* Ab Mikva is upset with US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. You’ll all remember Fitzgerald’s press conference after Blagojevich’s arrest…
“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” Fitzgerald said the day of the Dec. 9 arrest. He also said Blagojevich had gone on “a political corruption crime spree.” And Robert D. Grant, head of the FBI’s Chicago office, told the same news conference that if Illinois “is not the most corrupt state in the United States it’s certainly one hell of a competitor.”
Mikva’s response yesterday…
“I certainly don’t like the prosecutor coming out and trying his case [in the media] and possibly tainting the jury pool with a big press conference announcing he has indicted so-and-so, or, in Blagojevich’s case, has arrested so-and-so — he hadn’t even reached an indictment yet,” Mikva saids at the American Bar Association convention.
“The argument is made by some prosecutors that this is a part of a public information factor of a prosecutor’s job, and they have to do it. That’s nonsense.” […]
“I suppose prosecutors have first amendment rights, but … somehow there’s something wrong and inconsistent with a prosecutor who is supposed to try that case in court and is supposed to be the public persona [of justice] announcing to the world that you’ve got this guy dead-to-rights and he should go to jail for a long time,” Mikva said. […]
Pressed on whether prosecutors such as Fitzgerald should make themselves available to answer questions from the press about newly-released indictments, Mikva conceded sometimes that was helpful and necessary with complicated cases, but he said the prosecutors should keep their answers unemotional.
A federal judge agreed…
“I think that the indictment should be the news conference,” said Judge Paul L. Friedman of U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, suggesting that reporters should get their information about the case from the indictment and prosecutors should not add facts not contained in that document.
* The Question: Did Fitzgerald go too far? And should US Attorney’s, the FBI and others in law enforcement avoid press conferences that stray from the cold facts of an arrest or indictment?
Explain both answers, please. Thanks.