April 22, 2024


Law, This Is It!

Shoutout to the AUSAs in D.C.

4 min read
by Jamison Koehler on November 29, 2022
D.C. Flag

At a continuing legal education and learning course (CLE) numerous a long time in the past, we have been introduced with the pursuing moral problem:  The prosecutor will come throughout a piece of paper that exculpates the defendant in a pending case.  The prosecutor puts the piece of paper into a big box and then delivers that and 100 other bins to the defendant’s lawyer.

Has the prosecutor complied with his/her obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence under Brady v. Maryland?  

Contributors at this CLE provided a few young men in low cost suits and negative haircuts who experienced launched on their own as county prosecutors in Virginia.  All three have been adamant that the prosecutor’s obligations experienced been met:  The exculpatory evidence had in simple fact been turned about to the defense.  The federal government was under no obligation to support the defense sort by means of the boxes to find it. 

Just before I or any of the other defense attorneys in the area experienced a likelihood to object, an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) from D.C. weighed in from the back again of the home with his disagreement.  Such a literal interpretation of the prosecutor’s obligation, he pointed out, might have been reliable with the letter of Brady and the prosecutor’s other discovery obligations.  But it was undoubtedly inconsistent with the spirit.

A legal proceeding, he said, is not a competitors, and the prosecutor’s target is not to get at any charge.  Unlike the defense attorney’s position, which is to accomplish the greatest feasible outcome for his/her consumer, the prosecutor’s function is to accomplish the just consequence. 

No 1 benefits if an overworked legal defense attorney misses a vital piece of exculpatory proof. 

My brother-in-regulation, a previous AUSA in D.C., recounts how he and his colleagues applied to stage in to aid a criminal defense lawyer who appeared to be battling.  It was not only that they desired to avoid a conviction from currently being overturned on charm since of ineffectiveness of counsel.  They did.  It was also that they did not want to unintentionally convict an innocent human being. 


The trade of sights described higher than represents to me the big difference amongst the county prosecutors I employed to deal with in Philadelphia and Virginia and the federal prosecutors I now get the job done with in D.C.  

In Philadelphia, I keep in mind standing next to my counterpart in the prosecutor’s business and looking at the open file in entrance of her to come across that she was misrepresenting the specifics to the courtroom.  This was a lady who had sat future to me in contracts course for the duration of our first semester in law college. 

The function of her deliberate misrepresentations was to secure a different number of days of detention for my client. This was the win-at-all cost mentality that was fostered by Lynn Abraham, the previous District Attorney in Philadelphia.  

As for Virginia, I bear in mind staying lined up hat in hand with other protection attorneys so that we could plead our scenario for diversion in advance of an more mature prosecutor who taken care of us with a blend of boredom and disdain.  It was difficult to blame him for currently being so bitter.  I would be cranky far too if I were continue to accomplishing general public intoxication cases immediately after 20 many years.  


Specified this encounter, it was a welcome surprise to start doing the job with federal prosecutors in D.C.  Handling both federal and D.C. cases in the District, these are not county prosecutors.  

Looking at how challenging it is to get a task as a federal prosecutor, AUSAs are typically smarter and from greater law schools.  Unlike the county prosecutors who are usually fresh new out of legislation university, AUSAs have a tendency to be more mature attorneys who have labored elsewhere prior to getting to be prosecutors.  This provides maturity and viewpoint.  Rotating from 1 division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office environment to the following, they are getting knowledge and doing meaningful perform, not trying to get to make their professions on the backs of people today charged with minimal misdemeanors.   

As for their desire in obtaining the suitable consequence, not wins, I think of the two AUSAs who have been the initially to congratulate my shopper following the courtroom granted my motion for judgment of acquittal.  

I assume of the many AUSAs I have worked with around the earlier 10 or so years who – just about without the need of exception – have been smart, considerate, forthright and nice who seem to be to specific genuine concern for defendants and who surface to be most fascinated not in successful but in arriving at the suitable end result.  

Each of you has a different position in the technique.  But you are ethical and calculated and you perform by the guidelines and there is no rationale to be a lot less than civil though you are going about it.  

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