Thursday, May 24, 2012

Justice Department Releases to Congress Internal Ethics Report on Ted Stevens Prosecution


As predicted, the Justice Department has released the Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR") report on the actions and omissions of prosecutors involved in the bungled prosecution of Ted Stevens.    Here is a link to the cover letter for the report.   

The seven-page cover letter says that the Justice Department determined yesterday that Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Bottini should be suspended for 40 days without pay and that Assistant U.S. Attorney James Goeke should be suspended for 15 days without pay for what the letter characterizes as "reckless professional misconduct."   The specific allegations of misconduct listed in the letter track those laid out in the court-appointed special counsel's report issued in March.

Notably, the Justice Department letter does not describe the any of the offending conduct by the prosecutors as intentional, which was the finding of the court-appointed special counsel's report.   It is also significant that the letter discloses that the Justice Department attorney at the Professional Misconduct Review Unit assigned to propose discipline based on the OPR report concluded that he "disagreed substantively" with the OPR report's findings of professional misconduct by the prosecutors and that this reviewing attorney was overruled by higher-level Justice Department officials.

The letter says that the Justice Department's determination regarding these suspensions is subject to those attorneys' rights to appeal them administratively.

[UPDATED to include a missing word--Joe Bottini's title is Assistant U.S. "Attorney."]   

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