Patterico's Pontifications

11/29/2012

The Untold Story of the Shenanigans in a Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Louisiana — and Why Eric Holder Should Be Asked About It

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 am

Wow. This order from the U.S. District Court from the Eastern District of Louisiana describes an utter trainwreck of federal prosecutors running amok, posting anonymous comments on the local paper’s web site mocking the defense during their pending, high-profile trial . . . and then lying to a federal district judge about it.

There are two points I would like to make about this.

First, AUSA Jan Mann is one of the people excoriated by the judge for leaving numerous comments on nola.com about a pending case and lying about it. Mann was quoted in the press at the time James O’Keefe was prosecuted by this same office. And at the time of O’Keefe’s prosecution, guess what she said?

Mann, the first assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, declined to talk about specifics of the case, but said there were are no ulterior motives with their case.

“We don’t try cases in the press,” Mann told FoxNews.com. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is motivated by nothing more than what we believe is to mandate and enforce the existing laws that were put in place to ensure the safety and security of federal buildings.”

We don’t try cases in the press — unless we do so anonymously, and then lie to the court about it.

I wonder if they left anonymous comments about the O’Keefe case. I especially wonder whether they left such comments on nola.com. Frankly, I don’t see how they could have helped themselves.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .

Second of all, some of the commentary on this misses what is perhaps the most disturbing revelation of the opinion: the willful blindness of the Washington D.C. Office of Professional Responsibility. When J. Christian Adams (linked by Instapundit) invokes Eric Holder’s name at Pajamas Media, he seems to focus on the behavior of the two government lawyers who made misrepresentations to the court:

I will have more on this stunning development later. In sum, the Eric Holder-run Justice Department prosecuted several New Orleans police officers for conduct during Hurricane Katrina. During the case, it seems a couple of attorneys were acting very very badly, to the detriment of the defendants’ due process rights. Here is the opinion issued this week. It is worth a read to see what government lawyers are capable of.

I’ll grant you that those lawyers’ actions appear to be the most egregious described in the order. But it’s also worth noting the extreme skepticism that the judge expresses in DoJ’s Washington, D.C. Office of Professional Responsibility:

“It is difficult to imagine how this could have possibly been missed by OPR. . .” He is saying that Holder’s DoJ ethics watchdogs are incompetent.

But, of course, there is another possibility. They could be corrupt.

Either way, the inadequacy of the investigation is a fair charge to place at Holder’s feet. And I think he should be asked about it. So spread the word about this order. It’s an entertaining story about shenanigans in the Louisiana U.S. Attorney’s Office that prosecuted James O’Keefe — but it’s also a story that raises deadly serious questions about whether Eric Holder is trying to keep his unethical lawyers in check.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

73 Responses to “The Untold Story of the Shenanigans in a Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Louisiana — and Why Eric Holder Should Be Asked About It”

  1. Ding!

    Patterico (8b3905)

  2. Nothing to see here folks; move along please.

    The journalistic Dana (3e4784)

  3. I’m just shocked to learn that lawyers were misbehaving.

    Elephant Stone (65d289)

  4. Well, how can they not be disbarred by now?

    SarahW (7c3d35)

  5. In Louisiana, it’s called, “The Huey Long arm of the law.”

    Elephant Stone (65d289)

  6. I miss the days of an honest DOJ … like when it was run by John Mitchell …

    SPQR (768505)

  7. I am sure the Cops were racist so all is good.

    Rodney King's Spirit (951136)

  8. Good point regarding the O’Keefe prosecution. It’s more than fair to wonder if the prosecutors’ behavior is unusual or part of a pattern.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  9. So does anyone have a complete list of the posts lied about? Is it in the linked document or on PACER?

    It would help with searches and comparisons with Nola.com O’Keefe threads.

    SarahW (7c3d35)

  10. While nothing about Louisiana law and politics (the two are impossible to separate in the Sportsman’s Paradise) will ever surprise me, learning that we call it the Huey Long arm of the law is a total shock. We just call it corruption, and have tried to remove what we can. To know that it has happened in US Attorney Jim Letten’s office is a also a surprise, as he has appeared to be above that level of incompetence. I hope he is and will act soon.

