It’s been over 40 years since I first took a bar exam. And over those four decades I met some very bad attorneys. Some of them were lazy. Others were simply dishonest. Yet none of those I met were stupid. I thought it was because a truly stupid candidate couldn’t pass the bar exam. But I was wrong. There is a truly stupid attorney among us. His name is Mike Quigley, a Democratic Congressman from Illinois.

Perhaps that is why he is reported by the Supreme Court of Illinois as no longer authorized to practice law. Then again, maybe he just did not pay his bar dues. I have no evidence that the court knows Mike Quigley is stupid. Still, the public is better off if he remains off the active attorney list. The nation would be even better served if he resigned from Congress, too.

Just last week Congressman Quigley made the statement, “Hearsay can be better evidence than direct [testimony].” He was vouching for the reliability of a witness testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, the committee investigating the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The witness swore that he heard a staffer say that the staffer heard from another person that the president did something wrong. Quigley was claiming that this was better evidence than “direct testimony.” In this proceeding, “direct testimony” would be a direct admission of wrongdoing directly by the accused.

The entire notion is judicial nonsense.

Hearsay is testimony about statements made outside of court. It is generally inadmissible. And it is not just because hearsay is a technical rule of evidence. Its admission is generally unconstitutional.

The American hearsay rule is based on the Sixth Amendment right of a defendant “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Lawyers call this the right to “confront and cross-examine.” In short, hearsay is testimony by a witness that brings into a hearing the statement of another person not before the court.

With hearsay, the defendant cannot either confront or cross-examine the person who makes an accusatory statement. The only person in court is the person who heard it. Therefore, the statement is not admissible. It violates a basic constitutional right.

For instance, if I testify that I heard my friend tell me that he saw Donald Trump shoot a Democrat on Fifth Avenue, it is my friend who is accusing Mr. Trump of a crime, not me. I saw nothing. Confronting and cross-examining me accomplishes nothing. I do not know if the street was too dark to recognize the assailant. My friend’s eyesight, not mine, is at issue. A just court will throw out my hearsay testimony and require that my friend testify. It is his eyewitness testimony, not mine, which must be tested through rigorous cross examination.

Now, there are some exceptions. If a witness heard President Trump admit to the crime, that hearsay could be admitted. But that is only because Donald Trump, the maker of the admission, is in court to testify directly about his own statement. Other exceptions include statements made by eyewitnesses who are unavailable due to illness or, in some states, death. But there are few exceptions that allow hearsay statements where the firsthand witness is available. And the testimony admitted into evidence by the House Committee is not one of them.

A competent lawyer should know this. He should know that no one can be convicted of any crime based upon inadmissible hearsay. Hence, Congressman Quigley is either a stupid attorney or a political charlatan. Perhaps he is a little of both.

In their impeachment inquiry, Mr. Quigley and his mentor Adam Schiff, claim to be defending the Constitution. They are actually breaking it. Such recklessness does great damage to our government and its rule of law. That is why the entire impeachment proceeding in the House of Representatives will, at its end, undermine government by undermining the faith of the people in its legitimacy.

In short, the Democratic impeachment strategy is “to destroy our constitutional village in order to save it.” It is a strategy which did not work in Vietnam and will not work in America today.

Fortunately, the impeachment inquiry assures us that Russia will not destroy our democracy. Unfortunately, Congressmen Schiff and Quigley will do it alone.

 

(13) comments

Conrad Meyer

Forgot to mention. The dem rep from Illinois (corrupt from top to bottom) made a fool of himself in the inquiry. Quigley represents Chicago - another bastion of corruption.

Jim Tomashoff

I forgot for a moment. Both Vindman and Hill listened in on the phone call from Trump. So they're testimony is first hand as well. So that's four people with first hand information with regard to Trump's attempt to bribe Ukraine. Four strikes, yer' out!! at the old ball game.

Peyton Cook

So they listened to the call. It was privileged that they did so, but Vindmand leaked it. This is a violation. The President did not have to release the transcript. There is no bribery because there was no “quid pro quo”. In addition the money we give to foreign country has a “quid pro quo”.

Jim Tomashoff

You are wrong. Vindman did not leak anything. He went to the National Security Council's attorney because he was concerned that the hold on the Ukrainian aid was illegal and that Trump's request for a "favor" was possibly improper. And you still willfully refuse to understand what constitutes bribery. Moreover, we, the United States Government appropriated money in the form of direct military aid to Ukraine, not Donald Trump. Trump asked for a political favor to harm a political rival. That's the difference. The former is legally constituted foreign aid to advance U.S. foreign and regional security policies. The latter is an illegal request for a thing of value. If you can't understand the difference you demonstrate your ignorance. Vindman testified about his reasoning in taking his concerns about Trump's request for a "favor" to the NSC's Attorney because of his concern that if acted upon by Ukraine it would seriously undermine the USG's policy toward that Country, benefiting no one but Putin. If you choose not to believe him, fine, whatever. Dolt.

