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Tag: ausas

Column: Defense Attorney Says Some Fed Prosecutors Need to be Fired and Indicted for Their Acts

James Burdick is a former Wayne County prosecutor in Detroit and is a criminal defense attorney who also practices health care discipline and is a reinstatement expert at the firm of Burdick Law, P.C. in Bloomfield Hills, Mi. He has also appeared regularly on Larry King Live, Court TV, Geraldo, Good Morning America and other national shows.

James Burdick

By James Burdick

I was reading a recent USA Today article cited in ticklethewire.com, which found 201 cases since 1997 in which courts concluded that federal prosecutors violated laws or ethics rules. In some of  those instances, cases were tossed or sentences were reduced.

It’s good to see those facts unearthed. Still, someone needs to ask the Justice Department: How many of the ASUAs (assistant U.S. Attorneys) who got caught doing these things were fired? (I’m sure only a fraction of offensive behavior was ever discovered, just as few ever get caught pulling off their first bank robbery.)

The other pressing question for the Justice Department is: How many were indicted as they should have been for obstruction or related charges? Answer: Few, if any.

Example: In a drug case I tried in the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids, the U.S. Attorney ADMITTED to the Court that the trial AUSA and case agent had withheld “potentially exculpatory evidence.”

In May of 2009, the government filed a motion that said: “A preliminary inquiry had indicated that the Government was in possession of information which may have corroborated the claim of this defendant that he presented at trial, that he himself provided the information which led to his arrest and this indictment. In the interest of justice…..the government will thereafter move to dismiss the indictment…Furthermore, an investigation of Defendant’s allegations has been initiated.”  (Read document)

The case was dismissed against that defendant as a result, but the AUSA is still prosecuting cases and the promised “internal investigation” has resulted in nothing at all (no public disclosure) or has concluded that the AUSA could stay, continue to prosecute, and not get indicted.

What do you think would have happened to a defense attorney who acted that way? He/she would have lost their license, been prosecuted for sure, and landed in prison.

People don’t want to believe that some guardians of justice in this Country can be as corrupt as the criminals they pursue. There’s a reason why prosecutors often joke: “Anyone can convict the guilty; it takes real work to convict the innocent.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so scary.