After a two-week felony trial culminating with notes from a conflicted jury, four Kerry-Edwards campaign workers - including the sons of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt - had their charges in the Election Day 2004 tire-slashing reduced to misdemeanors and accepted the deal....The American Mind reacts and collects the reactions of other bloggers. They don't seem too happy.
If they pay a collective $5,317.45 restitution by their April 26 sentencing, Assistant District Attorney David Feiss will recommend all four get probation. Misdemeanor property damage carries a possible maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The sudden plea offer came at 2 p.m., after the jury - which had been deliberating since Thursday afternoon - sent a note that "people that are adamant about their decision and are not budging."
Here's Jessica McBride:
Election fraud cases can be extremely difficult to prove. In the case of the tire slashings, the state by necessity had to rely on the testimony of out-of-state operatives who allegedly hadn't all been entirely cooperative on the front end. The prosecution was probably justifiably worried about potential outright acquittals of all, and decided it was better to convict the defendants of something, than nothing. It's hard to argue with that.Rick Eisenberg says:
But the frustrating thing is that McCann's office has been notoriously ineffective in prosecuting election violations overall, and the vast majority of the allegations in Wisconsin have been lodged in his jurisdiction and ended up not prosecuted or under-played....
In an extremely open election system like ours (same-day registration and no photo ID requirement), it's important to have aggressive, tough prosecution of election-law violations so that there's SOME deterrent against people doing it.
Judge Brennan was absolutely correct in observing that six hours is not a long time to deliberate after a seven day trial and undeniably right in telling them to continue. It really is hard to avoid at least the suspicion that the DA's office saw this as an opportunity to bail on what it saw as a no-win situation. I don't see how it is a reasonable compromise by a prosecutor who wants a conviction. Why, after devoting just about all the resources that you are going to have to devote, would you, essentially, let the defendants go at the first small sign that you might not win?