There was an excellent investigative article the appeared last week in USA Today. The article is entitled “Prosecutors’ Conduct Can Tip Justice Scales” Click here for the article
The article describes what happens when federal prosecutors have a win-at-all-costs approach when their true calling is to do justice. It describes horrific instances of prosecutors hiding evidence, lying to courts and juries and violating plea agreements made with defendants.
The article examines 201 cases since 1997 in which federal judges found serious prosecutorial misconduct. The article was of particular interest to us because one of the 201 was United States v. VonSchlieffen, a case in which Broden & Micklesen represented Mr. VonSchlieffen. Click here for discussion.
We have discussed the VonSchlieffen case in another blog entry. Mr. VonSchlieffen was convicted at a trial of drug trafficking and was sentenced to ten years in prison. After serving almost seven of those ten years, Mr. VonSchlieffen hired Broden&Mickelsen after going through numerous other lawyers. We were able to obtain a new trial for Mr. VonSchlieffen and, midway through that trial, the judge ordered the case dismissed. Broden & Mickelsen then sought damages against the government under the 1997 Hyde Amendment law for brining a vexatious, frivolous and bad faith prosecution against Mr. VonSchlieffen. The USA Today only found thirteen cases in which a federal judge has awarded damages under the Hyde Amendment. Mr. VonSchlieffen’s case was one of the thirteen. A judge in the Southern District of Florida ordered the government to pay Mr. VonSchlieffen $356,000 for its mismanagement of an informant in his case.
We recognize that many prosecutors are hard working individuals who really do care about justice. Nevertheless, we all need to recognize that not all cases are what they seem and that sometimes prosecutors do hide evidence and lie to court in order to simply “win.” That is why it is always important to have a lawyer that is not afraid of taking on the government and not accepting what a prosecutor says at face value.