Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

Feds Bully ‘Die Hard’ Filmmaker McTiernan Into False Statement Plea

July 14, 2010

Rollerball Poster

A noted Hollywood filmmaker faces prison after a conditional guilty plea July 12 in a wiretapping case so interesting that it deserves two alternative news accounts.

Here’s the version provided to the vast majority of Americans by Reuters, via such conduits as ABC Entertainment:

Die Hard film director John McTiernan pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement officials in connection with the racketeering case of a private detective who represented many Hollywood stars.

A trial for McTiernan had been expected to begin on Tuesday in Los Angeles on two counts of making false statements to federal agents and one count of perjury. McTiernan, 59, originally pleaded guilty in 2006 to a charge of knowingly lying to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the criminal case against private detective Anthony Pellicano, who has since been jailed.

But the film director later withdrew his plea, saying he had received poor legal advice, had been drinking and was jet-lagged from traveling when FBI agents questioned him. Federal officials again charged McTiernan with crimes in 2009, leading to Monday’s guilty plea. A judge set a sentencing date of Oct. 4….

I’ve written at least a hundred variants of this kind of traditional guilty plea story while covering federal courts fulltime from 1976 to 1980 for the Hartford Courant. But times have changed, and IMO the essence of McTiernan’s case is better conveyed this way:

Yet again, federal authorities abused their vast powers for their greater glory by manufacturing a crime and ruining a defendant’s career ─ at needless expense to federal taxpayers.

Too tough a verdict? You be the judge. First, kindly note that McTiernan’s plea was “conditional” on his appeal, a fact totally omitted by the Reuters story and thus by such headlines around the nation as that by the July 13 Washington Post, which blares: “John McTiernan is headed to jail.”

Wiretappers Unmasked
In 2002, a federal investigative team led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders and FBI agent Stanley Ornellas exposed a scheme whereby the famous LA private eye Pellicano systematically broke wiretapping laws to help his clients in big-dollar entertainment industry battles.

In 2004, Howard Blum and John Connolly authored an in-depth overview for Vanity Fair entitled, “The Pellicano Brief.” It described Pellicano’s “A-list” clients and a pivotal raid of the detective’s offices by the feds, who seized guns, $200,000 in cash, plastic explosives and hand grenades on their way to winning a 15-year prison term for the PI.

The article didn’t mention McTiernan among the detective’s many famous clients. But we now know that McTiernan by then had sampled Pellicano’s services in 2000 by paying him $50,000 for a two-week investigation of fellow moviemaker Charles Rovan as the two struggled for creative control over their film, Rollerball, which was destined to be a box office flop.

Fast forward to early 2006. More than three years after the big raid on Pellicano’s office, none of the “A-list” Hollywood stars, managers, producers and lawyers had been jailed.

As sometimes happens in such situations, authorities sprang a perjury trap on McTiernan, who was famous for directing such action films as Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October. In a perjury trap, authorities can create a crime by inducing a target in an unguarded moment to forgo the right to silence and give a false statement about an embarrassing matter that might otherwise not provide a basis for a criminal charge.

The concept became notorious after Independent Counsel Ken Starr relied on it to try to save his otherwise failed Watergate investigation of Bill Clinton by surprising the president at a grand jury with unrelated questions about Monica Lewinsky.

The Lewinsky case illustrated how reporters and readers alike tend to focus, understandably enough, on the sensational specifics of a scandal without reflecting that a perjury trap is often unfair. Why? Almost anyone has done something embarrassing. So, it’s just not right for authorities to use all-out tactics to create a crime by trapping some miscreants instead of focusing on whether the underlying activity is criminal.

Unfair or not, these kinds of traps are generally legal under the vast discretion that we provide to authorities. Here’s how the one against McTiernan unfolded, according to court records:

After returning ill from a film shoot in Thailand and after drinking McTiernan received an evening phone call at home from Ornellas, the FBI’s lead agent in the Pellicano case. Towards the end of a brief conversation, McTiernan falsely denied that he’d engaged Pellicano for illegal services.

McTiernan was promptly indicted, pleaded guilty to false statement, and received four months in prison and $100,000 fine as the first big-name Hollywood defendant nailed in the case. U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer, a 2003 appointee of President Bush, denounced McTiernan at sentencing for what she called his arrogance.

