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Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Suicide: The Coward's Way To Avoid Prosecution
A tragic, and perhaps very revealing development on Monday: The apparent suicide of one of the federal prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution (since reversed) of the late former Alaska Senator (and Alaska's former United States Attorney) Ted Stevens.
The prosecutor, Nicholas Marsh, had himself been involved in a criminal investigation by the Justice Department into alleged prosecutorial misconduct during the course of the Stevens investigation and prosecution.
Often in civil cases, a judge will rule that the unavailability of a prospective witness can support the drawing of an adverse inference against the witness, meaning that the trier of fact may infer from the witness being unavailable (or unwilling) to testify that the witness' testimony would have been adverse to the witness' own case (whether the witness is plaintiff or defendant). The prosecutorial misconduct investigation being reported as a criminal investigation, from which either civil or criminal charges could have arisen, will likely now be hampered.
Strictly an opinion, but the ruling from this corner is that we are dealing with someone whose professional ambition got out of hand, in the process likely ruining the tail end of a distinguished lawyer's and Senator's career and life, and who himself became a gutless puke, taking the coward's way out when facing the same medicine he was dishing out. It is hard to look at any public figure who, under the specter of criminal investigation, ends his own life and not draw the inference that the departed was very aware of his own involvement in serious, criminal wrongdoing. (One notable example from New York politics: former Queens Borough President Donald Manes.)
From a moral standpoint, suicide alone is an inherently selfish and eminently narcissistic act which serves to severely harm everyone around the suicide actor. The person committing suicide succeeds in hurting everyone else, in order to spare himself what he -- and he alone -- considers to be pain, whether that be physical or psychological pain, shame, humiliation, or guilt.
Notably, these sentiments, this private pain, did not cause the young prosecutor to consider the pain he helped inflict...on an innocent man and his family.
Eric Dixon is a New York corporate lawyer. He is available for comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.