The movie “Love Story” starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw is a bit before my time, but I have seen it on television. There is an infamous line in the movie in which Ali tells Ryan “love means never having to say you’re sorry”. Everyone, including the actors themselves, later made fun of the line because it makes no sense. And, of course, it does not make sense for lovers. However, it makes perfect sense for federal prosecutors!
I have been mulling the implications of my previous post on Rex Shelby and all the federal prosecutors he had to face and defeat until they eventually managed to tag team him into a plea deal. For anyone interested in simple justice, the entire episode is just disgusting. I often hear people, in their best class-warfare mindset, bad-mouth “rich executives” as if wealth itself equates to evil. But no private citizen has enough money, time, and resources to even come close to what the U.S. federal government can throw at them. One of my big disappointments about the Enron prosecutions is that the press did not perform its watchdog role in protecting the individual against the state, and the public largely encouraged the misconduct of the federal prosecutors by cheering them on.
It seems to me that even if justice doesn’t matter to a person, waste of money and resources should. Think about that list of lead prosecutors lined up against Rex Shelby. Each prosecutor had a staff of additional prosecutors, FBI agents, and assorted legal and clerical support — let’s conservatively place that at ten additional people per prosecutor. So far, we are up to about 100 people lined up against Rex at various times over his eight-year battle against the false indictment. Add to that all the support that the federal prosecutors received from various offices of the DOJ, FBI, SEC, IRS, and assorted local federal offices. Add to that the time of various judges and staff at the federal court, the federal appeals court, and the Supreme Court who had to deal with the prosecutors’ false charges against Rex. Add to this staggering amount of wasted resources the time and resources that the staff of the halfway house and the probation office had to spend on Rex during his meaningless punishment. And add to all this actual out-of-taxpayer-pocket cost the opportunity cost of the time and money wasted on hounding an innocent man that could have been spent on pursuing an actual criminal.
Conservatively, this adds up to tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of taxpayer dollars spent pursuing a person who everyone essentially admits was innocent. Even at the low end of the estimate, the federal government spent at least ten times more on hounding Rex than it received in settlement from him. Basically, what we have is federal prosecutors committing prosecutorial misconduct at public expense!
And if you really don’t care what happens to businessmen and you really don’t care how much taxpayer money is wasted by prosecutors, don’t you at least care about what can happen to you and your family? If you cannot muster the outrage to stand up in defense of people like Rex when the federal government attacks him without cause, then who is going to stand up for you or your family when it happens to them?
And when will a federal prosecutor ever be required to say he is sorry, not to Rex who I suspect would not believe the prosecutor even if he said it — but to the citizens and the taxpayers of this country who the federal prosecutor is supposed to be serving responsibly in the name of justice.