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March 02, 2010

Brooklyn DA Clears ACORN of Any Criminal Wrongdoing

Actually... this is pretty defensible.

There aren't too many criminal charges that can flow from just thinking bad thoughts or saying bad words. The most important exception is the law against conspiracy, but that requires an agreement that a crime will be committed, and an overt act in furtherance of that conspiracy (like buying rubber gloves after agreeing that a home will be burglarized).

It's hard to lay a conspiracy charge based on someone giving sketchy advice to someone. The ACORN people, by and large, didn't really agree that a brothel should be opened, in the way the law of conspiracy means it. Mere acknowledgement that you've told me you're going to commit a crime doesn't make me a co-conspirator, even if I offer the advice "Don't leave any fingerprints, dude."

Of course, if the advice goes so far as to constitute an "overt act," you can get charged. If I sit down with you and plot out your burglary step-by-step for five hours, I'm pretty sure I'd get charged as a co-conspirator, even though I never really "agreed," per se, the burglary should be committed. I imagine they'd just sort of assume my agreement from my plotting.

But then there are the tax charges -- stuff I don't know about. I don't think the Brooklyn DA knows about those laws either, as I don't think he'd have jurisdiction to bring a federal tax-avoidance charge.

The one guy who I thought might actually have some criminal liability was the guy who called O'Keefe and Giles in order to offer his assistance in smuggling girls over the border. That's an overt act, of course.

This is nonsense, though:

Brooklyn prosecutors on Monday cleared ACORN of criminal wrongdoing after a four-month probe that began when undercover conservative activists filmed workers giving what appeared to be illegal advice on how to hide money.

While the video by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide ill-gotten gains, the unedited version was not as clear, according to a law enforcement source.

"They edited the tape to meet their agenda," said the source.

This is more PR on behalf of ACORN. The tapes were not edited in a way that would change the character of what ACORN's employees said.

Whoa: The DA actually is a member of the ACORN party. (Originally I wrote "ran for office on the ACORN ticket," which is wrong.)



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posted by Ace at 03:02 PM

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