'The overwhelming evidence is that the system currently employed by most of our leading universities admits applicants whose ability may be unremarkable but who are beneficiaries of underhanded manipulation and favoritism. Nations which put their future national leadership in the hands of such individuals are likely to encounter enormous economic and social problems, exactly the sort of problems which our own country seems to have increasingly experienced over the last couple of decades. And unless the absurdly skewed enrollments of our elite academic institutions are corrected, the composition of these feeder institutions will ensure that such national problems only continue to grow worse as time passes. We should therefore consider various means of correcting the severe flaws in our academic admissions system, which functions as the primary intake valve of our future national elites'.
I've spoken about the centralization of power in Maryland with every public policy and agency now being in the hands of quasi-governmental organizations and COMMISSIONS headed by appointed people. So, the people we elect to City Hall or the Maryland Assembly have lost control to these COMMISSIONS to some of the most important public policy issues. Corporate governor's like O'Malley and Erhlich simply load these commissions with business people who then rule in favor of corporate shareholders. Our public works, our public energy, our transportation, and our economic development is all under control of corporate appointments. Now, we see our courts and justice system taken by this same capture.
Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy
AP Photo / Patrick Semansky
ByBrendan JamesPublishedApril 18, 2014, 10:43 AM EDT
A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.
Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.
Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.
"The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy," they write, "while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as major lobbying or business groups. They find that the government--whether Republican or Democratic—more often follows the preferences of the latter group rather than the first.
The researches note that this is not a new development caused by, say, recent Supreme Court decisions allowing more money in politics, such as Citizens United or this month's ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC. As the data stretching back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone reverse.
"Ordinary citizens," they write, "might often be observed to 'win' (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail."
THIS IS REVERSIBLE FOLKS! IT ONLY TAKES CITIZENS GETTING ENGAGED IN POLITICS AND BUILDING THE STRUCTURES TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC TO RUN FOR OFFICE AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!
When Sandra Day O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court a few decades ago she stated that the Judicial Branch of government was being dismantled and that the power of the prosecutor was ending equal protection and due process. Flash forward to today and you see there is absolutely no public justice structures left at the Federal and state level and it is the people's rights being ignored. The Federal and state courts are now geared to serve only corporate law and the growing area of legal careers are international law. So, rather than have US corporations in control of our legal system as we have seen through Reagan and Clinton----Bush and Obama are appointing heads to public agencies and legal structures connected to global corporations. Harvard and Yale Law Schools say----there is no American politics or law-----only corporate and international law. When we elect graduates of these Ivy League schools---or if the pol we elect does nothing but appoint these Ivy League grads----this is the attitude they bring. THERE IS NO AMERICAN POLITICS OR LAW.
THIS IS WHAT TRANS PACIFIC TRADE PACT LOOKS LIKE. IT ENDS OUR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY AND RIGHTS AS CITIZENS AND HANDS ALL POLICY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT TO A GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL.
O'Connor was speaking at the end of Reagan and during the Clinton terms in office-----neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. Neither Republican nor Democratic voters want to lose their Constitutional rights so JUST GET RID OF THESE GLOBAL CORPORATE POLS
THIS IS HOW OUR LEGAL SYSTEM BECOMES CAPTURED. IF ALL PROCESSES THAT WERE ALWAYS HEADED BY PEOPLE CHOSEN BY THE PUBLIC IN ELECTIONS ARE REMOVED FROM PUBLIC ELECTIONS AND MOVED TO APPOINTMENT----THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE NO LONGER IN CHARGE OF ANY PUBLIC ACTION.
5 Ways Prosecutors Have Too Much Power
- by Kevin Mathews
- October 8, 2014
The Economist looked at this overly dominant role of the prosecution and found several problems that seem to perpetuate injustice rather than fair outcomes:
1. Prosecutors Develop Plea Bargains
Astonishingly, 19 out of every 20 Americans charged with a crime will plea out before ever going to trial. It couldn’t possibly be that that many people are guilty or don’t want their day in court to prove their innocence. Unfortunately, however, they feel pressure to take a deal because the alternative is generally so much riskier.
The justice system is currently more concerned with bargaining rather than pursuing justice. The potential ramifications of being found guilty in court are so steep that most feel compelled to cop to lesser charges regardless of their actual culpability in the matter. Why is that? Well…
2. Prosecutors Choose the Punishments
Sometimes judges get a say in the final outcome if a case actually goes to trial, but the prosecutor still gets the opportunity to recommend a punishment for the individual in question. Since prosecutors are setting the punishment in 95% of cases, however, they generally select the terms. It’s absurd that someone can say, “Agree to probation and a high fine for something you possibly didn’t do or risk spending five years in jail” and for that to be considered justice rather than extortion.
