Atlanta prosecutor takes over New Orleans probe
4:07 pm, December 10th, 2012
A federal prosecutor in Atlanta has been tapped by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take over an investigation of federal prosecutors in New Orleans following last week’s resignation of the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Holder appointed First Assistant U.S. Attorney John Horn in response to an order from U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Engelhardt presided over civil rights prosecutions of five New Orleans police officers over a deadly shooting on a city bridge in the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten resigned his New Orleans post last week after the discovery that two of his senior prosecutors made multiple unauthorized, anonymous online postings attacking the defendant officers and their lawyers.
After learning that the federal prosecutor who had been leading the probe for Letten was one of the anonymous posters, Englehardt penned a Nov. 26 order demanding that the Justice Department “seriously consider the appointment of an independent counsel … post haste.” The judge suggested stripping the probe from Letten and the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which he said “seems useless” and “will likely only yield a delayed yet unconvincing result in which no confidence can rest.”
The judge also ordered the DOJ to redo the investigation by Letten’s first assistant U.S. attorney, Jan Mann, who belatedly admitted writing some of the posts, calling it “tainted… unreliable and unacceptable.”
The judge’s order noted that that while posting online comments might be unethical and unprofessional, “apparent false testimony” before the court, suborning false testimony and making false statements to a federal judge “bear further serious inquiry.”
Horn declined, via email, to comment on his appointment, referring all questions to the DOJ.