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Advice and Dissent 

Sam and Yeggs

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You always suspect something’s fishy when people go to great lengths to prove that nothing’s fishy. Last week, Judge David Sam was handed the SLOC indictment case against Tom Welch and Dave Johnson. In two subsequent articles, The Salt Lake Tribune made special note that case selection for judges is a random process, and that any U.S. District Court judge could have received the case. I’m not a careful study of the Tribune editorial guidebook, but I cannot recall a single instance when it was ever mentioned that case selection is randomly done.

So, why now?

It appears that the Tribune, which has banked heavily in support of all things Olympic, is being oh-so-careful to make sure none of us conclude there may be any improprieties with Judge David Sam presiding. Remember how the NBA was careful to make sure no one thought the fix was in when Patrick Ewing went to the New York Knicks in the first NBA lottery? Same thing.

Of course there’s a conflict, or else the selection of Sam would have been just a footnote within the stories. But Judge David Sam is more than a footnote. Along with four other U.S. District Court judges, including Chief Judge Dee Benson, Judge Sam was appointed to the bench by his old LDS mission-era friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch. In other words, basically the entire judicial branch is in conflict because Hatch is a potential witness in the case against Welch and Johnson.

Hatch has more links to this case than Jimmy Dean has to his sausage plant. Hatch is tied to Gov. Mike Leavitt. Hatch is tied to banker Spence Eccles. Hatch is tied to developer Earl Holding. Hatch is even tied to former Mayor Deedee Corradini—whom he helped rescue from a potential indictment during the Bonneville Pacific fiasco. So, it’s no wonder the Tribune—the “Official Newspaper of the 2002 Olympics” as City Weekly columnist D.P. Sorensen regularly points out—is a tad defensive about Judge David Sam presiding over what will surely become a dog-eat-dog frenzy fit for broadcast on Amazing Animals.

Like in the movie Titanic, the SLOC ship is sinking. And like the Titanic disaster, some of the life rafts contain occupants who took any and all measures to save their own asses above all else. Those people would have liked nothing more than to avoid this trial and let Welch and Johnson do the drowning. Instead of drowning, though, they’re ready to expose the cowards in the life rafts.

To them, naming Judge Sam to the case is but another drop in the conflict bucket—and they’ve got a story to tell.

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