3. Prosecutors Choose the Charges
In addition to the punishments, the prosecution has discretion over what charges they pursue. With something like the law, you’d think it’d be obvious what charges might apply to a particular defendant, but there’s plenty of gray area that allows a prosecutor to go after a defendant passively or aggressively.
Often, the prosecution can overload a defendant with a variety of charges or multiple counts of a particular charge specifically to intimidate the defendant. Once again, when facing a list of charges, the defendant feels the only safe option is to plea without a trial.
The other downside is what we see too often: prosecutors rarely use their discretion to target the wealthy and elite. We wonder why bankers have not gone to jail and it’s mainly because the prosecution isn’t pursuing these types of criminals. The system is bogus when prosecutors choose to pursue low-level drug dealers and not business executives committing billion dollar frauds.
4. Prosecutors Are Pressured to Win
Not all people on trial are guilty, but prosecutors are rarely allowed to look at it that way. Given the behind-the-scenes politics of the job, the prosecutor is compelled to present a winning case against the defendant, regardless of whether they did it. In a push to secure convictions, actual justice is lost.
Sometimes this goes so horribly wrong that prosecutors don’t even present a complete or accurate case. While suppressing evidence is illegal, that doesn’t stop prosecutors from doing it to win and keep their bosses happy and obtain job security.
5. Prosecutors Can Bribe Snitches
While the defense cannot (legally) promise witnesses anything in return for their testimony in a case, the prosecution has an upper hand in being able to negotiate deals for reduced sentences with witnesses for their own crimes.
As you might expect, this not only encourages honest witnesses to show up in court, it also motivates dishonest ones to say what the prosecution wants to hear in order to get themselves out of trouble. When offered a get-out-of-jail-free card by the prosecution, it’s hard for some to resist the temptation to incriminate someone else, even falsely.
In Baltimore, there are no groups engaged in voter education outside of the sound bites handed to voters by these same corporate pols. No discussion of policy -----no education as to who and why judicial and prosecutorial candidates are better than others. Our public schools should be filled with discussions of candidates and policy issues continuously----not just during elections. We need our growing group of political activists to move into these community venues with permanent organizations!
Below you see an article that pretends all of this prosecutor power problems come from the masses choosing prosecutors that are not capable. The problem has become that justice departments no longer are funded and staffing is too small to handle cases as they need be. Who funds these justice agencies?
THE MARYLAND ASSEMBLY AND BALTIMORE CITY HALL. IT IS THE CORPORATE POLS DISTORTING THE JUSTICE PROCESS WITH FUNDING AND LOOPHOLES.
Here we see an article that describes a difference between prosecutors that run and are affected by the will of the people and issues important to the public. This is seen as 'unprofessional' and not good for precedent. As we see today courts are ruling in ways that throw aside precedent and going all the way back to the late 1800s for court rulings to uphold their stances. THIS IS FROM WHAT CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE CAME. This takes all civil and labor precedent away----you know, that 'unprofessional' and messy democratic process that has judges and prosecutors serving as the public would want. It is why in Maryland, any case involving civil liberties and labor justice almost never move anywhere.
Get Rid of Direct Elections for Prosecutors
by hlpronline on November 18, 2011 Harvard Law Review
The Minnesota state legislature is now considering H.F. 1666, the “Impartial Justice Act“, which would put to the voters a constitutional amendment to eliminate direct election of state judges. Currently, Minnesota voters elect judges just as they would elect a state senator or governor–judicial candidates raise money, campaign against each other, and appear on the general ballot. If the amendment is approved by a majority of voters, the governor would appoint a judge to fill a vacancy based on a merit selection system, the judge would be reviewed by a nonpartisan Public Performance Evaluation Committee comprised of mostly non-lawyers, and the judge would be subject to an up-down vote by Minnesotans at the next election (there would be no competing candidate). If the judge is approved by the voters, s/he would serve an eight-year term before being subject to another retention vote. In the interim, the Committee would conduct two more evaluations, with their recommendation appearing on the ballot.
If this amendment goes to the voters, Minnesota will join a nationwide movement to reform the judicial selection process. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has argued that: “No other nation in the world [elects judges] because they realize you’re not going to get fair and impartial judges that way.” Since her retirement, O’Connor has championed judicial selection reform and created the O’Connor Judicial Selection Initiative to encourage states to abandon direct elections. One problem with electing judges may be the resultant lack of quality and judicial aptitude. A study from 2007 suggested that “elected judges are more focused on providing service to the voters (that is, they behave like politicians), whereas appointed judges are more focused on their long-term legacy as creators of precedent (that is, they behave like professionals).” Other concerns include partisanship, bias, and corruption (influenced by campaign contributions). If Minnesota adopts the amendment, it will join five other states (AK, AZ, CO, KS, UT) in a process of commission-based selection, independent evaluation, and voter-approved retention.
