Petition Closed

Ask Attorney General Holder to Appoint a Special Prosecutor for United States v. Scott J. Bloch!

This petition had 141 supporters


 

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We, the undersigned, wish to bring to your attention an important issue: the effective and ethical prosecution by the Department of Justice of Scott J. Bloch, a man who has gravely damaged the federal civil service.

As you undoubtedly know, Mr. Bloch began his tenure as head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, in 2003.  The Office of Special Counsel’s primary purpose is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.  However, until his abrupt resignation in 2008, Mr. Bloch eroded workplace discrimination protection on the basis of sexual orientation, conducted a political purge of his own employees, attempted to intimidate subordinates from cooperating with outside investigators, deleted computer files and destroyed whistleblower cases, and made false and misleading statements under oath to Congress.  After arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and arraignment by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2008, Mr. Bloch pled guilty to criminal contempt of Congress in exchange for probation in sentencing.  The prosecuting attorney, Glenn S. Leon, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, supported the defendant's request in United States v. Scott J. Bloch through several court hearings and pleadings.  Recently, however, the presiding federal magistrate judge, Deborah A. Robinson, raised legal concerns with the sentencing provision, and determined that a mandatory minimum jail sentence is in order.  The defendant shortly thereafter revoked his guilty plea.  DOJ has not mentioned whether it will retain Mr. Leon for any trial.

We are concerned, however, that Mr. Leon's official conduct up to now has rendered him unfit to prosecute the defendant.  Rule 1.3 of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, Comment 1, states that "[a] lawyer must . . . act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client's behalf."  (Emphasis supplied).  In the instant case, Mr. Leon would have to contradict almost a year's worth of arguments in support of the defendant, and state the exact opposite in front of a judge or jury.  This would erode his credibility and impartiality in the public light, as one would not reasonably expect that he would be able to zealously advocate the government’s position given his track record.  The government runs the risk of getting something less than his full effort, which warrants recusal.

Nor is mere substitution of one U.S. Attorney or Department of Justice prosecutor for another proper.  Rule 1.13(a) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct states that "[a] lawyer employed or retained by an organization represents the organization acting through its duly authorized constituents."  Mr. Leon is an employee of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is currently occupied by Ronald C. Machen, Jr.  Both Mr. Leon and Mr. Machen represent the DOJ, which you lead.  Both of these subordinates must abide by any prosecutorial decisions made by your office.  Further, United States v. Scott J. Bloch is a high-profile, politically charged case.  The Office of Special Counsel deals with some of the most politically sensitive issues in government. It is therefore unlikely that any prosecutorial decision in this case, such as advocating for probation, would not come directly from your office.  Thus, Mr. Leon's conduct and conflicts of interest are imputed to the entire Department of Justice.  Consequently, Mr. Leon's urging for probation is imputed to the entire Department of Justice.

In addition, given the significant harm the defendant has caused to countless whistleblowers, the U.S. government, and the American people, the public interest requires that a credible, impartial, non-partisan prosecutor be tasked to lead this prosecution.

 DOJ regulations provide for such a situation:

28 C.F.R. 600.1 provides that,

The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and--

(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney's Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and

(b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.

We believe that both criteria are met.  Given the imputation by Mr. Leon to the DOJ, and the public interest in seeing the defendant held accountable, application of this regulation seems warranted.  Indeed, an important precedent exists for invoking this regulation: the 2003 investigation of the Valerie Plame CIA leak by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.  In that case, high-level DOJ officials, including Attorney General John Ashcroft and Deputy Attorney General James Comey, recused themselves from the case and appointed Mr. Fitzgerald as special prosecutor per the above regulation.  According to the Boston Globe in an article dated December 31, 2003, the case "provoked widespread speculation in Washington that senior administration officials were involved, thereby giving Ashcroft a conflict of interest in overseeing the case."  Notably, the Globe reported that

Comey did not explain why Ashcroft chose to step aside now after absorbing criticism for months for his refusal to do so.  He said only that the attorney general decided it was ‘the appropriate point in this investigation’ based on the evidence gathered to date.

The issue surrounding the attorney general's recusal is not one of actual conflict of interest that arises normally when someone has a financial interest or something,’ Comey said. ‘The issue that he was concerned about was one of appearance.  And I can't go beyond that.  That's the reason he decided, really in an abundance of caution, that he ought to step aside and leave me as acting attorney general for those matters.’

We are not of the belief that there is improper involvement by current DOJ officials in the defendant’s case, however, the concern about the appearance of impropriety is equally pressing.

Attorney General Holder, we have long waited for Mr. Bloch to be held accountable in a court of law.  For too many of us, the erosion of the rule of law and ethical conduct in government came with a heavy price.  With our whistleblowing activities, we sought, and continue to seek, a government of laws, not of men.  Please help us restore this noble and long-standing principle by appointing a special prosecutor to lead United States v. Scott J. Bloch.

