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January 30, 2008

The Wesley Snipes tax evasion case went to the jury yesterday following closing arguments.

The defense pictured Wesley Snipes attempts to pay taxes with bad checks and his groundless refund claims as examples of what is great about America. From

"The liberty to ask questions ... the liberty to challenge your government. The liberty to engage your government. These liberties are American liberties," Barnes said. "The Liberty Bell may be cracked in Philadelphia, but it can still be heard in Ocala."

Pretty much a modern-day Patrick Henry. Or not. While the defense reached high vistas of rhetoric, it also tried to set a pretty low bar for acceptable conduct:

"It may have been protest," he said of filings by Snipes and by Kahn on Snipes' behalf. "Protest is not criminal. It may have been disagreement. Disagreement is not criminal. It may have been frivolous. Frivolous is not fraud."
David Wilson, the attorney for Mr. Snipes' co-defendant, Douglas Rosile, also aimed low:
"There's a wide gulf between 'without merit' and 'fraudulent...Meritless, yeah. Unlawful, no."

He went on:

"Doug Rosile was nothing more than an expendable tool who could easily be replaced by American Rights Litigators," he said.

When your own defense lawyer says your position is a joke, and you are a tool, that's not a great omen.

Mr. Snipes defense team also slipped the "he has suffered enough" plea into their arguments, according to the New York Times:

Mr. Barnes, the defense lawyer, said that Mr. Snipes owed so much that it would take him two decades of work to pay the amount. If convicted, Mr. Snipes faces up to 16 years in prison.

You never know what a jury is going to do, but were I in Mr. Snipes shoes, I wouldn't be feeling very confident.

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"The liberty to ask questions ... the liberty to challenge your government"

Looks like he missed perhaps the greatest of our freedoms:

"The liberty to be a moron."


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