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**Congressional Hearing - scheduled to go forward after the 4th of July - Prosecutor Misconduct Filed Against U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton http://jones.house.gov/release.cfm?id=689
Congressman Walter Jones For Immediate Release Thursday, June 19, 2008 Contact: Kathleen M. Joyce 202-225-3415 http://jones.house.gov/release
LAWMAKERS JOIN JONES TO REQUEST INVESTIGATION OF PROSECUTOR IN BORDER AGENTS CASE Complaint of Prosecutorial Misconduct Filed Against U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton Washington, D.C. –
In a letter this week to the U.S. Department of Justice, Representative Walter B. Jones (R-NC) – joined by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), Virgil Goode (R-VA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Don Manzullo (R-IL)
– requested that the Office of Professional Responsibility investigate the actions of U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in the prosecution of U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. The agents entered federal prison on January 17, 2007, to begin serving sentences of 11 and 12 years respectively for shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler who brought 743 pounds of marijuana across the U.S. border in 2005. Excerpts from the letter follow below.
“As Members of Congress, we write this letter to bring to your attention for investigation what we have concluded to be a serious miscarriage of justice by United States Attorney Johnny Sutton. Mr. Sutton supervised, and has vigorously defended, his office’s actions in a case wherein two United States Border Patrol agents – Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean — have been convicted, and each are now being punished by imprisonment of 10 years, for a crime that does not exist, and therefore, for a crime that could not have been committed.” “Specifically, Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean were charged with violating 18 United States Code Section 924(c)(1)(A) by the ‘knowing discharge [of] a firearm ... during and in relation to a crime of violence.’ (Emphasis added). There is, however, no such crime. Rather, Section 924(c)(1)(A) makes it a crime to ‘use or carry ... during and in relation to any crime of violence’ or to ‘possess a firearm’ ‘in furtherance of’ any such crime.
And, as the United States Supreme Court recently pointed out, ‘discharge’ is only a sentencing factor to be considered by the judge after conviction, not by the jury in the effort to determine whether the law has been violated. United States v. Watson …(2007).” “United States Attorney Sutton secured an indictment charging Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean with the non-existent crime of ‘discharging’ a firearm ‘in relation to a crime of violence.’
By this charge Mr. Sutton facilitated the conviction of the two border control agents by means of jury instructions that focused the jury’s attention upon the ‘discharge’ of the agents’ firearms, rather than upon the lawfulness of the possession, carrying, and use of such firearms in the ordinary course of their employment. Moreover, by this indictment and these instructions,
Mr. Sutton obtained a conviction of an offense that carried a minimum 10-year sentence, as provided by the statute, rather than the lesser-sentence for violation of Border Patrol rules and regulations.”
“It is our firm conviction that, by these actions, Mr. Sutton is guilty of prosecutorial misconduct, which has imposed an irreversible and substantial effect upon Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean and their families. Prior to the return of the indictment against Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean,
Mr. Sutton must have known that it was impossible for there to be probable cause for a ‘crime’ never enacted by Congress, as authoritatively and previously decided by the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
According to Rule 3.09 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, a prosecuting attorney is to ‘refrain from prosecuting ... a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.’”
“Mr. Sutton has manipulated the federal criminal code to obtain a conviction against two U.S. Border Patrol agents, preferring to win at all costs over his duty as a United States Attorney, and his duty under the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. This is a matter which your office has a duty to investigate and, on the basis of what we now know, to remedy.”