Cross Posted atLegal Schnauzer
Our little corner of the blogosphere probably has produced as much coverage about the Don Siegelman case as any other spot on the Web. So our Schnauzer eyes and ears stay tuned for comments--informed and otherwise--about the case.
A common refrain we hear from the anti-Siegelman crowd goes something like this: "Well, the prosecution might have been politically motivated, but a jury found him guilty, so it doesn't really matter."
This, of course, ignores the fact that improper jury instructions were given--plus ample evidence that the judge was corrupt and the jury was tainted. But it misses the larger point. Under the law, it definitely does matter if a prosecution was politically motivated. In fact, such a prosecution desecrates one of our democracy's building blocks--the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held "selectivity in the enforcement of criminal laws is, of course, subject to constitutional constraints."U.S. v. Batchelder, 442 U.S. 144 (1979).
The nation's highest court also has found that the Equal Protection Clause prohibits selective enforcement "based upon an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification."Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448 (1962).
Clearly, enforcement based on political affiliation falls under the kind of arbitrary classification that is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. (Siegelman's Motion for a New Trial can be viewed at the end of this post.)