Denver Bar Association
December 2005
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Misdemeanor Perjury

by Paul Kennebeck


“Perjury criminalizes a whole class of middle-aged white men who
would otherwise not be criminals. ... Perjury to them is like a song to a songbird. One person’s perjury is a top presidential aide’s policy.”


On Meet The Press, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, from Texas, stated that in the Valerie Plame grand jury investigation of Washington topsiders, she hopes no one in the administration gets indicted on "some perjury technicality."

Let us praise the woman who is willing to tell it like it is. It’s time someone finally pointed out that perjury is no big deal. Hutchison will be the first to tell you that perjury is just a fancy lawyer word for "lying."

Do you really want to send a top White House official to jail just for lying? Merely because he was under oath?

As this is written, no indictments have been issued regarding the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity. But, as this is written, it doesn’t matter that no indictments have been issued. The press and pundits are talking as if indictments will be issued. That’s enough basis to write this article. In-depth news analysis cannot wait for news to happen. (Editors Note: Indictments have since been issued.)

Get over it, Mr. Prosecutor. If you cannot indict a Karl Rove or a Scooter Libby for a real crime like Murder One or some sordid, messy, exciting sex thing, then let them continue with their perjuring.

You know all those defendants who take the stand and tell the jury under oath that they didn’t kill their wives and the jury convicts them anyway? We’ll, they perjured themselves. After they’re convicted for murder, is there ever a second trial to convict them for perjury? No. You know why? Because perjury is just an itty bitty technical crime, not worth the trouble of having another trial.

You know how certain jurists and legal professionals argue that the drug laws should be repealed because the drug laws criminalize a class of people who would not otherwise be criminals?

Same thing with perjury. Perjury criminalizes a whole class of middle-aged white men who would otherwise not be criminals. We’re talking about the only class of people left who wear white shirts with their ties. Perjury to them is like a song to a songbird. One person’s perjury is a top presidential aide’s policy.

Mr. Prosecutor, if these people are going to lie all the time, quit making them swear to tell the truth.

Not everybody murders. But everybody lies. Right? President Clinton had a little problem with lying. Nixon had a little problem. Oliver North had a problem. Itty bitty technical crimes are a mere bump in the road to great foreign policy.

There weren’t any weapons of mass destruction.

A mere technicality.

Get over it.


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