The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure: One of the Most Evil Books in Print by Roger Roots

When you realize that even the justice system—arguably the most basic function of government—does not work for the people, but for the government itself, you begin to wonder, “Which parts of the government are working for me?

Roget Roots explains:

Today, most federal crimes are felonies, and conviction brings more or less automatic prison time.

Altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers? Up to 5 years in Federal prison. Using the telephone to incite or to “organize, promote,” or even encourage a riot? Up to 5 years. Attempting to coerce any federal employee into “any political activity”? Up to 3 years. Removing or affixing a U.S. Customs seal on any merchandise without government permission? Up to 10 years in prison. Transporting “terrorists” on your boat? Up to life in prison. Engaging in “street gang” activity? An additional 10 years may be added to your sentence. Knowingly using a misleading domain name on the Internet in order to attract viewers to online porn? Up to two years in prison. Sending a letter in the mail urging insurrection? Up to 10 years. Trading with known pirates on the high seas? Up to 3 years.

The book seems to provide dozens of separate laws exposing unwary Americans to federal prison for simply filling out paperwork wrong. (Note that these provisions are almost never applied to people in government, who regularly fill out paperwork incorrectly.) There are provisions subjecting Americans to life in prison for cocaine possession. There are open-ended provisions which may (or may not) criminalize pouring a cup of coffee on the ground (and thus violating the Clean Water Act) or accidentally catching certain breeds of fish from the oceans. It remains only for a savvy prosecutor to fill in the blanks and add to the list of crimes that Congress may (or may not) have created.

Few people are aware that the Federal Rules (not just of criminal procedure but of civil procedure, appellate procedure, bankruptcy procedure and Supreme Court procedure) are riddled with provisions that grant more time to the government to file and respond to pleadings and briefs, greater privileges of appearance, and greater ease of prosecuting and defending litigation than individuals in the private sector. The governing advisory committees that produce these rules of procedure have offered no explanation for these filing requirement disparities.

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