Thursday, November 1, 2007
Former assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino and a former State Department security officer were acquitted of all charges relating to their alleged obstruction of justice for not turning over evidence in the first post-September 11 terrorism trial. Three of the four defendants were convicted in the original case, U.S. v. Koubriti, the so-called "Detroit Terrorism Trial," but the Department of Justice asked that the convitions be reversed and the charges be dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct. Convertino was the lead prosecutor in Koubriti, and was indicted on conspiracy, obstruction, and false declaration charges in 2006. The trial lasted nearly three weeks, and the jury deliberated less than a day before returning the "not guilty" verdicts. One obstruction charge against Convertino alone, related to the sentencing in an unrelated drug case, was severed before trial, and it's not clear whether prosecutors will pursue that charge in a second trial.
The charges related in large part to discovery in the Koubriti case, and involved questions of whether evidence was suppressed in violation of Brady v. Maryland. The prosecution was unprecedented in making a claim of prosecutorial misconduct the basis for a criminal case, at least when there were no allegations of falsified evidence or perjury by fact witnesses. A Detroit News story (here) discusses the trial and "not guilty" verdicts. (ph)