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Could Federal Prosecutorial Misconduct Free Edwin Edwards?

Patterico has some questions:

Did a prosecutor in the New Orleans U.S. Attorney's Office commit misconduct which could jeopardize the conviction of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards? Did a defendant who turned state's evidence against Edwards bribe Congressman William Jefferson to influence the former U.S. Attorney to get a better deal for himself? Did the Department of Justice ignore evidence of these claims?

These are the allegations made by an indicted attorney. In a lengthy post, Patterico finds the allegations plausible and worth further investigation.

BruceM (mail) (www):
But prosecutors can do whatever they want. They can suborn perjury, they can put on witnesses they know to be lying, they can reward witnesses for lying, they can withhold or destroy exculpatory evidence, they can lie to the judge and to the jury, and it's all immune.
4.28.2008 9:12pm
OrinKerr:
BruceM,

If the allegations are true, isn't the prosecutor personally liable under Burns v. Reed? This isn't my area, but I thought that absolute prosecutorial immunity was limited to the actual litigation of the case. See also the recent cert grant in Goldstein v. van de Kamp.
4.28.2008 9:26pm
Roscoe B. Means:
All that reading sure was a waste of time.

It's amazing how something "sinister" can be woven from nonsense. The only thing the blogger claims he "confirmed" is that a lawyer who previously represented one of the witnesses against the governor later became partners with a member of the USA's office in a land buy that took place while the governor's (not the client's) habeas petition was till pending. In other words, not only after the trial, but after the direct appeal was concluded. DOH! If there's a rule against going into business with a lawyer who used to represent a witness in a past case, there are a lot of law firms that need to be disbanded. I'm in major trouble myself, too. I'm married to a woman who was previously represented by a lawyer who was my adversary in several cases over the years, and now he's one of my law partners. OMG, Do I get disbarred if that gets out?
4.28.2008 9:40pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Orin, Burns v. Reed allows a lawsuit for a prosecutor advising police, not for anything that takes place during trial. Goldstein v. van de Kamp concedes the aforementioned immunity I describe but asks the court to limit it only to the prosecutor actually trying the case (and lying and suborning the perjured testimony etc) and not his superiors in the DA's office who set policy. So, you can't sue the prosecutor for knowingly putting on purjured testimony, but maybe you can sue his boss if you can show he had an official policy of using perjured testimony to get convictions. Maybe... somehow I bet the SCOTUS will want to stick to a nice, clean "bright line" rule of absolute immunity for prosecutors stemming from actings on the part of the state during a criminal trial.
4.28.2008 9:53pm
Patterico (mail) (www):
I don't mean to imply in my post that there is anything "sinister" about the land deal.

My basic take is this: the allegations are sensational. They may be true and they may not be. They're being made by an alleged thief and fraudster, and as such are inherently suspect. They are, however, very detailed, and some of them seem easily verifiable (or refutable) by those who have access to the necessary resources.

What I found interesting was that the one part that we could figure out a way to verify through public records turned out to be true. That certainly doesn't mean the rest of the allegations are true, and the U.S. Attorney's office is definitely denying it strenuously. I hope they're right.

But I'd like to know why they're sealing the letter from OPR finding no merit to the allegations, and I'd like to have confidence that someone has investigated the allegations thoroughly, given their seriousness (if true).
4.28.2008 9:57pm
OrinKerr:
BruceM,

I think we're missing each other. My quick perusal of the allegations suggests that they do not concern the actual conduct of the trial, at least as interpreted in Burns v. Reed. Do you disagree?
4.28.2008 10:01pm
OrinKerr:
FWIW, Patterico also sent the post to me, and after reading it, I decided not to blog it. As Patterico says above, "the allegations are sensational. . . . They're being made by an alleged thief and fraudster, and as such are inherently suspect." I couldn't understand how the verified part of the story was important to the claims of misconduct, so it seemed too fishy to pass on at this point. That was my sense, at least; as is the nature of such claims, it all depends on your thresholds for passing on speculation.
4.28.2008 10:05pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Yeah, it seems to be more of a conflict of interest issue here. Like that's not going to be harmless error....
4.28.2008 10:21pm
TerrencePhilip:
Perdigao has ADMITTED his wrongdoing, in meetings with the government, as he has dragged on and on his indictment in hopes of putting off his inevitable prison date. These allegations he makes came in a motion to recuse the ENTIRE local U.S. attorney's office from prosecuting him. The government responded on April 21, noting that (a) it had referred his allegations to Big Justice for them to review, though it scathingly denounced them, and (b) there is apparently little to no suggestion in the case law that Perdigao can actually obtain the sought relief of recusing the office.

