The prosecutors who are handling the case against a Washington defense attorney charged with trying to dupe the jurors now find themselves under attack as the attorney's trial inches closer.
The lawyers representing Charles Daum, charged last April with obstruction of justice and other crimes, contend prosecutors in Washington deliberately cut off an interview with a witness who was providing information that didn’t coincide with the government’s theory of the case.
Daum and two private investigators, Daaiyah Pasha and Iman Pasha, are charged in an alleged scheme to throw off jurors in a drug case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Government lawyers contend Daum incorporated fake photographs at a drug trial in 2008 to convince jurors that his client’s brother was guilty. The jury deadlocked.
Daum’s lawyers in the obstruction case, including David Schertler of Washington’s Schertler & Onorato said in court papers (PDF) that prosecutors only recently told the defense about an interview with a witness that occurred two years ago.
Schertler said the government cut off the interview with the witness, a man whom the government believed, according to Daum’s attorneys, was being deceitful. The information the witness provided pointed to the possibility that another person was involved in the scheme to create fake photographs.
The disclosure of the witness’ name and his statement just three weeks before Daum’s trial, Schertler said, was a strategic decision by prosecutors that raises “very serious questions” about the government’s compliance with its obligations to turn over favorable information.
Schertler said the information the witness provided raises “the specter that the government has turned a blind eye to exculpatory leads in its own investigation and then has intentionally hampered the defense’s ability to pursue those leads at a time when they were fresh.”
Daum’s attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to force the government to turn over any other information about the witness.
“And the defense respectfully suggests that the government’s strategic and unjustified postponement of its disclosure of this important exculpatory information warrants the imposition of sanctions,” Daum’s lawyers said.
Prosecutors in the Justice Department's drug and narcotics section disclosed the witness information in a letter (PDF) to Daum's lawyers. In the letter, DOJ's trial team said they were providing the information to Daum as part of the government's obligation under Brady v. Maryland, the landmark Supreme Court case in 1963 that addressed the disclosure of certain information.
Daum’s trial is scheduled for April 30. Daum’s lawyers are expected to attack the credibility of government witnesses, arguing that cooperators had a lot to gain by pinning blame on Daum.
Prosecutors recently won the opportunity to tell jurors about alleged other ethical lapses in Daum’s long history as a criminal defense lawyer in Washington. The government is planning to rely on intercepted telephone calls to argue that Daum was involved in the scheme to dupe jurors in the underlying drug case.