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Get A Grip

For anyone who is interested this is what happened in the Assange case, as near as I have been able to determine. [Note: I’m dealing with the procedure, not the events of the crimes.]

This started as two separate and distinct crimes being reported to two separate sets of police officers, and handled by two separate prosecutors. The prosecutors came to different conclusions of what to charge for the very simple reason that they were dealing with different facts.

As two separate cases one case is easier to prove than the other, but treated separately a lot of things would become “she said – he said” in a prosecutor’s mind. If a prosecutor thinks s/he has a solid case, they will often use the maximum possible charge in expectation of a reduction as part of any plea bargain. In any case, you charge what the evidence says you can prove in court.

Sweden apparently has regional or national oversight of prosecutions, and that’s where things changed. The senior prosecutor discovered something the local prosecutors didn’t know, that there were two cases with a single suspect. This makes a big difference in what you can prove, because it lends more credibility to victims and establishes a pattern of conduct for the suspect. That’s why the charges changed – what could be proved changed.

The current extradition proceedings are over another matter. Assange failed to appear at a hearing on the charges. The judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest, and that is why he is being extradited. He can go to jail on that charge alone, even if the Swedish government decides not to prosecute on the other crimes. He is charged as a fugitive from justice, flight to avoid prosecution, or something similar in the arrest warrant, not for sex crimes.

Assange’s British lawyer is spreading a lot of smoke on the sex crime charges, but he isn’t involved in that case, and Assange’s Swedish lawyer has all the information that is available. The British lawyer’s concern is the reality that Assange missed a hearing. He can’t disprove the charge, so he’s making a lot of noise in the media.

As the old lawyers say: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.” There is a lot of table abuse in Britain.

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December 19, 2010   6 Comments