“The Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” – FBI Agent Hal Neilson a victim of “selective punctuation” and his “trial by grammar”could result in “run-on sentence”!

Hencefore, USA v Neilson shall be known as the “Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” by decree of Nowdoucit.

A misplaced modifier is just that: a phrase, clause, or word placed too far from the noun or pronoun it describes. As a result, the sentence fails to convey your exact meaning. But misplaced modifiers usually carry a double wallop: They often create confusion or imply something unintentionally funny.

There’s nothing funny in Patsy Brumfield’s story on NEMS360. She reports the jury hearing USA v Neilson has decided one of the five counts of the Indictment and deadlocked on four.  She also reports the jury asked Judge Aycock to define “substantial”.   A form of the word “substantial” appears in counts one and two – and likely those are two of the four counts the jury has deadlocked on deciding.  Unintentional or not, Neilson faces a “run-on sentence” of 25 years and the lost of his pension for 21 years of service to a Government that with the use of “selective punctuation” and misplaced modifiers has subjected him to “trial by grammar”

Little wonder there’s a deadlock!  Take a look at the first count, one of the two similarly written counts using a form of the word “substantial”.

while employed by the FBI, did willfully participate personally and substantially as such FBI employee, through recommendation, the rendering of advice, and otherwise, in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he had a financial interest, in that Neilson recommended and advised that the FBI lease additional space in the Oxford FBI Building.

Now, take a look at this comment from the blogging lawyer of North Mississippi:

I’m being told that “substantial” crops up in two counts in the indictment– that Neilson had to be a “substantial” investor in the business.

Given that he was one of three and had enough in it to take out $50K at one point in some form, I’m puzzled that the jury would stick on that point.

The indictment doesn’t charge Neilson with being a substantial investor!  It charges him with being a substantial participant!

I saw it! Now, do you see it?

3 thoughts on ““The Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” – FBI Agent Hal Neilson a victim of “selective punctuation” and his “trial by grammar”could result in “run-on sentence”!”

  1. Unfortunately, I can’t pontificate on Mr. Neilson’s guilt or innocence, because I havent read the applicable statute(s) or the indictment against him. That an FBI agent should be precluded from owning property like an ordinary citizen is counterintuitive to me, but then I have a lot to learn, even at age 63-plus. I will say that the Federal Bureau of Constipation and the U.S. Department of “Injustice” are a bunch of lying bastards – no make that lying , no good cocksucking motherfucking bastards – who will say ANYTHING to get a conviction, even if it is false, even if they have to make it up. I speak from personal experience in my own case, which is on appeal, with my still having a “Sword of Damocles” over my head notwithstanding the dismissal of the charges against me at the District Court level. It would appear that the Federal Bureau of Constipation (SPIT!) and the U. S. Department of “Injustice” (SPIT!) hoodwinked Neilson, his lawyers and the Judge by “mixing metaphors” involving “substantial investor” versus “substantial participant” to get the jury totally confused. I would label such tactics in a criminal trial “PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT”. Do any Members of the Bar, or the Federal Judiciar, have the BALLS to hold these cocksucking motherfuckers accountable? Ashton O’Dwyer.

  2. Nowdy, I am so pissed off at myself for my lack of computer skills; WTF, I press a wrong key, and, GONE ! Night before last, I drafted what I considered “THE” critique of why the word ‘substantial’ was not only the wrong word but a perfect example of illiterate legalese used to construct the language in the indictment count(s). The wrong word: grammatically, semantically and/or semiotically, that may cause manifest error in ascribing the genesis of intent, the ‘mens rea’ required to convict. Accordingly, I would have substituted the word “principal” for the word substantial to define the defendant’s alleged role that the Government was attempting to portray that Neilson had acted out.

    A “principal”, acting within the scope of conduct that the Government alleges was performed by Neilson would be defined as: ” a person for whom another acts as an agent”… a principal cause; key, crucial, vital, essential, basic, prime, central, focal; premier, paramount, major, overriding…

    Nowdy, quoting from you verbatim:

    Little wonder there

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