The verdict came down on Tim Cahill yesterday, or more precisely, it didn’t. The jury failed to reach a verdict and the judge had to declare a mistrial. Apparently this is what passes for vindication these days. Cahill was all hugs and high fives, magnanimous comments for his co-defendants (actually acquitted). What’ll you do now? —he was asked like he just won the Super Bowl. He said he’s going to rake leaves in his yard, with a big grin on his face. At least he’s not going to Disneyland.
In our perverse little political universe the immediate take on yesterday’s non result was that Cahill was vindicated and it would be damaging to Martha Coakley and her potential bid for the governor’s office. While Cahill showers in confetti, Coakley should retire to her cave and mourn her lost golden ring. She is the one who now stands accused. Wasn’t she being over zealous in prosecuting? Shouldn’t the AG’s focus be elsewhere? Can she justify the resources allocated to this case.
To this I say… Ugh!
Tim Cahill is still under indictment. He was not acquitted. This tells us that the jury could not convict and also that the courts found it a valid case to pursue. As Coakley put it, “This is our job. We have a Public Integrity Division whose job is to investigate and prosecute cases like this.” It’s this thing called law.
Cahill’s wife Tina complained yesterday that prosecutions like her husband’s could “have a chilling effect on people in public office”
“What it’s going to do is keep people from doing their job, because they’re going to be afraid that no matter what they do when they sign a piece of paper, that that’s going to be like, ‘Oh, is there a political process that’s going to come back at me because I did this?’ So I think it’s something that’s going to be detrimental to the political system.”
That “political process that might come back at me” is what we call a check on the abuse of power. It shouldn’t trouble the noble public servant attending to his or her job and signing the innocent piece of paper. But it most certainly should “chill” the hack poll who sees the public treasure as his own resource for political advertising in the the last throes of an ill conceived and cynically conducted political campaign.
It tells you something when even Cahill’s defense attorney’s complaint is that his client really should be before an ethics board, not in a criminal trial.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are due back in court next month to discuss whether Coakley wants to retry the case. Cahill should finish up his yard work back at the house. Rake those leaves, you might yet be working another yard before long in an orange jumpsuit.