15 Comments

The Institute for Justice does badly needed work.

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If only the government can prosecute a particular kind of case, and has discretion in whether to do so, cases can go un-prosecuted just because the defendant is a government official, or the friend of a government official. Same if the government can take over a private case and subsequently drop it.

What can go wrong if we err in the other direction? If _anybody_ can bring a case, a secret friend of the defendant might do so, conduct part of the prosecution (badly), then drop the case while poisoning the well (or running out the clock) against anyone else taking up the case. (I presume we still have a double jeopardy rule and a statute of limitations.)

So we probably want to limit prosecutions to actual victims, or government acting on their behalf. Or somebody documentably close to them (in case the victims are dead, unconscious, legally unfit, etc.)

Another concern is people using the criminal code to harass and intimidate, rather than because they actually have a strong criminal case that the government has for some reason refused to prosecute. The more people are allowed to bring prosecutions, the more we need substantial penalties for wrongful prosecution.

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Good piece. I highlighted the Cook County part on my blog (EconLog) this weekend. Someone asked a good question, though: why would you expect the splinters of wood to go the other way even if the Black Panthers were shooting? They wouldn't shoot through the wall. They would shoot through the windows.

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These sorts of stories are the clearest evidence that government in America has gone completely rotten. Cops who lift money off innocent motorists are acting as armed criminals and deserve to be treated accordingly.

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Interesting....America cops are thugs, imho, worse than the cartels in Mexico.

A friend of mine was driving down from the states (not something I'd recommend) and was pulled over by the cartel in a border state. He was scared out of his mind.

They had machine guns, etc., and demanded he unlock his phone....they went through all his pictures, his wallet, the car, searched everything, then said, "okay, you're free to go."

I asked him if they took anything. "No," he said. "And I had a bunch of cash in my wallet."

Haha....so, moral of the story, the Mexican cartels are more ethical than American cops. They just wanted to see if the guy was running drugs or guns for a rival cartel and when they were satisfied he was just a guy, they let him go, without loss.

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If you picked that particular case because it pits "The King's Friends" against "James King's Friends", then bravo!

The original incident happened over nine years ago, July 2014. SCOTUS sent the case back in February 2021, and the 6th Circuit took another 19 months to ... um, it's complicated and technical and would require some explanation. But the bottom line is that it wasn't what IJ asked for, and it took another two months for the 6th Circuit to deny a rehearing.

So IJ petitioned SCOTUS for a cert writ in March 2023, Cato and Public Citizen both filed an amicus curiae. The government asked and received three month-long extensions, then filed a response in late July, and IJ responded to that in just two weeks. The petition was supposed to go to conference last Tuesday, but they didn't decide it, so it was redistributed just yesterday! It could be a while before we learn what SCOTUS will do.

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Update: SCOTUS denied King's petition for certiorari on October 30th. Justice Sotomayor wrote a statement that while disappointed wasn't exactly a dissent, and it's fair to say she invited other circuits to create a split. Still, the technical legal issue involving the judgment bar is distant from the merits of the case relating to the details of the incident.

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Brilliant summary and possible solution!

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These days there are "gangs" who commit such crimes at the Deep State's behest -- Antifa and BLM are examples. The KKK did the same when the people running the State hated a different group. So I would allow private prosecution of any crime, so long as the prosecutor suffered a loss or was put in fear as a result of the crime. That should be enough for standing.

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