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.