CREW Calls on Justice IG to Investigate Department's Systemic Supervision and Training Issues in Wake of Blackwater Decision

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Matt Jacob // 202.408.5565

CREW Calls on Justice IG to Investigate Department's Systemic Supervision and Training Issues in Wake of Blackwater Decision

WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked
Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine to investigate the
Criminal Division’s inadequate training and supervision of line
attorneys. CREW based its request on the December 31, 2009 dismissal of the indictments
of four Blackwater security guards after their constitutional rights
had been violated by prosecutors, as well as the decision of the United
States to drop all charges against former Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK)
after prosecutors failed to disclose evidence.

In the Blackwater case, Judge Ricardo Urbina was forced to dismiss
all charges against Blackwater security guards for their role in a
massacre that left 14 dead and 20 others wounded. The court found
government lawyers improperly relied on the compelled statements of the
defendants in pursuing the case. The worst example was using immunized
testimony to obtain a warrant to search email accounts to obtain drafts
of the defendants’ compelled written statements. This could not have
been done without the sign-off of at least one supervisor.

In April 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder asked a court to dismiss
the indictment of former Senator Ted Stevens although a jury already
had found him guilty because government prosecutors unconstitutionally
had failed to provide the defense with notes of an interview with a key
witness.

Although the Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing the
conduct of the prosecutors in the Stevens case, and is likely also
investigating that of the Blackwater prosecutors, CREW explained that
the IG should investigate because the cases suggest a bigger problem:
overall poor supervision and case management and inadequate training.
CREW also pointed to two other high profile cases: the search of former
Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) Capitol Hill office and the initial
indictment of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), in which prosecutors
violated the Speech or Debate Clause of the constitution.

CREW’s Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “The fact that
prosecutors have bungled such well-publicized matters – where you’d
think everyone would be at the top of their game – suggests misconduct,
ineptitude and insufficient training may be rampant in less visible
matters where defendants are not represented by elite criminal defense
lawyers, who have the tools necessary to expose these deficiencies.”
Sloan continued, “All Americans lose when those charged with grave
offenses escape prosecution not because of their innocence, but because
the Department of Justice has failed to properly train and supervise
its lawyers. An investigation by the IG and recommendations for
systemic reform would help restore public confidence in the department.”

Click here to read CREW’s letter to Inspector General Glenn Fine. Click here to read Judge Urbina’s December 31, 2009 opinion.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.

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