(Photograph of David Margolis from Joe Palazzolo, Main Justice)
(Photograph of Lt. Col. Ronald L. Rodgers from Dafna Linzner, ProPublica)
Everytime there’s a broken system, there are people inside it, breaking it. If they can be named, confronted, and (ideally) ejected, the system can be fixed. Scott Horton took a long step toward naming the dysfunction in DoJ:
The IG’s report focuses on the case of Clarence Aaron, a black athlete who played an indirect role in a minor drug transaction and who became the victim of hyperaggressive prosecution and sentencing. While handling the case, [Lt. Col. Ronald L.] Rodgers misrepresented the views of both the United States attorney who made a pardon recommendation and the judge who seconded it, resulting in the pardon’s being denied. Aaron continues to languish in federal prison.
In the report, the inspector general’s office also flagged manipulations of the pardons process by the DOJ’s senior career staffer, associate deputy attorney general David Margolis. A master political triangulator, Margolis is said by alumni of the pardons office to have intervened routinely to block pardons because he believed they would reflect poorly on the department’s prosecutions record. Margolis is also the man who stood by and allowed the politicization of the appointments and removal process that led to the U.S. attorneys scandal; who blocked efforts to obtain an internal review of the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman (a prosecution that sprang largely from Margolis’s own mistaken judgments); and who reversed recommendations by the DOJ’s professional-responsibility section to discipline the authors of the department’s torture memoranda. (emphasis added)
Injustice in the short run is all too common. But there can’t be injustice in the long run without someone to prevent fair case review. Now, at least, you have two names and two faces.