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Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Judy Cycle: Will the Caged Bird Sing?

Boy Arianna is fast. I saw today's Reuters article shortly before I left to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote with David Ehrenstein. (Hoffman was marvelous, BTW, but then so was David E.) By the time I got home, Arianna was already on it.

It tantalizingly hints at the fact that Judy might be trying to cut a deal with Patrick J. Fitzgerald to talk. You mean the woman who once so famously and melodramatically canted: "I won't testify. The risks are too great. The government is too powerful?" Yes, that same one. Perhaps she has been looking at BushCo.'s handiwork in the wake of Katrina and figuring that they are not so powerful after all.

And I'm serious about that. Anyone who was counting on these clowns to come through on anything, especially when it comes to keeping a lid on a volatile situation such that Fitzgerald would never have a case against her if she only maintained her silence, might realistically be looking at hundreds of thousands left to rot in New Orleans and think "shit, I really better rethink this."

Funny enough, I happened to be reading Fitzgerald's memorandum in opposition to Judy's request for home confinement with a tasteful yet fetching ankle bracelet this weekend, and if you want a good laugh, I highly recommend it. It's 21 pages of pure acid wit with a little law thrown in for good measure.

Her lawyer, Floyd Abrams is a full-on, four-flushing idiot. Seriously, this is not the guy you want between you and the hangman's noose. In one motion he writes that the the courts view Judy's refusal to testify as being carried out in the "highest traditions of the press." Fitzgerald has a few choice words for that one:
First, Special Counsel takes exception to the misleading assertion in Miller's Motion that this Court has determined that deliberately defying the Court's authority after all appellate review has been exhausted is conduct taken in "good faith doing her duty as a responsible established effort not made except in the highest tradition of the press."...Far from it. While this Court most certainly recognizes that Miller ...was acting responsibly and in good faith by appealing the Court's order of October 2004, the Court has made no statement at any time condoning any putative effort by Miller to violate the Court's order after that order was affirmed unanimously by the Court of Appeals, and after Miller's petitions for rehearsing and certiorari had been denied. Indeed, such conduct is a crime.

(emphasis not mine)
Fitzgerald goes on to request that the Court advise Jailhouse Judy that if she continues to defy the order, she will not be the Maria Falconetti of her mind's eye so much as the tragically delusional Gloria Swanson of Sunset Boulevard (sorry, the residual effects of an evening spent sitting next to David E. in a screening room):
For this reason, it is respectfully submitted the Court should advise Miller that if she persists in defying the Court's Order that she will be committing a crime....It is particularly important in this case where Miller and the New York Times appear to have confused Miller's ability to commit contempt with a legal right to do so.
Anyone get the sense Fitzgerald feels he's talking to a child? He quotes Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune:
Journalists like nothing better than exposing self-seeking behavior by special interests who care nothing for the public good. In this case, they can find it by looking in the mirror.
Both the NYT and that useless carcass Bob Dole have been banging on about the need for a national shield law in the wake of Judy's tragic incarceration. But Fitzgerald in his argument quotes constitutional scholar and ACLU Board Member Professor Geoffrey Stone who advocates for a federal reporter's shield law but says no such law would extend to cover Miller's circumstances:
In the Plame case, we have a relatively unusual circumstance where the source is essentially using the press in an effort to commit a federal version of a reporter-source privilege in my view or my judgment would cover the particulars of this situation.
Fitzgerald accuses Judy of engaging in "irresponsible martyrdom," and contemptuous laughter almost leaps off the page when he addresses her "health issues:"
Suffice it to say, however, that her health circumstances obtained when Miller was dispatched to Iraq during the conduct of a war. Certainly one who can handle the desert in wartime is far better equipped than the average person jailed in a federal facility.
After reading Judy's request and Fitzgerald's brutal laceration of it, all I could think of was -- who wrote this mess, and who in their right mind would trust such a truly meager intellect to defend their liberty? Arianna's sources indicate that the NYT finally availed itself of some legal advice "different from what Floyd Abrams has been peddling. Something a lot more realistic."

Good lord. It took them how long to figure that out?