Peyton Cook

In our justice system “innocent until proven guilty” is the bedrock. Yet Pelosi has invited the President to prove is innocence. Nothing so far has provided any criminal activity. Even the charge that there was a “quid pro quo” concerning the request to look into the Biden’s activities is one because it never happened. Shipment of lethal arms (Javelin rockets) were temporarily suspended until the new President was determined to be anti-corruption. In fact the Ukraine did not even know they had been suspended. All of the witnesses I heard seemed to be more interested in Ukrainian foreign policy than that of the US. Col Vindland actually violated proper protocol by revealing the contents of the July call, by first calling a lawyer and then two others instead of calling his immediate superior. The whole Impeachment effort is another chapter in the efforts of the Democrats to unseat a duly elected President. It’s another failure in Schiff’s script. The entire exercise has been a colossal waste of time and money. The House has done little to pass appropriation bills to finance the Government. A stopgap bill was passed this past Friday to finance the Government to December 20th.

Jim Tomashoff

Peyton, as always has his facts wrong. He clearly does not understand that in the legal definition of bribery, which I quoted, the activity, the completion of getting the "thing of value," does not have to be completed. The shipment of arms were not "temporarily suspended" while Trump looked into corruption. They were suspended until Trump got his thing of value. The arms were released when the story was breaking in the press and when Congress announced it would look into the matter, check the timeline I provided Peyton (yesh this man is so far up Trump's a__, no wonder he can't see for the life of him). Ukraine did know that the aid had been suspended.

"...word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times."

A senior U.S. Department of Defense official testified on Wednesday that Ukrainian officials knew President Donald Trump’s administration was withholding military assistance in July, undercutting a key Republican defense of the president’s actions in the impeachment inquiry.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper testified at a hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Trump that has largely focused on the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid.

She said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on Oct. 23.

Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25 from the State Department saying that Ukraine’s embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance.

“On July 25 a member of my staff got a question from the State Department saying that Ukraine’s embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance." https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-impeachment-cooper/ukraine-officials-knew-about-hold-on-aid-earlier-than-reported-idUSKBN1XU2VX

Voker testified that the Ukrainians knew the aid was being withheld and that the investigation of the Bidens by them was a condition of getting it restarted. You can even watch Voker's testimony to this effect by going to the website noted above.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-impeachment-witness-ukraine-military-aid-biden-kurt-volker-a9210466.html

The rest of Peyton's argument is either simply his opinion or is substantively irrelevant. Vindman was seconded to the National Security Counsel, he was not legally obligated to follow a military chain of command.

Suzanne Martin

I think we can debate whether all we have is hearsay. Moreover, it would be simple enough for the State Dept and White House to turn over the relevant documents and allow their staff to testify. I would certainly expect that from an individual who says they are innocent of all wrongdoing. How do you think this would play out if this were anyone other than a President Trump? I'm all for truth and right now because of the WH's refusal to respond or all their staff to testify we have nothing to explain this very damning testimony. For that matter the memo (not a transcript) that Trump himself release shows that there was another agenda (a favor). I am sure we expect something when we give foreign aid that benefit the USA or democracy but working with a foreign governmant to get dirt on a political rival? And why does Russial always seem to be the beneficiary of his actions. Finally, what are we do to ensure their isn't foreign interference in the 2020 election? We know it happened in 2016 and continues to go on. Why is that not being addressed? Seems odd...

Ed Pieczynski

We are giving almost a billion dollars to one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Whether Biden is running for office or not we have a responsibility to investigate any and all claims of corruption.

As for Russia most foreign policy experts will acknowledge this administration has imposed far stricter sanctions on that country than any previous President. Oh, by the way, yes Russia did try and interfere in our 2016 election. Under whose watch did that happen? Oh yeah, President Obama. Seems odd.

Conrad Meyer

(Before I start, I am addressing my comments to Suzanne to have discussion and debate, and not to the left wing loons here that have gone off the deep end yet again.)

What is "odd" Suzanne, is the constant attempt by the left to try to find some "high crime" to charge the President with. They know that they can't beat him at the polls so impeachment is the only answer for them. Given this context, we have endured Russia, Russia, Russia, Collusion, Collusion, Collusion, Obstruction, Obstruction, Obstruction. When NOTHING stuck, and the libs ate a huge nothingburger after wasting three years and bazillions of taxpayer dollars, they are now working on Ukraine, the third most corrupt nation on earth. The main stream media was breathless after all the lies they broadcast to the people.

In the meantime, the house is paralyzed from doing any constructive work by the constant impeachment inquiries. We are ALL paying the price for this incompetence. MANY important bills are stuck on Pelosi's desk because she is obstructing progress. She hates the President and can't give him a win on anything.

