tv CPAC Panel Discusses Criminal Justice Reform CSPAN March 3, 2017 8:15am-8:49am EST
wing. so you understand there is a new commander-in-chief. [applause] >> sebastian, you first mentioned ronald reagan. ronald reagan taught us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. but today it looks even closer than that. yesterday in the panel we talked about domestic threats. now we hav just talked about fon ones. i think there is one conclusion i've heard today, and that is america must lead again. thank you very much. >> you bet. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> welcome to our next panel discussion.
prosecutors gone wild. please welcome david keene from the "washington times," former u.s. attorney sidney powell, and kevin ring from families against mandatory minimums. the panel will be moderated by pat nolan, acu foundation center for criminal justice reform. [applause] >> thank you. the data should send chills up your spine. over the last several years prosecutors have injected themselves into the political process going after and trying to take down governor perry, governor mcdonnell, governor walker. add in the nest this is a, james o'keefe, senator ted stevens they are assassinating our leadership politically. and using the courts to do it, and using underhanded tactics as was pointed out in the ted
stevens case, their corruption was so bad, there lies to the judge and they're hiding of evidence and witnesses was so brad that the judge -- so bad that the judge appointed a a special prosecutor to go after them. this is a problem for all of us. if they can do that to a powerful u.s. senator, a recipient of the distinguished flying cross from his service in world war ii and a genuine hero, think what they can do to the average one of us. we're going to start with sidney powell, and appellate division or for the department of justice, intimately involved in the defense of senator stevens, appalled at what she saw as the underhanded tactics used by the department of justice pitches written a terrific book, which convened a is available. it's chapter and verse on what
they did to cheat and try to send to prison a man that was totally honorable and exonerated. so sydney, can you tell us a little what you came across and had to deal with? >> definitely. williams and conley were lead counsel for senator stevens. they fought tooth and nail throughout the trial having knowledge that there were things that the prosecutors were hiding. they just knew what senator stevens had said and done and knew they weren't giving the full information from the government. but it was a hammer and tongs fight for them throughout the trial, only to find out after the jury returned the verdict of guilty against senator stevens that the prosecutors had, in fact, hidden significant evidence that they knew directly contradicted the prosecutions case. they should have given it to senator stevens. because the prosecutor holds all
the cards in a criminal case, he or she is most powerful person in the courtroom. they are the persons who work with the agents. they are the first to investigate. they are the ones who control the charges, the publicity for the charges. by stacking charges they can increase sentences which capital talk about i'm sure. the prosecutor is probably the single most powerful person in our judicial system and our criminal justice system, and they have absolute immunity any sort of suit for the wrongdoing. a prosecutor can intentionally make up charges. i mean, make them up. our amazing president just said he hates fake news. well, we hate fake prosecutions. there are cases that are absolutely contrived by the prosecution where the site statutes that don't even apply to the offensive they are charging. then they had the evidence that show people are innocent and
proceed to send them to prison on indictments that don't even say criminal offenses. >> if i could interrupt. this is so bad that judge alex kozinski has called it an epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct. not just about the ted stevens case, but across the board in the department of justice lawyers, lying and cheating. >> yes. and in the merrill lynch cases that talk about in the book i actually represent what of the merrill lynch executives from wall street who, like all of us, belief in our system, thought for sure he could just tell the truth to the grand jury and it would come out fine, everybody would understand what he had done. and instead he was sent to prison for a year with the judging i understand you're just doing their job that day. it turns out the indictment did not say federal offense. the government had hidden evidence that showed he was innocent. it was so bad they actually yellow highlighted the evidence before the trial, knowing it
exonerated him, and still hit it from us for six years because only by accident through a third team of prosecutors giving me aa disk that they didn't even realize how the yellow highlighting on it that we found that evidence after six years. we still could not get him a new trial. >> they literally had a roadmap of the evidence that they should've turned over and didn't. and just by mistake they put in sydney is a very capable hands. david, you've been in this movement a longtime producing, you know, do have tussles politically but have you ever seen it so bad we actually have the government focusing criminal on our people? >> it's gotten much, much worse. the cases she cited all go to what's known as the brady rule. i don't how many people here know are familiar with the
