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Federal Prosecutors Face Allegations of Criminal Misconduct in Alabama Cases

By       Message Roger Shuler       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Charges of criminal misconduct finally are starting to fly against federal prosecutors in the Don Siegelman case. Similar charges now are being raised against prosecutors in another Alabama case.

But an Obama appointee apparently is set to defend Alice Martin, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and one of the most notorious prosecutors of the George W. Bush era.

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Attorneys for Huntsville defense contractor Alex Latifi say Martin and her assistants concealed exculpatory evidence and deliberately misled the court during Latifi's 2007 prosecution on federal arms-control charges. Latifi was acquitted, and charges of prosecutorial misconduct are being reviewed by the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility. A federal judge ordered that the government reimburse Latifi for attorney fees and costs, a matter that currently is under appellate review.

In a motion filed September 14, Latifi's attorneys allege that Martin, assistant U.S. attorneys David H. Estes and Angela Redmond Debro, and special agents David Balwinski and Marcus Mills (Army Criminal Investigations Command) violated federal laws regarding subornation of perjury. According to the motion, prosecutors "deliberately presented false, incomplete, and misleading information to this court in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1622."

The statute reads:

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Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Joyce White Vance, the Obama appointee who now serves as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, apparently intends to defend her Bush-appointed predecessor. In an e-mail to, Vance wrote:

This filing by defense counsel is, of course, an advocate's point of view. The United States will file its response, as ordered by the court, within 14 days, explaining why we disagree with defense counsel's interpretation of events, she said.

The Latifi case has drawn significant coverage in the mainstream press. It was chronicled in a superb piece by Lynda Edwards for the ABA Journal, which we discussed here, here and here.

David J. Lynch, of USA Today, also wrote a compelling story about the case, which we discussed here.

An argument could be made that the Latifi case is the ugliest episode of the Bush DOJ--and that's saying something. As Lynch notes in his piece, "Feds knock; a business is lost," evidence strongly suggests that Latifi was targeted because he is of Iranian descent.

In her article, "The Curious Case of Alex Latifi," Edwards quotes one of Alice Martin's assistants, David H. Estes, as saying: "We don't care if Latifi is innocent. Our goal is to put him out of business."

If those words don't send chills down your spine, then you must not have a spine.

So let's see if we have this straight: Alice Martin and her henchmen, probably with the most vile of racist motives, intentionally tried to ruin the prosperous business of an Alabama man. And Joyce White Vance, an appointee of our nation's first black president, is going to defend those actions?

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Veteran attorney and journalist Andrew Kreig, in a recent piece at Huffington Post, reminded us about the proper role of the federal prosecutor:

Almost every federal prosecutor knows the famous guidance provided in 1940 by Attorney Gen. Robert Jackson, the future Supreme Court Justice and chief U.S. Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor. Jackson urged all U.S. attorneys to remember that the government never loses a case when justice prevails, regardless of which side "wins" in the short term. Isn't it time to start acting on that?

Will Joyce White Vance act on it? Will she stand up for justice? Or will she try to protect and defend the "win at all costs" ethos of the Bush DOJ?

If Vance indeed tries to defend the abominable Alice Martin, it might be time for progressives to seriously start asking if the Obama administration is deserving of their support.

Change we can believe in? It's starting to look like the campaign slogan should have been: "We'll protect the people you are trying to get rid of."

The Alex Latifi case is likely to speak volumes about whether Team Obama gives one iota about justice. And right now, it does not look encouraging.


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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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