Waste of tax dollars: pointless prosecution edition

This week’s edition of “biggest waste of governmental money” is not a video, but a story that stems from a Supreme Court case. SCOTUS granted cert. in Keith Lavon Burgess v. United States. The certified question is can a sentence be enhanced on the basis of a prior felony conviction, so as to require a 20-year mandatory-minimum, if the prior conviction is for a misdemeanor under state law. Apparently, Burgess’ petition was filed with the assistance of a fellow inmate – Michael Ray. Ray used to be (still is?) a paralegal and is serving time for a fraud conviction.

The problem, now, is that the Attorney General for South Carolina is investigating whether Ray has committed a crime by doing so. The crime? The unauthorized practice of law. Oh yeah. Apparently they’ve got nothing better to do in S. Carolina. I mean, one inmate helping another to challenge his conviction is not to be tolerated, especially if that inmate is doing something that only a select few in this country can do. It’s not like there are a bazillion lawyers in America. Ray reportedly made a whopping $145 for filing that petition (I’m just guessing – 50 hours’ work seems reasonable. He makes 29c an hour). That’s half an hour that a partner at a law firm could have worked. How will he shine his shoes now?

Seriously, this is stupid. The AG should do some real work.

H/T: WSJ Law Blog

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