June 9, 2007

Ban The Heart Punch!: Scooter Libby edition

[The Heart Punch was a purportedly devastating blow in '50s professional wrestling, of such potential deadliness that "controversy" about the need to ban it was a mainstay of commentary on wrestling broadcasts.]

United States District Judge Reggie Walton just delivered a lulu of a Heart Punch. He is the guy who presided at I. Lewis Libby's perjury trial (part of the Valerie Plame/CIA outing affair) and then sentenced old Scooter to 2 1/2 years--plus probation, plus a fat fine.

Between the verdict and the sentencing, Walton was subjected to an orchestrated barrage of letters from various Republican bigshots urging clemency for the little war criminal. Among them was a letter which was signed by 12 big bucks legal experts, including Robert Bork and Alan Dershowitz, asking for "friend of the court" status and claiming that the whole trial was unconstitutional.

Judge Walton, in a footnote near the end of his order granting amicus curiae status to various applicants, wrote:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is an indication of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

Bam! "Doctor! Is there a doctor in the arena!?"

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