Tag Archives: Federal Prosecutor

Inside the Belly of the Beast – The Just Us System

Sworn as an AUSA by US Attorney Paul Curran, SDNY

Sworn as an AUSA by US Attorney Paul Curran, SDNY

I’m a recovering N.Y. federal prosecutor.

I say “recovering” because you never quite get over the power and authority you enjoyed as a young man – as a ‘puppy” prosecutor.

In New York, a port city, the cases are a big deal, mobsters plot their crimes a few blocks from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in lower Manhattan, vast quantities of drugs, heroin and cocaine come into the Big Apple from every direction imaginable, there are illegal transfers of money, in and out of banks, securities fraud and oceans of bad acts and words deceiving the public, plots and devices hatched by a variety of rogues within walking distance of Foley Square, where the Courts and federal prosecutors are lodged.

If you do it right, when you’re a prosecutor, no matter the jurisdiction, your mission is to do justice for the individuals charged.

The Executive US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Sylvio J. Mollo, pulled the flag around him while he was testing my resolve to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Sylvio said, “when you stand before the court as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, you represent the people and the government, but, like the flag [that he had in his hand], those you represent are silent, not there with you, and they depend on you to do what’s right.”

Years after walking out of my last grand jury as a prosecutor, I started representing the Accused, upset about how the government was pushing around those they accused – in a way I’d been instructed was just plain wrong. Continue reading

Saint Judy

Judy Clarke, defense counsel

Judy Clarke, defense counsel

Judy Clarke, criminal defense counsel for the self-confessed “Boston Bomber,” is considered “Saint Judy” by many, myself included.

I got to know Judy years ago as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”).

Judy is against executions because, she says, “A civilized society shouldn’t legalize homicide.”

Most recently, consistent with this objective, she fought valiantly to save the life of Mr. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was 19 at the time of the bombing.

The jury decided to kill Dzhokhar instead.

Those who supported Mr. Tsarnaev’s death said an “eye for an eye.”  Some who lost their limbs might, by that logic, have preferred to rip off Dzhokhar’s young legs.

The jury was hardly reflective of its citizen peers.  A poll of the State of Massachusetts showed only 19 % favored death. The rest favored life in prison.  This was the sentiment in a State that hasn’t allowed executions since 1984.  But the U. S. Justice Department wanted to execute Dzhokhar.  You should understand that every juror in that federal prosecution that voted for death had to confirm in open court that they could vote to execute Dzhokhar if he was found guilty; those potential jurors who couldn’t embrace execution as a sentence were dismissed. Continue reading