The criminal-contempt allegations grew from the prosecution of Huntsville defense contractor Alex Latifi on federal arms-control charges. News broke last week that Latifi's lawyers stated in court documents that Martin and her assistants concealed exculpatory evidence and deliberately misled the court during the 2007 trial, which ended with an acquittal on all charges.
That, of course, is because Martin and her henchmen almost certainly did withhold evidence, suborn perjury, and obstruct justice, as alleged.
It stands to reason that someone in the Justice Department should respond to the motion from Latifi's attorneys. But why was it Joyce Vance? As Martin's successor, and the current supervisor over several assistants who allegedly were involved, Vance clearly has conflicts in this matter. Why did she not recuse herself and hand the matter over to a DOJ representative from outside the Northern District?
And it raises this question: Is Joyce Vance interested in justice or is she interested in protecting the legal status quo in Alabama? As the wife of a state circuit-court judge, Robert Vance Jr., does Joyce Vance want to make sure she doesn't rock the boat of our state's corrupt "justice" establishment?
Vance spends 31 pages trying to defend Martin and her minions against indefensible behavior in the Latifi case. Our response when we had finished reading the entire thing? "This is pathetic."
The gist of Vance's argument is three-fold:
* Any misconduct by prosecutors was not willful (yeah, right);
* Latifi was acquitted, so the withheld information was not "material," and he wasn't prejudiced or harmed in any way (try telling Latifi that);
Here are a few of many nauseating statements made in Vance's motion:
Because Movants were acquitted--even without the allegedly favorable work orders--they cannot claim injury from the nondisclosure of those documents. And that means the documents were not "material" for purposes of Brady.
Here, there was no prejudice at all. Although the Government did not disclose the Work Orders, it did not rely on those documents at trial. And Movants were acquitted on all counts of the indictment even without the benefit of those documents. Thus, pretrial disclosure of the Work Orders--which related to only one count out of six--would not have affected this case in any meaningful way.
Other courts agree that there can be no finding of contempt under Section 401(1) absent proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the alleged misbehavior "actually obstructed the administration of justice--by delaying proceedings, making more work for the judge, inducing error, imposing costs on parties, or whatever."
The tone of Vance's motion seems to be: "OK, Alice Martin and her Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight probably withheld evidence, suborned perjury, prosecuted a defendant they knew was not guilty, and generally butchered the Alex Latifi case to high heaven. But hey, Latifi got good lawyers and was lucky enough to get an honest and competent judge and was acquitted--so, hey, no harm, no foul."
If that is Joyce Vance's idea of justice, she needs to go into another profession. And she should do the people of her district a favor and step down now. We've had plenty of clowns masquerading as prosecutors in the Northern District of Alabama. We don't need another one.