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Legal Ethics

Dismiss Ye Gon Case Due to DOJ ‘Systemic Failure,’ Defender Agencies Urge Judge

Posted Jul 28, 2009 4:27 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Joining in a call by private defense lawyers representing Zhenli Ye Gon to dismiss the federal drug conspiracy indictment against him with prejudice, two Washington, D.C., public defender agencies say the way the U.S. Department of Justice has handled the high-profile case against the Mexican millionaire merits this sanction.

Invited by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to offer their opinions on the issue, the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia and the D.C. Public Defender say in a joint filing that seeming delay by federal prosecutors in providing exculpatory material to the defense merits dismissal with prejudice rather than the dismissal without prejudice that the government is seeking, according to the Blog of Legal Times.

Although the Department of Justice contends the government has not violated its discovery obligations and simply has decided it would be better to let the Mexican government proceed first with its own criminal prosecution of Ye Gon, “the problem with the government’s explanation is that the facts upon which it rests were always present in this case,” the joint brief argues.

Meanwhile, the defendant has spent two years in segregated custody as his speedy trial rights were repeatedly tolled at the government's request, the public defender agencies point out.

Even if Sullivan should find that the DOJ didn't violate its discovery obligations, they contend, the judge could still dismiss the Ye Gon case with prejudice if he finds that a lack of candor, a"spirit of gamesmanship" and a failure to live up to federal prosecutors' obligations set forth in the U.S. Attorneys' Manual in this and other cases “represents a systemic failure of the Department of Justice that demands reproach."

A copy of the amicus brief (PDF) is provided by the BLT, along with a copy of the DOJ brief (PDF) to which it responds

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "DOJ Seeks to Dismiss High-Profile Meth Case, Citing ‘Evidentiary Concerns’"

ABAJournal.com: "Stevens Debacle Shows More Oversight of Prosecutors is Needed, Experts Say"

ABAJournal.com: "New DOJ Evidence Debacle: AG Says Gov’t Disclosure Dubious in 2 More Alaska Cases"

ABAJournal.com: "Fed’l Judge Threatens US Sanctions in Case Over Claimed Warrantless Attorney Wiretaps"

ABAJournal.com: "Jury Acquits W.R. Grace and Former Execs in Landmark Criminal Asbestos Case"

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