    This is, however, a failure of ethics, which goes back to a view that law schools may be failing in our country when teaching that area of law.

    reff (899563)

  11. Should send this post to Balko…it’s right up his alley.

    time123 (33ce8e)

  12. Reff: as a non-practicing attorney (i get to call myself that now :)) with a long history on the itnernet, I’m horrified by this ethical violation. Commenting online on a pending case isn’t ok … and doing so anonymously doesn’t make it better.

    I would hope that the Louisiana bar sanctions these lawyers, although my suspicion is they won’t.

    aphrael (5d993c)

  13. I would be surprised to find Perricone having interest in or anything particular to say about O’Keefe, since his hobby horse is a “failed NOPD”. I would not be surprised to find similar conduct in the office by others though. There was some Jan Man action in the Danziger matter, and in my opinion there is reason to think they were colluding, despite denials, and in the Danziger pdf, there is suggestion that participation included other court employees and even other officers of the court.

    Sal Perricone “handles” include:

    HenryL.Mencken1951
    legacyusa
    dramatis personae
    campstblue and/or campstreetblue and/or campstblu -he was not ‘certain’ which variation (he said all appeared at the site) he used and claimed he did not recall making some posts made by campstblue, all this was found to be fibbery, p.28 of Danziger filing pdf at link)

    Denied being “Eweman” or knowing who this was. Eweman posts made contemporaneously with mutual support of Perricone posts.

    Jan Maselli Mann:

    eweman – there is a literary analysis done at some point referenced in court documents. SHe later admitted eweman was herself.

    SarahW (7c3d35)

  14. Greetings:

    Didn’t F.A. Hayek write something in his “The Road to Serfdom” about bad people rising in organizations because they’re willing to do bad things ???

    11B40 (b86b9c)

  15. Well in similar notes, Serino the officer who recommended Zimmerman be prosecuted, is being defended by Jose Baez, the slimy nazgul who succeeded in obfuscating the facts in the Caylee
    Anthony case.

    narciso (ee31f1)

  16. reff, I apologize if I caused you shock.
    I was simply making a harmless little word play on Huey Long’s name.
    I thought it could be safely appreciated that he was a corrupt S.O.B. who liked to use the executive branch to punish his political enemies—just as Obama likes to do.

    Elephant Stone (65d289)

  17. So, here’s an ABA journal source, with a linked legal-doc pdf and some notes about the literary analysis in the pdf.

    The lawsuit (PDF) cited several clues that Mann was the likely author of the eweman posts at NOLA.com, the Times-Picayune website. They included: Eweman used “superfluous spacing before punctuation marks,” just as Mann had done in other writings. Eweman used ellipses without spacing between periods as Mann had done in a pleading. One of the online posts used an obscure term, “fender lizard,” to refer to “cop groupies,” a phrase that that Mann had used in conversation. Also, the posts “attack individuals for whom Ms. Mann is known to feel great personal antipathy.”

    “Eweman” appears to be inspired by the initials of former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, in combination with Mann’s last name, the suit by landfill owner Fred Heebe says. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on the lawsuit last week.

    SarahW (7c3d35)

  18. Fender lizard? CHeez

    SarahW (7c3d35)

  19. In re: # 10

    Is it the law schools which are failing or the products thereto? You can teach ethics all you want, but the seeds will fall on infertile ground if the student is at heart morally corrupt. The fault lies internally with the person. All we can do is weed them out. We will find out where US Attorney Jim Letten fits on the scale.

    Bill M (e0a4e5)

  20. The Judge suggesting that nobody would be surprised if the DOJ found no wrong doing on the part of Perricone or Mann as a result of its internal investigation of itself is a nice smackdown.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  21. Like the prosecutors who conjured up a prosecution against Stevens, some of whom, are still prosecuting cases like the CIA leaker Sterling, and public officials in Alabama.

    narciso (ee31f1)

  22. Isn’t this the same office that got it’s butt spanked by the Court in the matter of the government’s shutdown of oil-drilling after the BP Blowout?

