Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Jeralyn Merritt calls the defense sentencing brief of Jack Abramoff's shysters "great, creative lawyering." It's well-written, for sure (particularly for lawyers representing a purportedly indigent defendant). But if I was the court, defense counsel's happy horseshit would make me want to throw the book at Abramoff with extra velocity.

Here's an excerpt from the brief (warning: .pdf file):

Unfortunately, Mrs. Abramoff's concerns about her children are not without foundation. Dr. Randi Ettner, a clinical psychologist who has been working with the children explains that "as Mr. Abramoff's difficulties escalated, and humiliation came daily with the morning news, [Levi] and the other four children began to suffer, as well. These young people are innocent victims of a steady barrage of ridicule, and they are being traumatized in subtle and obvious ways." (Dr. Ettner Ltr. of 3/13/06.) The toll of seeing their father vilified on a daily basis in the press, and the fear of the fate that awaits their family has depressed the Abramoff children's outlook on life. They are constantly reminded of their fate by the daily public assault on their father's name, including overhearing strangers' insensitivity and callousness when the word "Abramoff" is mentioned.

Whether it be a visit to the grocery store, where Mrs. Abramoff presents her credit card and receives queries as to whether she is related to the "evil lobbyist" by [sic] the same name, whether it be in front of the television for a respite from the onslaught only to hear George Clooney attack their father at the Golden Globe awards, or whether it is having to endure prying questions -- and sometimes outright taunts --of other children at school, the Abramoff family has had to endure pain most children cannot even imagine. (See, e.g., S. Abramoff Ltr.) How could proud parents endure knowing that one of their beloved sons feels such humiliation among his peers that he has sometimes claimed a different family name, just to avoid the awkward conversations that inevitably follow the mention of the word Abramoff? (D. Abramoff Ltr.)

For many of the children, this experience has shaken their confidence and even their faith. On a recent Sabbath dinner, when the Abramoff family was dining alone (which is unusual), the Abramoff children became visibly saddened when Mr. Abramoff expressed thanks to the Almighty for all they have received. As they tell the story, they wanted to know what they have to be thankful for. They explained that their life had been made a living hell, recounted what people were saying to them at school and what they had seen in the press. They reminded their father that he was going to jail. Seeing their parents devote every waking hour to charity and providing for so many; knowing that they themselves always shared their rooms, and often gave up their very beds for strangers in need; that their family was financially broken, that funds to allow them to attend college and start a life of their own were now gone; that one of their grandmothers had recently died and the others death may be quickly approaching; that their father was a crushed, broken man and no longer the dignified and elegant leader of his community -- they asked how could they possibly continue to praise G[o]d and thank Him for their bounty? What bounty?....

They explain that their father patiently listened to their justifiable complaints, and he explained that he understood how they felt and that the pain they are experiencing is not something anyone should be asked to endure, but Mr. Abramoff then reminded his children that they had a nice meal in front of them, a roof over their head and clothes on their backs. He told them they should be thankful they had each other and that they were all healthy. He explained that there are at least a billion people on this planet who would trade places with any one of them in a heart beat, and asked which of them would trade places this very night with kids their own
age, sitting, shivering, hungry, tired and confused -- children their ages who were sitting that night in the New Orleans Superdome, victims of Katrina. All their possessions gone. Their homes washed away. Members of their families missing. Nothing to eat. Nothing to wear. The stench of the Superdome shocking their system. Criminals roaming freely about them [, just like in their own home]. The Abramoff children explain that their father again asked, who would trade their lives for theirs?

The children understood, but after a pause one of them replied: "Yes, Dad, that is true. But it is also true that next year we might not have you here to teach us this lesson." At that point, the children explain that everyone in the family got choked up, everyone in the family began to cry. (Bracketed material added.)

Boo frickin' hoo. Maybe the lessons the little punks need to learn are that fraud has consequences, that their father is the sole reason for their suffering (not the media, or the public, or George Fucking Clooney) and that you can't always buy your way out of trouble no matter how many articulate lawyers you pay to lie for you.

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