When politics and prosecutions intersect, we are all in trouble.

Remember Chase Leavitt? He was a high school student at East High who was videotaped participating in a fight club at a local chapel. Several fights were recorded, several people besides him must have been 18, and Chase Leavitt was the only one ever prosecuted for the activity. From a more recent USA Today Article:

The younger Leavitt, then 18, pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace and trespassing in September 2002 and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, says Sim Gill, the chief prosecutor of Salt Lake City who handled the case.

According to Gill, Chase Leavitt laced up boxing gloves and punched it out with a 17-year-old opponent at the church, which is in an affluent neighborhood. . . .

Secretary Leavitt and Chase Leavitt declined to comment, referring calls to attorney Loren Weiss. He says Chase Leavitt was “prosecuted for who he was, not what he did.”

At least he didn’t have to plead guilty to battery, just disturbing the peace and trespassing. The other 50-80 people walked. Chase Leavitt’s father was Republican Governor Leavitt at the time and Sim Gill is a Democrat.

Now it appears that eight U.S. Attorneys were fired for mainly political reasons, specifically for not allowing politics to affect their judgment. Here is a page that is chronicling much of the ongoing congressional hearings and the allegations. Just to emphasize the problem, the President is able to fire U.S. Attorneys at any time for any reason but it is improper for pressure and the threat of a lost job to affect a prosecutor that has the power to put people in prison. This article talks about the matter and some of the testimony in an abbreviated fashion. From the article:

. . . [New Mexico’s David] Iglesias told senators he felt sickened when [Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.)] hung up on him after being told that indictments in a corruption case against Democrats would not be handed up before the November elections.

”He said, ‘Are these going to be filed before November?’ ” Iglesias recalled.

”I said I didn’t think so. And to which he replied, ‘I’m very sorry to hear that.’ And then the line went dead.”

Asked by Sen. Chuck Schumer whether such a call was unusual in Iglesias’ experience, the former prosecutor answered, ”Unprecedented.”

Domenici said, ”Neither I nor those who overheard my side of the brief conversation recall my mentioning the November election to him.”

There are numerous other allegations that are equally troublesome. It is not clear what allegations, if any, are valid. It is unusual for eight simul-firings blamed on poor performance reviews when the most recent reviews were very positive. Something is not right here.

If elected officials get away with using their power to punish prosecutors for not being politically minded enough, we may see a day when we have political prisoners. Just ask Chase Leavitt.

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