Monday, January 4, 2010

Three Strikes for DOJ

Here is an interesting interview that Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) has with Scott Horton concerning the dismissal of the charges related to Blackwater (and the killing of individuals in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in 2007). 

It is difficult to proceed on a case when there's Garrity/Kastigar issues, especially a high profile one that has been openly discussed in the media.  And certainly there are unanswered questions here - like should DOJ have planned for possible problems with evidence and established a clear taint team to make certain that Kastigar issues could be avoided - it is easy to Monday morning quarterback with these questions.  But Hon. Urbina does make a few statements in the Order that are disturbing as to DOJ.  He notes the failure to abide by DOJ internal policy (see here).  He also states that:

"In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements that defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation.  In so doing, the government's trial team repeatedly disregarded warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors, assigned to the case specifically to advise the trial team on Garrity and Kastigar issues, that this course of action threatened the viability of the prosecution."

One looks at this case, and then at the dismissal of the Stevens case by DOJ - In the latter the new DOJ does the right thing - it dismisses the case when discovery violations come to light.  Couple this with the recent dismissal of the Ruehle case, also involving government misconduct (see here).  That's three strikes for DOJ.   

But all three of these are high profile cases.  One has to wonder if prosecutorial misconduct may have occurred in the cases that do not get noticed.  Could there be discovery or other violations in other cases that may not receive media attention? AG Holder has made significant steps to turn around the DOJ ( see here), but perhaps an independent body needs to examine some of the past practices of DOJ.  

(esp)(w/ a hat tip to Linda Friedman Ramirez)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2010/01/blackwater-stevens-doj.html

Judicial Opinions, Prosecutors | Permalink

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Comments

Four strikes, including the acquittal of Ga. criminal defense lawyer Mark Shelnutt on drug and money laundering charges and Judge Clay Land's scathing order of 12/14.

Posted by: Jack King | Jan 5, 2010 6:47:35 AM

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