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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Auction chops-buster guy found guilty

He'll be honored as a martyr, but he's going to pay dearly for civil disobedience.

Comments (11)

Another victory for the Holder/Obama DOJ, with its Bush-era ideologues who have found the current regime eminently compatible. Asst US Attorney John Huber, for example:

The NYT reported Wednesday:

"Inside the courtroom, a debate has raged — mostly out of the jury’s presence — about the passions that were swirling among environmentalists in the closing weeks of President George W. Bush’s administration in December 2008 when the leases came up, and how much the jurors can hear about that context in considering Mr. DeChristopher’s motivations and state of mind.

The judge in the case, Dee Benson of Federal District Court, has repeatedly refused — and did so again on Wednesday — an argument by the defense that Mr. DeChristopher felt obligated to act because of a conviction that the Bush administration was itself behaving illegally in issuing the leases in sensitive environmental areas of southern Utah."

The Deseret News provided a more colorful description Tuesday:

"...Benson said anything that fell outside the scope of what actually happened the day of the auction did not speak to the criminal allegations in the case, which rest on violating an onshore oil and gas leasing act and deliberately making false statement when he registered as a bidder.

'I don't see any basis that Mr. DeChristopher is not guilty because the auction may not have been a perfect auction,' Benson said. 'This trial is not a perfect trial, but it is still a trial.'"

J. Benson, an erstwhile CoS for Orrin Hatch, was appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by Bush '41:
He was certainly not misleading in his assertion of a less-than-perfect trial. There appears to have been no calculation of any actual damage caused by Mr DeChristopher. The law violated by Mr DeChristopher appears to have been constructed entirely for the benefit and protection of the oil&gas industry.

So this guy might go to prison and George W. Bush won't? That's rich.

The US Attorney cited the "rule of law". Hilarious.

A great thread by Eli on Firedoglake, a national blog. Just some excerpts below.

In short, we have a culture of impunity and wealth accumulation for the people at the top, and arbitrary punishment and deprivation for everyone else. That sounds a lot more like a third-world dictatorship than the great and prosperous model of democracy we’re supposed to be.

American democracy has been reduced to a cargo cult. We go through the rituals of a representative democracy, with elections and votes and parliamentary procedures, but they’re all empty because the high priests don’t understand their purpose or (more likely) repudiate it. So instead of an actual democracy that represents the interests of its citizens, we get an unaccountable oligarchy that represents corporations and wealth at the expense of everyone else.

And, of course, our cargo cult democracy also comes with a cargo cult free market where the richest players aren’t allowed to lose, and a cargo cult legal system where they’re not allowed to face prosecution.

This kid is going to wind up with a big fine and probation.

I'm inclined to make note of the defense lawyer's name and in about 8 weeks when the PSI is done and the kid gets sentenced, to contact the defense lawyer and see where I can send a contribution to go toward the fine.

This seems to really be a crabbed interpretation of the evidence rules. Had his motive been something more nefarious, such as personal gain, I can't imagine the prosecution not being allowed to talk about it, if only for context or by way of background explanation. But because he had what some might consider a justifiable, or at least understandable motive, the prosecution wants nothing but the facts, with no evidence of intent. But just asking if he lied to gain admission, begs the question why? It is more than a little scary when the federal prosecutor is afraid to let a jury of twelve citizens know the thoughts and intent of the defendant being prosecuted, and the life tenured judge agrees to that restriction. Kind of gives it a "show" trial feel.

I agree with Bill McKibben.

Here is why I agree with McKibben.

In 2006, I walked into the Portland BLM office, I was curious about the bidding process. At that particular time I found that Exxel Energy, a Canadian Corporation had won the bidding process on significant acreage here in the Pacific Northwest.

The ink on the basement bargain deal probably wasn’t even dry before Exxel Energy released to investors this:

Found 9/20/06
Attention Business/Financial Editors:
Exxel Energy Corp. Provides Update on Activities in Columbia River Basin VANCOUVER, BC, Sept. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Exxel Energy Corp. (TSX-V: EXX)
(the "Company") announces the following lease update and report on activity in
the Columbia River Basin ("CRB"). Exxel Energy (USA) Inc. ("Exxel"), a wholly
owned subsidiary of the Company, recently acquired additional oil and gas
mineral rights in the basin, increasing Exxel's total leasehold position in
the CRB to approximately 325,000 net acres. The leasehold interests are
undeveloped and Exxel's working interest is 100 percent. Exxel intends to
continue to actively acquire additional acreage to further consolidate its
position within the CRB. The Company is currently reviewing its options for
the development of its substantial acreage in the basin.

By my calculations and theirs, it seems that they are in violation of this:

Federal oil and gas lease acreage limitations: Qualified individuals, associations, or corporations may only participate in a competitive lease sale and purchase Federal oil and gas leases from this office if such purchase will not result in exceeding the State limit of 246,080 acres of public domain lands and 246,080 acres of acquired lands (30 U.S.C. 184(d )). For the purpose of chargeable acreage limitations, you are charged with your proportionate share of the lease acreage holdings of partnerships or corporations in which you own an interest greater than 10 percent.

More of what this Corporation is up to in the Columbia River Basin here:

DeChristopher is a courageous man, he took a stand.

Perhaps Mr DeChristopher will fare better in the Tenth Circuit Court; J. Benson, whose term concludes this year, was overturned on appeal in a prominent case at least once before:

"Summum vs. Duchesne City, et al.: Case No. 2:03-cv-1049. Summum is a religious group that sued the City of Pleasant Grove, Utah for the right to install a monolith containing their core beliefs next to an existing monolith of the Ten Commandments. The group contended that their First Amendment Rights were violated by the existence of the Ten Commandments monument. Judge Benson ruled against the group, holding their right to free speech had not been violated. The case was then appealed and heard by the Tenth Circuit Court who overturned Judge Benson’s previous decision. Rather than allow Summum to place their monolith, the City of Pleasant Grove removed the Ten Commandments monolith. The case was then accepted and heard by The Supreme Court of the United Sates. The Court issued a unanimous ruling (No. 07-665) in favor of the city of Pleasant Grove No. 07–665 on February 25, 2009. The court found that monuments that were privately funded were considered government speech and therefore not in violation of any one group’s First Amendment rights. In his opinion, Justice Samuel Alito analogized that, if the law accorded with Summum and its 'civil liberties' supporters, New York City would have been required to accept a Statue of Autocracy from the German Empire or Imperial Russia when it accepted the Statue of Liberty from France."

Wiki, btw, notes that "Benson's twin brother, Lee Benson, is a newspaper columnist for Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News."

This link:
no longer yields a page. Do you have a more recent link?

Drewbob--we can't have the defense presenting an actual, you know, defense. If the jury hears why he did what he did, they might actually agree with him. Then, the next thing you know, jurors would be voting to acquit him--practicing that awful "jury nullification"--and we can't have that!


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