In 2004 Martha Stewart was found guilty and sentenced to five months in jail. Peter Bacanovic was also found guilty and sentenced to five months in jail.
The court decided that Peter Bacanovic had told Martha Stewart that Sam Waksal was selling stock in Imclone. This was illegal, and it was a violation of Peter Bacanovic's contract with the stock brokerage and a violation of the stock brokerage's contract with Sam Waksal. The court decided that Martha Stewart had benefitted from the crime of Peter Bacanovic, and that Martha Stewart had lied to the police and to the court in order to provide an alibi for Peter Bacanovic.
Peter Bacanovic committed the crime, but the loot from the crime went to Martha Stewart. This is an unusual crime. Most thieves steal for themselves, not for other people. Why would Peter Bacanovic commit this crime, when there is no loot for Peter Bacanovic?
Peter Bacanovic committed the crime to help Martha Stewart because Peter Bacanovic and Martha Stewart were friends.
So Martha Stewart has been found guilty of two things: benefitting from a crime committed by someone else, and lying to provide an alibi for a criminal.
Suppose a man robs a bank, and the robber gives some of the loot to his girlfriend. The girlfriend did not participate in the robbery, but the girlfriend has benefitted from the robbery. Should the girlfriend be punished?
If there is proof that the stuff given to the girlfriend was stolen, then the girlfriend should be required to return the stolen stuff. The girlfriend should not be sent to prison or given a criminal record.
Suppose a man robs a bank. When the police ask the robber where he was at the time of the robbery, the robber says he was fishing with a friend. The friend corroborates the alibi, even though the alibi is not true. The friend lies to the police, and the friend lies in court. The friend did not participate in the robbery. Should the friend be punished?
Oppressive governments discourage friendship because loyalty to anyone or anything other than the government is a threat to the government. For example many governments of unfree nations encourage children to spy on their parents and report their parents' activities to the police. In a free society, the government should not punish people for being friends with anyone, not even for being friends with criminals. On the other hand, lying in court is perjury. Perjury is a serious crime and should not be ignored. So if a friend of a criminal lies in court to provide an alibi for a criminal, the friend should be punished, but the punishment should be small. I think that one day in jail is an appropriate punishment.
So I think an appropriate punishment for Martha Stewart is one day in jail for providing an alibi for Peter Bacanovic, and Martha Stewart should be required to give back the loot.
So I think that the court's punishment of Martha Stewart is excessive. I also think that the court's punishment of Martha Stewart is unconstitutional. The constitution guarantees equality and forbids unusual punishment, but Martha Stewart's punishment is not the same as the punishment of other people who have committed the same crimes.
Peter Bacanovic has committed a more serious crime than Martha Stewart. Peter Bacanovic should receive a greater punishment than Martha Stewart.
Some people have said that Martha Stewart should have known that the information provided to Martha Stewart by Peter Bacanovic was illegal. But Peter Bacanovic's job was to provide information to Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart should be allowed to assume that Peter Bacanovic would not provide illegal information, and to assume that any information provided by Peter Bacanovic is legal. If there is no evidence that Martha Stewart knew that Peter Bacanovic was breaking the law, then Martha Stewart should be assumed to be innocent.
It is possible that Martha Stewart asked Peter Bacanovic to commit the crime, or that Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic conspired together to commit the crime, or that Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic had a secret plan to share the loot. If there is proof of this, then Martha Stewart should be punished more severely. But if there is no evidence for this, then Martha Stewart should be assumed to be innocent.
But why did Martha Stewart provide an alibi for Peter Bacanovic?
Martha Stewart was trying to help Peter Bacanovic because Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic were friends.
Suppose that Martha Stewart was greedy and selfish and mean and nasty and didn't care about anyone other than herself. Then Martha Stewart would probably have refused to help Peter Bacanovic, and would not have provided an alibi for Peter Bacanovic, and would not have committed any crime, and would not be punished.
In other words, Martha Stewart is being punished for not being mean. Martha Stewart is being punished for being a nice person.
The government seems to be trying to force businesspeople to be mean, nasty, greedy, and selfish. The government seems to be trying to prevent anyone from caring about anyone else.
Is the government trying to create problems, to make people more dependent on the government?
Is the government trying to force capitalists to be evil, so that people will hate capitalism, so that the government can more easily impose communism?
Is the government trying to make it illegal to be friends with criminals, so that the government can punish opposition politicians for being corrupt, and then punish supporters of opposition politicians for being friends of criminals?