DOJ 'Streisands' Its Own Prosecutor By Requesting His Name Be Removed From An Unflattering Court Opinion

from the coverup:-ur-doing-it-wrong dept

No matter how many Streisands get hoisted by their internet-aided petard, there’s always another person or entity who thinks he/she/it can somehow bury unflattering information/photos/Facebook status updates.

In what is the latest (but certainly not the last) example of how wielding a bigass shovel only makes people more aware of your desperate burial attempts, a prosecutor for the Department of Justice was called out by name in a judicial bench slap for telling a “half-truth” in the courtroom:

Albert was criticized by the court for telling “a half-truth” during the trial – specifically, misrepresenting testimony from a prior proceeding while cross-examining the defendant at trial.

This misrepresentation resulted in a mistrial. The question presented on appeal was whether the prohibition on double jeopardy prohibited a retrial (a question that the panel decided in the government’s favor).

Well, the DOJ wasn’t too pleased with having their boy (Jerry Albert) being called out in the court’s opinion and requested his name be replaced with the more innocuous this-could-be-anybody term “the prosecutor.”

[U]pon initial release of this opinion, the government filed a motion requesting that we remove Albert’s name and replace it with references to “the prosecutor.” The motion contended that naming Albert publicly is inappropriate given that we do not yet know the outcome of any potential investigations or disciplinary proceedings.

Much like jabbing at a alligator with a stick, this only served to make the presiding Judge righteously pissed. Judge Carlos Bea went “all in” on his amended opinion, smacking around the DOJ for its presumptuousness:

The mistake in judgment does not lie with AUSA Albert alone. We are also troubled by the government’s continuing failure to acknowledge and take responsibility for Albert’s error.

The Department of Justice has an obligation to its lawyers and to the public to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors, as servants of the law, are subject to constraints and responsibilities that do not apply to other lawyers; they must serve truth and justice first. Their job is not just to win, but to win fairly, staying within the rules. That did not happen here, and the district court swiftly and correctly declared a mistrial when Albert’s misquotation was revealed.

Now, not only is Jerry Albert’s name tied to such bad-for-business terms like “mistrial,” “misconduct” and “misrepresentation,” but by simply pressing this point, the Department of Justice turned a mere footnote of interest only to those directly involved in the trial into a rapidly expanding Google bomb that links the DOJ with these same bad-for-business terms, along with other unflattering terms like “coverup” and “benchslap.”

And Judge Bea wasn’t done yet, adding this crucial (and damning) paragraph to the benchslap/Streisandstorm:

We declined to adopt the government’s suggestion and denied its motion. We have noticed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona regularly makes public the names of prosecutors who do good work and win important victories. E.g., Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, “Northern Arizona Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Arson,” (January 31, 2012)…. If federal prosecutors receive public credit for their good works – as they should – they should not be able to hide behind the shield of anonymity when they make serious mistakes.

Hell. Yes. Government representatives are always so quick to grab credit for anything tangentially related to their work, but good lord, they still seem to think that screwing up should somehow be rewarded with swift coverups and plausible deniability.

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Comments on “DOJ 'Streisands' Its Own Prosecutor By Requesting His Name Be Removed From An Unflattering Court Opinion”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


The act is a problem, they commit them over and over and nothing changes.
The appearance of the coverup afterwards just focuses more eyes on the actual act.

Fact – he “misstated” testimony, and it resulted in the case falling apart.

Fact – to save face that he committed a huge boneheaded “error” (to give the benefit of the doubt for a second) they wanted the records of the event sanitized to save face.

Fact – DOJ has a history of playing fast and loose with truth.

Fact – There is something HUGELY wrong when the pinnacle of representing Justice in the country is seen multiple times and on multiple occasions covering up bad acts.

We do not trust them because they have their own rules, a standard not available to anyone but themselves and powerful corporations. Law is meant to be the great equalizer, and rather than applying it fairly the people charged with upholding it often stick their finger on the scales to get the wanted result rather than the fair result.
The hubris of the DOJ is outstanding, well its not fair that the record reflects that we employee someone who did something completely boneheaded. It is more important that we look good instead of truthful. This is rampant in the Government, it is more important to save face than to admit fault. One merely need look at the TSA.

Chargone (profile) says:


should also be noted that a petard is a (early, highly temperamental) explosive used for sapping (that is, bringing down siege works.)

to be ‘hoist by your own petard’ comes from the fact that it wasn’t as uncommon as one might like for the guy responsible for emplacing them to be caught in the resulting explosion (and ‘hoist’, that is, launched into the air).

i explain this because i know a lot of people upon hearing the expression, especially the common erroneous form, have mental images of cranes and such rather than explosives.

Chargone (profile) says:


i assume it’s related to those ‘mistruths’ we heard mention of a while back.

still don’t know what the hell those are, btw. closest i can come to for a meaning that Actually Makes Sense is to screw up and tell the truth when you meant to lie, but that wasn’t what happened. (unless i’m misremembering.)

i’d call a half-truth a kind of lie in the same way as a lie of omission is a lie. (in fact, they may overlap)… at least if the term is used sensibly.

more likely it’s pure euphemism.

hobo says:

“Government representatives are always so quick to grab credit for anything tangentially related to their work, but good lord, they still seem to think that screwing up should somehow be rewarded with swift coverups and plausible deniability.”

Because rich private sector types never want their mistakes to be covered up (multiple various significant bailouts over the past 3 decades, Wall St., auto industry, savings & loan, auto industry(again) to name a few..).

I agree with this specific article and even with the general principle, which I read as being that no one should be above the law no matter their position. The tone of the quote above, however, seems as if you are painting all government workers as attention whores and blame shifters. An unfortunate overstep, in my opinion.

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