Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let's calm down on the Thompson case

The Georgia Thompson case has become part of the high-minded political feeding frenzy around the US attorneys issue. It is certainly true that the 7th Circuit panel was unimpressed with the government's case and it is certainly rare for the court to act as rapidly as it did.

But before we conclude that the case was so frivolous that it must have been the result of political pressure, we should remember two things. First, although I incorrectly predicted that she would be acquitted, a jury convicted her. They were convinced that she was being pressured by her bosses and that she let it affect her work on the Adelman contract.

It is tough to say with precision what the panel's rationale for reversal was because they have not yet issued an opinion. What I heard during the oral argument was a strong suggestion that , in the panel's view, those facts don't make out a crime because the selection of Adelman was not contrary to the applicable criteria. In other words, whomever she was trying to please and whatever she did, the state was not harmed. She may well have been pressured to select Adelman and she may have tried to steer the contract to Adelman as a result, but it doesn't matter because Adelman was, essentially, tied with Omega under the proper selection criteria.

Shouldn't Biskupic have known, then, that he was pursuing an overly aggressive reading of applicable law?

Maybe, but remember that the trial judge let the case go to the jury. Although the judge, Rudy Randa, is a Republican appointee, he is a well-respected judge who obviously saw it differently than the panel.

What we had here was people within the procurement process saying that a civil servant said that "her bosses" wanted the contract to go to a firm whose principals were campaign donors and that they thought she steered the process in that firm's direction. It doesn't shock me that the US Attorney was interested in that.


Anonymous said...

This smells like political prosecution, not criminal.

Doesn't it scare you just a bit that Thompson was put in prison? Isn't this the U.S.A.?

I think the band wagon effect had alot to do with it, but that is no excuse for a prosecutor to go with his gut. This gut thing seems to have legs. Wasn't Ziegler also a Federal prosecutor?

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify: some of the people in the procurement process vaguely remembered hearing Thompson use the word "political," although none of them agreed on precisely what she meant. At no time, ever, did anyone hear Thompson refer to her "bosses." That is absolutely incorrect.

Want to know how bad this case was? Biskupic was reduced to relying on U.S. v. Rosenberg (yes, THAT Rosenberg case) as precedent. Check out her attorney's protest during the pre-trail motions:

Dad29 said...

Anony1, THREE Democrats (Lautenschlaeger, Bach, and Blanchard) joined Biskupic in going forward after extensive reviews.

Are you willfully ignoring that, or don't you read the newspapers?

Anonymous said...

Before being Dems, the three are mainly Doyle haters. And, Blanchard hates the Dems as much as the Repubs, he hates politics. Peg (and Bach), meanwhile, is not only Doyle haters but are struggling to be relevant to something. Their comments are meaningless.

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon-2, your clarification is inaccurate. When I blogged on the trial, I summarized the testimony as follows:
We have testimony that she repeatedly said it had to be Adelman, e.g., testimony that Thompson said that the choice of Omega "wouldn't fly," that "politically it wasn't what needed to happen," and that it "can't be done," statements by her that the contract "needed to go to Adelman," and testimony that she expressed concern about "how I'm going to tell my bosses it's not Adelman."

I'm not going to go back and find the links, but I am generally very careful about stuff like that. You may disbelieve this testimony or maintain that it was scuffed up in cross, but there was obviously enough to convince the judge to allow the case to go to the jury and the jury to convict.

I still guessed that she'd be acquitted.

As for the reference to Rosenberg, they cited it in response to the defense's argument that the federal statute under which she was prosecuted was unconstitutional under the constitution's "treason" clause. I don't know that had anything to do with the 7th circuit's decision. I certainly didn't hear it in the oral argument.

As for guilt by association with Rosenberg, Hurley makes reference to criticism of the government's conduct in that case. He does not refer to the modern consensus that they were guilty.

Anonymous said...

Dad 29 - Yes I read the newspaper and quite honestly I don't give a rat's a... if they're democrat or republican or independant. I've been around long enough to recognize when people are covering their own butts and that is what they where doing.

Injustice is always wrong especially if it is political prosecution. You're old enough to remember the Soviet Union; is that what you want here?

Anonymous said...


What all fail to recognize but the appeals judges picked up on right away is that fact that Adelman was a "domestic vendor". They asked Biskupic's minion repeatedly why wouldn't Thompson encourage the selection of Adelman over a VA contractor? They were citing some case (Bloom I believe) in which the Supreme Court held that in state procurement cases it is entirely appropriate to consider awarding state contracts to domestic vendors.
Also, not reported by all media outlets is the ties that Omega's owners have to Republican causes. Search campaign contribution databases for Daniel and Gloria Bohan and you'll see what I mean. Why did they wait six months to start complaining about the lost contract? Indeed.

Anonymous said...


Did you encourage the Republican party to "calm down" with its screaming hysteria over alleged systemic voter fraud - that even Biskupic found didn't exist? Are you encouraging them to "calm down" now as they call for some of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation to combat this non-existent systemic fraud? (MAYBE a few dozen ineligible felons voted in 2006 . . . while studies show that voter ID disenfranchises about 3% of all voters, and two or three times that of minority voters - a heck of a lot more than 82 people). Where's your call for calm there?

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カイロプラクティック 東京