Legal Ethics Professor Blasts Comey, Calls Email Press Conference ‘Out of Line’

Professor Stephen Gillers
Professor Stephen Gillers

By Allan Lengel

A professor of legal ethics at N.Y.U. School of Law blasted FBI Director James B. Comey for holding a press conference on Tuesday and delivering “his verdict on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server.”

In a letter to editor at the New York Times on Thursday, Professor Stephen Gillers wrote that the press conference was “was out of line.”

He went on to write: 

The F.B.I. is neither judge nor jury. And it certainly has no business characterizing the noncriminal conduct of subjects of investigation, as Mr. Comey did. Cops, even top cops, should not play this role.

While it may gratify the country to hear Mr. Comey’s independent views on the server controversy, his press briefing sets a bad precedent that can harm the fair administration of justice. Few people under investigation have the resources Mrs. Clinton has to defend herself.

True, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she would accept the recommendation of Mr. Comey and career prosecutors, but that was not a license for the director to go public. Furthermore, even if Ms. Lynch had given Mr. Comey the sole authority to decide whether to indict Mrs. Clinton, that’s all he should have decided.

Once a decision is made not to indict, a prosecuting agency should say nothing more. Its job is to prosecute crime, and if there is no crime, it should remain silent.


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