The defendant changed lawyers, and won a 2008 federal appeals court decision that enabled him to withdraw his guilty plea. Authorities responded with a new indictment that increased the defendant’s liabilities by reconfiguring the original false statement into two separate felonies, plus a perjury charge arising from his pursuit of his appeal.

These maneuvers increased McTiernan’s potential prison sentence to multiple years if he dares offend authorities further by proceeding to trial. I’ve reviewed the jury instructions approved by the judge, which almost guarantee a guilty verdict by limiting the defendant’s ability to argue that he wasn’t in a position to know if the person asking him questions by phone really was an FBI agent. McTiernan’s work inevitably brings calls from imposter “reporters” and others seeking details about such stars as Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

McTiernan doubtless didn’t ingratiate himself with authorities by helping found a non-profit, Project Save Justice, which filmed a 2009 documentary entitled, The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove. The film, available for free use in schools and for other free viewing on the project’s website, powerfully documents the travails of U.S. victims of political prosecutions. The movie and a congressional report have helped publicize academic studies showing that local Democrats were investigated at a nearly 5:1 ratio during 1,200 DOJ official corruption probes during the Bush administration around the nation

McTiernan describes his background as being a moderate Republican. But the director, like many in the civil rights field, including at my bipartisan Justice Integrity Project, has come to see since 2008 that the Obama DOJ is permeated also by a win-at-any-cost mentality that transcends traditional party divisions.

After Monday’s hearing McTiernan’s attorney, Oliver E. Diaz, noted that his client’s conditional guilty plea maintains his right to appeal numerous per-trial motions filed by the government and granted by the judge. Diaz, a Republican former Mississippi Supreme Court justice, himself had been one of the Bush DOJ’s political prosecution targets before twice being acquitted of federal corruption charges. The Diaz story is described in the Project Save Justice documentary, at his subsite at the Justice Integrity Project, and in a Harper’s article by Scott Horton.

Last month, McTiernan failed in his attempt to recuse the judge, a Republican whose courtroom comments suggest that she despises the defendant. Part of the issue seems to be that some federal authorities become personally offended if defendants use up courtroom time by failing to plead guilty, as do 95 percent of those accused.

I saw something similar up earlier this year in covering the sentencing of Republican former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

His Democratic federal judge seemed to become almost unhinged in denouncing the defendant, citing such factors as Kerik’s making more money than the judge and prolonging proceedings by not pleading guilty. The judge has now quit the federal bench to join a law firm with an annual per-partner compensation of $2.1 million. The hypocrisy has inflamed Kerik’s supporters around the country, as illustrated by this Oklahoma criminal justice site.

Solutions?
The good news is that solutions shouldn’t be hard to devise. My three suggestions are:

First, authorities should focus on underlying crimes, not creating new ones to save face. If we as a society hate illegal surveillance let’s focus directly on that and its perpetrators, who are far more numerous and effective than John McTiernan’s two-week foray into those dark arts in 2000.

Second and much more important, lots of these trial problems would go away if judges would encourage both sides to proceed with proportion. For authorities to insist, as they did, that McTiernan spend at least a year in prison if he pleads guilty inevitability stretches out the proceedings at vast cost to everyone. To what purpose? Do taxpayers really have unlimited funds for these kinds of selective prosecution jihads?

This spring, authors Jesse Ventura and Dick Russell cited my recent article about Dr. Cyril Wecht in their best-selling book American Conspiracies. Until a Pennsylvania judge threw out the case last year, the feds forced Wecht , in his late 70s and in the twilight of his distinguished career, to spend $8.6 million in legal fees. This was largely to defend himself from 43 federal felony charges that on 43 occasions when he’d sent personal faxes costing his county a total of $3.86 — yes, that’s less than $4 — during his 20 years as a county coroner. Even after all the charges were dismissed the federal prosecutor had the gall to run for Congress last fall. But the public seems to be getting wise, and she was defeated.

