Thursday, October 8, 2009


Steeler's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's on-going legal battle surrounding the rape allegation made against him makes for an interesting comparsion to two cases partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is involved in right here in Pennsylvania.

Even non-Steeler fans find Roethlisberger's accuser's accusations suspect. Yet the judge assigned to the case decided to let it proceed:

"Washoe District Judge Brent Adams rejected arguments that the suit should be dismissed, saying the woman's allegations make a 'sufficient' claim that if proven, would entitle her to relief. 'The court recognizes that a motion to dismiss is only proper where it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff could prove no set of facts which, if true, would entitle them to relief.'" (SI Mobile 10/8/09)

Given the paucity of substantiating evidence for Roethlisberger's accuser's claims and the suspect timing of her accusations, the judge's decision is a great illustration of how low the bar is to actually bring a case to trial.

Which brings us from Big Ben to BIG.

As you all remember, Corbett and his crack team of investigators brought charges against Mike Veon for his handling of Beaver Initiative for Growth funds. When the charges were presented to a judge at a preliminary hearing, the evidence presented was so weak that before the judge made a ruling, Deputy Attorney General Tony Krastek withdrew some of the charges himself.

Then, in an unprecedented ruling for such a high-profile case, and in reaction to the complete and utter failure of Corbett to present evidence to substantiate his charges, Judge Joseph Solomon dismissed the remaining charges against Veon:

"'We don't have conclusive evidence here today that substantiates the charges we've heard'...There might be 'one or two' charges that 'possibly could be held for court,' he said, 'but in front of a jury, I don't think you're going to be able to sustain guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" (Post-Gazette 5/29/09)

Of course, this was a stunningly embarrassing turn of events for Corbett, and his team immediately rushed to mitigate the damage by calling into the question Solomon's rationale for his ruling. Here is Krastek lambasting the judge:

"He said he felt that the evidence had met the relatively low legal standard for preliminary hearings, 'not whether a jury might convict or would convict.'" (Post-Gazette 5/29/09)

Beside the incredible fact that Corbett and his investigators couldn't meet the self-avowedly low standard to bind a case over for trial, our interest was piqued by Krastek's criticism.

Which brings us from BIG to Bedford.

In the summer of 2008, Bedford County DA and important Corbett political ally William Higgins was accused of raping an intoxicated woman in his office after a Republican Party fundraiser. (Post-Gazette 8/27/08)

Conveniently for Higgins, the investigation was turned over to Corbett. Predictibly, Corbett ostensibly conducted an investigation and decided to not bring charges against Higgins. (Altoona Mirror 2/27/09)

No one should be surprised that Corbett would let a political ally and campaign contributor like Higgins off the hook by ignoring all the evidence. He's done it before for friends and GOP insiders, most notably York County DA Stan Rebert.

What also isn't surprising is the rank hypocrisy exhibited by Corbett in his stated reasons to not file charges on behalf of a potential rape victim against a close political ally. Here is Corbett's tax-payer funded political mouthpiece Kevin Harley discussing Corbett's decision to exonerate Higgins:

''It is also based on the improbability of obtaining a conviction in this case." (Altoona Mirror 2/27/09)

That is the very same reasoning Solomon gave to dismiss the BIG charges and that Corbett so strenously disagreed with resulting in his decision to re-file the charges against Veon in order to get a friendlier (and Republican) judge!

Keep in mind the very low standard for bringing accusations of rape into the courtroom as exhibited by the Roethlisberger case, and it becomes flabbergasting to realize how far Corbett will go to protect his GOP friends.

The scuttlebutt in Harrisburg is that now the state budget will be finalized over the weekend Corbett will finally bring what he has promised will be "shocking" indictments against Republicans.

Perhaps Corbett will deliver on this promise.

But, considering how brazen Corbett has been in ignoring other Republican misdeeds, we're not holding our breath. At best, we think Corbett's much-anticipated second round of indictments will be be very, very underwhelming...if there even are any Republican arrests.


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget his refusal to even verbally rebuke (let alone launch an investigation) the Republican Crawford County Treasurer for storing campaign materials at his County office and having his taxpayer funded staff handing out campaign literature during the work day.

Oh, and the latest...will he object or investigate his former employee Mary Beth Buchanan for possible violations of the Hatch Act, taking steps to run for Congress while sitting as the US Attorney for Western PA? HIGHLY UNLIKELY.

No, as we saw with Buchanan and we see with Corbett, you only prosecute Democrats that get you attention and stand in the way of your path to power.

Some of the comentators on here are sooo right in articulating the danger Corbett presents to the rule of law. This flagrant abuse of his office and hypocrisy is downright frightening.

Anonymous said...

Will he investigate his former employee Mary Beth Buchanan for possible violations of the Hatch Act?

No, because the Hatch Act is federal law. He has no jurisdiction. To do so would be a flagrant violation of the rule of law.

Anonymous said...

What are you going to whine about when Republicans get prosecuted? Are you just going to be quiet? Sure hope so, because it's getting old.

Anonymous said...

Every person s entitled to his or her day in court; this is an American tradition of justice.

It does not mean one wins in court, since 85% of all cases are settled before trial.

She just wants disability payments from her employer, and she will most likely get them.

The cost to continue usually outweighs teh cost of going on, so settlements happen.


Anonymous said...

It is getting old. Now you're panning for gold in Big Ben's legal situation, in a desperate attempt to find a parallel.
It's quite a stretch. Roethlisberger is in court because of a CIVIL suit filed against him by a woman who claims he sexually assaulted her. She is, of course, seeking a big pile of money. There is no prosecutor involved, at any level.
The legal standards are very different in CIVIL suits than in CRIMINAL prosectutions.
Also, it is interesting that the founders of this blog found "good-government" religion after Corbett charged a dozen people in Bonusgate in July 2007.
"Signor Ferrari" and "Ugarte" didn't seem too offended by anything prior to then, even though there was plenty to blog about (2005 pay raise, excessive bonuses, PHEAA abuses, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Interesting how Corbett stopped answering questions once he was asked about the disparate treatment between the Veon case and the Bill Higgins rape case today, April 26, 2010, at the live internet chat earlier today.