The Justice Department’s miscreant lawyers: “reckless professional misconduct”
In 2008, long-serving U.S. Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens (since deceased), lost his election as a result of an ongoing legal imbroglio with the Justice Department. With the loss, the balance of power in the Senate changed in favor of the Democrats, providing significant benefit to their social-political agenda.
However, Stevens’ legal battles were due to reckless prosecutorial misconduct by the Justice Department’s government lawyers. How bad was the misconduct? In a word, gruesome.
…the prosecution was “permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witnesses.”
Misconduct is not the same as ineptness. Misconduct entails malice and forethought. And what’s the punishment for reckless prosecutorial misconduct? Pretty mild.
Two prosecutors engaged in “reckless professional misconduct.” One received a 40-day suspension without pay; the other, a 15-day suspension without pay — “punishment” that pales next to the misconduct.
One supervisor in the department’s Public Integrity Section was found to have “exercised poor judgment by failing to supervise certain aspects of the disclosure process.” There was no punishment at all for the most senior prosecutor in the case.
It would seem the above punishments did not fit the crime. After all, even the Duke lacrosse guy, Mike Nifong, was disbarred.
Why would the Justice Department prosecutors do such things? It would seem they either had a personal ax to grind (perhaps a form of careerism, largely free from troublesome things like ethical requirements or oversight) or a political ax to grind (imagine a watered-down and domestic version of The Manchurian Candidate and/or consider Nifong’s “political ambition”). Regardless, the lesson is chilling:
… if this can happen to a U.S. senator in a Washington, D.C., courtroom, it can happen to anyone, anywhere in America.
The Justice Department can thus be added to the the oxymoron of the day list.