Excerpts from Judge Kurt Englehardt’s order for new trial in Danziger Bridge cases

“This case started as one featuring allegations of brazen abuse of authority, violation of the law, and corruption of the criminal justice system; unfortunately, though the focus has switched from the accused to the accusors (sic), it has continued to be about those very issues. After much reflection, the Court cannot journey as far as it has in this case only to ironically accept grotesque prosecutorial misconduct in the end.”

“The government, through DOJ, is instilled by the United States Constitution and statutory authority with great investigatory and prosecutorial powers: the power to initiate investigations, empanel grand juries, call and subpoena witnesses and the production of documents before grand juries. The government likewise is equipped with a vast network of law enforcement officers. ... Much to the Court’s consternation, however, this apparently is not enough to some, as evidenced here. Try as it might, the Court cannot fathom why at least three (four, counting government agency employee “A”) highly intelligent, experienced and respected officials of DOJ thought posting comments publicly online was a good idea, other than to have their corrosive opinions on public display for all to see, read, and accept as correct. The publication by DOJ employees of inflammatory invectives, accusatory screeds, and vitriolic condemnations, both directly and by the express encouragement of others to do the same, should confound and alarm any reasonable observer of the criminal justice process.”

In the Court’s view, however, the fact that the government’s actions were conducted in anonymity makes it all the more egregious, and forces the Court, the defendants, and the public into an indecent game of “catch-me-if-you-can.”

“The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism, and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecution, wherever it should occur in this country. In fact, many of the charges included by the DOJ in the indictment filed against these defendants are designed to serve the purpose of maintaining honesty, integrity, professionalism, and the protection of the public from those who abuse their authority in the criminal justice system. Those purposes likewise must be served in the prosecution of those accused of violating them.”

“Some may consider the undersigned’s view of the cited rules and regulations as atavistic; but courts can ignore this online “secret” social media misconduct at their own peril. Indeed the time may soon come when, some day, some court may overlook, minimize, accept, or deem such prosecutorial misconduct harmless “fun.” Today is not that day, and Section N of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is not that court.”