writable. nothing to do with the new york patriots but it does have something to do with a fair and level playing field. we have an adversarial system, and prosecutors and defense attorneys are in msl systems are supposed to produce the truth. as the attorney general said, a lot of prosecutors have forgotten that criminal justice system consists of three words and they forget the middle word. because in the system prosecutors advance professionally and the advanced politically by hanging scalps on the wall. and they go after more and more in modern cases, after politically sensitive cases that gets implicitly and the like. they hide evidence. this is what judge kozinski was talking about. under the brady role and clinton bamberger who was the attorney
in the brady case in 1963 died last year, 196 1963 was when the brady rule was adopted. it was made stronger in follow-on cases. 1963, and today very little is done to observe that rule on the part of prosecutors or to enforce it. because there are no sanctions. so what happens is the prosecutor, if he is caught violating the brady role, if he's hiding evidence, making up evidence, if he's engaged in gross misconduct in the trial, the rule is that that's the judges deal to take care of. the problem is the 80 or 90% of of the judges are former prosecutors who did the same dam thing when they were prosecutors. the estimate is that the people, the prosecutors have been caught abusing this, less than 2% of them have ever been brought up on charges, and the most they received as a slap on the wrist.
as happened in the stevens case, after the judge demand an investigation, after the judge taught them concealing evidence in making things up, they were suspended for 1 15 days, later t back in. that was rescinded and the government was told to pay their salaries. the fact is that prosecutors not only exceed their responsibilities and what they're supposed to do, but, and just as important, they can do it because they know there is no sanction in the real world for their doing it. >> kevin? >> i dislike to say i think it's an important discussion to have. because prosecutors as a class are no better or no worse than bakers or teachers. there's good ones and bad ones. if we were having a discussion about epa officials gone wild or irs agents on mad, everyone would intuitively understand that in this room. because we know power corrupts, absolute power corrupts
absolutely. so our founders had an answer to this and this is a system of checks and balances. right now we don't have that. we have prosecutors with unreviewable charges thanks to mandatory minimums. they have the ability to pick your sentence. instead of politicians calling them up to congress or before state legislators to ask what they are doing, how they are abusing their authority, why are they doing these things, we have politicians empowering them by giving them vague statutes, very broad criminal laws so that if you are a prosecutor, if you're a hammer everything looks like another if you're a prosecutor of it he bidding looks like a crime. we have now given you the laws and the tools to go find them. what we need now is to restore some checks and balances to the system. >> let me say there's a real political price that we paid for these bogus prosecutions. by charging ted stevens and
convicting him, although briefly, it was thrown out, but while he was convicted he was defeated running for reelection. the man that defeated him provided the deciding vote for obamacare. that was the vote that tipped the scale. all of us that are frustrated, it's so hard to unring the bell of obamacare. it was those prosecutors that made that possible that gave harry reid the strong hand that allowed him to pass it by exactly the votes necessary. >> kevin has got it exactly right. it's the system of incentives and the way it works that creates the havoc that years ago i testified before congress when there was a bill to allow dna testing in capital cases after the conviction was secured and i
said in in my testimony i said if i were a prosecutor and i hd gotten you sentenced to death him and for $69.95 they could find out whether i was right or not, i would want to know if i was helping kill an innocent person. a prosecutor said to me you got that all wrong. because a capital case is a huge, huge thing for a prosecutor. and the last thing he or she needs it for some it is it a couple years later, you were wrong. they would rather the instant person be executed that do that in the personal file. all of these things are part of a system that needs to be reformed so that the incentivization is change, so justice can be put back into the criminal justice system. >> i find those remarks absolutely outrageous. any good prosecutor, and are some good ones, wants to seek justice not conviction. on april 1, 1940, then attorney
