Holder to prosecutors: ‘Your job is to do justice’

April 9, 2009

Yesterday new assistant U.S. attorneys being sworn in at a Washington, D.C. ceremony got a surprise guest speaker: their boss, Attorney General Eric Holder.

holder41Holder, speaking as investigators are probing allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the handling of the criminal corruption case of former Sen. Ted Stevens, reiterated to the new prosecutors that their goal should be obtaining justice, not just a conviction.

“Your job as assistant U.S. attorneys is not to convict people,” Holder said, according to the AP. “Your job is not to win cases. Your job is to do justice. Your job is in every case, every decision that you make, to do the right thing. Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored. Any policy that is at tension with that is to be questioned and brought to my attention. And I mean that.”

Holder, whose appearance at the event was not announced, addressed the Stevens case specifically. “There were mistakes made in the Stevens case,” he said. “We’ll see exactly what those mistakes were all about. …There are going to be a lot of articles, I suspect you’re going in newspapers over the next couple of days, about how things have gone wrong in the department. A lot of these articles are going to be unfair. And yet we have to deal with those perceptions. We’re capable of dealing with them, but the only way ultimately that we’re going to restore faith in this department is through the work that you all do.”

Restoring that faith means that prosecutors cannot sacrifice justice in pursuit of a guilty verdict, Holder said. “You are expected to do nothing more than the right thing. Anything other than that is unacceptable,” he said.


Friday morning docket: Blossoms and buzz

April 3, 2009

cherryblossomsjeffersonWith the cherry blossoms in full bloom here, the members of the three branches of government are, fittingly, busy as bees.

After a busy week of decisions, non-decisions and oral arguments, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are back at work this morning, holding a private conference. That means orders – including possible new cert grants, could be forthcoming, and we’ll bring you newsworthy updates here.

Across the street from the Supremes, Congress has been hard at work tackling issues like the budget, health care and tobacco regulation.

And though President Barack Obama spent most the week in Europe meeting with world leaders, the multitasker also unveiled his first federal appellate judge nominations, naming picks for some vacancies on the 2nd and 4th Circuits.

Meanwhile,

Do over in Alaska? After federal prosecutors moved this week to toss a conviction handed down against former Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his seat in November, Republicans want a new election. (NYT)

Credential check: After a convicted felon with no law degree managed to pose as an attorney and represent clients in 16 cases in 10 different federal courts, the Judicial Conference has set a new policy requiring courts to more carefully check attorneys’ credentials. (Lawyers USA)

Ice cold COLA: Federal judges, including the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, will get a 2.8 percent cost-of-living-adjustment for 2009 under the recently enacted Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. (Lawyers USA)

Lending crackdown: A bill that would impose tougher standards governing mortgage lending in an effort to stamp out predatory practices was filed in the House.  (Lawyers USA)

Bad assist: Assisted living lawsuits are mounting, and plaintiffs’ lawyers say poorly trained staff and lax regulations are to blame for incidents of abuse and neglect of residents. (Lawyers USA)