Finally, we’ve got to find new ways of providing oversight. The U.S. Senate rubber-stamps most federal prosecution and judicial appointments. The Senate provided unanimous approval, for example, for the judges overseeing both the McTiernan and Kerik cases. Congress rarely enforces subpoenas on sensitive oversight matters anymore if DOJ doesn’t want to comply. And the traditional courthouse news reporter that I used to know in olden days have disappeared for cost reasons, replaced by visiting stenographers from wire services who primarily amplify whatever information federal authorities want to emphasize.

But if the public must be burdened with multiple information sources at least they should be entertaining. In that spirit, we’ve presented above, Rashomon-style, two different accounts of the same crime story. The first is the one that went out on the wires, and the second is my opinion-style commentary.

Even more on target than Rashomon is a telling comment by the Sally Field character in Absence of Malice, the 1981 film about the interplay of federal prosecutors and reporters. My perspective on it has changed. Upon its release, I denounced it to my friends as an unwarranted slur on the news and legal professions. Live and learn, and I’ve highly recommended it for the past two decades.

At the end, Field’s character comments about a news story that omits vital context in describing her: “It’s accurate,” she says. “But it isn’t true.”

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A few questions for Karl Rove on his book tour

May 30, 2010

Karl Rove

Bush’s brain shouldn’t mind answering a few questions as he goes around the South and Midwest selling his book. Just might enliven the events, and end up selling more copies. So here are a few, as I suggested recently in a Nieman Watchdog article.

While Karl Rove’s national book tour continues, reporters along the route should ask the important questions Rove has avoided – or hasn’t been asked – by DC pundits and in a once-over-lightly by the House Judiciary Committee last summer.

Rove’s Courage and Consequence tour puts him in seven states in the Midwest and South between now and early June, possibly in contact with many local and regional reporters who could make news if they ask good questions.  
 
The questions should be focused. Rove served the first 6½ years of the Bush presidency as senior advisor before leaving after the U.S. attorney firing scandal. Even his 596-page memoir can’t reasonably cover that period and his life story except by generalized summaries and selective illustrations.
 
To drill down, I suggest asking about political prosecutions. These are instances of using Justice Department probes not to solve crimes but to destroy political opponents and their funding. My 18 months of ongoing research suggest that such prosecutions have greatly affected the public through altered government policies, both locally and nationally. 
 
Evidence presented by the Judiciary majority shows that Justice Department chief of staff Kyle Sampson urged Rove in 2005 to rely on “loyal Bushies” to make prosecution decisions. Democrats in Congress later cited an academic study showing that the Bush DOJ targeted Democrats over Republicans by almost 5 to 1 in 820 official corruption investigations. This altered the nation’s political map and destroyed many political careers in a process that was largely secret.
 
The libertarian Cato Institute presented an expert seminar that I covered last fall in Nieman Watchdog, preserved in a video. I’ve since assembled case studies from around the nation at the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project that I founded this year. We explore the past, as well as emerging evidence of tolerance for political prosecutions under the Obama administration.
 
Rove’s memoir denies that he or others in the Bush White House exerted any improper role at the Justice Department. The book blames “conspiracy buffs” for suspicions he acted improperly in the 2006 U.S. attorney purge of such Republicans as New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, whose memoir, In Justice, sums up the unprecedented mid-term firings with a chapter entitled, “All Roads Lead to Rove.”
 
Similarly, Rove dismisses as preposterous claims reported in the New York Times that he helped frame Alabama’s Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman in 2006 on corruption charges. Rove wrote:
 
One of the nation’s least reliable papers was relying on two unreliable sources – Dana Jill Simpson and Don Siegelman. Siegelman was trying to avoid prison. And Simpson, well, because I never met the woman, or had any of the dealings with her that she claims, I could only conclude that she must be a nut looking for a television camera and brief celebrity-hood.
 
Last month, I published sharply worded retorts to Rove from Simpson and Siegelman. The latter, now 64, is free on bond but facing 20 additional years in prison. Simpson is an Alabama attorney who gave courts, Congress and CBS 60 Minutes in 2007 evidence that her fellow Republicans had worked for years to frame Siegelman for political purposes. 
 
Each also attacked the Obama administration and the mainstream media for lax follow-up on evidence of political prosecutions. “By failing to restore justice,” Siegelman told me, “they leave our democracy vulnerable to future subversions by those like Rove. By failing to investigate Karl Rove’s subversion of our constitutional rights, abuse of power and the use of the DOJ as a political weapon, Congress and the mainstream media will be held in contempt by history.”
 