general robert h jackson gave a beautiful inspired speech call the federal prosecutor. if you google jackson and the federal prosecutor you can read it in its entirety. by the end in the supreme court had said that the united states, the job at united states attorney is to seek justice, not convictions. sometimes that even means a guilty person goes free. but when you wrongfully convict somebody you have committed multiple crimes because not only have you taken the life and liberty of somebody who did nothing wrong, the person who did commit the actual crime is out there still doing it. you can look at the case in texas and, wharton was sentenced to prison for 25 years come allegedly from murdering his wife. dna evidence exonerated 25 years late while the person who actually committed the crime was out there and did it again. michael morton lost his son, 25
years of his life, the best years of his life, and the prosecutor who had hidden the bloody van dan and dna evidence and other evidence become a state court judge in texas. all he got from michael moore's 25 years of wrongful imprisonment was five days in the county jail. >> i'd like, don't you should do this but i'd like to read a paragraph from justice sutherland in 1935 about the role of a prosecutor in our system. this paragraph was included in the manual for u.s. attorneys at the instructions of ed meese would use attorney general of the united states spirit i bet it's from berger versus united states. i literally used to keep a take of my telephone. >> it is not in there anymore and had those prosecutors who went after senator stevens had this in their mind i bet they wouldn't have done it a click and read that paragraph because it's so important historically and do so important to ed meese
that he make sure every u.s. prosecutor at it above the desk as you did. the united states attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy but of a sovereignty his obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all. whose interest, therefore come in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case but that justice shall be done. as such, he is in effect you and a very definite sense of the servant of the law. the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. he may prosecute with earnestness and vigor. indeed he should do so. but while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. it is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods documented produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every
legitimate means to bring about a just one. that was important enough that attorney general ed meese made every prosecutor read it. they don't have to do that anymore. i suspect even what they did read it, some of them didn't take it to heart. >> ed meese is an example of the generational divide in prosecutors. i've known him since back, first reagan campaign in 66. and ed had been a line prosecutor in santa clara county. and he said to one of the great joys he had as a prosecutor was completing an investigation and find out someone was innocent, and telling them you got a clean bill of health. we are not doing anything. the new generation of prosecutors says i've invested so much time in the case, we better dig deeper and find something. that's a terrible echo of what
the head of the soviet secret police said two stolen. you bring me that man, i'll find the crime. you target somebody and then you search to find something to charge them with. this is appalling. and also in the days of situation ethics where there is no good or evil, there is no justice or honesty, these folks have a complete running room. their consciences are not formed because there are no permanent values to online them. one of the key points that alex kozinski makes is we have to be involved, we have to hold the judges say to the fire because, as they said, it's the judge in the courtroom that has to deal with this. they have to feel the public is demanding this. so even take the time come if you go to our twitter feed or to
our facebook page and like us, we will keep you informed, acu has developed a grassroots network of working for justice reform. we get experts like this to work with us on how we can be most effective at protecting the average citizen. and it's wonderful of these folks to come and give the time to help educate us about this. sydney, you are also involved in the enron case. any lessons from that that you came across? >> definitely. i do want to backu back up a lie bit and tell everyone that the prosecutor who micromanaged the prosecution of united states senator ted stevens that literally change the balance of power in the united states senate and enable the enactment of obamacare was one of the prosecutors in the merrill lynch case he went yellow highlighted and hidden evidence that showed merrill lynch executives were innocent. he got promoted during the bush
administration to acting assistant attorney general for the criminal division of the department of justice. the other lawyers that i talk about in the book were promoted by president obama, even though they were appointed originally as bush enron task force prosecutors, there were promoted by president obama to his longest-serving white house counsel. general council deputy director of the fbi, the attorney general for the criminal division of the department of justice who recently left, was responsible for destroying arthur andersen and 85,000 jobs offer nothing on it to be reversed by united states supreme court 19 nothing because anderson had not committed an offense could most people didn't even hear about the reversal by the heard about anderson destroying evidence and shredding documents and being destroyed as a company. they probably didn't even hear that 85,000 jobs were lost because of that prosecution. it was absolutely nothing and the enron case, the whole enron task force, every case they actually tried that it took to
