Justice Dept’s Investigations of DOJ Attorneys, 2017
Within the Justice Department, the Office of Professional Responsibility is tasked with investigating certain kinds of professional misconduct by DOJ attorneys. This includes US Attorneys and their subordinates, as well as lawyers in other DOJ components (such as Immigration Review and the Criminal Division). Specifically, the OPR says:
“Misconduct allegations that OPR investigates include criminal and civil discovery violations; improper conduct before a grand jury; improper coercion, intimidation, or questioning of witnesses; improper introduction of evidence; lack of candor or misrepresentations to the court and/or opposing counsel; improper opening statements and closing arguments; failure to competently and diligently represent the interests of the government; failure to comply with court orders; unauthorized disclosure of confidential or secret government information; failure to keep supervisors informed of significant developments in a case; and the improper exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
Under the Freedom of Information Act, I asked OPR for the final memo for every investigation with substantiated findings that was closed during 2017. I received the PDF above, with memos for seventeen investigations covering fourteen Assistant US Attorneys, three former AUSAs, two former First Assistant US Attorneys, two senior attorneys, two trial attorneys, and a former senior trial counsel.
Some of the things revealed in the memos:
• an Assistant US Attorney let their bar membership lapse and was thus practicing law without a license.
• at least two Assistant US Attorneys withheld evidence from the defense.
• a trial attorney from a redacted component of the DOJ “made unauthorized disclosures of attorney-client privileged information to a third party.”
• a senior trial counsel in an unnamed DOJ division “purposely misrepresented factual information to the court and opposing counsel.”
• an Assistant US Attorney “improperly vouched for the government’s witnesses.”
If you want details, forget it. The memos are highly redacted. Not only are all names blacked out, so are pronouns, locations, and details of the misconduct, even when substantiated. All we get are generalities about the actions of these unnamed individuals. Seems like we have a right to know which federal officials (i.e. public servants) with direct power over people’s lives have committed professional misconduct and acted with “reckless disregard,” but, I guess that’s just me.