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2020 Investigative Summary 14

INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGED IMPROPER CLOSING AND REBUTTAL ARGUMENTS

A U.S. Attorney’s Office notified OPR that the government conceded error in an appeal due to improper rebuttal comments made by the government at trial.  The appellate court subsequently remanded the defendant’s conviction for a new trial after concluding that comments the government made during rebuttal argument constituted prosecutorial misconduct.

OPR investigated the matter and concluded that the former Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) who presented the government’s rebuttal argument engaged in reckless professional misconduct by improperly arguing that the defense was suggesting that the government agents framed the defendant, in violation of the rule against mischaracterizing evidence.  In addition, OPR also concluded that the AUSA engaged in intentional professional misconduct by insinuating that the Federal Rules of Evidence prevented the government from introducing additional evidence of guilt, when no such additional evidence existed.  OPR referred its findings to the Professional Misconduct Review Unit.

The AUSA resigned from the Department during the investigation.  OPR referred its findings to the Professional Misconduct Review Unit.

Updated November 27, 2020