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2013 Investigative Summary 5

Investigation of Alleged Failure to Object to Courtroom Closure in 
Violation of Federal Regulation; Misrepresentation to the Client

Upon reviewing a transcript of a district court sentencing hearing, supervisory DOJ attorneys learned that a DOJ attorney representing the government at a hearing apparently failed, in violation of 28 C.F.R. § 50.9, to object to a defense request to close the courtroom to the public. The supervisory attorneys directed the DOJ attorney to file an application with DOJ’s Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO) seeking permission to file a motion for courtroom closure nunc pro tunc. In the application, the DOJ attorney represented that she had attempted to object to the closure of the courtroom even though there was no record in the hearing transcript that she had attempted to do so.

OPR conducted an investigation and concluded that the DOJ attorney violated 28 C.F.R. § 50.9 by failing to object to closing the courtroom, but that under the circumstances of this case, the violation did not constitute professional misconduct or an exercise of poor judgment. OPR concluded, however, that the DOJ attorney engaged in intentional professional misconduct in violation of state bar rules by misrepresenting in her OEO application and in her communications with her supervisors that she had attempted to object to the closure of the courtroom.

Before OPR completed its investigation in this matter, the DOJ attorney resigned from the Department. The matter was referred to the appropriate bar disciplinary authorities.

Updated July 13, 2021