Monday, May 28, 2012

More on the Dept of Justice action regarding prosecutors' misconduct

A few days ago I criticized the Dept of Justice's investigation that concluded certain prosecutors did not act intentionally after an independent investigator had found clear and intentional misconduct.  I called the whole thing "a joke."  Evidently, I am not alone in my criticism.  Today, Prof. Jonathan Turley has published a comment in which he agrees with my position, although he did not use the same language.  Being more eloquent than I, he simply said the DoJ "offered rhetorical punishment as a substitute for true punishment."  Like I said, "a joke."

You should read Prof. Turley's full comment here, but allow me to quote the beginning so you get the idea:
The DOJ has long been notorious in refusing to seriously punish its own lawyers for wrongdoing while pushing the legal envelope on criminal charges against others. The slightest discrepancy in testimony or omission in reporting can bring a criminal charge from the DOJ. The DOJ is particularly keen in finding intentional violations or substitute for intent in federal rules — bending laws to the breaking point to secure indictments. However, when its attorneys are accused of facilitating torture or lying to the court or withholding evidence, the general response is a long investigation and then a slap on the wrist. 

Meanwhile, the Legal Ethics Forum is reporting that the firm that represented the defendant in the case in which the prosecutors engaged in the misconduct, not surprisingly, also disapproved of the DoJ's action and issued the following statement:

Today the Department of Justice demonstrated conclusively that it is not capable of disciplining its prosecutors. Apparently, prosecutors can violate the Constitution, deny the defendant exculpatory evidence demonstrating innocence, and introduce perjured testimony without any fear that they will be punished. Prosecutors orchestrated a miscarriage of justice in Senator Stevens’ case that caused the Attorney General of the United States to order the case dismissed. Trial Judge Emmet Sullivan declared that the misconduct was the worst he had encountered in 25 years on the bench. The misconduct caused a jury to render an illegal verdict, which in turn resulted in the loss of Senator Stevens’ re-election bid. And, the balance of power shifted in the United States Senate. The punishment imposed is laughable. It is pathetic. No reasonable person could conclude that a mere suspension of 40 and 15 days for two of the prosecutors is sufficient punishment for the wrongdoing found in the report.

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