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February 9, 2007

When snitches go bad

Here is a story worthy of bookmarking both as an example of the problems with some informants and the ways in which prosecutors can and should uphold their commitment to broader justice.  This article comes from Legal Times:

Federal prosecutors lauded the results of a major drug sting last year at the Woodland Terrace public-housing project in Southeast D.C., stating in court filings that 23 arrests had dismantled "a full-service open-air drug market" that had "endangered communities throughout the entire Metro area." Now many of those defendants will be back on the streets after the local U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday it is dismissing all charges against 13 of the defendants.

The stunning reversal follows a discovery debacle, which included late disclosures by prosecutors about the criminal acts of a crack-addicted police informant, who made scores of videotaped drug buys during the five-month sting and crashed an unmarked police car last year.  "We believed it was the right thing to do," U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Channing Phillips said in a Feb. 8 statement about dismissing the cases.  "After reviewing these matters, we have concluded that we should not go forward with any of the 13 Woodland Terrace cases involving this special employee."

The dismissed cases include not only four cases scheduled for trial in D.C. Superior Court but several cases that already resulted in convictions through plea deals, which now will be withdrawn.

Though this case will surely give various DC-area prosecutors a black eye, I hope that the decision by prosecutors to ultimately help achieve justice will garner at least a little praise.  Perhaps the prosecutors still controlling Genarlow Wilson's fate (background here and here) who are insisting that he continue to serve an unjust sentence might learn something from this example.

February 9, 2007 at 05:03 PM | Permalink

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Posted by: DFDF | Jul 29, 2007 1:22:02 AM

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