Legal Ethics

11th Circuit Nixes $600K Sanction Against Federal Prosecutors Who Secretly Probed Defense Counsel


A federal appeals court has overturned an unusual $600,000 award to a physician acquitted in 2009 of peddling painkillers.

In a written opinion (PDF) today, the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the trial judge abused his discretion by imposing sanctions over what he perceived as the prosecutors’ bad faith, “for a prosecution that was objectively reasonable.”

Among other issues, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold criticized the government for investigating Shaygan’s legal team based on a suspicion of witness tampering while prosecuting the physician. This was never confirmed, and taped evidence included conversations in which his counsel rejected bribes offered by government informants.

The $600,000 award to Dr. Ali Shaygan would have covered about half of his defense costs. One of his lawyers, David Markus, told the Miami Herald he will seek an en banc hearing before the entire 11th Circuit.

The Associated Press also has a story.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Federal Judge Sanctions US $600K for Secretly Taping Defense Lawyer”

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