Licensed to Lie Second Edition, Second edition
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About the Author
Former federal prosecutor under nine US attorneys from both political parties over ten years and three districts, Sidney Powell was lead counsel in 350 criminal appeals for the United States and more than 150 since in private practice. It was from her experience in several of her cases that she felt compelled to write LICENSED TO LIE: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice after seeing a core group of federal prosecutors break all the rules, make up crimes, hide evidence, and send innocent people to prison. The book reads like a legal thriller, but it names the prosecutors who then rose to positions of great power and the judges who turned a blind eye to their abuses of unfettered power. Sidneyis highly sought to comment on current legal issues and government investigations—especially the special investigation lead by Robert Mueller and his chief lieutenant Andrew Weissmann, who is a true villain in LICENSED TO LIE.
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I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for answers as to why, after so many endless investigations and congress hearings in the last few years, no one has been indicted or sent to prison and probably will not serve any time or be held accountable for their criminality. The lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum in our (in) justice system and we should all be terrified. - Donna Watson
The prosecution against Senator Ted Stevens was the most sordid chapter in the corrupt “Main Justice” history. Judge Emmet Sullivan may have some warts on him, but he was a titan of righteousness in that case. Ms. Powell gives us an excellent recounting of that travesty. Every American should read it.
In my view the government misconduct in the Skilling case and the Nigerian Barge case does not rise to that level of outrageousness. The Stevens prosecution was contrived by DOJ crooks (or higher) to knock the senator out of his seat, and to tilt the course of a national election. The DOJ conspired to convict an innocent man and alter the political landscape. We are seeing this today in all things Trump. This is as bad as it gets.
Skilling, by contrast, was a greedy crook. Everyone around him was a crook as well. Their covetousness cost many thousands of people their jobs, their livelihoods, and their financial futures. I assume that Weissman et al. were dishonest and corrupt in those prosecutions; that is despicable, but the effect is different, and the harm infinitely less. Excesses aside, they were not trying to frame innocent people. (I need to further research the Jim Brown case.) The DOJ lawyers may have had a Good Faith but wrong belief that Mr. Brown was guilty of something. I personally would not give them the benefit of any doubt, but it may be that I am wrong. I note that Ms. Powell, a superb appellate lawyer, was not able to convince any court of Mr. Brown’s innocence on his perjury and obstruction convictions.
A few things in “Licensed to Lie” jump out at a veteran trial lawyer.
Is Judge Ewing Werlien corrupt, or lazy, or both? Author Powell impugns the judge’s integrity, to put it mildly; he is still on the bench in Texas (July 2019), and Ms. Powell is not likey to go back there any time soon. Judge Werlien appears in the book to be totally biased against Ms. Powell’s client. That is a bad thing, to be sure, but it is likely that the judge was convinced by the trial of Mr. Brown’s guilt. There is no Presumption of Innocence following a jury verdict, and judges are less likely to conceal any bias post-trial in ruling on motions. New trials (Rule 33) are rarely granted. Similarly, the Fifth Circuit panel applied the same standard to Ms. Powell’s Brady argument; Brown’s conviction was fair despite any Brady violations. I am an unabashed admirer of Ms. Powell, and I have never tried a case in the Fifth Circuit, but I do not believe that all of the judges down there are waterboys for Weissman and Ruemmler.
I was amazed at the section wherein Ms. Powell recounts the “Speedy Trial Act” issue. She asserts that dismissal of the Brown prosecution was virtually automatic if the Speedy Trial Act (STA) “clock” was exceeded. At that point I stopped reading to confirm that Ms. Powell had ever actually been a working Assistant U.S. Attorney (and not just an appeals lawyer). No case is ever dismissed because of STA violations; the law is a charade. The purpose of the Act is to deprive defendants of the constitutional right to a speedy trial, by allowing the prosecutors to “legally” delay the case indefinitely by filing motions which “stop” the Speedy Trial “clock.” Ms. Powell must know this.
The other section which, frankly, does not have the ring of truth is her description of Mr. Brown’s incarceration at Fort Dix. All we read about Fort Dix is what Mr. Brown told Ms. Powell. Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Fort Dix is a LOW security facility. There are no cells, no bars, and very moderate security (I’ve been there). The inmates live in “pods” like military squad bays. Inmates appear to walk around the grounds freely during the day. Dix is notorious only for how slack it is; cell phones and the like, although prohibited, are widely available to the inmates. At one point Ft. Dix was the largest institution in the Bureau of Prisons, with over 4,000 inmates. FCI Fort Dix is “low” security because of the nature of the inmates; mostly older guys, mostly “nonviolent” offenders like Brown with relatively short sentences and no prior offenses, and no gangs.
Assuming it is true, I was left pondering why a guy like Jim Brown would be singled out for harassment by the staff in a relatively soft institution. Fort Dix is maybe 50 miles from where I live; I have had clients sent there. I have never heard anything bad about the prison, relative to other federal jails. Indeed, because of its reputation, my clients sometimes request placement at Dix at their sentencing hearing, although drug-dealers and gangbangers are unlikely to get sent there. I was left to wonder if maybe Ms. Powell herself stirred up some resentment or irritation among the staff, based on her rather forceful and dynamic (combative?) personality, which comes through continuously in the book.
In all a great book, best I have read this season (I get through 2-3 books a month).
Rather famously Ms. Powell is representing General Flynn. A mysterious case if ever there was one. I have hopes that that book will be even better.