Justice Dept. Lawyer Karla Dobinski's Misconduct Sends Cops to Prison
What does it take for an employee to get fired in Eric Holder's Justice Department Civil Rights Division?
Certainly perjury doesn't do it. Neither does using a government credit card to book airfare for romantic liaisons with a Miami girlfriend -- that just gets you a nice buyout. Want to use civil rights laws to protect only black victims of discrimination? Ho hum. The culture of lawlessness is so pervasive at the Civil Rights Division that a former Voting Section chief felt comfortable telephoning current DOJ employees and suggesting they turn over confidential memos ... because they were worth cash (see page 145).
Now we learn that that an attorney in the infamous and lawless Civil Rights Division was engaging in clandestine blogging at a major newspaper in order to help convict New Orleans police officers in a matter to which she was assigned. Enter Karla Dobinski, DOJ Civil Rights Division lawyer by day and secret blogger by night. Dobinski was posting in the comments at newspaper sites and anonymously polluting the atmosphere about cases against New Orleans police officers on which she was working.
Dobinski's misconduct was so egregious that United States District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt vacated the convictions of five New Orleans police officers convicted of using excessive force in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Karla Dobinski, trial attorney in the department's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., posted comments on NOLA.com under the name "Dipsos," U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said in his order, which cited "grotesque" prosecutorial misconduct as a reason to grant a new trial.
The judge called Dobinski's posts a "wanton reckless course of action."
Dobinski wasn't any old attorney working on the prosecution of the New Orleans police officers: she was a supervisor, and the head of the "taint team." The taint team is charged with ensuring that prosecutors do not use any information obtained by a police department internal affairs unit in a criminal prosecution. Because cooperation with an internal affairs unit is mandatory for cops, statements made in those interviews may not be used in any criminal prosecution of a police officer. The head of the taint team is charged with ensuring the police officers receive a fair trial by keeping all information from the internal affairs unit out of the hands of the criminal prosecutors and away from the trial.
Dobinski is also a highly paid deputy chief in the Criminal Section. In other words, she is a supervisor. Nevertheless, Dobinski used the Times-Picayune website to post anonymous comments about the trial and to discuss the evidence in the case. Per NOLA:
Dobinski under oath testified that she followed progress of the trial on The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com because "the prosecution team was busy and there was not a good flow of information back about the trial events." Englehardt was not satisfied with that response, saying she had other avenues to keep up with the trial. And she was urging others to keep posting comments on NOLA.com, especially when they had pro-prosecutor opinions, the judge said. "In short, it is difficult to accept the story that an experienced trial attorney ... would embark upon such a wanton reckless course of action, involving herself with two highly-opinionated trial observers, simply to obtain 'a good flow of information back about the trial events.'"
He says less than 65 days before the jury got the case against Bowen and the others, Dobinski "personally fanned the flames of those burning to see him convicted."
Two other DOJ lawyers, both based in New Orleans, were fired for similar blogging at the Times-Picayune website in news stories covering the matter.
But Dobinski reported to work on Wednesday at her office on the fifth floor at 601 D Street N.W. in Washington, D.C .
Dobinski still earns $155,500 per year.
Has she faced scorn, ridicule or ostracism from her lawyer co-workers at the Justice Department?
Of course not. This is Eric Holder's Justice Department.
Every other Justice Department lawyer who blogged about their New Orleans case has been fired, except Dobinski.
Dobinski, unlike the other fired lawyers, is an activist.
She has long been involved in numerous lesbian and LGBT causes. In 2002, DOJ Pride -- the internal association of gay Justice Department employees -- held an awards ceremony. Dobinski won the James R. Douglas Award for her activism. For good measure, Dobinski also snagged the Gerald R. Roemer Community Service Award.
DOJ employees with her history of activism enjoy a sort of immunity that non-activists and non-leftists do not enjoy. It's just another day in the fundamental transformation of America.
But Dobinski's left-wing activism shouldn't protect her from the disciplinary committee at the District of Columbia Bar.
I verified today that she has been admitted to practice in the District since Feb. 14, 1985. If the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility didn’t report her to the bar -- and it’s likely they didn’t -- citizens can.
A government which permits federal employees to abuse power, lie, steal, and ultimately to send citizens to jail based on lawyer misconduct is a government which has betrayed its founding rooted in law. Whether it is Karla Dobinski or Eric Holder, a new breed of highly paid lawyer holds power. They seem immune to consequences for misconduct, and those in Congress with the power to respond under the Constitution seem flummoxed by this new breed of technocrat gangster.
The consequences for the rule of law, and for their victims -- like the five New Orleans police officers -- are frightening.