News Release

Former DOJ Officials Advise Curbing Prosecutorial Excess

Washington, DC (July 9, 1998) -- "Government lawyers, first and foremost, are lawyers who are -- or should be -- subject to the ethical rules of conduct applicable to all the members of the bar, with one exception: the standards for assuring fairness and total truthfulness in proceedings is higher, not lower, for government lawyers and prosecutors."

That statement, by former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Arnold I. Burns, serving under President Reagan, and former Justice Department trial attorney Warren L. Dennis, now partners at Proskauer Rose LLP (New York and Washington, D.C.), stands in sharp contrast with efforts by several recent Attorneys General to exempt federal prosecutors from the ethical and disciplinary rules that govern attorney conduct.

In the cover article of the July issue of The Champion, the award-winning monthly magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Burns and Dennis, with co-author Amybeth Garcia-Bokor, highlight recent "sea changes" in the attitudes and professional conduct of federal prosecutors and regulatory lawyers, which they perceive as presenting a "bona fide danger to the quality of justice and the fundamental nature of due process and fair play" in America today. The authors explode some popular myths of federal prosecutions, such as the one that federal prosecutors "do it by the book." "When external factors such as publicity, ego, and ambition intrude," the authors observe, "'doing it by the book' can take on a new and pernicious meaning."

The article takes the position that public perceptions of federal prosecutorial power being wielded with a heavy hand are not misplaced. The ultimate solution may be for Congress to establish limits on federal prosecutors, but the authors also propose solutions that federal courts can impose now with tools already at hand. 

[Click Here] for their article, Curbing Prosecutorial Excess: A Job for the Courts & Congress, or call Danielle Famularo at (202) 872-8600, ext. 236, to receive a copy.

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NACDL Communications Department

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.