try was reversed in some part, in whole or in part for some form of prosecutor overreaching. >> we started with a view that talked about political opponents and people were disfavored and targeted for that reason. in this case you see prosecutors going after corporate folks who may be unpopular at times. the problem is you may be unpopular at some point. david knows this better anyway else. prosecutors have gone after gun owners in a lot of cases. and in those cases you're not always protected by a vigilant judge in the courtroom because there may be a mandatory minimum applies that takes away the judges discretion to bring justice. there's a case in florida we've been following, a 22-year-old guy came out of the park was being harassed by bunch of people as he tried to leave. he was with his girlfriend. he was an lawful gun owner. he felt threatened for his life. he did want to hurt anyone but he wanted to remove himself from the situation. he took his gun out, he fired straight in the air, not aimed
at in wonder no one was hurt. nothing happened. it was reported by some onlookers. he was charged with aggravated assault because he scared the people who were there. under florida law, because it discharged a firearm during the commission of his aggravated assault, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. the prosecutor who brought those charges held all the cards. because as a mandatory minimum, the judge who heard that and couldn't have otherwise understood the context and what it said we don't want you shooting a gun, you could've hurt somebody, we're going to sanction you some way, had no discretion and he got 20 years. i'm happy to say that the national rifle association changed the law in florida but it was not retroactive. back i got 20 years. he served 10 years, he has 10 more to go. we have got to be able to fix these things. >> dave clark made the correct point, and that is, this could
affect you. the reason that prosecutors can do this goes back to something that pat said earlier, stalinist russia, bring me the person, i'll find the crime. we have so many crimes, so many regulatory crimes that involved prison sentences today that a prosecutor or the government can, in fact, take you out and find something that you did that would subject you to prison time. that's just the facts. that's what robert jackson when he was made attorney general warned the justice department when there were far fewer crimes than are today. so not only do you have this proliferation of crimes, many of these crimes do not require what's known as mens rea, which means that you don't have to have any intent to do anything wrong. you might not even know of the existence of the crime when the prosecutor goes after you. that's particularly true in some of these strict liability
corporate cases in the regulatory world. one thing that i want to point out is there's a lot of talk about criminal justice reforms. to some people that means releasing gang bangers on the street, that people shouldn't be in prison, period. there are people who belong in prison. our reforms that are necessary and reforms that are not. in the current wave of reforms,, senator orrin hatch of utah said he wanted to apply mens rea to new laws. the democratic leader should it's actually not. because a lot of these people that want to go after our people that they can go after as long as there's no guilty mind required, as long as they can apply these 4500 federal laws to target somebody and go after them. you need to look carefully and ask what the motives are when somebody says what we need to do is reform the criminal justice system. the criminal justice system is as bad as everybody says it is,
but the reforms that are necessary are not always reforms that will accomplish the goal that we as conservatives would like to accomplish. >> this is really a great point about mens rea or criminal intent. for millennia been the basis of the law that you have to have intended to do something wrong. that was changed as we moved into the regulatory state. there are not only 4000 statutes, federal statutes, there are tens of thousands of regulations, many of which have no mens rea requirement. the left-wing senators were so devoted to keep empowering the regulatory state, that they dropped and killed the reforms of the rest of criminal law, that there was agreement on,
because they wanted the ability of the bureaucracy to strict liability for businesses here in the u.s. that is how dedicated they are to it. it is a battle royale over this. it's not a well-known issue, mens rea. but pay attention, it makes all the difference in the world. if you mislabel an orchid being shipped, that can be a violation. think of the swat team raid on gibson guitar. they were using word approved from india for the fret boards. apparently, one state in india requires that the word be worked on by indian employees. how is an american, supposed to know that? but the department of the interior rated gibson guitar.
