Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A) I Didn't Know It Was a Crime; and B) I Didn't Know It Was an Activity

President Obama issued nine pardons this week, the first since his inauguration.  One of them went to "Ronald Lee Foster of Beaver Falls, Pa., who was sentenced to a year of probation and a $20 fine for mutilating coins in 1963."

Discussions - 3 Comments

I would love to know the thinking behind his choice of these nine. Lack of controversy? Some personal or donor connections? He rejected far more ... so there must be some reason for the selections he made.

Its within his power under Article 2, section 2, and he felt like doing something constitutional?(j/k) I would have said lack of controversy. The pardons are purely symbolic since those who faced time already served it.

But then again you say: "I would love to know the thinking behind his choice of these nine."

Frankly I could care less if they are all democratic donors. But its important because sometimes courts have to decide what folks would love to know.

I think since Harper & Row v. Nations Enterprises, no president wants the most interesting thing about his memoirs to be that he "pardoned Nixon."

In Harper, The Nation violated the 106 rights of first publication by scooping/stealing and publishing "The Heart of the work" that Harper has liscensed to TIme magazine.

I am pretty sure that if Obama writes a memoir, and some news agency "wiki leaks" his reasons for pardoning Ronald Lee Foster, that while Harper & Row v. nations Enterprises is good precedent, it would not be a sufficient leak to defeat the 3rd or 4th factor of what would almost be a sucessful 107 Fair Use defense.

"Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or

Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened--

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."


18 USCS § 331

While actually not a ripe issue, when he was charged, due to inflation the melt value of a penny is slightly over 1.5 cents.(6 months ago)

The cost to the treasury to make a penny is around 2 cents...(and this is over a year ago...before copper and Tin caught a real boom!)

There is currently no economic value in melting down any coin except for a penny. It is somewhat rediculous that the treasury still makes them...

Also Cedar Point has multiple vending stations for defacing pennies and creating jewlery.

I don't know if this is legal, but in the case of the cedar point stamping machines the owners of the machines are simply acting as middle men for the creation of a derivative product whose function is a souvenir and not intended for counterfiting or bad faith.

As such I think Cedar Point distributors are relying upon "a good faith" exception.

"If the defendants' acts were done inadvertently, mistakenly, or in good faith without an intention to defraud, then the government has not sustained its burden of proof, and the defendants must be acquitted."

United States v. Sheiner, 273 F. Supp. 977 (S.D.N.Y. 1967) (interpreting the statutue)

While ignorance of the law is no excuse...The Treasury in Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192 (1991), has by and large added in a willfulness or "bad faith" requirement... So if A) you didn't know it was a crime, then you can't be found guilty.

FYI, I am just studying Fed Tax, Con Law and Copyright Law...(my con law prof is fairly liberal which accounts for some of the slant in my Con Law type posts...)

Its a sort of hybrid type studying I am trying out.

The purpose of executive clemency is to correct the errors of the courts.

Looking at the website of the Office of the Pardon Attorney (of the Department of Justice) and bits and pieces of other stuff, the exercise of this function appears to be a set of empty gestures by design according to policies which antedate this administration. The usual practice is to insist that you have served your sentance and proved yourself a useful citizen. In other words, it assumes the courts have acted correctly in each respect.

Why does it seem when a nexus of lawyers and politicians get hold of something, they turn it into something stupid?

Gov. Huckabee has taken considerable flack for some poor judgments in these matters, but at least he understands what its purpose is.

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