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No Secret Hearings Unless…

Posted by Rick · September 4th, 2003 · No Comments

…they might embarrass the government.

Yep, that’s one of the main reasons given for keeping the Enron hearings closed to the public.

“There are matters that do not need to be discussed in public in ways that embarrasses [sic] or humiliates [sic] the government or the defense and particularly the court,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt said. [Emphasis mine.]

Besides, when you’re hoping for an appointment to a higher office, it’s not to smart to piss of Karl Ro…I mean, Dick Che…I mean, “The President.” (Oh yeah, him. The little guy with Rove and Cheney’s hands in his back.)

You may remember Judge Hoyt. He’s the guy who ruled that laws against violent threats and assaults on abortionists, vandalism and blockading of clinics were unconstitutional. Yes, he’s the same judge who said that the guy who drove his car through the front doors of an abortion clinic and threatened abortionists should have his one-year sentence reviewed, apparently believing that freedom of speech requirements should have resulted in no sentence to this man who can neither think nor drive straight. Hoyt said—contrary to the rulings of six other judges on the same issue—that the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was unconstitutional and dropped charges against antiabortion advocate Frank Bird, who in March drove his van through the front entrance of a Houston abortion clinic.

This is the same Judge Hoyt who, in United States ex rel. Riley v. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hosp., 982 F. Supp. 1261, dismissed the case against St. Luke’s for Medicare fraud without hearing evidence regarding the fraud because he said that False Claims Act which allowed qui tam plaintiff’s to sue was unconstitutional and because, even if it was, the plaintiff, a mere taxpayer, was not hurt by the government’s payment of fraudulent Medicare claims. Remember, it’s the government’s money; not ours. (An appeals court later reversed his judgement. The case was then heard on remand and Judge Hoyt [surprise!] dismissed it as being without merit.)

This is the same Judge Hoyt who thinks Africans are tall because they need to be so they can reach the bananas in the trees. Apparently, he’s never heard of pygmies. He also thinks Chinese people are short so they won’t be blown away by Siberian winds. Apparently he doesn’t realize that not all Chinese people lived near Siberia and—Yao, er, I mean, Yow!—not all Chinese people are short.

We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt regarding Siberia which is actually part of Russia. Since he said, “Siberian wind,” we have to admit that some Chinese probably lived a long time near present-day Qiqihar and Harbin and these people might have been exposed to Siberian winds.

No wonder, then, that Judge Hoyt was worried “particularly” about embarrassing the court!

Jeremy Bentham said

“. . . suppose the proceedings to be completely secret, and the court, on the occasion, to consist of no more than a single judge,—that judge will be at once indolent and arbitrary: how corrupt soever his inclination may be, it will find no check, at any rate no tolerably efficient check, to oppose it. Without publicity, all other checks are insufficient: in comparison of publicity, all other checks are of small account. Recordation, appeal, whatever other institutions might present themselves in the character of checks, would be found to operate rather as cloaks than checks; as cloaks in reality, as checks only in appearance.” – quoted by Judge Hugo Black, In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 270.

Even Iran requires that

Trials are to be held openly and members of the public may attend without any restriction; unless the court determines that an open trial would be detrimental to public morality or discipline, or if in case of private disputes, both the parties request not to hold open hearing. – Article 165, The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The last time I checked, “potential embarrassment of courts” was not one of the reasons closed trials are sometimes allowed in the United States of America.

On the other hand, if the public were admitted to the Enron trial, we just might not be so happy with the current Regime anymore.

Hmmm…maybe Judge Hoyt knows how to get the bananas after all.

Categories: The Rule of Law


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