    As to Law School and Ethics:
    Perhaps part of the LSAT should require the successful completion of a course/test on ethics?

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  23. Maybe professional responsibility courses should discuss right and wrong rather than solely how to operate within regulations and laws.

    But the problem isn’t education. The DOJ could find ethical lawyers if it wanted to.

    Dustin (73fead)

  24. I think that might be a serious problem actually Dustin.

    First you are limited to those lawyers willing to work for the DOJ, so you lose a considerable number of ethical lawyers right off the bat. This includes those who use their ethics as their guide and work for non-profits, those who find the idea of working to incarcerate a problem, those with strong objections to the death penalty and so on.

    Second you are limited to lawyers with not obviously incorrect politics, which wipes out a goodly portion of the lawyer pool who have ethics because they have taken ethical stands on political issues.

    Third you have to select lawyers according to political correctness, and since everyone else is recruiting minority/women lawyers and can offer more, you are left with the dregs of the minority/women barrel.

    Not that it is impossible for the DOJ to find ethical lawyers, it just might be harder than you think.

    max (131bc0)

  25. I thought you had written about this before. That would be Sal perricone, I guess.

    Google now doesn’t seem to like you as much, but i found a blog that had alink to something you posted 4 1/2 years ago:

    http://patterico.com/2008/04/27/indicted-attorney-alleges-misconduct-at-us-attorneys-office-in-louisiana/

    There seems to be some kind of a GENERAL PROBLEM in that office.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  26. This is where the link came from:

    http://timespicayuneonusattyjimletten.blogspot.com

    recent Times Picayune articles on US Atty Letten

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008
    **UPDATED: November 7, 2012

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  27. Louisiana Senators’ Comments Suggests Uncertain Future for Letten

    Letten has been U S Attorney since 2001. There must have been quite a bit of logrolling going on to keep him there through two successive administrations.

    Vitter: Job of Bush Holdover U.S. Attorney is Safe – January 29, 2010

    Senator Vitter was holding up all DOJ and judicial nominations in Louisiana until he received official word from the Obama Administration that they weren’t looking for a replacement. (Mary Landrieu apparently was satisfied with more informal assurances)

    This is from a blog called http://www.mainjustice.com/

    Which says it is “Just Anti-corruption”.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  28. Comment by SPQR (768505) — 11/29/2012 @ 8:02 am

    I miss the days of an honest DOJ … like when it was run by John Mitchell …

    Quite true. It was sometime later in the 1970s that all the anti-Mafia informants identities were exposed and a lot of them were killed.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  29. Letten about corruptiuon, 2011 (YOu Tube video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1OmNWdEQC8

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  30. ttp://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/09/us_attorney_jim_letten_deems_h.html

    U.S. Attorney Jim Letten expressed comfort Friday with a federal judge’s decision to imprison a Metairie heroin dealer for 12 years, three less than the term sought in the plea agreement between prosecutors and the defendant. “It’s an appropriate sentence in light of all the circumstances that the judge had to consider,” Letten said.

    He would not elaborate, and the court records in the case of Matthew S. Olvany, 32, shed little light on the sentence.

    Olvany supplied the heroin that killed a co-worker during Carnival 2008. He and his attorney struck an agreement with Letten’s office for a 15-year sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.

    But U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon, whom President Clinton appointed to the bench, banished him Thursday for 12 years. That came after the sentencing was delayed eight times from the originally scheduled date of April 22, 2010, according to court records. The records do not reflect who requested the delays, or why.

