One of the joys of this blog is that I frequently receive views that are beautifully expressed and very thoughtful. One of the readers of this blog, with a very interesting background herself, sent me the following, and graciously allowed me to post it. I particularly urge you to read the article linked at the end of this guest post for a fascinating twist.
Dear Judge Kopf,
I should thank you for giving me an interesting topic to occupy my insomniacal hours. I read with great interest Judge Kozinski’s dissent from denial of rehearing en banc. He is, as you say, a most interesting man, and the salacious facts of the case at hand are TV-movie-worthy. And, to be sure, the question of prosecutorial misconduct is one that has been ever-present in my thoughts for the years I have spent as a county and federal public defender.
[Your question about whether Judge K is right bears plenty of thoughtful (and limey disparate) responses; indeed, in my home state of SC, we have a mini maelstrom of controversy brewing because one of our Supreme Court justices recently excoriated prosecutors for what he called their widespread misconduct…in a speech before the state prosecutor’s convention. Now, the prosecutors, who are accustomed to being able to shout “off with their heads” in the press regularly about the supposed thugs and reprobates they are charged with protecting the rest of us from, have gone positively hats mad in response, and are seeking to have the justice (of a five-person court of last resort) recused from all criminal cases. That will happen on a cold day in hell, I figure, but South Carolina’s legislatively elected court could certainly be altered in the future depending on the political power the prosecutors might bring to bear. The whole affair reflects well on no one, so far as I can tell. But that’s not why I’m writing. I have no idea whether Judge K is right. In my experience, prosecutorial misconduct is far more often of the nonfeasance than malfeasance variety, and it is often only long after the fact, if ever, that such sins of omission are discovered. I suppose I will need to hang around for another few years to see if my hunches about a very small number of cops and prosecutors are borne out.]
Before I could think through the wisdom of a lifelong pinko liberal googling anything including the term “ricin” after 2AM on a Friday night, I was knee-deep in searches for more of the backstory here. This was unwise not only on the snooping government overlord front (terrain I blithely traipse across with a frequency that my husband finds distressing—curiosity kills), but also on the very poor cure for insomnia front.
The most fascinating of the things I came across was a literary essay published in 2009 in a web-only magazine. The author is the daughter of the nursery owner who sold the few bucks worth of castor beans to the defendant in Judge K’s order. She attended the entire trial, and her observations and elliptical commentary (it is clear by now that I favor elliptical commentary, I suppose) on the trial and on the timing of the case (discovered before 9/11, but prosecuted after passage of the PATRIOT act) and on the strategic decisions made by the defense and on the intersections of the case with her family are fascinating. Her piece is here.
RGK PS For background on Ms. Blazer, see here.