Don’t tug on Superman’s Cape

As someone who makes a very good living routinely taking on the government in defense of citizens accused of crimes and wrong-doing, I’m the last to believe the government  should not be held accountable for its acts, omissions, indiscretions and abuse[s] of power. When the government messes up or over-steps, my job is to exploit and extrapolate this to my clients’ decided advantage and benefit.  When a government screw up violates anyone’s fundamental and constitutionally protected rights, I’m amongst the very first to take them to task for that.

Our government is neither inviolate nor infallible, nor is it above reproach. Still, in the field of criminal law, defendants are wise to observe the adage that "what goes around can come around", regardless of the court or venue. This can be especially so in federal court where the government has the power, means and resources—and often the backing of judges—-to really SLAM someone  (i.e., inasmuch as  recent Supreme Court decisions permit federal judges to impose sentences below the advisory guidelines range,  they are also allowed to sentence outside and above them).  A case in point involves former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who was sentenced this past Wednesday to 14 years in prison, following his conviction on 18 assorted counts, including trying to use his office to "sell" President Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Clients routinely ask me how it is that I plan to fight back for them, outside of court. While I tell them I tend to do my fighting in the courtroom, there are times and "places" where extrajudicial comments are not only appropriate and permissible, but also effective. However, for an example of what not to do, EVER, one need look no farther than the above-mentioned  ex-Governor’s antics while facing indictment, during trial, and even after his conviction.  From government-baiting,  to blatant braggadocio, to Reality TV appearance[s], to outright defiance,  and ( according to his sentencing judge) to possible perjury, as well as a total and thorough lack of genuine remorse, Blagojevich did everything he could to upset the judge.

With the sentencing guidelines calculations in Blagojevich’s case suggesting an advisory range of 10 yrs was in order for his sentence, one is left with more than the suggestion that an additional four years were added not only because of his "extracurriculars," but because he acted like a jerk. Don’t get me wrong. Anyone accused of criminal wrong-doing has an absolute right to be angry, defiant, and even (within the bounds of lawfulness and decorum) vituperative.  But there’s a fine line between having one’s day, and say, in court and, paraphrasing the late Jim Crocce, "...tugging on Superman’s Cape...and spitting into the wind."  Because payback sometimes really can be a...well, you know.