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How The Prosecutor Who Charged Chris Matthews' Brother Abused Her Power

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 12/7/11

Read the criminal complaint and the Grand Jury Report used to prosecute Chris Matthews brother, James R. Matthews, Chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners in Pennsylvania, and something becomes obvious right away. Republican District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman acted unethically and abused her power to make a sham of the grand jury process.

A grand jury is supposed to determine one thing and one thing only: Whether the prosecutor has presented sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges. Everything else is irrelevant and inappropriate. A secret, one-sided proceeding is not a legitimate forum for editorializing about about public policy, or people or actions that you don't like.  But that's exactly what happened as a result of Ferman's 18-month "investigation." The grand jury documents are packed with "conclusions," that reflect a perversion of due process.

Check out these passages from the Grand Jury Report:

However, while the Grand Jury suspects foul play, there is no actual proof to rebut the claims of the Matthews and Hoeffel that note deliberations took place at these meetings. Thus, in the absence of further evidence, the Grand Jury cannot recommend presentment for a violation of the Sunshine Act. However, we feel that Montgomery County citizens have the right to expect transparency from the representatives... the breakfast meetings between Hoeffel and Matthews undermine this principal.[sic]
With no Pennsylvania law and now no federal law that could be applied, the investigation prematurely ceased, but we were presented with what evidence the investigators had gathered up to that point in the investigation...
Under the the current Pennsylvania and federal laws, Matthews' utilization of campaign funds for clearly personal expenses is protected. But we are prohibited from recommending that criminal charges be brought against Matthews under either of these statutes as they currently read. These laws need to be re-examined and redrafted as this behavior can no longer be tolerated. We make several recommendations below that we feel will help capture the true spirit of the statutes.

That's right. Grand jurors, acting in secret one-sided proceedings as part of the Judicial Branch, presume to tell members of the Legislative Branch how to draft laws on government transparency.

Or check out "conclusion" Number 9 from the Grand Jury Complaint:

We find that Matthews lied when he stated that he had no business or financial relationship with certified abstract. We find Matthews lied because he knew that, while, there may not have been a "conflict of interest" within the letter of the law, he should have disclosed his relationship with that certified to the public prior to the November 10, 2010 vote at the Montgomery County Commissioners Meeting. However, we find this lie, unfortunately, does not rise to the level of criminality because it was first made when Matthews was not under oath before the public. When Matthews made the statement again before this grand jury, he was later forced to admit that it was not accurate, therefore, he cannot be prosecuted for this lie.

To bring a case for perjury,  a prosecutor must allege that the defendant made a specific statement under oath, that the statement was material to the nature of the legal proceeding, and that the defendant knew the statement to be false at the time that he made it.  Which is why the Criminal Complaint against Jim Matthews is not really a legal document, it's more like a political press release. Consider this excerpt:

We find probable cause that Commissioner James Matthews repeatedly lied to this Grand Jury despite the fact that he was under oath during his testimony before us on October 5, 2011. Based on this flagrant dishonesty in violation of the law, we conclude that Commissioner James Matthews acts as though he is above the law. We as citizens of Montgomery County whom he has elected to represent and serve, believe that no man is above the law. We expect and deserve elected officials who not only do their jobs but also who scrupulously follow the law. Mr. Matthew's persistent dishonesty and deceptions served only to undermine the public trust and in in the integrity of government officials.

The actual charges, which seem extraordinarily flimsy, may be the subject of a later post.

 

For over 20 years, David has been a banker covering the energy industry for several global banks in New York. Currently, he is working on several journalism projects dealing with corporate and political corruption that, so far, have escaped serious (more...)
 

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