A word from Bill Otis

Bill Otis is the former government prosecutor who served as chief of the appellate division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Bill writes regarding today’s New York Times story by Philip Shenon on Rachel Paulose:

It cracked me up when I saw the New York Times story attacking Rachel Paulose for following the agenda of the Attorney General rather than that of “career prosecutors in her Office.”
This attitude by the Times was nowhere in evidence during the Clinton administration, when a long-time career AUSA (namely me) together with virtually every career Assistant United States Attorney in the Office (and the politically appointed United States Attorney, for that matter) had an “agenda” of supporting the admission into evidence of a defendant’s voluntary, although un-Mirandized, statement. In urging that this position be taken in the Supreme Court, we “career prosecutors” had not only a non-ideological outlook in fovor of the jury’s getting to see the whole truth; in addition, we had a statute supporting our view (18 USC 3501) and an opinion by the Fourth Circuit agreeing with us and with the statute.
Notwithstanding all of this, and the “career prosecutors” in particular, the Times never intimated that the Attorney General, then Janet Reno, should go with the careerists rather than the politically more popular (at least with liberals) stance of urging that the statement be suppressed. Indeed, the Reno Justice Department explicitly aligned itself with the defendant, a bank robber named Dickerson, to urge that his voluntary statement remain hidden from the jury. It did this so thoroughly that the Supreme Court on its own motion had to appoint an outside counsel to present the argument that Dickerson’s statement should be admitted into evidence.
Question: Why wasn’t the Dickerson case a New York Times-annointed “test” for Reno to see if she would follow the career prosecutors rather than cave to political (and ideological) considerations? Answer: Because the New York Times preferred Reno’s politics to the careerists’ non-politics.
Stuff like this could give hypocrisy a bad name.

I can’t find a Times editorial on the subject, but Roger Parloff advocated the Court’s reaffirmation of Miranda in a long article for the New York Times Magazine and Linda Greenhouse reported the Court’s opinion upholiding Miranda on the news pages with a salute to Janet Reno:

The decision was a vindication for the Clinton administration, and particularly for Attorney General Janet Reno. In the face of opposition from parts of her law enforcement constituency within the Justice Department, she put the department on the side of an indicted bank robber in arguing that Miranda was a statement of constitutional law and that the 1968 statute, known as Section 3501, was not a valid exercise of Congressional authority.

As if this were not enough, Scott Turow celebrated the Court’s opinion on the editorial pages of the Times.
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