Fishy ? Vindictive


A year ago I mentioned an extraordinary decision by a federal judge in Indiana who threw out the money laundering conviction of defense attorney Jerry Jarrett after concluding that the government had vindictively prosecuted him as payback for his effective representation of a physician accused of prescribing narcotics to addicts. On Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturned that decision, reinstating Jarrett's conviction. "A claim of vindictive prosecution is extremely difficult to prove," the court noted. "While the district court was troubled by what it regarded as various suspicious circumstances surrounding Jarrett's indictment, suspicion is not proof, and we do not find in these events the clear and objective evidence needed to establish vindictive prosecution."

Maybe not; the evidence against the government, which waited four years to bring charges against Jarrett, is mainly circumstantial. But the appeals court's summary of the evidence against Jarrett shows he was indicted and convicted based purely on the say-so of two drug-dealer clients who were proven liars with every motive to lie in this particular case. The crucial issue was whether Jarrett knew that money he handled for his clients came from drug sales. He said they told him "the money came from gambling winnings, selling cars, and rehabbing houses." Jarrett's account may or may not be true, but it's not so transparently false as to erase reasonable doubt, unless you assume that anyone who represents drug offenders must be a shady character.

[via Drug Law Blog]