Saturday, March 29, 2014

US Attorney Commenting Scandal

A few years ago, this was heroic Jim Letten, the big-game hunter, on a float "slaying the Kraken"... now...

Comment Scandal Likely to Blow Wide Open The Lens / M. Mosley

The $th Estate Must read over at AZ... "If Jim Letten was commenting, holy fuck, was that ever dumb."

Things are about to get interesting.

On a related note, I got to attend a little Q&A session with Letten's successor, Ken Polite.

The chat was interesting.  He explained the basics of the office.  He stated 'the office is the ultimate check and balance (especially in this area) on politicians to ensure their office is not for sale.'  He talked about Danziger and how the government shutdown affected his office.  He talked about "restoring confidence in the office."  He talked about his time at Harvard ("I hate the snow").  One of the interesting things I found was he talked about how none of the previous US Attorneys in the Eastern District had ever bothered to meet with all the Sheriffs and police chiefs in their district (preferring to stick to the city and more or less ignore the more rural areas) and none had ever had a face to face meeting with the chief federal public defender (preferring a strictly adversarial relationship).  He was very frustrated with "2 decades of stagnation at the top management within the office" (while the chief US attorney turned over regularly, none of the more senior employees did, much to the detriment of the office).  One other nice quote: (talking about crime in New Orleans), "All too often, the victim and perpetrators look like me."  I even got to ask a question of Mr. Polite.  I asked, "So, what's the transition been like?  Easier or more difficult than you expected?"  He seemed to enjoy answering my question and broke it down in 2 parts: outside the office and inside the office.  He said that outside the office, he was far better received and supported than he ever dared hope, especially considering he was taking over for such a long tenured and popular chief prosecutor.  He then said inside the office was far more difficult than he expected (and he was expecting a rough road).  He says he spends an inexcusably inordinate amount of time dealing with internal personnel issues.  "Some people are supportive of change until it happens".  He said he's also only 4 months into the transition and he hopes it gets smoother.

Mr. Polite's #1 piece of advice for young people was also, "Choose your friends wisely; it reflects on yourself."

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