Are all lies created equal?

Is the government guilty of entrapment, or something akin to it anyway, in the Miguel Tejada case? One law professor thinks so:

The criminal prosecution of athletes who use steroids may or may not be a worthy enterprise. Notably, however, Miguel Tejada was not prosecuted and has not pleaded guilty to using performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, the government acknowledges that it lacks sufficient evidence to disprove Tejada’s claim that he spent $6300 on human growth hormone, only to change his mind and throw it all out. The U.S. government has instead prosecuted Miguel Tejada for lying about drug use — more specifically, for saying falsely that he had neither discussed nor known about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball . . .

. . . It may be that the most disturbing aspect of the prosecution of dopers for lying, rather than for doping, is the hypocrisy inherent in the government’s effectively lying to the courts about what it is really prosecuting while relying on a law that criminalizes lying. If the government cannot honestly and forthrightly gather evidence to prosecute the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, then it has no business expecting players to provide honest answers to questions about such use.

We’re all on board with the idea that it’s not a good thing to lie to law enforcement, at least I hope so anyway. But it is instructive to remember why that’s a bad thing: because to do so interferes with law enforcement’s mission to protect the public and punish wrongdoers. Does the rationale against lying still hold, however, if law enforcement is truly not interested in the underlying crimes it claims to be investigating?

(Thanks to Daniel F. for the heads up)

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  1. pete said...

    The most disturbing part, by far, of this whole series of investigations has been the government’s behavior, not the revelations of steroid use.

    As an informed spectator, it’s been interesting (and frightening) to watch how our government has bungled its way through this thing. It’s given me a good bit of empathy for all the experts in various fields who have to sit through Congressional hearings and watch as the government ham-handedly interferes in their industry.

    I wonder who the mortgage industry analogs of “Rafael Palmieri” and “Bud Sellig” are…

  2. Conor said...

    I don’t have any problem with the way the government goes after players who lied. I believe the whole point of this to begin with was not to nail the users, but to nail the distributors and stop the blatent, in-your-face usage. And in the Bonds case where the Feds are on shaky ground, and the Tejada case too, I think the point is to stop the lying. They offered Bonds immunity and he still lied to them. And maybe he was smooth enough that he will not be punished for it. But damn it, the Feds are going to try and they will drag this out as long as possible because making Bonds show up to hearing after hearing and having this hang over his head as long as possible will have to be punishment enough. Meanwhile, Giambi is out taking some BP in the Arizona sun.

    The point is, it looks like a LOT of people flat out lied to them, even with no legal reprecussions for telling the truth. To let that go, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake. We just can’t have people going in front of Congress (whether they should have to be there or not), pointing their fingers and spitting out complete falsehoods without any consequences.

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