As a former prosecutor, to me there is nothing worse than a bad one! Too often prosecutors fail to see that their job is to be FAIR, not just to get convictions. Note that this behavior gives hundreds of inmates good grounds to attack their convictions, and many guilty ones may go free.
Every prosecutor involved should be disbarred, nothing less.
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge in a scathing order this week held the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas in contempt of court for its pattern of misrepresentations, obfuscation and lack of cooperation during an investigation into a growing scandal. A ruling by U.S. District Court of Kansas Judge Julie Robinson late Tuesday capped a three-year probe that examined the extent to which federal prosecutors in Kansas had accessed recordings of confidential phone calls and meetings between defense attorneys and their clients at a private prison in Leavenworth.
Conversations between clients and their attorneys are confidential in nearly all aspects. Robinson found that federal prosecutors in Kansas determined on their own that they could access recordings of these discussions, tainting several criminal cases along the way.
At least three criminal defendants in Kansas have had their sentences vacated or their indictments dismissed as a result of the scandal. More than a hundred others have filed petitions for similar relief. “The Government’s wholesale strategy to delay, diffuse, and deflect succeeded in denying the individual litigants their day in court for almost three years,” Robinson wrote as part of a 188-page ruling.
Robinson ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to pay attorneys fees and the costs associated with delays caused in the case by the conduct of various federal prosecutors. That amount is yet to be determined.
“The court’s order speaks for itself and clearly so,” said federal public defender Melody Brannon.
Robinson’s order is the latest black eye for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, which had been tainted by claims of prosecutorial misconduct and internal dysfunction. “They were appalling, reprehensible,” said Carlos Moran, a Kentucky criminal defense attorney who had his conversations with a client in Kansas reviewed by prosecutors. “I can see that in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and things like that but I never expected that in a federal court.”
The U.S. Attorney scandal came to light in 2016 during the prosecution of inmates suspected of trafficking drugs within the walls of a private prison in Leavenworth operated by Corrections Corporation of America, now CoreCivic. A federal grand jury in Kansas indicted six suspects in May 2016.
During a hearing the following month, Erin Tomasic, an assistant U.S. attorney on the case, disclosed that she had possession of surveillance video from within the prison, including video from inside rooms where attorneys can meet with their clients. That admission caught the ear of federal public defenders, who claimed that video from inside attorney visitation rooms would intrude into confidential communications with their clients.
Soon after, several defense attorneys throughout Kansas began to suspect that their discussions with clients were in the possession of federal prosecutors. Robinson held a hearing and appointed a special master as an outside investigator to review the possibility and extent that defendants had their rights infringed.
Special Master David Cohen said that in his years of practice he had never been involved in a case with such broad accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
“The government decided to engage in a minimal superficial attempt at preservation of materials with full knowledge that information could be lost.”
During the investigation, she said, the federal government allowed a hardrive to be wiped that held evidence of what attorney-client video had been viewed by prosecutors. Additionally, she said, the government ignored a court order to place a hold on all evidence related to the investigation.
Even those attorneys who had privatized their phone numbers would have some of their calls recorded, because CCA employees regularly failed to properly privatize numbers.