Saturday, April 11, 2009

Prosecutorial misconduct reprimanded in drug case

I'm assuming that the US Attorneys that are the subject of the judge's wrath here are holdovers from the Bush administration since I haven't heard of any appointments made by Obama but either way, this is a welcome development that I wouldn't have expected to see under the last administration.
Accusing federal prosecutors of knowingly and repeatedly violating ethical guidelines in a high-profile narcotics trial, a Miami federal judge Thursday reprimanded multiple assistant U.S. attorneys who took part in the case -- and fined the federal government more than $600,000.
The case was against a doctor for allegedly illegally over-prescribing pain medications and arose out of the overdose death of one of his patients. The prosecutorial conduct is flagrant. Not only did the prosecutors enlarge the charges from 26 counts to 141 counts in an effort to intimidate the defense, they effectively set up an illegal sting operation attempting to entrap the defense attorneys with bribery charges by sending in their witnesses with wires and asking for bribes to change their testimony.

The defense didn't bite and the prosecutors failed to disclose the existence of the tapes. The only reason they were caught was because one of their informants inadvertently blurted out the details of the sting during the trial.

The Bush administration's war on pain doctors has been going on for a very long time. The doctors are attractive targets because they keep records and own valuable property that can be seized under the legalized robbery known as forfeiture laws. It's good to see at least a few of the abusers of the judicial process brought to some measure of justice.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

There's not much difference in my mind between issuing letters of marque that allow private parties to become pirates and these forfeiture laws that often allow seizure without due process. The abuse is widespread, contagious and malignant and is corrupting law enforcement everywhere.

It's time to stop this.

2:36:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

It's long past time Fogg, and the piracy analogy is a really good one.

5:51:00 PM  
Blogger OpenMindedRepublican said...

One thing that I have learned is that when the prosecution throws the whole 'laundry list' of charges against someone, that means they have a weak case. They just figure that if they can generate at least some possibility of guilt in the jurors minds, they will vote guilty on some portion of the charges as a sort of 'compromise'.

The way our criminal system functions now has nothing to do with justice. The whole plea bargain system encourages the prosecution to bully people into accepting guilt whether it is there or not.

I wonder if the time isn't right to go after the asset seizure laws. Both the left and the lbertarian elements of the right hate them...

6:09:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

OMR, it's long past time to abolish the forfeiture laws. Or at least change them so the police don't get to keep the money. It would cut down on a lot of dicey arrests if they got the paperwork but not the cash.

9:01:00 AM  
Blogger OpenMindedRepublican said...

Yeah, we did that in Oregon. The state PD was not happy, they felt (perhaps with some justification) that there was suficient oversight to keep it from being a problem. But people were so angry over a few high profile cases that it didn't help. It's the feds that are the problem now, and arguably even before.

We need a clever slogan to fight back with. Maybe "Tough on crime doesn't need to mean stupid". Or something.

5:23:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"We need a clever slogan to fight back with"

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum?

8:59:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL Fogg.

OMR, we need regular people who have never taken drugs to realize this issue impacts them too and put some real pressure on Congress to change things.

9:10:00 AM  

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