Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Just v. The Good, or Bad

Statements like these bother me:
“I respect the jury’s verdict,” Mr. Bush said [regarding the verdict of I. Lewis Libby]. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison." -NYT
This is the second time in a week I have been consternated by such a commentary on the Justice system (the first was when Israeli AG Mazuz claimed to strike a plea bargain because it "minimize[d] the harm to the institution of the presidency" in his words). You don't commute a sentence because you feel like you understand the law better than the jury or the judges. You are just the executive, sans Juris Doctorate, I might add. The president does have the prerogative to commute a sentence, but as the executive not as an officer of the law.

Oddly, my feelings are reversed for the case of Mazuz. There he is not responsible for the "institution of the presidency," but bringing cases to trail and getting convictions. If he can't get a conviction, plea bargains are acceptable, but in the face of the evidence, not the defendant. Law examines the individual person, politics examines the state. Can we please keep those two things separate?!

Happy American History Written by the Victors Day!

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