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DOJ Watch

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Bush’s Recount Counsel Blasts Politicization of U.S. Attorneys
These days it’s not unusual for prominent lawyers around the country to blast the Bush Administration over its deeply entrenched politicization of the Justice Department. Only a couple of weeks ago, the most prominent former Republican Attorney General, Dick Thornburgh, did just that in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee. However, Saturday night at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Miami Beach, a prominent Bush lawyer is set to do the same thing, and this time it’s raising more eyebrows. Greenberg, Traurig’s Barry Richard handled the Bush-Cheney campaign’s successful contest of the Florida recount, a move that put George W. Bush in the White House notwithstanding the fact that Al Gore received a half million more votes, and possibly also won in Florida.

The New York Law Journal reports on the annual meeting of the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys:

the session that is expected to ignite the most fireworks is the dinner speech by Richard. Richard said in an interview he has never spoken out against the Bush administration before and that he did not reveal the topic of his speech when asked to speak by NAFUSA.

“I’m sure people will see my name on the program and expect I will be defending the administration,” said Richard, a Tallahassee, Fla., lawyer.

“But I’m a constitutional lawyer. I am concerned with the Bush administration’s assault on American liberties … how the administration deals with habeas corpus and the administration’s posture on electronic surveillance. This administration has gone farther than any other.”

The event will also feature a panel discussion on the U.S. Attorneys scandal at which John McKay and David Iglesias are scheduled to speak.

Politically Motivated Prosecution Ends in Acquittal
During his brief tenure as U.S. Attorney in Kansas City, Bradley Schlozman pushed forward a number of cases with strong political content, apparently calculating that the indictments and prosecutions would help revive failing G.O.P. prospects in Missouri. One case that independent observers regularly cited as a political abuse was the prosecution of Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields and her husband on mortgage fraud accusations. Yesterday a Kansas City jury acquitted Shields and her husband.

The Kansas City Star reports:

When indicted in January, Shields and Cardarella categorized the case against them as baseless and politically motivated. Speaking on the courthouse steps after the verdicts, both praised the jurors. Cardarella said they showed a lot of courage “to stand up and tell the federal government they’re wrong.”

“Imagine the sort of toll it takes on your family to be falsely accused of a crime,” he said. “It’s a horrible thing for a person to go through.”

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