Federal prosecutors dismissed all charges against seven inauguration protesters and reduced charges against three others after a Washington, D.C., judge criticized the government for withholding undercover videos recorded by an activist group.
Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Morin dismissed the charges Thursday at the request of prosecutors after he criticized the government for initially disclosing only one secret video of a planning meeting recorded by the group Project Veritas, report BuzzFeed News, the Huffington Post and Law & Crime.
Morin said last week that the government had withheld the full version of the meeting video. The government belatedly disclosed that there were 69 additional recordings, according to a motion filed by defense lawyer Andrew Clarke. Many videos included discussions of de-escalation tactics, he wrote.
The former director, Brian J. Gestring, headed DCJS’s forensic science unit before he was fired that month following an unrelated workplace misconduct investigation. In a letter sent Friday to the state Commission on Forensic Science, Gestring said that Green also did not disclose to the commission that the agency had three “catastrophic” cases in the past year in which it misidentified suspects who had been linked to crimes through DNA.
ABA Formal Opinion 07-446 also approves of lawyers ghostwriting for clients, viewing it as a “form of ‘unbundling’ of legal services.” The ABA opinion reasons that pro se clients receiving ghostwriting services should not be required to disclose that fact: “Because there is no reasonable concern that a litigant appearing pro se will receive an unfair benefit from a tribunal as a result of behind-the-scenes legal assistance, the nature or extent of such assistance is immaterial and need not be disclosed.”
“We conclude that there is no prohibition in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct against undisclosed assistance to pro se litigants, as long as the lawyer does not do so in a manner that violates rules that otherwise would apply to the lawyer’s conduct,” the 2007 ABA opinion says.
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Spymail Violates the Rules of Professional Conduct
A recent Professional Conduct Advisory Opinion from the Illinois State Bar Association, (Opinion No. 18-01, January 2018) joined at least three other jurisdictions in concluding that the practice of using hidden email tracking software would be unethical for a variety of reasons. (See Alaska Bar Association Ethics Opinion No. 2016-01; New York State Bar Association Ethics Opinion 749; and Pennsylvania Bar Association Formal Opinion 2017-300.)