The Devil’s Bargain

Federal and State Prosecutors routinely tell citizens that they must invent tales of crimes committed by others and testify about those contrived crimes, or they themselves will be criminally prosecuted and sent to prison.

The Devil’s Bargain is a Crime

This is what Judge T.S. Ellis III said at a hearing Friday: “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud … What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”

This tactic is as old as Adam turning against Eve. But, as the judge correctly pointed out, it risks the possibility that the squeezed witness will not only sing, he will compose. Here is what Ellis said about that: “This vernacular is to ‘sing,’ is what prosecutors use. What you got to be careful of is, they may not only sing, they may compose.”

I have been using this “compose” metaphor for decades and I am gratified that a judge borrowed it to express an important civil liberties concern. Every experienced criminal lawyer has seen this phenomenon at work. I have seen it used by prosecutors who threaten wives, parents, siblings and, in one case, the innocent son of a potential witness who was about to graduate law school. Most judges, many of whom were former prosecutors, have also seen it. But few have the courage to expose it publicly, as Ellis has done.

Learn More About the Book

The Other #METOO

Thousands of U.S. citizens have been forced to take the Devil’s Bargain, and thousands have been its victims.
If you have been forced to take the Devil’s Bargain, or if you have been victimized, please share your experience.

We Want to Hear Your Story

Please share your story with us, and together we will expose the felonious prosecutors who have suborned perjury to get their convictions.

Share Your Experience