31 January 2009


I think he's guilty. You think he's guilty. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't think he's guilty.

But this is the United States. One of the greatest things about its legal system is that people suspected of crimes are innocent until they are proven guilty in a court proceeding. It is one of the things that, despite all its other faults, sets our country above so many others.

So, how can the Illinois governor be thrown out of office for what are still only suspected, not proven, crimes? Doesn't that set an ugly precedent? What's to say that a zealous district attorney can't drum up false charges against a political leader he doesn't like, have him arrested and have that, rather than any actual conviction, lead to the politician's impeachment?

When someone is arrested for murder, they are usually kept locked up until the trial is over, even if they are later found innocent. That's to protect the public from potential harm while the trial is going on. I am not familiar with Illinois law, but perhaps there was a similar option available to the state legislature - a suspension of the governor's powers until the criminal matters were resolved.

As much as I think he probably is guilty, the fact of the matter is that now ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been thrown out of office for merely being suspected of crimes and malfeasance. And I do not like that.

If, however, the Illinois legislature had had the wisdom to toss him out on his ear for his haircut, well, I could have got behind that.

1 comment:

Bill Cameron said...

Well, I didn't follow the impeachment at all, but it's that a trial of sorts as well? The standards of evidence are different, but the possible outcomes are also very different as well. If you are successfully impeached, you simply lose your job. Convicted and you go to jail. People lose their jobs for the appearance of impropriety all the time.

I am reminded of O.J., who is not guilty of murder but was successfully found financially liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Coleman. Different standards of evidence in a civil versus criminal trial, but different possible outcomes.

In Blago's case, I agree with you in a general sense, but I don't know what statute says about what's necessary for a successful impeachment in the state of Illinois. Could be it's, "this shit is so damned embarrassing that the fact you dragged our state into it, even if you turn out to be technically not guilty at criminal trial, is enough for us to be quit of you." It was unanimous, after all, though I think there were a couple of abstentions or something like that. The hair certainly can't have helped his case.

Still, we're left wondering what will happen if Fitzgerald doesn't get a guilty verdict. Hmmmm.