Legal Ethics

Prosecutor fired after posing as ex-girlfriend in Facebook chat with defendant's alibi witnesses

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An Ohio prosecutor has been fired after admittedly posing as an ex-girlfriend of a murder defendant and chatting on Facebook with the man’s female alibi witnesses in an effort to get them to change their story.

Former assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Aaron Brockler told the Plain Dealer he had done nothing wrong and should not have been fired.

“I think the public is better off for what I did,” said Brockler, who has worked in the office since 2006. “Law enforcement, including prosecutors, have long engaged in the practice of using a ruse to obtain the truth.”

County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty called the conduct unethical and a disgrace to his office.

“By creating false evidence, lying to witnesses as well as another prosecutor, Aaron Brockler has damaged the prosecution’s chances in a murder case where a totally innocent man was killed at his work,” McGinty said.

Brockler told the newspaper he spoke with the alibi witnesses, in his true prosecutor persona, the day after causing the women “to go crazy” by pretending on Facebook to be murder defendant Damon Dunn’s ex-girlfriend. They both changed their stories at that point and said they weren’t going to lie for the defendant, Brockler contends.

His ruse, which Brockler said he never intended to keep secret, was revealed when another prosecutor handled the case while he was on medical leave. The other prosecutor called Brockler to ask about the Facebook chat transcripts in the file, and, after Brockler explained, took the issue to supervisors.

A disciplinary investigation ensued, and the office immediately transferred the Dunn prosecution to the state attorney general’s office.

Brockler called the response by his former office a “massive overreaction,” telling the Plain Dealer “I wasn’t some rogue prosecutor sitting behind a computer trying to wrongfully convict someone. I did what the Cleveland police detectives should have done before I got the file.”

See also: “Facebook Friend Request to Exec of Represented Corp. May Violate Ex Parte Rule, Opinion Says” “Suit Claims Investigator Hired by Law Firm Used Ruse to Friend 12-Year-Old Dog-Bite Plaintiff” “Ethics Opinion Warns Lawyers About Perils of Unintentional Juror Contact During Online Research” “NYC cops keep tabs on potential teen robbers with frequent interaction and fake Facebook profiles”

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