New documentary investigates abuse of judicial power
'Unjustified' examines U.S. justice system
- Duration 6:09
- Date Sep 24, 2012
'Unjustified' examines U.S. justice system
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Tomorrow the Supreme Court will consider which cases to add to their docket this term.
One case which looks at just how just our justice system is.
And then she prosecuted he was a turning does -- -- US attack them but most of I think the US attorney.
Producer -- -- -- interviewed several judicial experts for his documentary and he joins me now along with former solicitor general Paul Clemente.
The lead lawyer for the case in question gentlemen thanks for joining us.
What was the crime that salaam -- bosh -- committed in this particular case with a crime that he was convicted was bank fraud.
He was also accused of a number of immigration violations but those were never ultimately prosecuted so it was one camp and it was who is essentially a bank fraud conviction.
And it was what can you tell me what drew you to this case in the first place.
Well my partner and I had been looking for.
-- it to make a film about that and justice system.
And a colleague drew our attention mr.
-- -- Case.
And when we began looking at at it seem like it was kind of just perfect storm.
Continuing very aggressive prosecution ultimately.
A very draconian sentencing.
And so we we began following it some time ago and you know it's -- brought forward these issues.
Prosecutorial discretion -- sentencing guidelines values that we see as national issues.
And and Paul explain this to me he was -- recently charged.
With these immigration violations but that was -- -- would do to correct that never went to trial never went to trial because the government went first on this bank fraud theory.
And they got such a tremendous.
Conviction and potential sentence from that that there was really no reason for them.
To pursue the immigration -- in that moment and this is a case.
I I assume you believe where charge after charge after charge was piled on top of one another needless.
Well and what really happened here is under the sentencing guidelines that determine how long sentences into the federal system.
What really drives the sentence for -- fraud count is the so called amount of fraud.
And in this case the prosecutors.
Essentially put restrictions on what the robots can family could do such that this meat processing plant this Kosher meat processing plant.
And when that happened it drove up the amount of fraud because there were no funds left to pay off the banks.
And that was what was really the key to the government initially seeking is life sentence in this case a life sentence and then they back down on that because you know a whole host of former attorneys generals and solicitors general subjected.
But they eventually asked for 25 years and the judge gave 27 users and for to a first time offender.
Not surprising given that did you learn to end at Nicklaus -- -- learned that they bid judge against all precedents.
Had been in close contact with the prosecution in this case.
-- actually after mr.
-- -- was sentenced.
Freedom of Information Act documents came to light that showed that the judge in the case had Matt.
With prosecutors with Homeland Security.
For seven months leading up to the to the raid.
That's alarming -- When what I want to find out how alarming that is you have certainly I'm -- experience in -- -- how unusual.
Was that what is unusual and I think that if there's a justification for this coordination it's that they are gonna do you all these arrests.
It's in a courthouse that doesn't usually have this kind of volume -- it if there were immigration violations suspected that bring a lot of people it.
And so you might think that there would be -- need at least to give a heads up.
But this went well beyond this this was months of meetings.
And at that point if the judge has had all those meetings whether or not it was right to have those meetings the real question then is having had -- this meetings in the case.
Is the judge the right judge to sit on that case or should it be referred to a colleague that's really what.
Abbas -- and his lawyers didn't know the details about all these meetings they were in a position to raise that during the trial.
They raised it afterwards and we're told they couldn't you know I'm often struck it it it -- this in a broader context.
That that the measure of prosecutorial.
Success is not what's right or what's wrong but how many victories.
Prosecutors win it's it's almost like a puff football coaches record in in the NFL or something.
Which which strikes me as a terrible miscarriage of justice well it's you know there's this great saying that is around the rotunda outside the attorneys general's office that -- roughly.
That the United States wins its point in court whenever justice is done one of its citizens and that really should be the measure.
But instead I think at some of these situations it's how many counts he can bring.
What kind of sentence you can get and that's really I think a mistake to lose sight of that very important.
Reminder that and that's -- important to.
Our justice system is that justice be done the citizens in court Nicklaus what can be done to change that dynamic of -- prosecutors tried to score victories instead of do justice.
Well there you know there are some remedies available there's bill.
It's been sort of languishing in the house right now -- 306 which is to suggesting -- national criminal justice reform act which where it.
And also you know allow some mechanisms where prosecutors can seek guidance from you know the Department of Justice for example.
I also think that you know.
Obviously our hope is that.
The Supreme Court will hear mr.
Because it will allow them to rule on some.
My guess gray area it's okay.
It was -- got to cut you off right there were flat at a time the name of the movie is -- justify the unchecked power of America's justice system produced by Nicklaus McKinney.
Ultimate thank you very much for -- -- deceive them.