New York Approves Double Jeopardy for Trump Associates
Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.
Yesterday the New York State Assembly approved a bill that carves out an exception to the state’s ban on dual prosecutions for people associated with the president who benefit from an act of clemency after being prosecuted for a federal crime. Senate Bill 4572, which the state Senate already has passed and Gov. Mario Cuomo supports, does not mention Donald Trump by name, but it is aimed at making sure that his cronies can still be prosecuted under state law if he pardons them or commutes their sentences.
The high-minded rationale for S.B. 4572 is that a president should not be able to suppress damaging information that might emerge from state prosecution of former underlings by pardoning them for federal offenses that are also criminal under New York law. “Either in the past or in a continuing manner, the president has talked about using the pardon power in a corrupt way to undermine the rule of law,” said the bill’s Senate sponsor, Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat who represents part of Long Island. “I think New York doesn’t have to sit by and let the capricious use of the pardon power tie its hands.”
The low-minded rationale for Kaminsky’s bill is that Democrats who detest Trump want to take advantage of any weapon they can find to hurt him and people associated with him, especially since impeachment seems to be off the table. But in their eagerness to attack their political opponents, the Democrats who control New York’s legislature are compromising an important principle of justice.
The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that people can be prosecuted for the same conduct under both federal and state law, notwithstanding the constitutional ban on double jeopardy, because an act criminalized by “separate sovereigns” constitutes two distinct offenses. In a case the Court is considering right now, a man convicted of illegal gun possession under both state and federal law is asking the justices to revisit that dubious doctrine, which allows double punishment for the same crime and new prosecutions of defendants who have been acquitted. But 20 states, including New York, already have laws aimed at preventing such outcomes.
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]