Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Project on Government Oversight report on department of justice attorneys' misconduct

Long time readers of this blog know that I have posted many stories on prosecutorial misconduct and that I have been critical of the Department of Justice's approach to misconduct by federal prosecutors.  I have also criticized the practice of many judges who refuse to disclose the names of prosecutors who engage in misconduct while they have no problem disclosing the names of other lawyers.

Now comes news of a very disturbing report that supports my concerns.  The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has published a disturbing report that concludes that the Department of Justice has been concealing hundreds of ethical violations by its prosecutors.  According to the POGO website,
An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work. The violations include instances in which attorneys who have a duty to uphold justice have, according to the internal affairs office, misled courts, withheld evidence that could have helped defendants, abused prosecutorial and investigative power, and violated constitutional rights. From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) documented more than 650 infractions, according to a Project On Government Oversight review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and from OPR reports.In the majority of the matters—more than 400—OPR categorized the violations as being at the more severe end of the scale: recklessness or intentional misconduct, as distinct from error or poor judgment.
The report itself is available here, and there is more analysis of it here.  The Legal Ethics Forum has more here and Seeking Justice has a comment here.

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