Dear Mr. Morrison:
We've never met, but I know you by name and reputation. I would like to offer advice on how you preserve the latter.
Most lawyers I know think politics doesn't play in law enforcement. Sure, they know your office issued a subpoena without Attorney General Eric Holder's authorization trying to force disclosure of all visitors to a left-wing media website. Sure, they know you were appointed by Michael Mukasey, the Republican Attorney General under Republican George Bush. And, sure, they know whoever takes over for you will be appointed by Barak Obama (if the Republicans in the Senate will start confirming people in Indiana).
But we generally haven't countenanced politics influencing the handling of a specific case, with Gore v. Bush being a pretty huge exception
Unfortunately, this perception took a hit when Alberto Gonzales (a/k/a "Karl Rove's lackey") started firing career professionals like yourself for not aggressively prosecuting Democratic office holders.
As you probably know, the general public is more cynical than lawyers. (I know. How could this be possible?!?)
Accordingly, when things happen in a case that aren't explained well, a lot of people start to speculate wildly. I'm of the opinion (in large part because of Gonzalez) that you don't have to be an X-Files fanboy and wear tinfoil on your head to accept that there are people with formidable spheres of influence who might subtly sway how a case moves forward behind the scenes.
Mr. Morrison, you can assuage the conspiratorial angst just by filling in some knowledge gaps.
Here's all the public knows. On November 24, 2009, you filed a complaint seizing Tim Durham's assets. Six days later, you filed a motion dismissing the forfeiture complaint. Your office's explanation was that Durham's assets would not "dissipate."
You should clarify what you mean and explain generically what you learned in those critical six days. "Dissipate" in the traditional legal sense is synonymous with "to waste."
Durham may be so leveraged on his home and cars that he cannot sell anything because he couldn't convey clear title without retiring the liens/mortgages/loans first. But how can he not waste (or otherwise hide) money in bank accounts? Also, while this is not my field, aren't security interests created all the time with general descriptions, such as "accounts receivable, inventories," etc.? What would stop Durham from selling some art, jewelry, or other home furnishings on the sneaky sneak then making the money "disappear" into the friends' bank accounts or safe deposit boxes in Liechtenstein?
I ask because today it was a buyer's bonanza for Fair Financial co-owner, Jim Cochran. I am not making this up. He is having an everything must go sale at his home at 298 Mooring Line Drive, Naples, Florida, and the sale is going splendidly! Cochran's Bentley sold for $135,000 in the first five minutes, and a couch went for $2,500. Check out some of this nice stuff:
In short, Mr. Morrison, if Durham ends up paying people pennies on the dollar, you'll be questioned for not doing more, in particular, when Congressman Jon Boccieri (D-OH 16th) has again asked you to help freeze all of Fair Finance, Cochran, and Durham assets.
Why aren't you listening? Why aren't you speaking? Why aren't you indicting?
Yes, we know there are restrictions about how specific you can get regarding an ongoing investigation, but when you say absolutely nothing, you leave a vacuum that makes people fill in gaps with conjecture of nefariousness.
How about this idea for a "The Firm"-type novel? A midwestern Governor (who we'll call Ditch Maniels) with massive financial ties to a Ponzi-scheme operator, sees his bid to be President hanging in the balance. He confides his worries to his sister, who we'll call Deborah Maniels, a former U.S. attorney before she went to the Department of Justice in D.C. Using her old contacts, Deborah gets the investigation stalled. Somewhere along the way, somebody gets shoved down an elevator shaft or dies in a freak escalator accident.
Do I think seriously think something like that happened? Not a chance. I'm being facetious. But I have the luxury of being a lawyer. I promise you there are people wondering who called in what favors to create a 180 in six days. Help put their fears to rest, Mr. Morrison.
(Send me your best conspiracy theories involving a local politico, and I'll print the winner's entry and give him or her a free annual membership to iPOPA).
Have a great weekend, friends!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Dear Mr. Morrison: