We previously discussed the scandal involving federal prosecutors in New Orleans posting public comments attacking defendants and targets on various websites. That earlier scandal led to the discovery of even more widespread misconduct and yesterday to the overturning of a major prosecution of police officers. Describing the conduct of the Justice Department lawyers as “grotesque,” U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt ordered a new trial for officers accused of deadly shootings at the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent cover-up.
The 129-page order below identifies “unprecedented events and acts” of misconduct by prosecutors. It also details how the Justice Department resisted the court’s efforts to discover the truth about these allegations. In the end, the Court ordered a re-trial for former police officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso as well as Arthur Kaufman, who was convicted of orchestrating the cover-up after being assigned to investigate the shooting.
Engelhardt called for a criminal probe of former prosecutors Sal Perricone and Jan Mann and found a pattern of misconduct within the federal prosecutors.”
This rare move follows a series of cases revealing egregious misconduct by Justice Department lawyers, including the rare rebuke last week by the conservative Fourth Circuit describing a pattern of such violations. It also follows other cases like the Ted Stevens case where the misconduct also led to the termination of the prosecution. There has long been a complaint that federal prosecutors routinely withhold or misrepresent evidence with little concern of sanctions. The Justice Department is notorious for long investigations that produce little in terms of real sanctions. The lack of serious discipline in the Justice Department sends a message to prosecutors that they can act with virtual impunity. The Justice Department knows that most judges are unwilling to throw out a conviction — a type of judicial sticker shock. Yesterday, however, they met of judge with tolerance for tush violations.
Here is the opinion: Bowen decision