In State court a judge just sentenced a lawyer to two days jail for silently saying a curse word (the judge said she read his lips).
In Federal court, for the second time, prosecutor Andrea Hoffman has been caught being less than candid with the court and with her discovery obligations. From John Pacenti's DBR article on 5/24/2012:
A visibly frustrated Marcia Cooke called federal prosecutor Andrea Hoffman "disingenuous," in questioning her candor about when she knew "vetted units" of the Colombian national police were on the payroll of the Drug Enforcement Administration...
The issue arose in the Miami courtroom of U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke after defense attorneys raised questions about the role Colombian police played in the investigation of a cocaine trafficking ring that resulted in charges in Florida against 18 people. Defense attorneys started asking in April if Colombian police were paid for their assistance.
Assistant U.S. attorney Andrea Hoffman told Cooke's court she learned of the payments only after a jury was chosen Monday or on Tuesday.
Hoffman was apologetic and blamed miscommunication and a language barrier with Colombian police.
"This is why this does not make sense to me. This is all you do," Cooke replied. "Answer me this: Why does the government get a pass?"
The judge indicated she would reserve judgment on what sanctions, if any, she would impose, but her anger and frustration were palpable. She said Hoffman had breached her ethics as a prosecutor and apparently forgotten she represents the people of the United States...
The exchange with Cooke was not the first time Hoffman faced intense questioning by a Miami federal judge over her conduct in a criminal case. Hoffman was one of three prosecutors who faced sanctions for not telling a defense attorney that the government had its witnesses secretly tape his phone calls.
She was sanctioned in 2009 for her part in failing to inform accused pill mill Dr. Ali Shaygan that two prosecution witnesses had secretly taped phone calls to his defense team. Sanctions against three prosecutors and their office and a $601,000 penalty were overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. But the substance of findings by U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold's were not in dispute... Cooke declined to dismiss the case or declare a mistrial but added, "The tug in that direction is quite strong."
She noted the government witnesses were forthright about the police officers being paid and there seemed to be nothing illegal or nefarious about any bonuses.
Cooke also said she understood the defense may believe the officer's objectivity has been tainted by the DEA payments and wondered aloud if an appellate court might overrule her.
She then turned to Hoffman and said she would reserve judgment on her behavior in the case.
What conduct is worse: silently cursing, or a prosecutor caught withholding evidence for the second time in her career?
See You In Court.