Monday, April 8, 2013

Notes on Reading the Administrative Judge's Ruling Regarding the Suspensions of Two Ted Stevens Prosecutors


Reading the administrative judge's ruling allows me to elaborate on two points and give news on another.

The first point to elaborate is that the procedural defect identified by the administrative judge leading to reversal of the suspensions was a violation of the Justice Department's procedures in deciding internal discipline for prosecutors.   The administrative judge ruled that the procedures called for a Justice Department attorney not in management to take the first crack at deciding discipline and that the procedures were violated by what actually happened in the handling of two of the Ted Stevens prosecutors.  

What actually happened with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joe Bottini and James Goeke is that the Justice Department first gave the decision to a line attorney in the Professional Misconduct Review Unit and then took away that decision from him when that line attorney concluded that the prosecutors did not commit professional misconduct as the Justice Department defined it.   The line attorney's supervisor then decided that both prosecutors should serve suspensions for their roles in not turning over evidence that should have been disclosed to the defense.   The Justice Department ultimately issued a 40-day suspension for Bottini and a 15-day suspension for Goeke. 

The second point to elaborate is that although the administrative judge did not decide on the merits of the suspensions, he stated that there is "considerable question" as to whether the suspension could be upheld given that they appeared to be more severe than those imposed in the past for similar conduct. 

The news is that Bottini has not served any portion of the suspension and that Goeke has only served one day.

The Department of Justice can appeal the administrative judge's decision, but has so far apparently offered no comment.

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