Lawyers sometimes have somewhat bizarre reactions to the world around them. For example, I can’t watch action movies without wondering who’s going to pay for all the damages caused in car chases or fight sequences. And I normally can’t read the news without having the compulsion to make a correction. Take today’s Washington Post article, entitled “Sen. Stevens Indicted on 7 Corruption Counts,” for example. (Link)
The headline is irritating because Sen. Stevens wasn’t indicted on corruption charges. Instead, he was charged with seven counts of making false statements under 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Serious charges, to be sure, but each count carries a maximum penalty of “only” five years in prison while corruption charges (18 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.) can carry up to 15 years of imprisonment. My frustration with the WaPo’s headline is the same frustration I felt when drug traffickers were (and maybe still are) called “narco-terrorists”; it’s misleading and unfairly taints the discourse.