Stephen Heynmann and Misconduct?
Aaron Swartz Lawyers Accuse Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Of Misconduct
Federal prosecutor Stephen Heymann engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by withholding key evidence from the defense team of Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist’s legal team alleged in a letter to an internal Justice Department ethics unit.
Heymann took the lead in the much-criticized effort to imprison Swartz, who committed suicide in January, and was the attorney who handled the case on a day-to-day basis, reporting to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. Swartz’ attorney Eliot Peters has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), a step that indicates just how egregious the defense team considers Heymann’s professional behavior. A redacted version of the letter was obtained by The Huffington Post.
In the document, Peters argues that Heymann withheld exculpatory evidence. At issue was whether the federal government had properly obtained a warrant to search Swartz’ computer and thumb drive. Peters argued that the government failed by waiting more than a month to obtain the warrant. Heymann countered that he couldn’t get a warrant because he didn’t have access to the equipment. But an email in Heymann’s possession, which was written to Heymann himself, showed that assertion to be untrue.
In an email that was not provided to the defense team until the last minute, Michael Picket, a Secret Service agent, wrote to Heymann on Jan. 7, “I am prepared to take custody of the laptop anytime after it has been processed for prints or whenever you feel is appropriate. As far as I know no one has sought a warrant for the examination of the computer, the cell phone that was on his person or the 8gb flash drive that was in his backpack.” It would be more than a month before Heymann obtained a warrant -– far too long, in Peters’ estimation, which means that the evidence found on the laptop could have become inadmissible.
Playing hardball to win suggests a personality that doesn’t take defeat well. There is a certain strangeness to considering dispensing justice a matter of winning and losing. Certainly when you try a case involving a serious crime, a prosecutor wants to win, but there are many areas of the law where there is considerable ambiguity. In law school they gave us the example of a man threatening to kill another while waiving a loaded pistol, that’s aggravated assault but so is a homeless drunk threatening a man with a pointed stick. These kinds of things call for prosecutorial judgment. Winning is only an aspect of a prosecutor’s duty, he also has a higher calling to the Constitution and justice itself.
Chalking up kills is for fighter pilot’s not prosecutors.
From around the web –
From the web site, Forecasting the World:
In an appalling 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed and even strengthened prosecutorial immunity, extending it from personal immunity to a stronger form of agency immunity as well. This means the government can now do anything and they will not be subject to the laws – EVER! The case is Connick v Thompson (2011), where Connick is the former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick, Sr. (the singer’s father) and Thompson is John Thompson, a man falsely convicted of murder because Connick’s office hid a report that ultimately exonerated him so the prosecutor would not have to admit a mistake. On top of that – they were trying to execute an innocent man to cover up their misconduct.
The prosecutors admitted that they deliberately withheld evidence. There is no controversy over whether they violated the law and their ethical obligations and railroaded an innocent man and they were prepared to legally murder him since he was only weeks away from being executed for that crime he did not commit when the report that proved his innocence was finally discovered and used to overturn his conviction. Is this not attempted murder?
From the web site, Jonathan Turley:
District judge Ken Anderson of Williamson County, Texas is now formally under investigation for his alleged role in a gross injustice as a prosecutor. It is an all-too-rare case where a former prosecutor is actually called to account for an injustice. In this case, an innocent man, Michael Morton (shown here), now 58, was wrongly convicted in 1987 for the murder of his wife. Prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence showing that his son clearly stated that it was not his father. Instead, they took a tragic murder of a mother and magnified it by incarcerating the grieving father. Anderson was later selected as “Prosecutor of the Year.” We previously discussed the case.
From the web site, Leaksource:
The prosecution didn’t just show poor judgment in its prosecution of Aaron. In addition, Steve Heymann actively broke the law and violated Aaron’s constitutional rights. Below, you can read the details, but the basic outline is that Heymann withheld evidence that would have been helpful to Aaron’s defense, and that he was legally and ethically bound to hand over from the very beginning of the case, until December 2012 — almost two years after Aaron was arrested.
A few additional notes to the release: Heymann appears to be lying to the DOJ, or else the DOJ is lying to Congress, about when Heymann turned over the exculpatory evidence in question. Ryan Grim reports that DOJ is insisting that Heymann turned over the exculpatory evidenceduring the status conference in December, rather than after. But I was there, and that is a lie.