For those who believe that the arbiters of justice should be selected based on merit, rather than political savvy or constituent responsiveness, a strong argument can be made for also reforming the selection process for prosecutors, who have wide discretion in whom to indict and what charges to levy.
There are 2,344 local prosecutor offices nationwide, and they handle 95 percent of all criminal prosecutions in the country. The vast majority of these prosecutors (i.e. District Attorneys) are elected by voters and most attorneys general are also elected. Elections may make prosecutors accountable to voters, but they also motivate prosecutors to make decisions not based on the law, but their desire to retain their jobs.
One highly publicized example of prosecutorial misconduct, which may have been prompted by political motives, is the Duke lacrosse case from 2006. In April 2006, three Duke lacrosse players were indicted on charges of rape, sexual offense, and kidnapping. The district attorney was Mike Nifong, who had been“appointed interim District Attorney himself only after the previous District Attorney left to become a judge. Now Nifong faced a tough election against a woman he had once fired and who would undoubtedly fire him if she became District Attorney.” Throughout the investigation, Nifong made “inflammatory statements [as a] prosecutor in the midst of a tough election campaign.” Among these was his denial of there being any exculpatory evidence, when he knew DNA evidence strongly suggested his suspects were innocent of the crime. By June 2007, however, when the extent of his deceptions became clear, Nifong was forced to resign and was disbarred for his ethical violations. Soon after, all charges against the lacrosse players were dropped. The NC State Bar prosecutor noted during the ethics hearing that “Nifong was trailing, by 20 percent to 37 percent, on March 27, 2006, the day the police first briefed him on the case. But he went on to win, by 45 percent to 42 percent, after all the media attention.”
Prosecutors often campaign on their conviction rates (being “tough on crime”), and sometimes even on their ability to send suspects to death row. A recent empirical study suggested that election pressures can affect decisions to take cases to trial. In North Carolina “the average number of pending cases in the year before a re-election campaign is 1377.7, while in all other years it is only 1260.9.” In Harris County, Texas, which alone accounts for nearly 10% of America’s executions since 1977, local prosecutors have campaigned on their records of obtaining the death penalty. This eye toward public opinion can distort the types of cases to prosecute, and cause prosecutors to turn a blind eye to exonerating evidence. Daniel Medwed reported that:
Empirical proof suggests that prosecutors have consented to DNA tests in less than fifty percent of the cases in which testing later exonerated the inmate. Likewise, qualitative evidence of prosecutorial indifference and, on occasion, hostility to even the most meritorious of post-conviction innocence claims is alarming. Some prosecutors have continued to fight these claims despite clear evidence, including DNA test results, exculpating the defendant; others have averted the possibility of post-conviction litigation by destroying biological evidence or urging defendants to waive their rights to the preservation of the evidence. Prosecutorial intransigence to setting aside the conviction of an innocent prisoner all too often wanes only after it becomes politically expedient (or even beneficial to do so).
Accountability is important, but direct democracy does not always create the best type of accountability. Electing judges based on their ability to conform to transient popular demands injects improper motives in a branch of government we often value precisely for an ability to transcend politics. Similarly, requiring prosecutors to campaign for votes creates incentives based on popular approval rather than the fair application of the law. A selection process of merit-based appointment, evaluation, and retention voting would balance the public’s desire to have a say in its champions, while disentangling the interests of justice from political self-interest.
So, as corporations push for appointed judges and prosecutors to control who can seek justice in our US legal system, we see below how powerful and dysfunctional the role of prosecutor has been allowed to come. There is no justice occurring when people are made to plea bargain in order to get out of jail even if innocent. This is to what Sandra Day O'Connor referred when she said our legal system was being dismantled. She promotes appointed judges and prosecutors as the solution but as we know----this distortion was not created by the public----it is a capture by corporations cheapening the justice process. The solution is fully funding our justice agencies so they can take all the cases brought before them. Think of the job creation when our states attorney and Maryland Attorney's offices are made flush with new lawyers, court employees, all making the justice system work FOR WE THE PEOPLE. Plea deals not needed to cheapen the system of justice!
THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME AND IT IS BECAUSE WE HAVE ALLOWED OUR COURTS TO BE MADE DYSFUNCTIONAL BY CORPORATE POLS.
