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Judge Rules Detroit Fed Prosecutor’s Emails Are Private

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino
Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — A Detroit assistant U.S. Attorney doesn’t have to provide his emails in a controversial lawsuit involving a former colleague who is suing the Justice Department over leaks to the Detroit Free Press.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington ruled earlier this month that former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino can’t see any of assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel’s emails to his private attorney or those involving Justice Department work.

Convertino has indicated that he thinks Tukel was the one who may have leaked information about an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation targeting him.

“We need to encourage candid communications among government officials allowing officials to deliberate honestly with each other, without fear that they discussions will be exposed to the public,” Judge Lamberth wrote in a ruling favoring Tukel, who had opposed the release.

He added that “Mr. Tukel reasonably expected that his emails with his personal attorney to remain confidential.”

Convertino, an aggressive prosecutor who became a controversial figure in the office, resigned in 2005 while under investigation for a 2003 terrorism case he prosecuted and won.

The convictions were later overturned and he was indicted on obstruction of justice charges, which alleged that he withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense and allowed false testimony during trial. He was eventually acquitted.

The emails included communications with his attorney and on Justice Department cases. The judge ruled that both were privileged and protected from being released.

Read the Judge’s Ruling

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