DENVER, Jan. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- "Many judges are fearful of prosecutors and are afraid to speak publically against the systemic prosecutorial misconduct and injustice that is infecting our courts and destroying lives," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "That is not the case with former federal Judge H. Lee Sarokin of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Alex Kozinski who currently sits on the bench as Chief Judge of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals," adds Banks.
Over the past two years Judge Sarokin has been a staunch advocate of the IRP6 and publically criticized the mishandling of the IRP6 case by the government and courts that resulted in the wrongful conviction of six information technology executives who have spent the past 40 months in prison. Sarokin publically discussed the IRP6 injustice in a 5-part series on his Huffington Post blog titled "The Case of The Missing Transcript." Sarokin recognized that the IRP6 were criminally prosecuted for a "failure to pay corporate debt." Sarokin also exposed an egregious 5th Amendment violation of the defendants where trial judge Christine M. Arguello, during a bench conference, compelled the pro se IRP6 defendants to testify against their will and threatened to rest their case if they didn't comply. Two federal prosecutors, who witnessed the 5th Amendment violation, chose to remain silent for the benefit of winning a conviction. When the IRP6 defendants requested the unedited transcript of the bench conference, it mysteriously disappeared.
Sarokin then turned his focus to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose written opinion affirming the IRP6's conviction showed they ignored numerous constitutional violations and didn't care that the IRP6 were prosecuted for having debt. "With all of this evidence, the Court of Appeals certainly has enough evidence to conclude that the [5th Amendment] right against self-incrimination indeed was, violated by the trial court;" Sarokin wrote. "Lacking any competent evidence to rebut those claims of constitutional violations, the claim of the defendants must be recognized as valid --- even without the missing transcript," Sarokin expounded.
The December 9, 2015 edition of the Bloomberg BNA Criminal Law Reporter says that Kozinski differentiates himself from many federal judges because of his "willingness not only to question the government, but to refuse placing the prosecution on a pedestal. "A lot of times we overlook things we ought to be saying," Kozinski said of judges' tendencies not to confront prosecutors. "If we just let them pass unspoken, we have, in effect, given support."
Kozinski affirms in the Bloomberg article that many of his colleagues criticized him for using the term "epidemic" in describing prosecutorial misconduct because he only highlighted 30 cases to support that claim. Kozinski responded: "I could have cited 300 cases, easily. I just didn't have time. Kozinski called prosecutorial misconduct a "sickness" and compared it to physical diseases such as Ebola and Legionnaire's. "How many people have to die for something to be called an epidemic? Kozinski asked, regarding wrongful convictions and executions. "All I know is there are far too many," Kozinski exclaimed.
One of Kozinski's critics was Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh, who co-authored a letter saying Kozinski went too far in criticizing prosecutors in a Georgetown Law Journal article where Kozinski questioned prosecutor's intentions and their ability to police themselves. Walsh told Bloomberg BNA that he wanted to respond because he felt the article "unfairly questioned the integrity of federal prosecutors." Walsh also said that as chair for the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys (AGAC), he felt he was in the best position to write a response because he represents the broad interests of federal prosecutors "who don't get their credit day in and day out."
"Walsh doesn't have the moral high-ground to question the Honorable Alex Kozinski who has been on the bench since 1985 and is directly responsible for dealing with prosecutorial misconduct," says Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause. "Walsh was given ample opportunity to police his prosecutor, Matthew T. Kirsch and reign in his malicious prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of the IRP6 and he failed miserably," adds Stewart. "Kozinski was spot on in his criticism," exclaims Stewart.
"Federal judges are responsible for ensuring that prosecutors play by rules, respect the Constitution and don't use their power to run roughshod over defendants," says Banks. "We need more courageous judges like Kozinski and Sarokin to speak out about the type of prosecutorial misconduct perpetrated by Walsh that sent six innocent men to prison," says Banks. "A Just Cause applauds Sarokin and Kozinski for defending justice," concludes Banks
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SOURCE A Just Cause