Don’t blame the Supreme Court for the free pass given to a dirty politician last week on appeal — blame former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara who was too focused on headlines instead of convictions, The Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial.
When an appeals court tossed the conviction of former New York state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, everyone was quick to point to the high court’s 2016 ruling that overturned the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
That would imprudent, writes the WSJ.
The appeals court judges ruled the evidence was there to convict Silver; the problem lay with Bharara’s instruction to the jury.
“Prosecutors will have to follow the law better than former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara did,” the WSJ wrote.
The judges “overturned the (Silver) verdict because the instructions to the jury in the case did not ‘comport with McDonnell and are therefore in error.’ This may sound like a technicality, but accurate jury instructions are fundamental to a fair trial,” the WSJ wrote.
And while Bharara abdicated responsibility because the Silver trial happened before the high court’s McDonnell ruling, he knew the appeal was in progress and that the high court had issued a similar ruling to McDonnell in 2010.
“Our guess is that Mr. Bharara was only too happy to overlook a faulty jury instruction if he could get a high-profile conviction,” the WSJ wrote. “This is often the habit of prosecutors who want to make a political name for themselves and are celebrated in the press.
“See James Comey and Rudy Giuliani.”
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