2019 Investigative Summary 3
Investigation of Alleged FAILURE TO PROVIDE DISCOVERY;
FAILURE TO KEEP THE CLIENT INFORMED;
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
A United States Attorney’s Office reported to OPR that an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) allegedly failed to provide impeachment information relating to potential bias by a government witness as required by the government’s constitutional discovery obligations and the Department’s discovery policies. The allegations stemmed from the AUSA’s intimate, romantic relationship with a special agent, who was involved in cases that the AUSA prosecuted. While those prosecutions were pending and the relationship was ongoing, the AUSA failed to disclose the relationship to the defense, the district court, or her supervisors. After the United States Attorney’s Office learned of the relationship, the special agent and, subsequently, the AUSA resigned from the Department.
Based on its investigation, OPR concluded that the AUSA did not commit professional misconduct when she failed to disclose to the defense in her cases her relationship with the special agent, because she had no obligation to disclose that information in cases in which the defendants pled guilty. OPR concluded, however, that the AUSA engaged in intentional professional misconduct in violation of ethical rules when she purposely failed to keep the United States Attorney’s Office reasonably informed of significant developments by not disclosing to management that she was involved in a personal relationship with the special agent, which precluded managers from making informed decisions regarding the cases that she was handling. OPR also concluded that the AUSA engaged in intentional professional misconduct in violation of ethical rules when she purposely continued to represent the government despite a conflict of interest that arose from the relationship and without obtaining the client’s consent to continue representing the government in those matters.
The Professional Misconduct Review Unit subsequently concluded that OPR’s findings were supported by the facts and law and authorized OPR to provide the results of its investigation to the appropriate bar disciplinary authorities.