My law partner Carl and I represent lots of people who are charged with federal crimes, both here in Atlanta and throughout the country. Each of us recently had cases where we believed that our clients were innocent. In each case, we also each faced federal prosecutors who aggressively went after our clients. All charges were dismissed recently against these clients, which leads to some thoughts as to why this happens in some cases but not in other situations.
Not everyone recognizes the differences between how federal criminal cases are brought and the system used in most state court systems. In the state systems, investigators bring their work to an Assistant District Attorney. For the most part, these assistant DA’s cannot refuse a case that the police bring to them. In federal court, on the other hand, the Assistant United States Attorney (or “AUSA”) has broad discretion to accept or reject just about anything brought to him or her by one of the federal investigative agencies. This greater discretion means that federal prosecutors usually weed out, and reject, the weakest criminal cases. Because AUSA’s have greater discretion to turn down less strong cases, they end up winning far more of the matters that they do take on. Continue Reading