The Justice Department says one of its attorneys was reprimanded for making online postings about a federal case involving five New Orleans police officers charged in connection with deadly shootings in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
The information was provided in a brief one-paragraph letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the question of how Civil Rights Division lawyer Karla Dobinski had been punished arose last week.
Postings that turned out to have been made by prosecutors led a judge to throw out convictions of five ex-officers related to deadly 2005 police shootings following Hurricane Katrina. Federal lawyers asked the 5th Circuit last week to reinstate the convictions.
Two assistant U.S. Attorneys in New Orleans resigned after they were exposed as anonymous online commenters.
Dobinski was part of a Justice Department team assigned to review evidence in the case.
“The purpose of this letter is to inform the Court, in response to the question posed at oral argument, that Civil Rights Division attorney Karla Dobinski received an official reprimand from her supervisor after the completion of the Office of Professional Responsibility’s investigation,” said the letter from Elizabeth Collery. The letter was dated May 3.
Collery asked an openly skeptical panel of judges last week to reinstate charges against four officers charged in connection with shootings and a fifth charged in the cover-up. The shootings happened at the Danziger Bridge amid post-Katrina chaos.
The officers were convicted in 2011 but U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt threw out the convictions because of the online postings.
Collery argued last week that there was no evidence the online postings by former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sal Perricone or Jan Mann, or by Dobinski, affected the jury’s verdict.
Perricone and Mann resigned amid the scandal and surrendered their right to practice in the Eastern District of federal court in New Orleans. Their boss, Jim Letten, resigned as U.S. Attorney in New Orleans, although he was never implicated in the postings.
An investigation revealed Dobinski, based in Washington, posted anonymous comments on nola.com during the last week of the trial.
The Justice Department and Dobinski have repeatedly declined comment in the case. Dobinski’s lawyer said in 2013 that she didn’t violate any laws or ethical rules.