For whatever reason, though, the kids in New Orleans would prefer to go to trendy copycat protests rather than worry about what goes on in the city where they actually live. At least today we learned that the US Justice Department said something about it.
Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Collery wrote in the government’s brief that Perricone’s anonymity in the comments should be relevant on appeal, “as it ensured that his position as an (assistant U.S. attorney) would not cause his comments to exert an undue influence on potential jurors.” It’s “highly doubtful,” Collery contended, that any jurors “were exposed to and remembered Perricone’s postings, which were indistinguishable from the comments of others.”
“Even before the Internet age, people were exposed to chatter about high-profile criminal cases as they went about daily life,” she wrote. “Moreover, an anonymous comment on the Internet carries no more weight than the opinion of the garrulous customer in the adjacent barber’s chair, which is to say, next to none.”
The Justice Department complained that Engelhardt overreached in his attempts to get to the bottom of the online commenting, saying prosecutors eventually were relegated to serving as “the court’s investigatory adjunct” as defense attorneys sat “sidelined entirely.”
“Because (Engelhardt) attempted to act simultaneously as a neutral arbiter of defendants’ new trial motion and as an independent investigator of government misconduct, an objective observer might reasonably question (his) impartiality,” Collery wrote. “It is questionable whether a district court should ever undertake an independent investigation of federal prosecutors.”