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2014 Investigative Summary 7

Investigation of Alleged Misrepresentation/Misleading the Court; Discovery-Civil

A DOJ component reported to OPR that a U.S. Magistrate Judge had imposed a monetary sanction on the government because a DOJ attorney failed to timely and adequately respond to discovery requests. The court noted that the DOJ attorney had not sought a protective order or an extension of time to respond to the discovery requests, but found no evidence of bad faith. 

OPR conducted an investigation and concluded that the DOJ attorney committed intentional professional misconduct when he failed to comply with his clear and unambiguous obligation to produce discovery in a timely fashion. Specifically, the DOJ attorney knowingly failed to timely respond to a request for production of documents under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34; purposefully failed to timely answer three sets of interrogatories served on the government pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33; and knowingly failed to comply with the court's order directing him to respond to the interrogatories within 30 days.

OPR further concluded that the DOJ attorney committed intentional professional misconduct by violating his duty of candor to the court, and by engaging in conduct that involved dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation when he falsely told the court that he had not stalled civil discovery and attempted to convince the court that the discovery delays were due to the complexity of the case, the volume of evidence, and the technical difficulties accessing electronic files. Instead, OPR found that none of these claimed justifications had merit or were credible.

Instead, OPR found by a preponderance of the evidence that the DOJ attorney's true purpose was to obtain a better settlement for the government and to avoid his civil discovery obligations. OPR referred its misconduct findings to the PMRU. The PMRU adopted OPR's findings and conclusions.

Although the DOJ attorney retired during the pendency of OPR's investigation, the PMRU directed OPR to notify the DOJ attorney's state bar disciplinary authority of its misconduct findings, and OPR has done so.

Updated July 13, 2021