who knew that a swat team at interior? and the justification that people are going to discern evidence, i defy you to flush a fret board down the toilet to get rid of it. there was no need for those armed raids, but they did. they harassed the owner on something that clearly, why is the department of the interior defending inking jobs over americans working on the fret boards? this is insanity, but that's what's going on these days come and we need to put an end to it. we hope you will join us in the effort to bring common sense back and say yes, we do need prisons. rape, robbery, arson, homicide, absolutely. but we don't need it for a lot of these other crimes. prisons are for folks who are afraid of, not folks were met at. >> and there are far too many
tribes that as you have all mentioned. when you think about the incredible number of statutes that we have and then i think it's millions of federal regulations and progressive prosecutors have been increasingly creative in their ability to take silver regulations that were never intended to criminal consequences and pull them into criminal law through a conspiracy statute or an aiding and abetting statute that they didn't imprison people for things alone supposed to be civil violations and handled that way. it's gotten completely out of hand. but when you do think about the number of laws, god did it with just 10. >> we are involved in all the states at the federal level. if you're interested, come by our booth. we had some literature there that explains what we are doing. you can sign up. sydney will have her books down there. i really encourage you, it was
an eye-opener to me when i bought it. we also have a session at 4:45 this afternoon to talk about our progress in the states where come in texas, we succeeded in reserving prison beds for those who are afraid of, treated in the committee with mental health and drug addiction treatment, job training, saving the cost of incarceration. it's cut $3 billion from the budget, and the crime rate is the lowest it's been since 68. so we can have common sense spending and commonsense policies, and fewer people in prison. >> that's an important session this afternoon. we as conservatives in this area have a great deal to be proud of because most of the tragic and -- traction on real prison and criminal justice reform has not been at the federal level during the obama years. it's been at the state level.
the heroes of criminal justice reform are people like mary fallin in oklahoma, rick perry when he was governor of texas, nathan deal in georgia, matt bevin in kentucky, republican governors who have looked at the system and looked at it with a dual vision of what is the purpose is supposed to serve and how do we make it serve that purpose and not be subject to the kinds of abuses that none of us as conservatives think gu government should be involved in? so there are real heroes out there. we has conservatives deserve some credit for what we been able to do, and there's much more that we can do in a positive sense to improve the system that does what needs improvement. [applause] >> and we hope you will join us. so thank you so very much. and if you have liked this
panel, right and say i love having criminal justice reform on the program. all right, thank you so much. >> thank you so much for being here. [applause] ♪ >> joined booktv live on saturday begin at 6 p.m. eastern from books and books bookstore for a panel discussion on books and the joys of reading. books and books owner and miami book fair cofounder mitchell kaplan will join us along with west stand for, director of the writing creative program in miami and author of 20 books including water to the angels.
>> this week in the c-span cities tour along with our comcast cable partners will explore the literate life and history of san jose, california. saturday at noon eastern on booktv here about silicon valley, hope to meet at the worlds largest tech corporation including google, facebook and apple. tech business reporter of the mercury news talks about the successes and challenges silicon valley has had on san jose and the region. >> silicon valley is booming. it is absolutely rampant, and that raises the possibility that things will go in the other direction as they have in the past. speeding if you know anything about california, among other things i'm a nativeborn californians and i've studied this state 50 years or more, you
realize that this state is so topsy-turvy. it's like a roller coaster gone bad. it can be a boom state economically one year, they can be in the whole $30 billion the next. >> on sunday at two p.m. eastern on american history tv, we will take you to the beginnings of sandals as we visit the adobe. >> anwas moved from its original location to this location here, and the adobe you see behind us is the last remaining structure of that pueblo that was built in 1797 speed and then inside the observatory. >> astronomy in the late 1800s and early 1900s when the observatory was constructed was going through a heyday of discovery. this telescope when it was constructed was the largest of
its kind in the world in 1888. >> watch c-span cities tour on c-span2's booktv. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> coming shortly, house minority leader nancy pelosi sits down with politico to discuss her parties agenda of the trump administration and her call for attorney general jeff sessions to step down amidst reports of an meeting with russian officials before the november election. that eventually starting shortly but ahead of that an interview with house freshman al wasson, democrat from florida's fifth district. >> congressman, you started working when you were eight years old. why and what we you doing? >> i
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