Attorney Misconduct, Benchslaps, California, Department of Justice, Federal Judges, Legal Ethics, Quote of the Day, Screw-Ups, U.S. Attorneys Offices, White-Collar Crime

Benchslap of the Day: What Not To Do If You’re A Prosecutor

Judge Matz

[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.

— Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)

(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)

There’s commentary on the Lindsey prosecution over at FCPA Blog and Forbes. Jan Handzlik, who represented the Lindsey defendants, had this statement: “We are very thankful for the ruling. It’s a great day for Keith Lindsey and Steve Lee. But it’s also a great day for the fair administration of justice. Without an independent judiciary and fair-minded judges, days like this wouldn’t be possible.”

In fairness to the government, Judge Matz did note — right before benchslapping the prosecutors in this case — that “[i]n this Court’s experience, almost all of the prosecutors in the Office of the United States Attorney for this district consistently display admirable professionalism, integrity and fairness.” So it’s not like alleged misconduct is a regular occurrence among AUSAs in the Central District.

And Judge Matz even criticized himself, as observed by Daniel Fisher of Forbes. The judge confessed that he missed “the proverbial forest for the trees,” due to the proliferation of paper in the case (“There were so many motions that it was difficult to step back and look into whether what was going on reflected not isolated acts but a pattern of invidious conduct.”).

You can check out Judge Matz’s 41-page ruling via Scribd.

UPDATE (4:00 PM): Read more commentary from Scott Greenfield, who highlights additional excerpts from the opinion and argues that “prosecutors have to murder babies before any judge will hold them accountable for misconduct.”

With ‘Deep Regret,’ Lindsey Judge Issues Final Order [FCPA Blog]
Lindsey Case Showed Value of Constitutional Protections [FCPA Blog]
Judge Slams FBI, Prosecutors For Misconduct in Bribery Case [Forbes]
Matz: Pretty Soon You’re Talking Misconduct [Simple Justice]
United States v. Aguilar Noriega [U.S. District Court for the Central District of California via Scribd]

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