Was Paul Minor framed?

In a commentary that’s longer on insinuation than on proof, New York Times editorialist Adam Cohen contends in Thursday’s paper that prominent Mississippi trial lawyer Paul Minor, sentenced last month to eleven years in a long-running judicial bribery scandal, was framed by a Republican conspiracy. Cohen’s argument runs more or less as follows: Minor may have arranged loans and financial favors for local judges, but “everyone” in the justice system down there does similarly “questionable” things, so “a prosecutor can haul any lawyer and judge he doesn’t like before a grand jury and charge corruption”. Really? Any lawyer, and any judge? There are no lawyers in Mississippi who refrain from funneling money under the table to judges as Minor did, and no judges who refrain from accepting money of this sort? Names and particulars would be most welcome here, but are quite absent from Cohen’s account.

Minor, of course, was not just hauled before a grand jury but convicted by an actual trial jury of the charges Cohen dismisses as “unconvincing”. But let that pass. The point is that since anyone could be prosecuted but only Democratic donor Minor was, the explanation must lie in political favoritism; on this point Cohen cites Minor’s own lawyers, no doubt a very objective source, who “say prosecutors were not interested in going after similar activity by trial lawyers who contributed to Republicans”. Which trial lawyers are those? Again, Cohen mentions none.

Point of Law