Radio interviews are becoming an increasingly effective part of our outreach at the Justice Integrity Project.
The platform’s intimacy and interactive qualities make it a powerful tool to bring even complex issues before audiences of widely varying political views. A sample below illustrates the pattern with recent interviews about legal abuses, including the investigative revelations in my new book, Presidential Puppetry.
Newspapers used to fulfill much of that watchdog role but are rapidly losing influence. Conventional wisdom attributes much of their decline to the Internet’s erosion of newspaper ad revenues. An oft-overlooked important factor is that many monopoly newspapers have become complacent parts of the power structure. I began my career in newspapers in 1970 at the Hartford Courant, and have since observed the process closely, including via a 1987 book, Spiked, using the Courant as a case study of changes in newspapers.
I am saddened to report here the death of former Courant editor Irving Kravsow, my first boss and a strong force for the good in maintaining a vigilant, reader-focused, independent news organization in the state of Connecticut. He was the most memorable part of a management culture that encouraged every reporter to be an investigator on behalf of the public, including those suspects passing through the court system.
With a lower cost-structure, radio can fill some of the gap causes by downsized newspapers. In the Deep South, several major newspapers including the New Orleans Times-Picayune have cut staff and experimented with reduced print publication and distribution.
On Oct. 10, New Orleans CBS-affiliate WWL AM/FM interviewed me regarding the Supreme Court case Kaley v. United States scheduled for hearing Oct. 16.
The case represents an opportunity for the high court to redress the unfairness that can occur when federal prosecutors seize before trial the assets of those accused of crime. Stripped of funds, suspects cannot hire capable defense attorneys of their choice.
Longtime WWL commentator Garland Robinette explored with me the obvious unfairness involved in the asset seizure, which appears to violate constitutional protections.
As background, defendants Kerri Kaley and her husband Brian resold large quantities of obsolete medical supplies that Kerri obtained via her work as a medical supplies sales worker for a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
A grand jury in Florida filed an eight-count indictment against the two in 2010 on such charges as wire fraud. Federal prosecutors then obtained a court order preventing the couple from hiring lawyers by using a $500,000 line of credit based on their home equity in New York.
Defendants have argued neither Johnson & Johnson have asserted ownership of the supplies, and that a jury acquitted a co-defendant of the Kaleys of the same charges, thereby showing weakness in the prosecution case. The defendants further argue that the asset seizure violates their rights to due process and counsel.
Their actions thus fell into a gray area — and certainly not the kind of Mafia or narcotics-dealing that forfeiture laws were designed to fight beginning some four decades ago. Now, more than 500 offenses are covered by federal asset forfeiture laws, creating selective enforcement and other abuses across the country. The criminal prosecution is on hold in federal court in West Palm Beach until the Supreme Court decides the forfeiture issue.