    I guess they hired the right lawyer, and somebody decided they had to give the lawyer something so as to maintain his reputation. Maybe this enabled the lawyer to collect an extra fee, some of which he passed on.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  31. You know if Letten is trying to help or protect big time drug dealers, he would go after the police department.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  32. Pat,

    did you get ny Nov 8 email bshowing you this story?

    also Mann was clasmates from kindergarten with Mary Landrieu and their fathers were best friends

    EPWJ (4380b4)

  33. cant type on these cellphones…

    EPWJ (4380b4)

  34. So the prosecutor sentenced someone less then the plea bargain, ‘winning the future’

    narciso (ee31f1)

  35. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten Speaks About Office Controversy

    http://news.yahoo.com/video/u-attorney-jim-letten-speaks-043510190.html

    WDSU-TV news story, (Channel 6 in New Orleans)

    He says it would be inapprpriate for him to comment on whether others maybe also were posting anonymously online.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  36. “There seems to be some kind of a GENERAL PROBLEM in that office.”

    Sammy – This is just a restatement of the obvious based upon what Patterico posted and if you take the time to follow the links which he graciously provided, particularly the one regarding Christian Adams, which leads to a better copy of the Judge’s Order that he excerpted in his post.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  37. http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Magazine/August-2012/SAL-PERRICONES/

    Contradicting widespread rumors to the contrary, Perricone insisted that no one in the U.S. Attorney’s Office knew that he anonymously posted comments on nola.com as “Henry L. Mencken1951” – until he told Letten himself on March 13.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  38. the department of justice is one of your more third world pieces of government, even for America

    happyfeet (59b1dd)

  39. Should be renamed: Department of Corruption…

    This is just like New Mexico politics– these people are corrupt and no longer have a sense of what justice is.

    PolitixFireball (cfd2a8)

  40. “Contradicting widespread rumors to the contrary, Perricone insisted that no one in the U.S. Attorney’s Office knew that he anonymously posted comments on nola.com as “Henry L. Mencken1951” – until he told Letten himself on March 13.”

    Sammy – The Judge sort of indicated in his order in the link provided he did not find that assertion credible, especially after another AUSA confessed in November to posting anonymous comments on the same site which were curiously often directly supportive of those of Perricone.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  41. The first thing I did after reading this post was to find a photo of Jan Mann online. Unlike every previous instance I can recall, I learned she isn’t black. I really hate to say that and, before this administration, it would not have occurred to me.

    Mike K (326cba)

  42. Stop disparaging Eric Holder’s people!

    Icy (TrvthBtOld) (486530)

  43. Don’t f***ing lie to the Court! If you do, start learning how to do wills and real estate closings because you will never have credibility before a judge again.

    nk (875f57)

  44. And nobody needs law school to know not to lie.

    nk (875f57)

  45. It is disturbing to me. A sure sign of collapse is corruption of the judiciary. Lie? wasnt Roger Clements prosecuted for that?

    Susan Harms (92adaf)

  46. america needs a reboot

    it’s bsod no matter what buttons you push anymore

    happyfeet (59b1dd)

  47. Lying to the court should carry the same consequences as perjured testimony.

    Even then, some will still do it because they’re the “smartest person in the room”.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  48. america needs a reboot

    “…The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure…”
    -T. Jefferson

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  49. As a general rule, if a witness corrects his misspoken testimony, before evidence closes, it is not perjury. But for lawyers, the standard is much stricter. They are officers of the court and their duty is to advance justice not derail it.

    Now, I have brought merely colorable arguments before the court, in death penalty cases and some mandatory minimum cases, just to buy time. I could have been disciplined, I suppose, but the court understood. The judge just denied me. It was a stretch of the law, not a lie.

    In another thread, Patterico said he admired Perry Mason more than Hamilton Burger. Perry Mason had the freedom and duty to stretch the law as much as possible on behalf of his client. Hamilton Burger, as a prosecutor, was confined. He could only present what in good faith he could prove, and was in the interest of justice, not what would gain him a conviction.

    nk (875f57)

  50. Not that these murderous NOLA police who shot those refugees from Katrina on the bridge did not deserve harsher sentences than they got. The court witheld judgment on that and I agree.

    nk (875f57)

  51. In another thread, Patterico said he admired Perry Mason more than Hamilton Burger. Perry Mason had the freedom and duty to stretch the law as much as possible on behalf of his client. Hamilton Burger, as a prosecutor, was confined. He could only present what in good faith he could prove, and was in the interest of justice, not what would gain him a conviction.

