Monday, August 20, 2012

U.S. v. McTiernan (9th Cir. - Aug. 20, 2012)

You're a famous Hollywood director.  John McTiernan.  Die Hard, Hunt for Red October, Thomas Crown Affair, Rollerball.  Stuff like that.  You're used to getting your way.

Your efforts unfortunately also including hiring the also-famous -- now infamous -- private investigator Anthony Pellicano to assist you.  Including illegal wiretaps.  So the FBI goes after you.

But you're used to getting out of sticky situations.  So you lie.

Except, unbeknownst to you, the FBI has you red-handed.  Because your buddy Pellicano also taped you discussing one of the illegal wiretaps.  And the FBI has that tape.  Oops.

So you're charged with a federal crime; in particular, lying to the FBI.  Your lawyer persuades you to plead guilty -- you're totally busted, after all -- and you're sentenced to four months in prison.

Now, for many, that'd be the end of it.  But I reiterate:  You're a famous Hollywood director.  You're important.  You can't go to prison.  Not you.

So you move to withdraw your plea.  The district court's not buying it, so you file an appeal with the Ninth Circuit.  And you win.  Yay!

Well, you partially win, anyway.  The Ninth Circuit just holds that you're entitled to an evidentiary hearing as to whether you can withdraw your plea.  But on remand, the government ultimately withdraws any objection to you withdrawing your plea.  Victory!

Except for one tiny thing.  That just permits you to withdraw your guilty plea.  Now you have to actually defend your conduct.

Oh, one more thing.  Once you withdraw your plea, the government then replaces the single charge against you with two charges.  Adding another false statement charge for good measure, as well as a count alleging that you lied to the district court at your guilty-plea hearing.


Again, you're totally busted.  So you withdrew your plea, but -- as my father would say -- you're still up s**t creek without a paddle.

So, ultimately, you plead guilty again.  And this time, rather than four months, you get a year in prison.

Triple oops.

You appeal yet again to the Ninth Circuit.  But this time you lose.  The district court properly ruled on your suppression motion.  And, yes, the district judge (Dale Fischer) most assuredly didn't like you, but a judge not liking you because you're a liar -- and not being shy about saying so -- isn't a basis for recusal.  Especially when, as your guilty plea reflects, you are a liar.

Sometimes the sequel isn't as good as the original.  If anyone should have known that, it was John McTiernan.

But now he has an extra eight months in prison to reflect upon this reality.