For at least 60 years I have heard high American officials announce that the United States is not a “banana republic.” Of course it is not, and never was. But there is a complacency about America’s status as a society of laws that is both unbecoming and unjustified. As many judges, lawyers, and commentators have noted, the level of prosecution success in criminal cases is over 95%, 97% of those without a trial; these, and the proportion of the population that is incarcerated, are totalitarian numbers.
Congressional investigations where there is no lawyer-client privilege, the ease of alleging and gaining convictions on charges of dishonest responses to the police, as well as press trials long before a defense has even been filed (as in the Jussie Smollett case, where the chief of police of Chicago has been garrulously babbling out the prosecution evidence); all of this is a Star Chamber. None of it would be admissible in any other serious common-law country, such as Great Britain, Canada, Australia, or Ireland.