Would you rather start your day out with sadness or rage? Fortunately, thanks to the New Orleans Police Department and the United States Department of Justice, you can have both! Yay?
Back in 2011, five of NOPD’s not-finest were finally FINALLY convicted for stone cold murdering unarmed people for the extreme crime of heading to the grocery store during Hurricane Katrina. Not only did they go all murder-y, they also engaged in an immediate and epic coverup. They were first prosecuted at the state level, which ended up being a ginormous cock-up. The feds took over and finally secured the convictions, all of which were tossed Tuesday on account of just how badly the DOJ attorneys behaved during the whole thing.
First, some of the genius attorneys employed by the Nola division of the DOJ decided that it would be a super-smart idea to comment on a pending case in the fetid swamp that is a newspaper’s online comments:
That someone in the United States attorney’s office had been anonymously commenting on nola.com was first revealed in the spring of 2012 by lawyers representing the target of a high-profile corruption investigation. The revelations were the talk of New Orleans as lawyers identified a longtime assistant United States attorney, Sal Perricone, as a prolific and rather acerbic commenter under several handles. The targets of his commentary were varied and included the police department, which he called “corrupt,” “ineffectual” and “a joke.”
Several months later, Jan Mann, the office’s second-highest-ranking prosecutor, was also revealed to have been commenting anonymously. In the wake of this disclosure, Jim Letten, at the time the longest-serving United States attorney in the country, stepped down.
Let’s do some classic lawsplaining up in here, shall we? It is considered ill-advised at the very least, criminally stupid at the very middle, and insanely-awful-undermine-the-foundations-of-our-legal-system at the most to fucking publicly comment on a case that your office is handling. Even baby lawyers are taught not to make the most innocuous of statements about a case. Don’t mention you think the defendant’s tie is ugly. Don’t say you think he smells. And for fuck’s sake do not do not DO NOT go on a major metropolitan newspaper’s website and talk about how the very police your office are prosecuting are corrupt. This is not only the very definition of Bad Idea, but it renders the entire fucking concept of justice meaningless. Can anyone really say they had a fair trial when the prosecuting attorney was all up in New Orleans’ grill explaining about how bad the cops were. NO THEY CANNOT GODDAMMIT.
Does it get worse? Honey, it always gets worse. So, the terrible awful no good very bad lawyers that were commenting on nola.com were terrible and awful but were (1) local DOJ, not Washington DC-based and (2) not people that were actually working on the case. This is bad enough, people. Apparently, though, the DOJ decided that they had not fucked this thing up enough, so one of the DC-based lawyers whose job it was to make sure this thing stayed un-fucked and fair decided that she, too, needed to get into the anonymous commenting biz:
Dobinski wasn’t just any federal prosecutor. She was the “taint team leader,” a veteran member of the Civil Rights division tapped to ensure the rights of a police officer — in this case, Bowen — were not violated during the course of the federal investigation. This was a special situation since the officer had provided certain information to a state grand jury that was off limits in the federal case.
The “taint team” was formed in 2008 when federal officials took over the Danziger Bridge probe after a botched effort in state court.
Dobinski’s role was to help federal prosecutors determine what they could permissibly use, and the judge noted he relied on her testimony to allow in certain evidence against Bowen.
“With regard to this case, this crucial responsibility was Dobinski’s professed single mission: to protect a defendant from use of his compelled testimony by the government,” the Engelhardt wrote.
That is a lot of words, because there is a lot of bad here. Let’s break it down. The state fucked up the case against the bad cops massively. MASSIVELY. One of the defendants had made statements during a portion of the state proceedings that couldn’t be used in the federal case because he’d been compelled to make those statements and as anyone who watches Law and Order or fictional congressional hearings knows, you can’t be compelled to testify against yourself. So, this attorney’s job was to basically make sure what evidence could and couldn’t be used so that justice would be served. Justice is served, people, when both defendants and victims receive the full delicious smorgasbord panoply of their civil rights, and things were so bad in this case that a special person had to be named just to ensure that one of the defendants wasn’t fucked over. Except for the part where she utterly fucked that defendant over by, guess what, posting shit on nola.com about the trial.
Look. These police officers should never ever wever have gotten to get a new trial. They should never ever wever walk the streets again, in fact. But this was the only decision that was possible in this awful piece of fuckery. We want bad cops in jail like a house afire, but we also, too, want prosecutors who are not corrupt cynical behind-the-scenes manipulators of public opinion against defendants they are prosecuting at that very fucking minute.
We regret and resent having to argue on behalf of giving murderous evil cops a new trial based on a “technicality,” but guess what? It is all fucking technicalities that go into preserving people’s precious rights, even though we know that the only amendment that matters is the Second. Everything is terrible and we’re pulling the covers back over our head until, say, the 32nd of Neverbury. Bye.