Constitutional Law

Prosecutors Worry That Defense Lawyer Comments Are Putting Witnesses in Danger

Unlike their counterparts in New Jersey, who have brought a high-profile criminal case against a prominent defense attorney in Newark, federal prosecutors in Maryland aren’t accusing local attorneys of intentionally making trouble for witnesses cooperating with the government.

But at least twice, federal prosecutors say, defense lawyers have inadvertently disclosed sensitive information that led to witness slayings, reports the Baltimore Sun.

One of the two attorneys they name was stunned at the claim, telling the newspaper that his now-murdered client and a close friend accused of killing him were like brothers and saying that he doesn’t believe he revealed anything of import to the suspect.

At a recent meeting for state and federal prosecutors about witness intimidation, one topic of discussion was persuading judges to keep sensitive information from defense attorneys, the newspaper notes.

“When we follow the rules and disclose to private lawyers that someone may be cooperating with law enforcement, we rely on them as officers of the court to keep the information from getting into the wrong hands,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a written statement provided to the Sun.

Related coverage: “Pro Se Ex-Prosecutor Accused of Conspiring to Murder an FBI Informant Wins a Mistrial”

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