U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth has ruled that an Assistant U.S. Attorney does not have to release his e-mails in a lawsuit brought by a former Detroit colleague against the Justice Department, Tickle The Wire reports.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino received national media attention for his handling of a 2003 terrorism trial, which prompted a DOJ ethics investigation into whether he committed misconduct. Two of the defendants in the case were found guilty, but their convictions were overturned. The former federal prosecutor was acquitted in 2007 of conspiring to hide evidence in the case.
Convertino is suing DOJ to find out who leaked news of the internal investigation to the Detroit Free Press. Tickle The Wire reports that the former prosecutor in the Eastern District of Michigan has indicated that he believes Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel was the one who leaked information to the newspaper about the Office of Professional Responsibility investigation. He has sought to have Tukel’s e-mails released. However, Lamberth earlier this month ruled that the e-mails to Tukel’s private attorney and those involving his DOJ work were privileged and protected.
In his ruling, Lamberth wrote, “We need to encourage candid communications among governmental officials, allowing officials to deliberate honestly with each other, without fear that their discussions will
be exposed to the public,” adding, “Mr. Tukel reasonably expected that his e-mails with his personal attorney to remain confidential.”