Despite googling madly, I can’t find a link for it so I don’t have an exact quote, but a while back Pat Fitzgerald gave a speech in which he said that the power to indict is basically the power to destroy someone’s life, and that therefore before you indict you have to examine what you are doing and ask yourself if it is not merely an indictable case, but also a case you should be prosecuting.
Not just, "are you sure you can win?"; it’s not just about your conviction rate, but if it is going to be a hard case to win, are you going forward because you truly believe this person is guilty and that the case is important?
The US Attorney’s Manual says
1-7.110 Interests Must Be Balanced
These guidelines recognize three principal interests that must be balanced: the right of the public to know; an individual’s right to a fair trial; and, the government’s ability to effectively enforce the administration of justice.
1-7.111 Need for Confidentiality
Careful weight must be given in each case to protecting the rights of victims and litigants as well as the protection of the life and safety of other parties and witnesses. To this end, the Courts and Congress have recognized the need for limited confidentiality in:
On-going operations and investigations;
Grand jury and tax matters;
Certain investigative techniques; and,
Other matters protected by the law.
Particular care must be taken to avoid any statement or presentation that would prejudice the fairness of any subsequent legal proceeding. See also 28 C.F.R. 16.26(b).
Normally, you are not allowed to talk about a case before you indict someone. This protects the rights and privacy of the witnesses and of the innocent accused. The USAM lists specific instances when it is permissible to discuss a case pre-indictment:
There are exceptional circumstances when it may be appropriate to have press conferences or other media outreach about ongoing matters before indictment or other formal charge. These include cases where: 1) the heinous or extraordinary nature of the crime requires public reassurance that the matter is being promptly and properly handled by the appropriate authority; 2) the community needs to be told of an imminent threat to public safety; or 3) a request for public assistance or information is vital. See USAM 1-7.530 to 1-7.550 and 28 C.F.R. 50.2.
So, you see how the leak of the Spitzer prostitution investigation does NOT fit the standard for pre-indictment release of information, right?
Well, it seems that Garcia’s shop is at it again. Today’s NYTimes is reporting that SDNY is looking at a changed vote by a Dem City Councilwoman in Yonkers with an eye towards maybe indicting her. Got that? She’s not indicted, they haven’t decided yet if they’re going to indict, but they are shooting their mouths off ruining this woman’s reputation.
federal prosecutors are investigating the development deal and leaning toward indicting Ms. Annabi, a 37-year-old Democrat, on corruption charges or other misconduct, according to a person involved in the investigation.
I have no clue if she did anything prosecutable, and if she did, they should certainly go ahead and take her to indictment and then prove it, but nothing explains this pre-indictment defamation, except the fact that she’s a Dem.
To be fair, the article mentions that the feds are asking questions about a number of Republicans, and it names names, but only one person has been singled out for this "leaning toward indictment" treatment, the Dem.
This is just tawdry.