The Manhattan Judicial Railroad

The Trump cases are just the latest example of Democratic prosecutors trying to make their careers by railroading defendants, the facts of law be damned.

I am watching the Donald Trump “hush money” trial with some interest. The fact non-disclosure agreements (sometimes known as “golden handcuffs”) are entered into daily all over this country is a fact to be ignored, especially with celebrities.

The hush money trail reminds me of a column I wrote for The American Thinker in 2015 concerning the death of Freddie Gray while he was in custody of the Baltimore Police. Some things about liberal Democrat local prosecutors never change.

The Baltimore Judicial Railroad

The usual suspects are outraged Officer William Porter was not convicted of a felony in the transport and eventual death of Freddie Gray.  From the Baltimore Sun editorial of December 17, “…after jurors failed to come to an unanimous decision on any of the four charges on Mr. Porter no doubt will serve as a disappointment to those wished for the verdict in this case to send a clear and unambiguous message.”

In contrast, the statue of Lady Justice shows her with a blindfold and balance.  She’s not there to “send a message” but to determine if the accused is guilty of a criminal act.  And one of the basic tenets of Western jurisprudence is the burden of proof falls upon the prosecution.  The obvious desire for railroading the officer by the editors of the Sun (And let’s be honest, the City Attorney and Mayor, the Department of Justice, and the usual race baiting poverty pimps like Jesse and Al) reminded me of something from my first district court case.

I booked a suspect for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and five months later I was subpoenaed.  After the jury was selected, the judge spoke to them for a few minutes.  After thanking them for doing their civic duty (Truthfully, a lot of people do dodge it), he explained masterfully to the jury of laypersons (and a rookie cop) how justice works. (From an almost 15 year old memory and the names have been changed to protect the guilty!) ☺

“Ladies and gentlemen, the defendant, Mr. Smith, sits behind the table, he sits there innocent and only you can make him guilty in the eyes of the law.  Mr. Smith has the absolute presumption of innocence.  He is under no obligation to speak and none of us here, including myself, can force him to answer a question.  Mr. Smith is under no obligation to present a defense, although he has hired one.  And I am instructing you that you cannot make any inference of his guilt or innocence because of his not speaking or presenting a defense.  Those are his rights.

The burden of proof in this matter falls completely on the shoulders of the prosecution, Mr. Jones.  He must prove every element of his case to you, individually and in full.  Mr. Jones must prove all elements of his case, in your mind, beyond a reasonable doubt (emphasis his).  If he fails in doing that, or the defense successfully raises a reasonable doubt in just one element of the prosecution’s case, you must acquit the defendant.  Mr. Jones doesn’t have to prove beyond all doubt; that is an impossibility.  And the prosecution is further at a disadvantage because he must present all of his evidence to the defense prior to trial so they can prepare for it.  Mr. Jones cannot give the defense any surprises.  However the defense is under no obligation to present any evidence to the prosecution until the trial…”

A later part of the column notes Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the six officers with multiple felonies when they were guilty of, at most, department policy violations. She denied the officers had probable cause to search Mr. Gray and the illegal knife was not “illegal” because it was found after the suspect was searched pursuant to an arrest.

Countless cops took great pleasure (I definitely did) at seeing Ms. Mosley get humiliated by the judicial system. An open secret was she wanted to get a conviction on the “strongest” case (i.e., the least ridicules) she had, then have that officer turn state’s evidence against the others. The fact she would want the man to lie about the officers and the incident was not an issue to Ms. Mosby. Didn’t work out well for her. The first one was a hung jury, the next two acquittal, and the last three she had to dismiss the charges.

Fast forward to 2023, presumed Republican nominee and former president Donald Trump is indicted for 34 counts of fraud concerning his entering into a nondisclosure agreement with porn star Stephanie Clifford (professionally known as Stormy Daniels). The matter concerned an alleged affair between Trump and Clifford in 2006. Cohen paid the fee of $130,000, and Trump reimbursed him $260,000 for, what was classified on his records, “compensation for ongoing legal services, not reimbursement for a past debt”

If the DA wanted to prove the New York state crime of falsifying business records, the case would be fairly clear. Legitimately the payment was not for campaign expenses, but if there is a federal campaign contribution issue here, this is out of the realm of a state attorney general or local prosecutor. If there was evidence of violation of federal law, Mr. Bragg needs to pass this to the US attorney’s office for investigation. But that is not what’s being prosecuted, at least not what’s being claimed.

Under New York law, there must be some type of concrete harm established for fraud to be committed. No one can show how anyone was damaged in this indictment (See a pattern here?). If then candidate Trump did have fraudulent intent with the NDA, conceivable Mr. Bragg could prosecute the former president for falsification-of-business records, but he didn’t. That crime is a misdemeanor, with a statute of limitations of two years. Assume the “crime” was committed in late 2019, it would become legally moot.

If the judge has any integrity (pardon me while I snicker) he will throw the case out immediately. A crime was not committed. And assume you get a conviction (we are talking a group of jurors from a very hostile jury pool), this will be tossed out.

But Mr. Bragg, like Ms. Mosely before him, will not let minor details like the law get in the way of political and personal objectives. With the Baltimore officers, I have no question in my mind she was aiming for a federal judgeship or other high judicial office. I think Mr. Bragg is doing the same.

When will this abuse of justice stop? When Democrats are hurt in it by themselves. Mike Nifong attempted to make his career with an illegitimate prosecution of a group of white college students accused of raping a black stripper.  After his case fell apart, Nifong was removed from the case and the North Carolina Attorney General took over.  The three students were completely exonerated and Nifong eventually lost his law license and was jailed. Only penalties like that will stop Democrats from abusing the law.

Michael A. Thiac is a retired Army intelligence officer, with over 23 years experience, including serving in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. He is also a retired police patrol sergeant, with over 22 years’ service, and over ten year’s experience in field training of newly assigned officers. He has been published at The American Thinker,, and on his personal blog, A Cop’s Watch.

Opinions expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers.

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