A recent book signing in Alabama shows the kind of questions reporters may want to ask. Usually reporters defer to Rove as a visiting celebrity and amplify his commentary, which he delivers also via his Newsweek and Wall Street Journal columns, and as a Fox News contributor. But not always. For example, the Birmingham News showed a protester photo demanding Rove’s jailing, then had Rove repeating his denial he helped frame Siegelman.  
 
One reporter was very tough. Locust Fork News-Journal Publisher Glynn Wilson, who has written for the New York Times, had a column entitled, ”Karl ‘Turd Blossom’ Rove Signs Books in Birmingham.” In it was this exchange, unlike almost anything you’ll see in the “respectable” press:
 
When the broadcast reporters seemed to be out of questions, I jumped in and asked the final question that set Rove back on his heels and basically ended the press conference.
 
Since Rove once made the claim that as Bush’s so-called “brain” and “architect” he would deliver an American majority to the Republican Party for “a generation,” and since that didn’t quite work out after he was forced to resign from the White House along with then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez in August, 2007, and since a black guy from Chicago named Barack Obama sort of stomped the Republican Party in the presidential election of 2008, I asked: “How does it feel to be an utter failure?”
 
Rove refused to answer the question.
 
When I identified myself as the editor and publisher of the Locust Fork News-Journal, Rove at first said, flippantly, “Never heard of it.” Then he changed his response to, “Oh, yeah I have. That little website.”
 
Rove had reason to remember the site; in 2007, Wilson had helped spur national coverage of how Simpson broke with her party to describe the impact of partisan prosecutors in a court affidavit to Siegelman’s sentencing judge and later in testimony to Judiciary committee staff.
 
My suggested questions focus on developments in Alabama, including his 1990s work advising on how to transform Alabama’s elective office-holders from primarily Democratic to Republican. Rove omits that period from his memoir, but a 2004 Atlantic piece explores it.
 
Siegelman has a long political history. In 1964, he was a student leader at Mobile’s Murphy High School, the state’s first to undergo court-ordered integration. (In the small world category, one of his classmates, I’ve been told, was a girl named Darby, later to become Rove’s wife for 24 years until their divorce last winter.)
 
Alabama had been a center of massive resistance to integration led by Gov. George Wallace. Siegelman advocated peaceful desegregation. He went on to win statewide office in Alabama almost continuously from 1978 to 2003.
 
Here, then, are suggested questions for Rove:
 
Q. Your Wall Street Journal column last summer derided Simpson as a publicity-seeker, and claimed she didn’t have the nerve to make her allegations under oath. But that was wrong and she promptly requested a correction from you and the Journal. Did you publish one? If not, why not?
 
Q. In your House Judiciary testimony last July, you said your national responsibilities prevented you from following the Siegelman case and Alabama politics closely. In your memoir, you wrote, “I almost felt sorry for my chief interrogator, California Congressman Adam Schiff. He clearly was not prepared.” Suppose the congressman and his colleagues had asked you a simple question: Did you and your wife host some of Siegelman’s prosecutors at a party at your Rosemary Beach home in March 2007 about eight months after his conviction, not long before he was sentenced? If yes, was there any particular reason for that party?
Q. Federal courts have just ordered a new trial for the Garza family in Texas, who allege they were prosecuted because they refused to hire the corrupt DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff to represent their Kickapoo tribal business for their state’s first gambling casino. Out of all the people in the world you could have hired as your top assistant at the White House, why did you hire Abramoff’s former assistant Susan Ralston? Did you ever talk with her about Indian tribal casinos, Justice Department prosecutions or inviting Abramoff to the White House?
 
Q. Would you be willing to square off in a sworn setting against David Iglesias, the first U.S. attorney for New Mexico in 2001 and a prosecutor who entitled a book chapter “All Roads Lead to Rove” in his book about his political purge in 2006?
 

President George W. Bush and Kickapoo Chief Raul Garza, center, with Karl Rove partially visible at right and lobbyist Jack Abramoff in background over President's left shoulder (White House photo).

