Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Federal attorneys: the view from NM

I grabbed the Sunday paper on my way out of Albuquerque this morning. Two articles caught my eye.

The first, titled "Iglesias’ Tenure a Low-Key Affair," offered an extensive account of David Iglesias’ career as a federal prosecutor. It cites a memo prepared for A.G. Gonzales in 2005:

The 2005 memo provides a biography of Iglesias, a demographic breakdown of New Mexico and a list of significant pending cases. Gonzales was attending a conference in New Mexico on border issues but had to leave because of terrorist bombings in London. He returned in the summer of 2006.

Cases listed as "significant" include:

A firearm case that resulted in a 30-year prison sentence for a felon possessing a gun during a robbery. The memo doesn’t mention similar cases the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute.

An investigation into an immigrant smuggling organization that included federal wiretaps that resulted in a 30-month sentence for the ringleader and even less time for his co-defendants.

A federal tax evasion case involving attorneys and accountants in which no one so far has received any jail time.

A fraud and conspiracy case involving Los Alamos National Laboratory that resulted in sentences of six months and one year for the two defendants.

An anti-heroin initiative in the Española area that began in the late 1990s under then-U.S. Attorney John Kelly and was continuing under Iglesias.

I may be mistaken, but this doesn’t sound like a record assembled by a go-getter prosecutor. Here’s more along those lines:

But the memo provided to Gonzales gives only partial insight into how the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico operated under Iglesias.

Some insiders said they considered the office "risk averse"; in other words, extremely cautious about taking on high- visibility criminal cases.

A letter addressed to Gonzales was being circulated among some federal prosecutors here last week. Some had signed it but were undecided whether to send it because of speculation Gonzales might lose his job. Others didn’t share the views expressed.

The letter address[es] the recent controversy, describing Iglesias as an absentee boss who was more interested in travel than in running the office.

It said he "abdicated his responsibility as United States Attorney, turning over virtually every important decision to his subordinates."

The letter also said that Iglesias’ "lack of leadership" resulted in a decline in the quality of work produced by his office and that the reputation of the office had suffered during his tenure.

Apparently, Iglesias’ office had increased signficantly the number of immigration cases it handled (but most involved merely pushing paper and deporting the illegal immigrant), but hadn’t really increased its workload in other respects. (I’m summarizing and quoting extensively because the article is available only by means of a "premium" trial pass.)

The second piece, titled "Iglesias Earned His Firing," was written by a guest columnist, veteran Albuquerque lawyer Robert D. Taichert. According to Taichert, Iglesias’ problem

was excessive delay in pursuing the public’s business. It is erroneous to assume that Iglesias was being asked to rush anything. He was simply being called upon to fulfill his duties to the country in a timely fashion. Congressional delegations from any state routinely check on the performance of federal prosecutors in their districts and try to help that U.S. attorney to obtain additional resources if needed.

After noting that Senate Democrats on more than one occasion inquired about prosecutors’ investigation of "Plame-gate," he continues:

The truth will out. Iglesias was fired for not doing his job.

I am sure that the theatrical and politically ambitious Iglesias "felt pressured," because his terrible performance in office was, yet again, being called to account. The facts will show that Iglesias was often missing in action as a U.S. attorney. He was often not in his office, misused senior assistant U.S. attorneys’ time and talents and failed to move prosecutions for political corruption in New Mexico in a timely fashion.

His failures of management are well known in the New Mexico legal community. He was repeatedly asked by Domenici if his office needed more resources, and didn’t respond, although he now claims otherwise. The Senate Ethics Committee will discover that calls for his removal for failure of performance began as early as 2003.

And, lest you think that this is mere partisan hackery, consider this concluding paragraph:

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in keeping with the Bush administration’s chronic ineptitude, finally fired eight U.S. attorneys in a fashion guaranteed to create a political firestorm.

Yup, Albuquerque is one interesting place.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Useful info, Joe. Thanks. Albuquerque seems to have been a cornucopia.

Given Taichert’s extensive donations to Heather Wilson - look it up here - I would expect noting less from him. And at any rate, this is not consistent with the internal documents released last week, which raised no questions about Iglesias’s performance.

John Kelly griping about his sucessor
U S. Attorney is like the pot calling the kettle black. Any recall, James Parker apologizing for the entire executive branch when Kelly botched the Wen Ho Lee case.
95 of the 94 charges were dropped against Lee. Seems a few problems up at Los Alamos, NUKEY PLANS City, never rectified.
Yet, John Kelly give his vapid sermons. Pathetic. That was before the Iraq invasion, seems no WMD’s found.
Kelly then moves over to the big firm who has all those big oil clients.... Is Kelly some politician animal, nobody in New Mexico should forget how he botched the biggest case in N M.
guy is a clown, slap stick comedy. He fools nobody.
Say, didn’t Parker, come from the say law firm... Gee the big oil law firm
Ya, Nukes and Oil/ Nat Gas, and the big money that so dominates N M justice politics. How many bg oil companies did Kelly not sue, when he was the U. S. attorney maybe that is the more important questions, all things considerd. And, they should be, and not swept under the rugg, since Kelly seems to want to make it an issue now.

Sorry, for a few typos in above.
Don’t sweep it under the rug(with one G)

Here is what Judge Parker said about, the prior N. M U. S Attorney’s dropping the ball, in Kelly’s big dud case:

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