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Attack on the Citizen's Protection Act

In 1994 the Justice Department adopted regulations that excluded thier lawyers from ethics rules, allowing federal prosecutors, federal agents and federal attorneys to operate far beyond usual ethical boundaries. Withholding exculpatory evidence and discovery, contacting a defendent without the presence of his attorney, violating state and local standards of justice, and other ethical improprieties became common practice in federal courts throughout the country.

Last October, a provision was included in the Ominbus Spending Bill that would negate the 1994 Justice Department self-authored exemptions. Originally it was called the Citizen's Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Joseph McDade (R-PA). It passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin of 345-82-clearly without any battles drawn along usual party lines. The 105th Congress passed the measure and the president signed it into law.

The statute's effective date was delayed for six months (until April 19, 1999) to allow the Department to amend its rules to comply with the new provisions. In the interium however, high-level DOJ representatives went immediately to work to keep the provision from becoming law. Prompted by intense DOJ lobbying, Senate Bill S. 250 was introduced to the 106th Congress by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). This bill that would gut the ethical standards statue and grant the Department of Justice the power to exempt its attorneys and agents whenever they decide that a rule of ethics conflicts with its "policies." In essence, this would allow U.S. attornies to continue running roughshod over due process and the Bill of Rights.

Your action is needed now! S. 250 must be stopped and the ethical standards statute must be allowed to take effect as written and signed into law just last October.

Please contact your two Senators and one Representative immediately, and urge them to reject any efforts to repeal or weaken this important government attorney ethics law, or to otherwise allow the Department of Justice to exempt itself from independent and effective supervision of federal attorneys. Contact them at both their Washington, DC office and their local district offices.

In addition, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should hear from their constituents applauding the new law and rejecting S. 250. The current members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are as follows:

Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Strom Thurmond (R-SC); Charles Grassley (R-IA); Arlen Specter (R-PA); Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Mike DeWine (R-OH); John Ashcroft (R-MO); Spencer Abraham (R-MI); Jeff Sessions (R-AL); and Robert Smith (R-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Edward Kennedy (D-MA); Joseph Biden (D-DE); Herbert Kohl (D-WI); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Russ Feingold (D-WI); Robert Torricelli (D-NJ); and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

All Senators can be reached at their Washington offices through the Senate Switchboard Operator (202) 224-3121; and by addressing correspondence to The Honorable (full name); United States Senate; Washington, DC 20510. All Representatives can be reached through the House Switchboard Operator (202) 225-3121; and by addressing correspondence to The Honorable (full name); United States House of Representatives; Washington, DC 20515.

Contact your elected officials today!

See also: Full court overturns Singleton decision and
Congress and the Courts Take Dramatic Steps to Address Abuse of Prosecutorial Powers

For more on what our Congress is up to, visit the Thomas Guide to Congressional Legislation at:

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