Monday, October 27, 2008

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Actually, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.

That's the jury verdict on Senator Ted Stevens. The jury found Stevens guilty on all seven counts of failing to report gifts.

Now, I firmly believe that you can't make a fair judgment about a criminal case that you've followed only through news accounts. On the one hand, Stevens's defense, that he asked to be billed for all the work done on his house, and that it wasn't his fault if his builder included some freebies without telling him, was not wholly implausible. On the other hand, Stevens' claims about some of the gifts were a little hard to believe, such as, for example, the claim that a massage chair placed in his house wasn't his property and he'd never used it, even though it had been there for seven years and he sent an e-mail saying, "It is great: I can't tell you have [sic] much I enjoyed it."

This is why we have juries. The jury saw all the evidence, not just the part they happened to read on any given day in a newspaper story. The jury weighed it all up and decided that they were convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Senator Stevens had failed to report gifts as required.

Well, there's no law against the people of Alaska re-electing him anyway, and who knows, maybe they'll be drawn to him as a contrarian reaction against the verdict delivered by the jury in Washington, DC. But it looks like Alaska might have a new Senator soon.

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