Everyone, whatever side of the political aisle you’re on, needs to take a deep breath here.
1. “Collusion,” contrary to what the New York Times would like to think, is a noun, not a crime.
2. “Conspiracy,” an inchoate offense, can be a crime if there’s (a) an agreement between two persons to commit an illegal act and (b) at least two affirmative acts in support of the object of the conspiracy. The agreement is the essential ingredient. Usually, however, in the federal system, conspiracy is charged with the underlying felony. In other words, it’s charged as a pile-on, not a stand-alone defense.
3. All crimes require mens rea, criminal intent.
4. All elements of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
5. A conviction for a crime is only possible if a unanimous jury agrees on a verdict of “guilty.”
The above is good news for the future of our country, which the Left is, all too obviously, trying to subvert to oust the president from power.
They might just want to look in the mirror. All these folks who are high-fiving or “jonesin'” for a legal lynching of President Trump are largely the same crowd who’ve had their faces repeatedly rubbed in the fact that juries hesitate to convict policemen for an officer-involved shooting. And a good thing too.
Absorb the lesson, people — because it’s highly relevant to the media-driven feeding frenzy of the last three news cycles..
The Founders, in their wisdom (as well as every state in the Union), put an accused’s right to a jury trial into the Constitution.
They did that because of their own personal experience with the use of the criminal law for political purposes. For example, after the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed a law to provide for trial of Americans charged with customs law and tax-related offenses — Americans like, say Samuel Adams or John Hamilton — before an admiralty court. In England.
An admiralty court has no jury. And in England, the accused would find no sympathetic audience, no one who knew him.
The Founders were also aware of Henry VIII and subsequent monarchs’ use of Star Chamber and other bodies to convict Englishmen of political (or religious) crimes without access to a jury, to subpoena power to compel the testimony of witnesses and the production of evidence in his favor.
Indeed, a young Boston trial lawyer named John Adams first gained national attention when he convinced a Boston jury to acquit the British soldiers charged with the murder of civilian demonstrators in the Boston Massacre. In effect, the man I like to think of as Abigail’s husband urged the “twelve good men and true” to nullify the King’s law. They did — and the Founders remembered that.
In this country, voters and juries decide, not government officials. Or media. Or pundits.
And that’s by design. The Founders’ design.
Politics has always been a blood sport. More than a few of the things in the Constitution (some more are: most of the Bill of Rights, the prohibition on ex post facto laws and the bar against bills of attainder and corruption of the blood) were expressly put in there specifically to prevent things from getting out of hand. Such as when one faction got control of the executive branch of the government.
One more example, I think, makes the point. Conviction by the Senate on a bill of impeachment presented by the House does NOT constitute a criminal conviction. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is a political offense. No penalty attaches except removal from office.
A criminal prosecution is a separate matter. And that requires the unanimous verdict of a jury.
That’s another reason America is a great country. Everything always comes back to what the Founders called “the People.”
I’ll take that.