Ethics complaints were filed against Federal prosecutors over alleged misconduct in FOIA lawsuit

By LOUIS FLORES

Ethics complaints were dispatched on Friday to the Grievance Committee of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department, and to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The ethics complaints, filed by the publisher of Progress Queens, alleged misconduct on the part of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rukhsanah Singh and Angela George during proceedings before U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The U.S. District Court was the venue for litigation over a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, seeking the release of records about the prosecution of activists. The FOIA Request was filed by the publisher of Progress Queens.

The allegations against Assistant U.S. Attorney Singh included the introduction of an altered document into the Court's record. Assistant U.S. Attorney Singh had sworn that the altered document was a true and correct copy in a Declaration she filed with the Court. Other allegations included allowing misrepresentations to be made during proceedings before U.S. District Court.

The allegations against Assistant U.S. Attorney George included receiving or being in possession of the FOIA Request when the U.S. Department of Justice, the Defendant in the FOIA Lawsuit, claimed it had misplaced the request file for the FOIA Request. Assistant U.S. Attorney George also made a statement, alleged to be false, that she did not have a copy of the United States Attorneys' Manual. The alleged latter false statement was made by Assistant U.S. Attorney George in a Declaration sworn to by another individual, and that Declaration was entered into the Court's proceedings.

Because Assistant U.S. Attorneys Singh and George are considered officers of the Courts, they owed a duty to be forthcoming during Court proceedings about facts and circumstances, even when those facts and circumstances were adverse to their positions or interests. In the ethics complaints, the violations by the Federal prosecutors were described to constitute second-degree obstruction of Government administration.

The allegations in the ethics complaints had been brought to the attention of Chief Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann and U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack in a Motion for Sanctions and Penalties filed by the publisher of Progress Queens during Court proceedings. However, the Hon. Judges Mann and Azrack showed bias in favour of the U.S. Department of Justice during the litigation over the FOIA Request, and the Federal prosecutors faced no consequences for their alleged misconduct. Ultimately, the Hon. Judge Azrack ruled in favour of the Government, thereby ending the litigation in U.S. District Court. The decisions leading up to the Judgment are now the subject of an appeal filed by the publisher of Progress Queens with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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