One of the longest standing complaints among criminal defense attorneys is that the government often goes ballistic when a defense attorney makes public statements in support of his or her client. Judges often hammer private counsel under increasingly harsh gag orders. Yet, the government routinely influences cases by leaking information that could only come from the prosecutors or investigators on the case. This problem is even more acute in high-profile cases like that of Richard Jewell and my former client Dr. Thomas Butler, where leaks were used to target innocent men to try to force them to plead. Now, like clockwork, the Justice Department has again started the leak war in the case of alleged mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. However, the judge has simply asked the Justice Department for a “plan” on how to stop the leaks. If this were a private firm, there would be a contempt hearing.
Bulger’s lawyers have said the leaks are endangering a fair trial. U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf appears to agree but simply asked the prosecutors to “submit a plan for stopping any leaks.” No investigation into who is intentionally leaking the information or any required declaration from the prosecution. Just a plan.
I have long been a critic of the increasing limitations put on counsel in defending their clients in public by courts. In my view, judges have cut too deeply into the ability of a lawyer to respond to attacks against his client in public — part of zealous advocacy recognized by the Supreme Court. However, at a minimum, the playing field should be level with government counsel receiving the same treatment in such public comments.
The Justice Department routinely leaked evidence and allegations to pressure targets or undermine trials. In some cases the information is false as in the case of Jewell, Butler and others. However, when these individuals sue, the Justice Department claims an array of privileges to prevent disclosure of the responsible lawyers and agents. The Justice Department itself practically never investigates and disciplines personnel for such misconduct.
50 thoughts on “Government Leaks Evidence To Undermine Whitey Bulger Trial — Judge Asks for “Plan” From Justice To End Unethical Disclosures”
“Their powers of self-deception in pursuit of their ambition also knows no bounds.” (Mike Spindell)
That whole circus was blamed on the media but what was conveniently forgotten was that the press was actively working to get a politician elected to a judgeship.
“I see this as a de-evolution, started in earnest during the Reagan years.” (lotta)
Yes, indeed, we got ahead of them for awhile there but they caught on and then caught up … but … it’s not over … just wait until we’ve all entered retirement and have nothing more to do than mess with them … hang in there for we still have the sheer strength of numbers and we’ll be old with nothing to lose and a whole lot of wisdom from having dealt with them all this time.
It’s actually due to your attention seeking behavior.
Blouise, the tragedy of Dr. Sam Sheppard’s haunted him to his death and continued to haunt his son until his death. The prosecutor “on the make” is among the most vicious of human predators. Their powers of self-deception in pursuit of their ambition also knows no bounds.
Blouise: ” I don’t think much has changed within our legal system since I first became aware of it in 1954.”
I’ve thought about that too. I think what happened was the activism of the 60’s/70’s and the gains made in civil rights (for minorities, women) actually turned the corner on business as usual and imbued many of us with a lot of hope. Once the politicians and corporate interest’s caught up with what was happening and they developed new strategies to divide people and smart, legal ways to accomplish the the same old aims and ‘crimes’ we again started to side backward. I see this as a de-evolution, started in earnest during the Reagan years.
The only thing a citizen has going for himself is anonymity, now the technology and the steady degradation of the Bil of Rights has stripped that from us. The advent of unverifiable voting results (based on the deliberately flawed technology) has robbed us of even the ballot to make changes.
One step forward, two steps back.
Foster Brooks … haven’t thought of him in a long time.
Every time either side “leaks” I am reminded of Dr. Sam Sheppards trial back in the Fall of ’54 … the lead prosecutor, John J. Mahon, was running for a seat on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas as the trial began. Mahon won his seat, and served until his death in ’62. I was only in fourth grade at the time but I remember my parents and their friends discussing how Mahon was going to ride Sheppard all the way to a seat on the Court.
After Mahon won, my father gave me several lectures on crooked lawyers, crooked prosecutors, crooked politicians and crooked judges. I don’t think much has changed within our legal system since I first became aware of it in 1954.
I have to echo the kudo’s on the Foster clip. It is hilarious!
Thanks for the update on the $800,000.
Thought you’d like Uncle Deng.He’s all you republicons aspire to be: con man wrapped in flag, deceiver and exploiter of the inexperienced and those who don’t know any better yet; privitizer of purely governmental functions; and incredibly incompetent at all three. Sort of a fundie trifecta.
My I am flattered by all the attention in Buddha’s absence. Masochism perhaps?
Thanks for that Foster Brooks clip!
@Mespo, is that really the best you can do,Uncle Deng.
It’s just one ad hominem laden post after another. Often devoid of substantive points, like this one.
Seems like you’re getting a little angry though at this point.
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