Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Praise of the Prosecution

The United States Attorneys that prosecuted Michael Vick are named Mike Gill and Brian Whisler.

I bet you didn't know that. And that's a good thing.

There were no press conferences on the courthouse steps. There was no tour of the cable news circuit. There was no hardball. These two men did their job. A law was on the books and they prosecuted. Mr. Gill and Mr. Whisler did not try to make a "name" for themselves. They did not pile on.

When the media proclaimed loudly that Michael Vick would get the worst deal because he was the last to plea, the prosecutors proved them wrong. Vick got the same or better resolution than the other defendants. And rightfully so. Vick is a first time offender. And hardly a menace to society. There is little benefit to society in wasting a prison bed on him.

Sure, maybe this case caught the government's eye because Michael Vick is a celebrity. Maybe they projected a win in the court of public opinion when the target was a young Black man. But they didn't abuse those advantages. Instead, they leveraged speed of investigation, the success rate of federal prosecutions and the inherent power of an interstate conspiracy charge.

And all of the defendants in the Vick case benefited from that professionalism. And society benefited. There is no need to lock dog fighting participants up for the maximum sentence just for the sake of doing it. That's a prison bed that a murderer or a rapist could be residing in. Animal cruelty, dog fighting, etc. have become law enforcement priorities mostly because they are gateway crimes. People that engage in those activities have a propensity to be engaged in gambling and drug enterprises. And while society has compassion for animals, people that do harm to other people are the greatest danger.

It could have been worse. Vick could have gotten the maximum sentence. But why waste time and taxpayer money on prosecuting dog fighters when you can get the drug dealers, the money launderers and the other real scourges. If Vick has to snitch, so be it. He was snitched on first. There's no "code" if no one is adhering to it. If Vick's testimony and the testimony of the other defendants gets drug dealers and gambling kingpins off the streets, then I can be happy about that.

Every public lawyer is not a Mike Nifong. Many lawyers do their job with efficiency and professionalism. It tugs the heart strings to see another Black man end up as a statistic . But the United States prosecutors performed their jobs efficiently and professionally. As a lawyer, I have to give credit where credit is due.

7 comments:

Nos said...

The prosecutors handled this matter with class. It's too bad the media didn't handle the case properly, then again when do they ever do that.

Nos said...

It's too bad all lawyers aren't like that. Maybe my family wouldn't be struggling financially because of one lawyer's carelessness.

Anonymous said...

Good post. It raised a perspective I hadn't considered before - and in constructive fashion. That's far more than the so-called "mainstream media" has managed to do with all its hyperventilating Vick coverage. Good on ya!

JD said...

WOW, that brought a tear to my eye. Great post!!!

Miranda said...

Good point....I think there were many that were disappointed that the prosecutors didn't preen for the cameras.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't give the prosecutors too much credit. They didn't enforce a law on the books. They used "creative" prosecution to charge Mike Vick with breaking a law that was never intended for dog fighters. The same way Jack Johnson was the victim of "creative" prosecution in the early 20th century. See the blackprof blog for more info...

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