So now on to Ukraine, where Biden was in charge during the last administration. Son Hunter (where the heck is he - hiding on a deserted island somewhere?) reaped handsome paychecks despite having zero experience. Pay for play? Bribe? This also happened with China to the tune of over a billion $. Neither of these countries like the US but why no investigation of the Biden's? I feel they think they are above the law. They "claim" they did nothing wrong but common sense says otherwise.

In the meantime, during the recent Schiff kangaroo court which was almost intolerable to even listen to, there was little to get excited about. I don't blame the current administration from insuring that before we give Ukraine millions (billions) of taxpayer dollars, that the corruption had to stop. IF that corruption included the Bidens, so be it. I think it is out of bounds for Joe to claim he is being "wronged" because he is a current candidate for President. Being a candidate does not give you immunity from past indiscretions.

And as you mentioned Suzanne, why didn't Obama stop the known interference in the 2016 election and leave it to others to do the dirty work. The answer is simple, Hillary was "supposed" to win by a landslide so nothing was required - the fix was in and there was also an insurance policy. The electorate delivered the largest upset in American electoral history instead.

And lastly, I read the Schiff is going to call even more witnesses this week in search of an impeachable crime. When will he figure out he has struck out?

Jim Tomashoff

By the very examples that Mr. Levy provides, the testimony of Sondland and Holmes are NOT HEARSAY. Both testified that they heard Trump first hand. Interestingly Mr. Levy chose not to mention either of their testimonies in this case. Gee, I wonder why? The other witnesses we heard during the Hearing independently testified to what they heard from Sondland. Their testimony is in accord with Sondland's. They provided additional context and any juror could rightly take that into account based on Sondland's first hand testimony and that of Holmes. Conservative retired Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News' go-to commentator on legal issues, recently said that the evidence against Trump "...is overwhelming." He does state, to be fair, that the evidence of "bribery" against Trump is still insufficient. I cannot fathom why he would say so. Here is the legal definition of bribery: "Bribery refers to the offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing the actions of an individual holding a public or legal duty. ... Solicitation of a bribe also constitutes a crime and is completed regardless of whether the solicitation results in the receipt of a valuable gift." Trump's asking for a "favor" from the Ukrainian President is the "solicitation" in return for a White House visit, and implicitly for the resumption of military aid. The "thing of value" was to be the announcement of the investigation of the Bidens, which Trump clearly believed would help his reelection and the aid. And as the last sentence of the definition notes, it's still bribery even when the bribe fails to achieve the outcome desired. Lastly, Trump can have the opportunity to confront the witnesses against him in this case. His lawyer or he himself can confront Sondland and Holmes during the Senate trial. Mr. Levy's column is the height of intellectual dishonesty and as a lawyer, I believe he knows that. That he would put his argument out for consumption anyway tells us much about him as a person.

Dan Roman

A competent lawyer should understand hearsay and Levy doesn't.

No surprise there.

Hearsay is an out of court statement brought into court bu other than the person making the statement.

Hearsay cannot be admitted to prove the truth of the statement but is admissible to prove the statement was made.

In the case of Trump the hearsay objection is irrelevant because Trump, the person who made the statement others have reported to have been made, has in fact verified that he made the statement and the contents of the statement thus any objection to the admission of the statement into evidence based on hearsay is not well taken. This is Evidence 101 and apparently Levy slept thru class or he is being deliberately misleading.

What favor Trump was requesting, the withholding of military assistance, the relationship between the two and Trumps alleged culpability for other acts are a different issue.

Jim Tomashoff

He knows what hearsay is Dan, and yes, he was trying to be deliberately misleading. His column was just an attempt to sow confusion among the ignorant followers of Trump, three of whom have clearly demonstrated their ignorance in their comments about Levy's column. All three resort to simply repeating Republican talking points, often verbatim.

Mark Hayes

I attempted a reply to your comment, but soon discovered just how much of a protected species those like you are.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Comments that violate any of the rules above are subject to removal by staff.

Thank you for Reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. Subscribe today and support local community journalism.

Digital Only Subscriptions

Thank you for visiting ThePilot.com and supporting award-winning community journalism. Not everyone wants to have a newspaper delivered to their home, but they want to keep up with the latest news in Moore County. Click here to gain digital-only access and support local journalism.

Starting at
$1.07 for 1 day

Connect Print Subscription to Digital Access

Thank you for visiting ThePilot.com. Your Pilot subscription entitles you to unlimited digital access. Simply log in. From the home page, click on Subscription Services. Then click on "Pilot All Access Print Subscribers." It should show your phone number . If so, click "Sign Up." After a few seconds, it will take you back to the home page. Log out, then log back in. You're set! For any problems, call our customer service number at 910-693-2487 or 693-2488.

Free access for current print subscribers