I like Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
They tend to be older than the county prosecutors I used to face in Pennsylvania and Virginia. They have more perspective and better credentials. They return phone calls. Although ambitious, they are not trying to further their careers on the backs of clients charged with minor misdemeanors. They are generally reasonable and honest. They don’t play power games. And they seem to care about people, sometimes even the defendants they are prosecuting.
I also like this particular prosecutor. I have tried cases against him. I have written about him on this blog. He has told me he reads this blog.
How can I not like a reader of this blog?
And yet I have to admit to a certain degree of schadenfreude at the news. The Washington Post reports that he has been referred for potential disciplinary action after being accused of misrepresenting facts before a U.S. District Court judge.
Schadenfreude. It is such a great word – literally, joy in damage. An die Freude. Ode to Joy.
Apparently the prosecutor was having trouble producing discovery. When asked about this by the court, he didn’t accept responsibility for the failure. He decided instead to blame the delay on backlogs at D.C.’s Department of Forensic Science (DFS).
To what end? So that the court might not think ill of him? So that it might grant the government a continuance?
You don’t underestimate Jenifer Smith. She is the director of DFS and she takes her job pretty seriously. She doesn’t mess around.
Apparently she found out what the prosecutor had said, and she contacted his supervisors to set the record straight: There is no backlog here. What is he talking about? The test results were provided to him at least a week before the deadline.
To their credit, the supervisors notified the court of the misrepresentations.
You suspect this happens quite a bit. But you can never prove it. Even when discovered, there rarely appear to be consequences.
The Assistant Attorney General who encouraged police officers to lie in DUI case? She now works somewhere out West under a different name.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney who misrepresented facts during the inauguration protest cases? She was promoted.
The two prosecutors who made materials misrepresentation in Vaughn v. United States. Last I heard they were still trying cases.
I was talking about this with some colleagues. Nobody wishes ill for this particular prosecutor. Like I said, he is a decent guy. But we are not sympathetic either. He has only himself to blame.
We are also happy about the signal this will send to every other prosecutor in his office: Nothing is worth your integrity. The continuance you receive is not worth your reputation and career. Check your facts. Tell the truth.