(Not) Letten it be

This past August we found the video of James O’Keefe’s latest Project Veritas venture in this Campus Reform post by Josiah Ryan. In the video former United States Attorney James Letten exhausts his vocabulary of invective in calling out O’Keefe. “You are a nasty cowardly little spud, all of you, you’re hobbits,” Letten shouts. Running a little short of ammo, he added: “You are less than I can ever tell you. You are scum. Do you understand?” Wait! There’s more! Catching a second wind, Letten asserts that O’Keefe is “a snail,” a “horse’s ass,” and an “asshole.”

Letten was the long-time United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The honor looms large in his mind: “I’ve got you on tape here…you are harassing a former U.S. attorney,” he says as he brandishes his iPhone. Letten throws the book at him, literally and metaphorically: “You’re violating federal law. You spend your life as a snail. You do weird little political things. You’re a horse’s ass. Stay away from my family. Stay away from me. Stay from my house, stay away from this institution.”

“This institution” is Tulane University, at whose law school Letten now serves as a dean. This guy is the dean of a law school? Sad but true. He is the assistant dean for experiential learning. It must be another sign of the higher ed bubble, or the end of times.

Now at NRO Hans von Spakovsky has a serious sequel to the sight of Letten lettin’ it be with O’Keefe, involving Letten’s conduct as United States Attorney but featuring as well some of the usual suspects in the Department of Justice:

In a shocking case of “grotesque” misconduct by federal prosecutors, a federal judge in Louisiana has ordered a new trial for five New Orleans police officers convicted for a shooting on the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005 — in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — and for a subsequent cover-up. This is another black eye for the Holder Justice Department that the media have barely covered.

Participating in the misconduct that the judge said had created an “online 21st-century carnival atmosphere” was Karla Dobinski, a lawyer in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and the former deputy chief of the section. The reversal of the convictions is what Judge Kurt Engelhardt calls a “bitter pill” for Hurricane Katrina survivors, but his investigation of the matter provides an intensive inside look at the unprofessionalism of some of the lawyers at the Holder Justice Department, and also at the department’s attempts to obscure its misdeeds.

Last December, I reported on what Judge Engelhardt called the “skulduggery” and “perfidy” of DOJ prosecutors in a scathing order issued on November 26, 2012. At the time, the lawyers for the defendants had filed a motion for a new trial. They claimed that the prosecutors had leaked secret grand-jury proceedings and engaged in a public-relations campaign to inflame public opinion and sway the jury through anonymous postings on nola.com, the website run by the Times-Picayune.

It turned out the defendants’ lawyers were correct. In his November order, the judge detailed his findings that two senior prosecutors in the office of the U.S. attorney in New Orleans were responsible for many of the anonymous postings. These writings “mocked the defense, attacked the defendants and their attorneys, were approbatory of the United States Department of Justice, declared the defendants obviously guilty, and discussed the jury’s deliberations.”

As a result of the judge’s findings, those two senior prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Salvador Perricone and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann, the chief assistant to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, resigned. Letten himself resigned two weeks after the November order was issued, although he was not accused of making any of the postings himself.

Incredibly, Judge Engelhardt’s latest order, issued last month, indicates that Letten may have had knowledge of Mann’s blogging much earlier than first reported but didn’t inform the judge about it….

The trail of misconduct traced by von Spakovsky leads high up in the Department of Justice: “Judge Engelhardt’s indictment of the Justice Department is devastating.” Von Spakovsky notes in conclusion that Judge Engelhardt points a finger straight at Eric Holder:

The indictment in this case was announced with much fanfare, a major press conference presided over by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and widespread media attention. . . . A DOJ representative said that the indictments “are a reminder that the Constitution and the rule of law do not take a holiday — even after a hurricane.” While quite true in every respect, the Court must remind the DOJ that the Code of Federal Regulations, and various Rules of Professional Responsibility, and ethics likewise do not take a holiday — even in a high-stakes criminal prosecution, and even in the anonymity of cyberspace. . . . The Court simply cannot allow the integrity of the justice system to become a casualty in a mere prosecutorial game of qualsiasi mezzo [by any means necessary].”

The whole thing is worth reading, and the whole thing is here, as is the PJ Media account by J. Christian Adams with useful links including this one to Judge Engelhardt’s 127-page “order and reasons.”

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