American justice A plea for change American prosecutors have too much power. Hand some of it to judges
Oct 4th 2014 | From the print edition The Economist
More than 95% of convictions in America are reached through plea bargains, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for leniency. Many convictions also depend on the testimony of a “co-operating witness”, who snitches for the same reason. Defenders of the system argue that it is efficient. By avoiding long, costly trials, America can lock up lots of villains. Without plea deals, the courts would be swamped.
Alas, the process is open to abuse (see article). Prosecutors hold all the cards. If a defence lawyer offers a witness $100 for a false alibi, he is guilty of bribery. But if a prosecutor offers a co-operating witness something far more valuable—the chance to avoid several years in a cell—that is just fine. With so much at stake, snitches sometimes tell prosecutors what they want to hear. One study found that nearly half of the cases in which people have been wrongfully sentenced to death hinged on false testimony by informants, typically criminals who were rewarded with lighter punishments.
Over the past generation, two things have given prosecutors more muscle. One is the proliferation of incomprehensible laws, which mean that in complex white-collar cases a prosecutor can usually find some technical rule his target has broken. The other is the spread of mandatory minimum sentences, which transfer power from judges to prosecutors. In Florida, the minimum sentence for possessing 4-14g of heroin is three years; for 28g or more, it is 25 years. Thus, it makes a huge difference whether a dealer’s girlfriend is charged just for the drugs in her handbag or also for the stash in her boyfriend’s safe. Likewise, a white-collar defendant may face one count of fraud or a separate charge for every e-mail sent in pursuit of it. In both cases, it is up to the prosecutor to decide.
Eric Holder, the attorney-general, who announced his retirement on September 25th (see article), has urged federal prosecutors not to seek such harsh sentences in some drug cases. But only some; and state prosecutors are still free to threaten defendants with terrifying punishments if they fail to plead guilty or implicate others. A federal judge recently guessed that thousands of innocent Americans could be stuck behind bars because of coercive plea bargaining.
Let judges judge
Many other countries ban plea bargains or limit them stringently. Ideally America should ban them too. If it cannot face the thought, it should at least reform them. Mandatory minimum sentences should be scrapped, and judges should judge each case on its merits. Prosecutorial control over plea bargaining should be loosened, for instance by bringing in a magistrate judge who could take offers from both sides and act as adjudicator. This would make the negotiation more of a give-and-take, and could be used to shine light on a process that is currently as murky as it is inequitable.
As America’s military dominance declines, its influence will depend more and more on “soft” power: winning friends because of the attractiveness of its ideals. Its justice system makes this difficult. Mr Holder’s successor should try much harder to rein in America’s over-mighty prosecutors.
Just as corporations are hiding the fact that they are national or global by creating local business offices that appear not connected to a larger corporation----BUT THEY ARE-----so too will candidates not talk about their Ivy League connections or their previous careers. We had the recent US Attorney General appointed and all we heard was she was black and had a civil rights history.....meanwhile, her career is as an international lawyer with a history on Wall Street.
Please take time to know these politicians----forget the propaganda given and do the research. We have 200 million registered Democratic voters in Maryland and there is not reason to have a Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Hall filled with corporate pols!
In Politics, a Prestigious Education and Political Experience can be a Liability
Posted: 05/28/2013 2:37 pm EDT Updated: 07/28/2013 5:12 am EDT
In the last presidential election, both the Democratic party and Republican party nominated candidates with advanced degrees from Harvard University. Mitt Romney holds both an MBA degree and a law degree from Harvard. However, this was not a selling point of his campaign. In fact, Romney tried to tether Barack Obama to Harvard because Obama earned a law degree from the school. As the presumptive GOP nominee, Romney even derided Obama for taking advice from the Harvard faculty lounge and asserted: "We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps."
For Obama, his Harvard degree has been a curse throughout his political career. In 2000, state senator Barack Obama challenged U.S. Representative Bobby Rush in his bid for reelection in the Democratic Primary. Rush successfully branded Obama as an elitist, intoning: "Barack Obama went to Harvard and became an educated fool." The strategy worked. Obama lost that race by 31 percentage points.
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, learned what a liability his Ivy League education could be in his first political campaign. Bush has a B.A. from Yale University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. In 1978, Bush was the Republican nominee for an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (the West Texas-based 19th congressional district). Bush's Democratic opponent, Kent Hance, taunted Bush for his educational achievements. Hance called Bush: "Not a real Texan," and asserted that: "Yale and Harvard don't prepare you as well for running for the 19th Congressional District as Texas Tech [Hance's alma mater] does." Hance won that race.