Our legal system confuses me utterly. It confuses me for any number of reasons, but the thing that confuses me the most is how stinking slow it moves.
Consider the Scooter Libby trial. Let’s leave aside the fact of how long the trial itself took, which was insane enough. (I mean, why does it take several days to select a jury? Am I the only guy who finds that absurd?) Libby was indicted on October 28, 2005. His trial started January 16, 2007. What the heck was everyone doing in the intervening time? Filming a movie? Writing a novel? Taking trips to Zanzibar? (On foot?) In the high-tech world, that’s nearly two software development cycles, and about one hardware development generation. That’s insane.
Libby was found guilty on March 6, and sentenced on June 5. What the heck was Judge Walton–who I actually have a lot of respect for–doing during those three months? In that time, I delivered the documentation for two major products, my kids finished 2nd and 5th grades (respectively), I had a new roof put on my house and a new ceiling put in in my living room, I re-read Shogun and all six of the Harry Potter books, and I watched (among other things) the entire first season of Avatar: the Last Airbender, the first four episodes of Heroes, and several movies on DVD. And it took all that time for Judge Walton to come up with “30 months?” (And these guys already have sentencing guidelines to abide by!) No wonder our courts are so backlogged.
When Judge Walton finally got a grip and the words “30 months” came out of his mouth after that three month wait, Libby’s lawyer said, “Yo, can he stay out of jail pending appeal?” Had the judge spent part of that three months thinking, “Hm, what will I do if they ask me to let this guy walk free pending an appeal once I pronounce sentence?” Nosirree! He said, “You know, I need to think about that one for a week.” And so he delayed judgment on that decision for another week, until today, at which point he said, “No, off to The Big House with you, Mr. Convicted Felon.”
So does that mean he’s off to jail today? No! According to the news stories, Libby “will be required to report to a federal penitentiary sometime within the next few weeks.” A convicted felon, whose crimes, one might reasonably presume, helped cover up even worse crimes higher up in the White House, and he gets a few weeks before he has to go to jail.
Somehow, I don’t think that if he was Mr. Random Bonehead, he would get those “few weeks.” Somehow, I think that Mr. Random Bonehead would already be dressed in an orange coverall and be riding a bus with bars over the window, heading off to the nearest Minimum Security Prison. Hey, call me crazy.
So to sum up, Libby was charged on October 28, 2005, and was finally told to go to jail on June 14, 2007, but he still hasn’t had to yet.
Like I say, our legal system baffles me. If those guys had been in the high-tech business, they would have been laid off a long time ago.