When the end came for Steve Biskupic’s outrageous political prosecution of Georgia Thompson, he was nowhere to be found. He was elsewhere when three judges for the 7th Circuit ripped his hapless underling a new one, chasing him around the courtroom until he nearly ran out, screaming. Although Biskupic proudly persecuted this dedicated (not "life-long" -- thanks to comment below) civil servant and demanded that she go to prison before her appeal was final, he knew how bad his case and his conviction was. When the time came to fight for what he supposedly believed in, Steve Biskupic wimped out and stayed home.
The end came quickly, but not painlessly. From the comfort of his office, Biskupic sent out a three-sentence press release that announced the decision and Thompson's release and then said: "We commend the work of Thompson’s lawyers."
The 7th Circuit panel released her before the lawyers even left the building – their extremely rare order practically slapping the assistant U.S. attorney on the back on his way out – and this is the best Biskupic can do? No apology for the destruction of Thompson’s life and career, much less the four months she spent in a federal prison? No humility for the abuse of his extraordinary power to prosecute?
It should have been Biskupic there, not his assistant, getting his well-deserved comeuppance from the panel of judges. As an attorney who has been in similar situations, I often wince empathetically at the grilling an experienced panel can give a lawyer with a losing case. But Biskupic or any lawyer in his office who dared to show up to defend this sham of a prosecution deserved everything they got – and worse. All the judges did was ask the government questions they should have been asking themselves before they even thought about prosecuting poor Georgia Thompson.
Did she have any personal gain from the transaction? No. Did she even know Adelman had given money to Doyle? No. Under the government’s theory, if she had pushed for the selection of Adelman just because she liked the hair style of the person who made the presentation, is that criminal, too? Er, no, says the U.S. lawyer. Why is trying to please her boss any different? Um, because it is, I guess. Check out the audio here and skip to the last 15 minutes. Legal spankings are seldom this emphatic.
According to some of the e-mails in the fired U.S. attorney scandal currently boiling in Washington, Biskupic was on the hot seat last year for not being "tough" enough on the GOP’s bogus "voter fraud" agenda. No doubt he saved his job by going after this lowly state employee, giving valuable ammunition to the GOP and its wing-nut surrogates to paint Doyle as somehow ethically challenged in an election year. At this point, he and his handlers probably don’t even care that the conviction was tossed – the case had already served it intended purpose.
The Georgia Thompson case will forever point up the key fact driving Gonzo-Gate – U.S. Attorneys have extraordinary power to investigate, arrest, charge, prosecute and convict. Their appointments are, by nature, political. But the exercise of their duties should not be. Biskupic has prosecuted a lot of Democrats and not one Republican. He has always been a willing bagman for Karl Rove and the state and national GOP. If anyone in the current U.S. attorney corps needs to be relieved of his duties, it is Steve Biskupic.