles.
Swartz was an accomplished programmer and activist who argued that more online information should be free to the public.
Critics, including Swartz's family and members of Congress, have accused prosecutors of seeking excessive penalties in the case.
"Does it strike you as odd that the government would indict someone for crimes that would carry penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million fines, and then offer them a three month prison sentence?" Cornyn asked.
Holder insisted that the charges themselves are less important than the penalties sought by prosecutors and said several months in prison would have been appropriate based on the crime.
But Cornyn worried that such harsh potential penalties could empower prosecutors to "bully" defendants into pleading guilty.

Shocker! Defendants being bullied into pleading guilty.  Say it isn't so!

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