In late March, I sent Rove the first two questions to check the facts for this article. The last need no preamble because of such hearings as a unanimous Senate Indian Affairs Committee report in 2006 that asserted that Abramoff arranged vast sums from Indian casinos in Mississippi to fight Siegelman and his plan for an Alabama lottery to compete with casinos.

 
I invited Rove to call in to my weekly public affairs radio show as a featured guest at his convenience to discuss his book. Karl Rove & Co. Chief of Staff Sheena Tahilramani responded with a pleasant email that I received at 12:30 a.m. on a recent Sunday. 

Karl Rove's "Courage and Consequence"

She granted permission for me to use his photo and book jacket. “As far as any background on this subject,” she wrote, “it’s just not something Karl’s able to delve into while he’s in the middle of the tour. I’ve already got him fully committed and his plate is full. Thanks for reaching out.”

 
Clearly, Rove and his staff are hard-working, professional and successful. But let’s not miss the unique opportunity of a local book tour to learn more than his memoir provides about what he’s doing.  

May 6 Update: Author Paul Craig Roberts Charts Drastic Decline of U.S. Liberties, Media

May 6, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts

Author, former Reagan official and civil rights advocate Paul Craig Roberts described on the May 6 edition of my Washington Update radio show why he is retiring from writing because of the nation’s appalling decline in civil rights protections.

Roberts has had an extraordinarily successful career as a Wall Street Journal editor, author, research scholar and assistant Treasury secretary. You can hear him here in an archived version of the show from anywhere in the country following his live interview on the My Technology Lawyer Radio network.

This spring Roberts published what he called his final essay, “Truth Has Fallen and Has Taken Liberty With It.” In it, he wrote:

Americans have bought into the government’s claim that security requires the suspension of civil liberties and accountable government. Astonishingly, Americans, or most of them, believe that civil liberties, such as habeas corpus and due process, protect “terrorists,” and not themselves. Many also believe that the Constitution is a tired old document that prevents government from exercising the kind of police state powers necessary to keep Americans safe and free….The American media does not serve the truth. It serves the government and the interest groups that empower the government….As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off.

We spent much of the show exploring his insights, battles and grim outlook for the country, previewed in his 2000 book updated in 2008, The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, the book is subtitled: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.  The book, rated with five stars on Amazon.com by most readers with a low-rating of three-stars by a reader who protests that Roberts does not provide enough solutions for the dire portrait of the nation’s future.   The book is an impressive survey of the advancement of legal theories of due process and other civil rights from ancient times to what he describes as a bipartisan abdication of our rights to central executive authorities in an abdication of responsibility by Congress, the news media and the courts that he describes as foreign to Anglo-American legal traditions.

His book and essays critique not simply the legal system, but breakdowns in the news, manufacturing, and Wall Street. As a result, he says, his writings are now longer welcome at major corporate-owned publications. He has been a prolific author up to now for web-based investigative outlets until recently.

Scott Draughon, the show’s founder and co-host, drove much of the lively interview.  We began the show with a news overview addressing the Gulf oil spill and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s party switch from GOP to independent. Listener advisory: Mac listeners need “Parallels.”

About Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts has held many academic appointments, and holds France’s Legion of Honor. He authored Supply-Side Revolution: An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy; and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy. co-authored with Lawrence Stratton The Tyranny of Good Intentions, subtitled: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.

Judge, Feds Secretly Denied Kerik Vital Evidence

April 10, 2010

Unless you read niche political and professional publications online you probably missed my revelation this week that federal authorities secretly pressured former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to plead guilty to corruption charges last fall by suppressing testimony from a key defense witness.

On April 7, I reported in Nieman Watchdog (not affiliated with Connecticut Watchdog) that prosecutors essentially won their case last fall in the aftermath of secret suppression proceedings.  U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson of White Plains, NY, who was Kerik’s trial judge and also and the Clinton administration’s Democratic U.S. attorney supervising Connecticut cases from 1998 to 2001, ordered the testimony kept secret, and then jailed the defendant for the duration of the pretrial period.

The judge also pressured for shutdown of Kerik’s defense fund and for his defense attorneys to be removed.  Kerik gave up and pled guilty Nov. 5 to corruption charges after being kept in 23-hour-a-day lockdown.  During that jailing, Kerik’s mental health records released to the press and his funds were running out for new lawyers and to provide for his family.  Robinson imposed a four-year prison term Feb. 18, with Kerik on home detention until he reports to prison May 17.

