Thursday, May 24, 2012

Update on the prosecutorial misconduct report regarding the Ted Stevens case: prosecutors' office finds no intent after independent investigation found intent; prosecutors suspended without pay...

Long time readers of this blog will remember I have been following the story about prosecutorial misconduct in the Ted Stevens case and that I have posted numerous comments and links on it.  To access those, type "Stevens" in the "search this blog" box on the right side panel.

Here is the latest, as reported in the Wall Street Journal law blog:  "At the request of the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, the Justice Department turned over its internal report on the botched prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens. The department publicly released [a] summary of the findings by its Office of Professional Responsibly [available here].  A separate court-ordered investigation concluded that prosecutors concealed evidence from Mr. Stevens’s defense team, but it stopped short of a criminal contempt finding."

I criticized this report here.  I argued that it was inconceivable that a report could find clear and intentional misconduct and not recommend sanctions.  (That report found the prosecutors acted intentionally to violate ethics rules).

Contrary to that criminal investigation, however, the DoJ's own report did not find that the prosecutors acted intentionally and for that reason concludes that the prosecutors should be sanctioned through forced time off without pay.

I think that is way too lenient.  An independent investigation found the prosecutors intentionally violated the rules but the prosecutors' own office found they did not.  What a joke.

I think that prosecutorial misconduct is a tremendous problem in this country and until the authorities start getting serious about it by imposing real sanctions it will continue to be a problem.  Obviously, there are exceptions, as in the Duke lacrosse team case, which resulted in the disbarment of the prosecutor, but these are rare.

The New York Times has more on the story here. The Blog of the Legal Times has more here