Former Federal Prosecutor Faces Expulsion
Fifteen years after a former assistant U.S. attorney was accused of prosecutorial misconduct, G. Paul Howes could now be the first federal prosecutor to be disbarred for ethics violations in a criminal case anywhere in the country in at least a decade.
Earlier this week, regulators asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to strip Howes of his law license for his “illegal and unethical” conduct during a series of high-profile murder cases in the mid-1990s, USA TODAY reported.
According to a USA TODAY investigation conducted last year, there has only been one federal prosecutor who was barred, even temporarily, from practicing law for prosecutorial misconduct over the past 12 years.
Howes was first accused of misconduct when he spent witness vouchers meant to reimburse witnesses for costs associated with testifying in court, on relatives and girlfriends of informants who assisted him in an investigation of a gang implicated in a series of murders near the White House.
As a result of this misconduct, the Justice Department ultimately had to reduce prison sentences for seven convicted murderers.
Elizabeth Herman, the district’s deputy bar counsel, urged judges Tuesday to deal sternly with conduct that did “tremendous harm to the criminal justice system.” She said that if prosecutors here are disregarding their ethical duties, disbarring Howes “would be an important message to send to that office.”
But Howes’ lawyer said the behavior was just an example of common practice of the U.S. attorney’s office.
The court is likely to reach a decision this year.
Read USA TODAY’s investigation:
Misconduct at the Justice Department
Read the Innocence Project’s report:
Court Findings of Prosecutorial Misconduct
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