What triggered the plea after millions spent by the defense in pretrial preparation?  Evidence points to the judge’s secret decision in September that Kerik’s jury couldn’t handle testimony that a former New York City inspector general was saying authorities had pressured him to lie to a grand jury to implicate Kerik falsely. 

That this suppression is coming to light only now in such a major case is the focus of my column today on how journalists from cash-crunched news organizations are increasingly spoon-fed the news by authorities.

Here’s the gist:  Michael Caruso, a New York inspector general for 17 years, filed a lawsuit in 2006 claiming that he was fired because he would not falsely tell a grand jury about suspicious words from Kerik, which Caruso could not recall. 

The judge overruled defense arguments that Caruso’s testimony was “central” to a defense to show prosecutor’s aggressive tactics in creating a baseless case.  Instead, the judge agreed with prosecutors that the evidence, although relevant, might inflame jurors against authorities, or else waste courtroom time. 

The judge then ordered the materials secret, and punished the defense for an email that a friend of Kerik’s sent to a Washington Times reporter in September mentioning Caruso.

The full-story is here in Nieman Watchdog, a free online publication funded by Harvard for distribution to journalists and others with a similar interest in public affairs.  As a sign of the times, its editor is Barry Sussman, the Washington Post’s city editor during the 1970s.  Sussman is well-known in journalism circles as the main editor who guided the Post’s Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on a daily basis.

A Google search of follow-ups to this week’s Nieman story shows that pick was sporadic and from highly diverse publications.  

The longest and most prominent original article was by the Newsmax, “Harvard’s Nieman: Kerik Case Suppressed Evidence.”  The conservative Newsmax was among the few news outlets during the run-up to trial who stood against conventional wisdom on the issue of Kerik’s guilt after hundreds of pretrial news stories and blogs by others adverse to the defendant.  It was not afraid also to ignore a tradition that on-air remarks by TV commentators or online investigative reporting are not generally newsworthy.  Newsmax quoted Fox News host Geraldo Rivera as saying the judge should recuse himself recuse himself for behavior he described as a “travesty” of justice.

Several progressive email lists or web-news publications also covered the Nieman story this week.  One, for example, was “News from Underground,” a progressive national email list edited by Mark Crispin Miller, a New York University communications professor.  Another was, for some reason, the website of the Clermont County Democratic Party in Ohio.

Perhaps I missed it, but my search failed to locate significant follow up by mainstream wire services, newspapers or broadcasters that had closely followed the accusations against the former Bush cabinet nominee and long-prominent New York Republican official.

I can understand the reasons.  As ever, prosecutors get the initial advantage in coverage with indictments.  Reporters often flesh out the formal indictment for with colorful details they pick up on their own, or from law enforcement leaks.  This is particularly so when a celebrity defendant such as Kerik has become involved with others who are well-known. In his case, his mentor was former mayor and 2008 Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, his publisher and former lover was celebrity editor Judith Regan, and one of his wiretapped friends was Westchester’s district attorney and TV commentator Jeanine Pirro.

Defendants are foreclosed by pretrial rules from vigorously arguing a defense, particularly when important evidence is sealed, as in this case. 

If defendants then plead guilty, as some 95 percent of federal defendants do, then the public never hears the other side of the story.  This is because during and after a plea a defendant must show strong remorse, or else face severe extra punishment from the judge at sentencing.  

Once this “Kabuki theater” has played itself out, time-pressured reporters at financially troubled news organizations typically have scant opportunity to revisit any documents that, as here, are unsealed after the end of a case. 

That’s the way it is, as Walter Cronkite used to say.

But it’s not necessarily the way it always has to be.  Cases like Kerik’s reported to me with increasing frequency from Alabama and elsewhere around the country have prompted me to found the Justice Integrity Project to provide cutting-edge materials convenient for journalists and others in the public. 

Working with such organizations as Connecticut Watchdog and Nieman Watchdog on a case-by-case basis in hopes of meeting their standards, our project will make it more feasible for mainstream journalists and bloggers alike to research the news.  These white-collar cases are inherently complex ─ and often momentous.  The public deserves the full record.