Double Standards

Two days ago, I posted about Don Valeska. He is chief of the violent crimes division in the Attorney General’s office. While prosecuting a recent capital murder case, Valeska not only hid evidence favorable to the defendant, he stood before the court and lied about it – telling the court the evidence did not exist all the while knowing full well it did.

What happened to him? The case was properly reversed on appeal, but so far as I can tell no one has sanctioned Don Valeska for his reprehensible conduct.

Compare that to this report about a federal judge’s decision to sanction two Florida attorneys for bringing a frivolous employment lawsuit. Basically, their client lied to them, and when they found out, they told the defendant about it. A magistrate judge held a hearing and decided that the attorneys acted in good faith – they did not know the client was lying when they brought the suit – and so decided not to impose sanctions. The district judge, without holding a hearing, rejected the magistrate’s findings and imposed over $ 400,000.00 in sanctions. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the sanctions, but, as the article explains, this type of fine is typical, and in this case may be imposed again on remand.  

So, knowingly hide evidence in order to make it easier to kill a man, and then lie about it to a judge, and you walk away with no penalty. Inform the opposing party in a civil case that your own client has misled everyone, and pay almost half a million dollars in sanctions.

Blatant bad faith lies by the prosecutor in a case where a man’s life is at stake are acceptable. In a case where nothing but money is at stake, promptly corrected good faith mistakes are heavily penalized.

Yup. That makes perfect sense.

Explore posts in the same categories: Alabama Court Decisions, Appellate And Post-Conviction Issues, Eleventh Circuit, Trials

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