Sincerely,

The Community of Whistleblowers and Their Supporters:

Ray Adams
Air Traffic Controller
Newark Airport
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration

Bruce Bessette
Retired Aviation Safety Inspector – Maintenance
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration
Flight Standards-Western Pacific Region
Arizona

Bradley Birkenfeld
The UBS Whistleblower

Gabe Bruno
Retired Manager, Flight Standards
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration
Orlando, Florida

Joe Carson, PE
Safety Engineer
Department of Energy
Knoxville, Tennessee

Mark Danielson
Federal Police Officer
Former Special Response Team Member
Department of Energy / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Barstow, California

Julia Davis
Former Customs and Border Protection Officer
Department of Homeland Security / U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Beverly Hills, California

Tom Devine
Legal Director
Government Accountability Project
Washington, D.C.

Newton R. Dickson
Former First Officer
Continental Airlines

Michael Driscoll
Former Airline Pilot
Spirit Airlines
East Dennis, Massachusetts

Bogdan Dzakovic  
Entry-level staff employee
Department of Homeland Security / Transportation Security Administration
Former Federal Air Marshal Team Leader
Former Red Team Leader
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration
Washington, D.C.

Kenny Edwards
Former Regional Airline Captain
Gulfstream International Airlines
Phoenix, Arizona

Kim A. Farrington
Former Aviation Safety Inspector - Cabin Safety
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration
Flight Standards Southern Region - Orlando, Florida

Franz J. Gayl
Science and Technology Advisor
Department of Defense / United States Marine Corps
Pentagon

Gordon Hamel
Former Director of Executive Placement
The President’s Commission on Executive Exchange
The White House

Daniel Hanley
Former B-777 Airline Captain
United Airlines

Edward Jeszka
Retired Aviation Safety Inspector
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration / Alabama, North Florida Flight Standards District Office
Birmingham, Alabama

Douglas Kinan
Former Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist
Department of Defense / Defense Contract Management Agency East
Boston, Massachusetts

Robert J. MacLean
Former Federal Air Marshal
Department of Homeland Security / Transportation Security Administration / Federal Air Marshal Service
Orange County, California

Shawn Malekpour
Aerospace Engineer
Chicago Aircraft Certification Office
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration

David Pardo
Former Attorney/Advisor
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration
Alexandria, Virginia

Dr. Janet Parker M.S., DVM 
Executive Director, Medical Whistleblower 
Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network - Human Rights Defenders
Lawrence, Kansas

Spencer Pickard
Former Federal Air Marshal
Department of Homeland Security / Transportation Security Administration / Federal Air Marshal Service
Dallas, Texas

Nada Prouty
Former CIA Covert Operations Officer
Former FBI Special Agent
Central Intelligence Agency
Department of Justice / Federal Bureau of Investigation
Vienna, Virginia

Denise A. Romano
Corporate Governance Expert, Author
Columbia University Whistleblower
New York City, New York

Coleen Rowley
Retired FBI Agent
Department of Justice / Federal Bureau of Investigation

George Sarris
RC-135 Aircraft Mechanic
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

Craig Sawyer
Former ATSAC (Manager)
Department of Homeland Security / Transportation Security Administration / Federal Air Marshal Service
Las Vegas, Nevada

Tony Shaffer
LtCol, US Army Reserve
Former Senior Intelligence Officer (Operations)
Department of Defense / Defense Intelligence Agency

Rachelle Halliburton, on behalf of the late Sharon E. Simmons
Former Team Leader, Annual Review Team, Washington District Office
Small Business Administration

Don Soeken, Ph.D
United States Public Health Service 06 Officer (retired)
Whistleblower Support Fund and International Whistleblower Archive

Robert Spahr
Aviation Safety Inspector
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration

R.W. Van Boven, M.D., D.D.S.
Physician-Scientist and Former Director
Department of Veterans Affairs / The Brain Imaging and (TBI) Recovery Laboratory

Glenn A. Walp, Ph.D
Former Office Leader of the Office of Security Inquiries
Department of Energy / Los Alamos National Laboratory
Criminal Justice Consultant and Adjunct Professor, Penn State University
Phoenix, Arizona

Mark Whitacre
Chief Operating Officer/President
Cypress Systems, Inc.
Former Executive
Archer Daniels Midland

Richard Wyeroski
Former Aviation Safety Inspector
Department of Transportation / Federal Aviation Administration
Bayport, New York

Charlotte Yee
Former San Francisco Regional Economist
Department of Labor / Bureau of Labor Statistics

 



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