In advance of tomorrow's U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ways to ensure that federal prosecutors meet their discovery obligations, the President of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys has written a letter protesting what he sees as the unfair dumping of blame on two Assistant U.S. Attorneys for errors in the botched Ted Stevens prosecution.
The letter by Robert Gay Guthrie states that "Mistakes undoubtedly occurred, but we believe that these mistakes were inadvertent and not willfully made by the two AUSAs. Moreover, we believe the entire team was culpable, not merely the two AUSAs."
The website www.mainjustice.com pointed out that Guthrie has previously described Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Bottini and James Goeke as "scapegoats." Guthrie attributes the bungling of the prosecution to errors committed by the entire trial team--composed of lawyers in the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section as well as the two Assistant U.S. Attorneys--and higher-ups in DoJ.
Guthrie's letter also describes misconduct by federal prosecutors as "infrequent" and opposes legislation to change the federal discovery rules in criminal cases.