2 ex-prosecutors barred from court
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two former federal prosecutors have agreed never to practice law in the federal court covering southeast Louisiana in return for avoiding additional discipline after they acknowledged making anonymous online posts about federal cases.
Chief U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance on Thursday unsealed brief orders signed by other judges on March 25 for Jan Mann and April 3 for Sal Perricone.
Mann and Perricone had asked the court to permanently strike them from its list of attorneys licensed to practice in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Louisiana in lieu of other discipline, according to the orders by Judges Jay Zainey and Martin Feldman.
Judges were informed April 24 that a Justice Department investigation of Mann and Perricone was complete.
Mann and Perricone acknowledged in 2012 that they posted anonymous comments about cases at a newspaper's website.
So did their boss, former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, although he was not implicated in online postings.
Mann, her attorney, and Perricone, who represented himself in the proceeding, did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press.
Although the order names only the Eastern District, it is likely to affect Mann's and Perricone's ability to work in other federal courts, said Harry Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney who is now in private practice.
"The other federal courts are usually mindful of ability to practice in sister courts and impairment in one frequently affects standing in the others," he wrote in an email Thursday.
They are still licensed to practice law in Louisiana. But Charles Plattsmier, chief disciplinary counsel for the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, said his office is reviewing their case with attorneys representing the two.
The office considered that "the matters pending in the federal court needed to be addressed first, because that's where the conduct occurred," he told WWL-TV and The New Orleans Advocate (http://bit.ly/1fCEQTy ). He would not speculate on what the board might do.
The board could do nothing, reach an agreement like the one in federal court, or file formal charges.
Federal prosecutors dropped a case involving the River Birch landfill because of Perricone's and Mann's comments about it.
In September, a federal judge ordered a new trial for five former New Orleans police officers convicted of civil rights violations stemming from deadly shootings on a bridge after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The judge said posts by at least three government attorneys had created a "carnival atmosphere" that perverted justice in the case.
Word that the Justice Department's investigation was over came in connection with a case involving a former nonprofit agency director charged with taking kickbacks. As part of her defense, Stacey Jackson wants to know whether comments about her on Nola.com-The Times Picayune, under the pseudonyms "Aircheck" and "Jammer 1954," were actually by federal prosecutors. An order last month said "Jammer 1954" was not a government official involved in the case and the review of "Aircheck" was continuing.