Holder Defends Aaron Swartz Prosecution

During today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Department of Justice Oversight, Attorney General Eric Holder defended the prosecution of Aaron Swartz. He said prosecutors offered him a three month sentence and later said they would seek six months. He said the charges carried a potential of 35 years in prison.

What about the overcharging? Any prosecutor can overcharge and then offer you a deal to what you should have been charged with in the first place. What kind of deal is that?

Holder said DOJ has examined the matter and determined the prosecutors acted appropriately. Their examination included talking to the prosecutors. Did they talk to defense counsel? [More...]

What was the justification for the Superseding Indictment against Swartz?

Nonetheless, I hope defense lawyers use this comment by Holder in their plea negotiations with the AUSA's on their cases:

I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was."

If he means this, shouldn't we expect to see a lot more plea agreements with joint recommendations for downward variances from the Sentencing Guidelines to reflect the lawyers' view of the nature of the conduct versus the Guidelines' view? I may be cynical, but I doubt that's going to happen except in rare situations.

< Holder Testifies at Senate Judiciary Comm. Hearing | Wednesday Night Open Thread >
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    Disgusting (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Peter G on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 01:20:21 PM EST
    Circle the wagons.

    "Did they talk to defense counsel?" (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 02:33:56 PM EST
    Who do you think they are, the Department of Justice?  Who do you think Holder is, Attorney General?

    He's Prosecutor General and head of the Department of Prosecutions.  That's not cynicism, that's experience...but it is easy to confuse the two.

    Corrupt (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by koshembos on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 02:53:20 PM EST
    Holder runs the most corrupt DOJ since Nixon's days. He represents the rich only and Aaron Swartz malicious prosecution attempted to block our rights to information deemed to be owned by the haves.

    But, here's the people who DON'T (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 03:41:16 PM EST
    get prosecuted, or if they do, pay no price.


    "For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico's Sinaloa  drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years - people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that "they make the guys on Wall Street look good." The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.
    "They violated every goddamn law in the book," says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. "They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business."

    By Matt Taibbi,
    Rolling Stone

    hey, that's just good business practice, (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 09:55:33 PM EST
    maximize your ROI and EPS. what are you, some kind of communist?

    Eric Holder, (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Zorba on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 04:59:36 PM EST
    meet John Mitchell.  It's not just the over-reach in the Aaron Swartz prosecution.  It's also defending
    the Obama administration's targeted killings policy, even in cases of American citizens who may be on U.S. soil, in some situations where they are planning an imminent attack on the country.

    And on and on.
    I wish that the Attorney General would read, understand, and truly uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.
    And I also hark back to Elliot Richardson, who was willing to (and did) resign rather than fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox when Nixon wanted him to.  

    Defending the Aaron Swartz (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Anne on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:34:17 AM EST
    prosecution in one breath, and in the next defending the DOJ for NOT prosecuting the banksters:


      Here's an unexpected addition to the long list of people who say large banks may be too large to prosecute: Attorney General Eric Holder...

        Mr. Holder defended his agency's track record in testimony Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he conceded that the economic impact of a conviction could be so significant that cases are difficult to pursue.

        "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them," Mr. Holder told lawmakers. Prosecutors, he said, must confront the problem that "if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."

    I guess now we know why that was Lanny Breuer's justification - it came from the top.

    From Reuters, via DS Wright at FDL:

       While Holder and Breuer were partners at Covington, the firm's clients included the four largest U.S. banks - Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo & Co - as well as at least one other bank that is among the 10 largest mortgage servicers...

        A particular concern by those pressing for an investigation is Covington's involvement with Virginia-based MERS Corp, which runs a vast computerized registry of mortgages. Little known before the mortgage crisis hit, MERS, which stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, has been at the center of complaints about false or erroneous mortgage documents.

        Court records show that Covington, in the late 1990s, provided legal opinion letters needed to create MERS on behalf of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and several other large banks. It was meant to speed up registration and transfers of mortgages. By 2010, MERS claimed to own about half of all mortgages in the U.S. -- roughly 60 million loans.

    I mean, really - who was piddly little Aaron Swartz compared to these mega-banks for whom Holder and Breuer had done significant work and been, presumably, well-rewarded for their efforts?

    Makes me think the official anthem of Wall Street and the TBTF banks is "What a Friend We Have in Justice."