‘Boston Globe’: ‘Harvey Silverglate Takes (Civil) Liberties’

April 26, 2010

Over the weekend, FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate shared space in The Boston Globe with Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and comedian Sarah Silverman. The Globe‘s "Names" page—which provides "all the buzz on celebrities"—noted Harvey’s book discussion last Thursday at Boston’s historic Social Law Library. "Names" columnist Mark Shanahan wrote:

In "Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent," celebrated civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate argues that prosecutors pin arguable federal crimes on ordinary folks all the time. Silverglate, whose clients have included Louise Woodward, Michael Milken, and Bernard Baran, talked about his new book the other night at the John Adams Courthouse, and in the audience were attorney Ronald Kehoe and Thomas Shapiro, James McHugh, associate justice of the Appeals Court, Justice Robert Cordy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and Silverglate’s spouse, photographer Elsa Dorfman.

The legal eagles in attendance heard Harvey’s take on the perjury case of former Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas Finneran, the gist of which Harvey detailed in a January 16 Globe op-ed. Harvey stressed that the formless federal law used to trap this politician, and the countless other vague statutes in the federal criminal code, make it dangerously easy for a prosecutor to, as the subtitle of Harvey’s book suggests, target the innocent.

How, one might inquire, does this relate to FIRE? Harvey’s February 23 Minding the Campus article—"How Corrupted Language Moved from Campus to the Real World"—explains the link between Harvey’s FIRE work and his Three Felonies a Day activism.

For more on the book, visit www.threefelonies.com. Video of Harvey’s Social Law Library book talk will be coming to the website soon.