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January 05, 2013

David Gregory and Unequal Protection of the Law

Ace has been writing about the New Aristocracy lately, including a few posts about David Gregory waving around an illegal magazine on TV. Here is some contrast provided by the Washington Times, linked at Hot Air:

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) inquiry into whether NBC’s David Gregory possession on national TV of an illegal 30-round “high-capacity” magazine has been ongoing for three weeks. Meanwhile, U.S. Army veteran James Brinkley is still grappling with the fallout from his arrest last year on the same charge.

. . .

Despite the evidence Mr. Brinkley had been legally transporting the gun, his attorney Richard Gardiner said the D.C. Office of the Attorney General “wouldn’t drop it.” This is the same office now showing apparent reluctance to charge Mr. Gregory.

Mr. Brinkley refused to take a plea bargain and admit guilt, so the matter went to trial Dec. 4. The judge sided with Mr. Brinkley, saying he had met the burden of proof that he was legally transporting. Mr. Brinkley was found not guilty on all firearms-related charges, including for the “high-capacity” magazines, and he was left with a $50 traffic ticket.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told The Washington Times, “We feel it was a valid arrest, and the appropriate charges were brought.” Moments later, a spokesman for the D.C. attorney general's office, Ted Gest, called and provided the exact same quote. Mr. Gest added that, despite Mr. Brinkley’s acquittal, the ruling “doesn’t mean the judge is right, and we’re wrong.”

So we have a US attorney entrusted with the authority to enforce the laws equally who arguably abuses that discretion and goes after Mr. Brinkley, one of the Outs, while at the same ignoring the acts of Gregory, one of the Ins. Of course, he does this without regard to ethical consideration and to ingratiate himself with the Ins, with whom he would like to be associated. Right?

He is not unlike the IRS agent who breaks the rules and looks into neighbors' and friends' tax records, because it would be interesting to know how much money they make. Or the postal inspectors who spend the afternoon on the golf course and get a little red-faced when you jokingly voice surprise they spend their time off work together. Because they're not off work. Besides, maybe there is some postal crime on the 17th fairway. Or the regional FDIC field inspectors who drive to another city and also end up on the golf course, after which they spend five minutes on the property inspection, knowing they can fake a report from virtually nothing. Who is going to fire them for getting it wrong, causing the bank a headache, and costing the recipient of the loan potentially everything?

Or this guy.

What can you say? The natural tendency of people is to treat authority as power. The same thing that causes a person to rev a powerful motor at a stoplight or, in older days, to slap a horse with the reins while at the same time pulling back--to feel that surge of power--drives bureaucrats to abuse authority. People get a charge out of it. It makes them feel like masters of their domain. It's human nature.

This is why we're supposed to be a nation of laws and not men, by the way. It's why our country is based on a social contract that is, or should be, written in stone. People like to be unethical, evil.

Which suggests a solution: Lawyers get tossed from the profession very quickly. There is a comprehensive written code of professional ethics lawyers must abide by. They study this code first in school and then throughout their careers. Lawyers also police themselves. They are required by the code to report the violations of other lawyers. It's an ethical violation not to.

There should be a similar Rules of Professional Conduct for government employees--and enforcement thereof--so that when someone complains about the US attorney's handling of a case, or, say, a snooping IRS neighbor, a bureaucrat who wastes public money drinking wine in a tub, or people who look up porn at work, the complaint is investigated aggressively and resolved quickly. Their due process rights are no different from or greater than a lawyer's. That would create an incentive for people who would otherwise give in to their evil urges.

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posted by rdbrewer at 06:10 PM

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