Ex-prosecutor blames Ambien, job pressure for Web posts he resigned over; says few were work-related
A former federal prosecutor who posted anonymous comments on a New Orleans newspaper blog–comments which helped derail several high-profile cases and the careers of multiple lawyers in the local U.S. Attorney’s office–says he did so because of the pressure of his job.
Interviewed recently at his home by a newspaper reporter, former assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone blamed burnout and cynicism for the release he found on the Internet. He says he was seduced by his seeming anonymity there, the Los Angeles Times (sub. req.) reports.
Although he reportedly posted about former police colleagues, judges he knew and investigation targets, he never did anything that influenced a jury, the 63-year-old told the Times. “In five years I made 2,600 comments on NOLA.com. Of those .0444% were work-related.”
Perricone is one of at least three U.S. government lawyers who posted anonymous comments on the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s page. At least four attorneys either resigned or were demoted in the aftermath of the scandal over the comments, including two who apparently did not post there. (One of these non-posters was now-former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.)
Perricone stepped down in 2012, after a defense lawyer realized that archaic language used in his posts, such as the word “dubiety,” was also used in his legal briefing.
In a response last month (PDF) to a show-cause order concerning his right to practice in the Middle District of Louisiana, Perricone blamed the prescription sleep aid Ambien for his lack of discretion in online comments. Perricone said that he was getting only a few hours of sleep nightly for years, reports Main Justice.
“As embarrassing as it is, I do not remember making many of the comments ascribed to me,” he wrote. “The effects of the drug I was taking seem to have had a somnabulent effect on me.”
ABAJournal.com: Federal Prosecutor Resigns After He Is Kicked Off Some Cases for Anonymous Online Comments”“
ABAJournal.com: “Anonymous Blog Comments Snag Another US Prosecutor; Suit Cited ‘Superfluous Spacing’ as Clue”
ABAJournal.com: “Judge cites ‘grotesque prosecutorial misconduct,’ reverses cop convictions in Danziger Bridge case”
Times-Picayune: “Sal Perricone says he can’t remember online comments because prescription drug made him sleepy”