Defense Lawyers Citing DOJ Firings
Posted Jun 18, 2007 1:13 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The fallout over the firings of at least eight U.S. attorneys is having an impact in federal prosecutions.
Defense lawyers are beginning to question prosecutors’ motives following allegations that some U.S. attorneys were fired due to political considerations, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Lawyers cited the controversy in prosecutions involving Democrats in Missouri and Delaware, and in a child pornography case in Minnesota, the newspaper reports.
Justice Department officials respond that the defense lawyers are incorrect.
A federal judge sided with the government in the Delaware case, saying any improper motives could be disclosed in cross-examination at trial. The defendant later pleaded guilty to bank fraud.
In the Minneapolis case, lawyer Daniel Gerdts maintained the U.S. attorney had failed to exercise proper discretion in bringing charges against his client. The defendant, who worked for an adult video company to find pirated copies of its movies on the Internet, claimed he may have inadvertently downloaded child pornography as part of his job.
In closing arguments, Gerdts suggested an improper motive by the U.S. attorney, hired with the help of a Justice Department aide who has admitted politics influenced hiring decisions.
The judge instructed jurors to ignore that argument. They acquitted the defendant.