Since 2012, a federal court judge has been receiving submissions and hearing evidence related to the alleged prosecutorial misconduct of Justice Department prosecutors in the Eastern District of Louisiana. We have been covering the fallout from the resignation of two of former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s most senior prosecutors last year after it was uncovered that they were commenting on Nola.com using pseudonyms.
First Assistant Jan Mann and senior litigation counsel Sal Perricone were improperly commenting on cases out of their office including the high-profile Danziger Bridge shootings, and the unearthing of their conduct resulted in the resignation of US Attorney Letten.
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt, who commented that “[p]rosecutorial misconduct in this case is a very near and present thing,” is overseeing the misconduct probe.
Engelhardt initially expressed concerns that the DOJ was handling an investigation into its own agency’s conduct: “If no wrongdoing is uncovered, it will come as a surprise to no one given the conflict of interest existing between the investigator and the investigated.” But the DOJ later announced that it would appoint a special prosecutor from Atlanta, John Horn, to conduct the investigation. Since then Engelhardt has continued to receive submissions and hear evidence on the matter behind closed doors.
Now, The Times-Picayune (of which Nola.com is the online version) has filed a Motion to Intervene in Engelhardt’s court. The New Orleans-based newspaper argues that there is “substantial public interest in the Danziger Bridge case” and that it is “unquestioned that the public has an interest in, and right of access to, information regarding the alleged misconduct of federal prosecutors”. On those grounds it asks Engelhardt to release sealed and un-docketed information from the investigation.
The motion was filed on August 6, 2013 and is available online here. At this time it is still unclear how Engelhardt will handle the request.