Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"Iron-tight integrity and a tireless work ethic"

USA Today considers the enigma that is Patrick Fitzgerald:
Friends and critics agree that his integrity is unassailable and that he is relentless. The list of people he has prosecuted — including al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, former Illinois governor George Ryan and New York mobsters — shows he has no qualms about going after the powerful.

Fitzgerald's politics, motivations and style have prompted debate.

"He has no agenda," says David Kelley, former U.S. attorney in New York and a longtime friend. "He looks at the facts, uncovers the facts and goes where the facts lead him." ***

Scott Mendeloff, a Chicago lawyer who specializes in corporate fraud cases and formerly tried and supervised public corruption prosecutions in the U.S. attorney's office, says Fitzgerald demonstrates "a more black-and-white view of the world" that is "reductionist in disregarding nuances beyond what it will take to prevail." Some defense lawyers, he says, believe Fitzgerald is "not prone to consider what some would term humane factors in charging and sentencing decisions."

"To say that he is extremely aggressive is, I think, a gross understatement," Safer says. When he's arguing a motion, Safer says, Fitzgerald is "not disrespectful, but he's a lot less deferential than I bet most judges are accustomed to." ***

In Chicago, Fitzgerald has indicted two aides to Mayor Richard Daley on mail-fraud charges after an investigation into bribery and hiring abuses. Ryan is on trial on charges of racketeering conspiracy, mail and tax fraud and false statements during his terms as governor and Illinois secretary of State.

Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who teaches political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago, says Fitzgerald is "almost universally admired ... for telling the truth and prosecuting these cases." He isn't suspected of political motives, Simpson says, because he came to Chicago with no ties to its top politicians and keeps a low profile. "He's doesn't do lunches at the important clubs or make rah-rah speeches," Simpson says.

Even lawyers who question Fitzgerald's tactics say they don't doubt his character. "Pat is driven by iron-tight integrity and a tireless work ethic," Mendeloff says.

Safer, who also once worked in the U.S. attorney's office, faults Fitzgerald for "trying to expand the reach of the mail fraud statutes in ways that are unprecedented" in his government corruption cases. Some errors by politicians, Safer says, "are punishable at the ballot box and not in criminal court." He says Fitzgerald "is impervious to political pressure. ... I've seen no evidence that he has anything but the purest motives."
"Impervious"... "the purest motives"... "iron-tight intergrity"... "tireless"...

Is it just me or does it sound like they are describing a cartoon superhero?

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