The prosecutorial arm of Tom Corbett's gubernatorial campaign is not having the best month.
"What we hope's going to happen and what actually plays out in a courtroom, as (has) been demonstrated for almost four weeks now, it doesn't always work out that way," Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo told reporters.
We want to show you something: It's our shocked face.
We are not lawyers here at CasablancaPA, but we do know that you're bound to bump into things when you're walking backward. A successful criminal prosecution begins with a crime and leads to a suspect. Tom Corbett's gubernatorial campaign began with a suspect and searched for a crime.
Know what you get when you stumble backward through a prosecution? Witnesses who contradict the central premise of your case. Just yesterday former Mike Veon staff member and immunized prosecution witness Rich Pronesti testified that he did not volunteer for political campaigns in 2004 and did receive a bonus. He volunteered for political campaigns in 2005 and did not receive a bonus. In 2006, he did not volunteer for political campaigns and did receive a bonus.
In case it's unclear, the Tom Corbett gubernatorial campaign is trying to prove that bonuses were awarded in return for political volunteerism. So, naturally, they called a witness who testified to the contrary. The Tom Corbett gubernatorial campaign is trying to prove that staff members feared for their jobs if they did not volunteer on political campaigns. So, naturally, they called a witness who not only retained his job after declining to volunteer, but received bonuses, raises and promotions.
The Tom Corbett gubernatorial campaign called Pronesti's testimony an anomaly. When their star witness shredded his own credibility, they stammered, "he's not that vital a witness." (Well, he did testify to his own lack of vitality. Tee hee. Ahem. Sorry.)
Almost exactly 70 years ago, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson foresaw the potential disaster of the Tom Corbett gubernatorial campaign:
If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm—in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies.