On ABC's This Week yesterday, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- who resigned in 2008 when caught dead to rights illegally purchasing the services of prostitutes but was never prosecuted because, as announced two days after Election Day in 2008, the Department of Justice decided that "the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges" -- called the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial "a failure of justice."
Of course, Politico's Juana Summers provided none of the background yours truly just did while only referring to Spitzer as "the former Democratic governor of New York who's now a candidate for New York City comptroller." Another statement Spitzer made on the same program deserves further scrutiny, which will arrive after the jump:
"It is still the best system in the world, bar none," Spitzer added of the judicial system. "The jury system is what we have to rely upon, but in this case it failed."
In his time as New York State's Attorney General, Spitzer betrayed an obvious mistrust of the judicial system, and did everything in his power to ensure that his "cases" wouldn't get to court, and especially that they would not be presented to juries.
What follows are excerpts from several Wall Street Journal editorials which perfectly describe how Spitzer, a legal tyrant and world-class sore loser, engaged in harassment and intimidation to force businesses he targeted to settle rather than go to trial (links are to posts at my home blog; bolds are mine):
Sept. 23, 2005 (Spitzer piles on with new threats when a company refuses to buckle along with everyone else) --
J. & W. Seligman & Co., an asset-management firm, recently asked a federal court to enjoin Mr. Spitzer from further investigating its mutual fund fees, an area of regulation historically reserved to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. But just as interesting is how Mr. Spitzer came to look at Seligman’s fees in the first place. According to the complaint, the Attorney General was using the fee issue to coerce Seligman into caving into his demands in a separate probe.
... Never mind that fees have absolutely nothing to do with market timing (the separate probe -- Ed.), or that by dictating private-sector prices Mr. Spitzer was behaving like some economic commissar.
... Unquestioned by a media that live off his news leaks, and unchallenged by businesses afraid of retribution, Mr. Spitzer has expanded his power to usurp the legitimate roles of elected officials and federal regulators. Kudos to Seligman for blowing the whistle.
Dec. 22, 2005 (Spitzer goes back 37 years to try to smear former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg) --
Mr. Spitzer alerted the media to his recent 26-page report advising a New York foundation to investigate whether (former AIG CEO Hank) Greenberg had defrauded that charity as part of an estate settlement that began merely 37 years ago. And by the way, these new accusations have nothing at all do with the original accounting allegations that Mr. Spitzer used to run Mr. Greenberg out of his CEO chair in March.
In a separate Dec. 22, 2005 op-ed, former Goldman Sachs Chairman John C. Whitehead, who was 85 years old at the time, recounted how Spitzer threatened him after he wrote a prior op-ed asserting that Greenberg should have his day in court like any other citizen:
I feel I must now set the record straight. After reading my op-ed piece, Mr. Spitzer tried to phone me. I was traveling in Texas but he reached me early in the afternoon. After asking me one or two questions about where I got my facts, he came right to the point. I was so shocked that I wrote it all down right away so I would be sure to remember it exactly as he said it. This is what he said:
“Mr. Whitehead, it’s now a war between us and you’ve fired the first shot. I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done. You will wish you had never written that letter.”
I tried to interrupt to say he was doing to me exactly what he’d been doing to others, but he wouldn’t be interrupted. He went on in the same vein for several more sentences and then abruptly hung up. I was astounded. No one had ever talked to me like that before. It was a little scary.
Imagine how someone who was still the chairman of an investment firm would have felt.
After the 37 year-old charges were debunked, the Journal in March 2007 disclosed that "Sources who were part of the discussions at the time now say that Mr. Spitzer made clear that, unless Mr. Greenberg admitted guilt in the AIG case and personally wrote a check for north of $500 million, the AG would go public with the Starr allegations."
Spitzer's intimidation tactics usually ensured that his "cases" never went to trial.
There was a noteworthy exception (second item at link) in July 2005:
Theodore Sihpol, a former Bank of America Corp. broker, was acquitted on Thursday of 29 of 33 criminal charges that he helped a hedge fund trade mutual funds illegally.
The jury said it could not reach a verdict on the remaining four counts against Sihpol, leading Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James Yates to declare a mistrial on those charges.
The trial marked the first time that New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office has taken a case before a jury in his efforts to reform practices in the $8 trillion U.S. mutual fund industry.
The report which originally appeared at CNNMoney.com via Reuters failed to mention that the jury voted 11-1 to acquit on the other four counts.
It's clear that the person covering the trial result thought it was great that an attorney general was trying to do the job ("reform practices in the $8 trillion U.S. mutual fund industry") lawmakers were supposed to be doing, assuming that "reform" was even necessary.
In practice, it's overwhelmingly obvious that Spitzer, who yesterday said that the U.S. judicial system, "is the best in the world," did everything he could as Empire State Attorney General to avoid exposing his "cases" to it. If he thinks it's so great, why not?
Or is Spitzer really saying that he would also act like the legal tyrant and sore loser he was while AG everywhere else in the world? Alternatively, is the system now really great because it let him off the hook to reenter politics?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.