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Criminal Resource Manual

692. Deputy Atty General's Memorandum re U.S. v. Singleton


Loretta C. Argrett
Assistant Attorney General
Tax Division

Frank W. Hunger
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Division

Joel I. Klein
Assistant Attorney General
Antitrust Division

James K. Robinson
Assistant Attorney General
Criminal Division

Lois J. Schiffer
Assistant Attorney General
Environment and Natural Resources Division

Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

Donna A. Bucella
Executive Office for United States Attorneys

FROM:  Eric H. Holder, Jr.       
Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Additional guidance to all Department attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys in light of the Tenth Circuit's vacating of the Singleton decision

As you undoubtedly know, on July 10, 1998, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, acting on its own motion, vacated the panel decision in United States v. Singleton, No. 97-3178 (10th Cir. July 1, 1998), pending en banc rehearing of the case. The rehearing on the Singleton appeal will be set for oral argument during the week of November 16-20, 1998. The Department has until August 10, 1998, to file a supplemental brief in this matter. Once the Department files its brief in the Singleton rehearing, copies will be distributed to all Department attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs).

With the vacating of the Singleton decision, the holding of that case--that plea agreements in which a defendant receives consideration in exchange for truthful testimony constitute a violation of federal criminal law and a state ethics rule--is no longer valid law. Therefore, all Department components and United States Attorneys' offices--whether within or outside the Tenth Circuit--may continue, without jeopardy of prosecution or Departmental discipline, to enter into agreements, including plea agreements or informal use immunity agreements, in which consideration is given to an individual in exchange for the individual's truthful cooperation and testimony. Likewise, Department attorneys and AUSAs handling affirmative civil enforcement and other cases may have occasion to enter into agreements implicated by Singleton.

Although the Singleton decision has been vacated, defense counsel nonetheless may attempt to rely on its rationale in ongoing as well as terminated cases. If a motion raising a Singleton issue is filed in a case your component is handling, please contact the Appellate Section of the Criminal Division at (202) 514-3521 for guidance on how to respond.

[updated July 1998] [cited in Criminal Resource Manual 625]