You should consider the source before suggesting these allegations are true. Perdigao, by his own admission, stole 30 million dollars from his clients (he diverted millions in billing from his own law firm to accounts that he had secretly created). It is hard to see how Perdigao could know about these alleged bribes, unless he played some role in their delivery.

These kinds of incendiary allegations are defense-bar porn: sensational, reckless and evidence-free claims of a vast conspiracy of wrongdoing. It's remarkable how people will embrace them. I'd be more likely to give my bank account number to a Nigerian e-mail scammer, than to take Perdigao's word for what time of day it was. But I guess extreme "facts" can make for a lively blog post.

But I guess the 9/11 truthers, the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorists, etc etc, are proof positive that at any given time 1/3 of the country will believe anything. Perhaps we could link this minor episode in with the "paranoid style in American politics" series of posts?
4.28.2008 10:38pm
jccamp:
I guess my problem is that Perdiago would have us believe that the AUSA prepping him for trial admitted in casual conversation to perjury, misuse of USAO staff, forgery, uttering (a forged instrument), misrepresentation of billing and some other stuff. The AUSA dropped these little bombs not on his priest, his wife, his lawyer or best friend, but on 2 felons who were ratting out former associates to gain leniency in sentencing. Yeah, trustworthy people for a prosecutor to confide in. The world's dumbest AUSA apparently.

Perdiago also seems to claim that the U S Attorneys, FBI agents and IRS agents were all in the conspiracy, along with the Public Integrity (IG?) people in DC.

Perdiago himself: he stole 30 million from his firm, got caught and immediately agreed to give up his friends and former partners at his law firm. But I'm sure Perdiago wold draw the line at telling a falsehood about the people who put him away.

There a lot in his allegations about Jefferson. Justice is still actively investigating Jefferson and others, and I'm sure they do not want their responses to be made public, because refuting Perdiago's allegations may involve revealing the state of the Jefferson investigation. No huge mystery about Justice wanting the records sealed.

This is a story about nothing.
4.28.2008 11:10pm
jccamp:
Well, "I'm sure Perdiago wold draw"

would, not a moor
4.28.2008 11:12pm
Leon Avalos (mail) (www):
ur damn right it was misconduct big time oh well
http://getcreditsavy.com
4.29.2008 12:21am
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4.29.2008 12:59am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
bruceM-its also worth noting that nobody is suing the prosecutor here-they are moving to remove him from prosecuting a particular case-
4.29.2008 2:07am
Patterico (mail) (www):
I guess my problem is that Perdiago would have us believe that the AUSA prepping him for trial admitted in casual conversation to perjury, misuse of USAO staff, forgery, uttering (a forged instrument), misrepresentation of billing and some other stuff. The AUSA dropped these little bombs not on his priest, his wife, his lawyer or best friend, but on 2 felons who were ratting out former associates to gain leniency in sentencing. Yeah, trustworthy people for a prosecutor to confide in. The world's dumbest AUSA apparently.

Maybe.

Spitzer was pretty dumb, though. Who could have imagined how dumb? Sometimes people do dumb things.
4.29.2008 3:30am
Patterico (mail) (www):
FWIW, Patterico also sent the post to me, and after reading it, I decided not to blog it. As Patterico says above, "the allegations are sensational. . . . They're being made by an alleged thief and fraudster, and as such are inherently suspect." I couldn't understand how the verified part of the story was important to the claims of misconduct, so it seemed too fishy to pass on at this point. That was my sense, at least; as is the nature of such claims, it all depends on your thresholds for passing on speculation.

I guess you can congratulate yourself for having higher standards than the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which reported the allegations days ago.

What our post added was evidence that one of the allegations had some basis in fact.
4.29.2008 3:51am