    I said I liked Perry Mason as a kid because he actually caught the bad guy.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  52. Sorry, that I misunderstood you. They really were detective stories.

    nk (875f57)

  53. Perry Mason is a fantasy.
    To quote them, “It is just Spin,” and it happens all over the US everyday,not just in Louisana. That’s why they brag about being able to “indict a ham sandwich”. Past time for citizens to wake up about the D O inJ.

    Maxwel (6bdf0b)

  54. Saw an episode, today, with Mike Connors (Mannix) as Joe Kelly substituting for Perry Mason. It was another Erle Stanley Gardner lawyer/detective story that I had spoken of before.

    nk (875f57)

  55. Well, no. You cannot indict a ham sandwich. (That’s Hollywood nonsense.)

    And a pre-trial hearing is not a fantasy. It is a trial. Defendants, sometimes, want to avoid it, because the evidence presented there can be used at the “real” trial in the absence of the witness.

    nk (875f57)

  56. Unlike grand jury. Evidence presented at trial, I mean.

    Look, if the evidence is there, you’re gonna go to trial, anyway. For the most part, the prosecutor will not push the case unless he’s pretty sure he’ll survive a directed verdict, no matter the standard for grand jury or pre-trial hearing.

    nk (875f57)

  57. For law students.

    There is a constitutional right of confrontation, and a rules of evidence right of cross-examination.

    Prosecution witnesses tend to move. Or go to prison. Or die.

    If the prosecution cannot bring them in at trial, but you had the opportunity to examine them at a prior hearing, their testimony from the prior hearing is admissible at your trial.

    There is no opportunity for confrontation or cross in a grand jury proceeding so no “testimony” presented there is admissible at your trial.

    nk (875f57)

  58. And yes, grand jury is mostly the reading of the police report, which is inadmissible in any case. Sigh.

    nk (875f57)

  59. Unbelievable. Another story being ignored.

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  60. My favorite part is the beginning where it goes U.S. District Court from the Eastern District of Louisiana, ha ha ha, everybody knows they have parishes.

    bour3 (fb1918)

  61. Moron

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  62. bour3, Louisiana has parishes, but the federal courts have districts.

    nk (875f57)

  63. New Orleans is one of Obomas strongholds. Louisiana Purchase Landrieu’s brother “runs” it as the Mayor, but Bammys point man is cedric richmond who Bammy outed the Vietnamese congressman for. Marshal Law/Decree has been set up by Holder in exchange for a sense of security for the white people from the drug gangs. New Supreme Court Judge who is not qualified helped “seal the deal”. This is the tip of the iceberg. Louisiana Purchase Senator Mary Landrieu is pandering big time right now as she comes up for reelection in 2014. Louisiana Politics at its finest.

    post*tenebras*lux (c0e9b0)

  64. Ahh, but the Delta is such a beautiful, dirty place. I wish I could have stayed there.

    nk (875f57)

  65. Are these the same internal investigators that Holder set loose to get to the bottom of the Fast And Furious affair? If so, I can’t say I’m surprised at all by these results.

    Socratease (2d5680)

  66. nk,

    What do you think about this report that federal district judge Sirica secretly revealed to the Watergate prosecutor (and apparently didn’t tell anyone else) about information from E. Howard Hunt’s confidential probation report that implicated higher-up Nixon officials?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  67. It’s in keeping with many of the misrepresentations that Holland found Woodward had made, when examining the Pakula papers, (the director of ‘All the President’s men) either erroneous or clearly biased sourcing,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  68. As I remember, DRJ, Sirica was excoriated at the time for his prosecutorial attitude. The second prosecutor in the courtroom. And of course, ex-parte communications with the prosecution, deliberately hidden from the defense, should be disciplinable even impeachable.

    nk (875f57)

