Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Thin Resources" a/k/a AUSA's in D.PR

An Assistant U.S. Attorney shows up before Chief Judge Fusté (D. PR) for what was supposed to be a change of plea hearing. Defense counsel requests additional time because there are additional matters to be resolved before defendant can enter a guilty plea (i.e., defendant wants a better plea offer). Chief Judge Fusté is known to move his cases along, sometimes faster than one would desire. So he sets a trial date and then the Assistant U.S. Attorney informs him that she has another trial and the Judge replies that another AUSA can try this case. Thus far, okay. But then the AUSA tells the Judge that the resources of the U.S. Attorney's Office are already stretched thin. The Chief Judge was surprised, to say the least, at this response, and must have been wondering whether she worked at another U.S. Attorney's Office. He simply said (and I'm paraphrasing): "Have you seen the grand jury returns for this district? Your office has hardly done anything for some time!" With that, he recessed.

What the Chief Judge said is not news to anyone practicing before the District of Puerto Rico. And if they are "stretched thin" it is only because they have been treating people so badly that a whole bunch of Assistant U.S. Attorney's have either resigned or sought transfers elsewhere.