On today’s episode the great Harvey Silverglate joins Felony Friday host John Odermatt to discuss his bombshell book, Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. Harvey is a graduate of Harvard Law School and he’s been an advocate for civil liberties for more than fifty years. He’s an attorney, writer, and non-profit activist. Silverglate is still practicing law, currently with the Boston firm Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein. He specializes in criminal defense, civil liberties, and academic freedom and student rights cases. In addition to his legal work, Silverglate has a very successful writing career as newspaper columnist and book author. He is also a co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation dedicated to preserving and enlarging academic freedom, due process, and freedom of speech on college campuses across the US.
We Spent the majority of the show discussing the following cases from Silverglate’s book:
- We started off talking about a character who is notorious in libertarian circles, Bill Weld. However, the Bill Weld that Silverglate wrote about in his book was many years younger and much more ambitious than the modern-day version. In chapter one, on page 14 Silverglate discusses his interactions with Weld, a U.S. attorney for Massachusetts appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, and his team of prosecutors. Back then Wild Bill was hungry to root out political corruption. In fact, he was so keen on exposing corruption that it didn’t even need to be occurring for him to pursue a conviction.
- Next we talked about Dr. William Hurwitz, whose case Silverglate details in chapter 2, starting on page forty-five. Dr. Hurwitz was a renowned pain doctor, prosecutors claimed a “conspiracy of silence” whereby patients would mislead the doctor and the doctor would be easily misled, “a wink-wink, nudge-nudge agreement.” Silverglate explains why Hurwitiz was a hero and how the feds used him non-credible druggie patients against him to land him in jail.
- Financial genius Michael Milken came to Silverglate for legal counsel after pleading guilty to non-crimes and being sentenced to tens years in prison by a rookie judge. The feds were able to get the guilty plea by targeting and charging Milken’s little brother also with several non-crime. Eventually, with help from Silverglate and his legal partner, Milken had his sentence reduced to two years.
- Lastly, Silverglate talked about the federal case against Martha Stewart for
insider tradinggiving false statements. It a misconception that Stewart was charged with insider trading. She did not act on any inside information. Rather, she and her broker panicked and lied about their trades, when they had not committed a crime in the first place!
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