  69. That’s what I thought, too, but I don’t practice criminal law and this seems so blatant that I wondered if there might be an exception. Maybe there was — the “in the national interest and because I want to” exception.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  70. Hmm. There is actually a procedure for when a judge feels he must disclose a matter under seal or that he had heard in camera. He recuses himself from that part of the proceeding, and refers the movant to another judge, usually his chief judge. Judges must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    I think the biggest fault was concealing it from the defense. What’s the Watergate catchphrase, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up”?

    nk (875f57)

  71. Breaking news Friday New York Times page A17:

    Crusading New Orleans Prosecutor to Quit, Facing Staff Misconduct

    U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, the longest serving U.S. Attorney in the nation, announced he was resigning as of Tuesday (December 11)

    Almost seven paragraphs, beginning with the second sentence in paragraph 3 recount the controversy about prosecutors in is office leaving comments under pseudonyms at nola.com including the possibility of criminal conduct.

    Then we learn Senator Mary L. Landrieu praised him, but also called his departure a necessary step and he also got praise from Attorney General Holder.

    An interim replacement was named by DOJ on Thursday as well as a special prosecutor (from Georgia) to look into the office’s internal problems.

    Then 9 paragraphs on Letten’s record and reputation. Mostly that he got praised and praised himself for ferreting out corruption. The on;y criticism mentioned is that some people said he wasn’t agggresively pursuing civil rights violations. But then he became the public face of DOJ inquiries into the New Orleans Police Department

    Then while Letten was seen as the good cop, Perricone and Mann were seen as the “other” cops (The New York Times will not use the term “bad” here)

    Then 3 paragraphs about how Fred Heebe (who had actually been the front-runner for the position in 2001 until an ex-wife accused him of abuse0 broughta about Letten’s downfall.

    Then a final paragraph quoting someone that its a shame.

    Sammy Finkelman (dcc9ca)

  72. Comment by post*tenebras*lux (c0e9b0) — 12/1/2012 @ 4:29 am

    New Orleans is one of Obomas strongholds. Louisiana Purchase Landrieu’s brother “runs” it as the Mayor, but Bammys point man is cedric richmond who Bammy outed the Vietnamese congressman for.

    I think the 5th word from the end of the last sentence is supposed to be ousted not outed.

    Marshal Law/Decree has been set up by Holder in exchange for a sense of security for the white people from the drug gangs. New Supreme Court Judge who is not qualified helped “seal the deal”.

    What, what?!

    This is the tip of the iceberg. Louisiana Purchase Senator Mary Landrieu is pandering big time right now as she comes up for reelection in 2014. Louisiana Politics at its finest.

    Any detail?

    Sammy Finkelman (dcc9ca)

  73. Comment by nk (875f57) — 11/30/2012 @ 9:06 pm

    Well, no. You cannot indict a ham sandwich. (That’s Hollywood nonsense.)

    It’s not Hollywood nonsense. We know exactly who said it first.

    That actually was New York State Court of Appeals (the top court in New York State) Chief Judge Sol Wachler, who later got indicted himself and had to resign because of some stupidity over a woman.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/24/nyregion/no-indictment-in-a-killing-at-ind-stop.html

    Judge Wachtler wants part of the grand-jury system replaced by judges who indict or dismiss charges against people accused of crimes. Judge Wachtler has said prosecuters have so much power that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/05/news/bar-some-prisoners-see-sol-wachtler-case-ray-hope-for-their-petitions.html

    Mr. Chiarenza maintains that his conviction stemmed, in part, from prosecutorial misconduct before a grand jury; the same grand jury, Judge Wachtler said in his most famous utterance, that would indict a ham sandwich if asked.

    And a pre-trial hearing is not a fantasy. It is a trial. Defendants, sometimes, want to avoid it, because the evidence presented there can be used at the “real” trial in the absence of the witness.

    Because the witness has already been cross-examined by the defendant, or could have been, the testimony is admissible.

    Sammy Finkelman (dcc9ca)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2852 secs.