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No Witness, No Case, Part II

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A year and a half ago, I wrote about Paul Bergrin, a prominent New Jersey defense lawyer who took seriously the creed of standing up to prosecutors' bullying and their freelance destruction of Constitutional rights.  Bergrin was having none of it.

In what was obviously a vindictive prosecution, designed to intimidate the defense bar generally, the US Attorney for New Jersey decided to indict Bergrin on numerous charges.  The first jury deadlocked.  The second jury, clearly caving in to illicit prosecutorial tactics, convicted.  The verdict came in more than a month ago, but the story was tucked deep in the New York Times's "N.Y./Region" section, so I missed it until just now.

For those of you wondering what, specifically, Bergrin did, you have to read down to the twelfth paragraph to find out.  Here it is (emphasis added):

[The first judge on the case, later removed by the Third Circuit] refused to allow the authorities to try him on any of the charges other than two murder counts, for allegedly ordering members of a Newark gang to kill Kemo DeShawn McCray, a confidential F.B.I. informant who was to serve as a crucial witness in a case against one of Mr. Bergrin's clients.

Translation:  What a "zealous defense" actually means is "witness murder."  And no, this is hardly typical defense lawyering.  But it's worth remembering when one of our friends in the pristine defense bar starts bellowing about flagrant prosecutorial abuse.

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