WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Attorney General Eric Holder is creating a special unit to handle disciplinary actions for career attorneys at the U.S. Justice Department, officials say. The Professional Misconduct Review Unit will be responsible for all disciplinary and state bar referral actions that arise from investigations by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the Justice Department said in a release. "The current procedures for resolving these disciplinary matters consume too much time, and risk inconsistent resolutions," Holder said. "This new unit will help change that by providing consistent, fair and timely resolution of these cases." Holder appointed his chief of staff and Counselor Kevin Ohlson to head the unit. The unit is designed to make sure federal prosecutors face swifter and more consistent punishment if investigators find they committed misconduct, USA Today reported. The change follows a USA Today investigation that identified 201 criminal cases in which federal courts found Justice Department prosecutors broke laws or violated ethics rules.
The Blog of Legal Times by Mike Scarcella - January 18, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Amid the national dialogue on prosecutorial malfeasance, the U.S. Justice Department yesterday announced the creation of a team of lawyers that will review cases of intentional and reckless attorney misconduct. The Professional Misconduct Review Unit will examine misconduct findings made by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Kevin Ohlson, who stepped down as Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s chief of staff recently, will lead the unit. Ohlson will report to the office of the deputy attorney general. Holder said in a statement this afternoon that the creation of the unit flows from a review of the department’s disciplinary procedures. DOJ set up the unit to create a more “efficient and uniform” system for the fair and prompt resolution of misconduct allegations. “The current procedures for resolving these disciplinary matters consume too much time, and risk inconsistent resolutions, but this new Unit will help change that by providing consistent, fair, and timely resolution of these cases,” the attorney general said. Holder said he wants the new unit to “further the department’s mission of meeting its ethical obligations in every case.” The new unit, he said, will be responsible for all disciplinary and state bar referral actions tied to OPR findings of professional misconduct. Ohlson’s team is reviewing OPR decisions to determine whether the evidence and the law support the conclusion in any given case of intentional or reckless misconduct. The announcement comes amid personnel changes at OPR, the department unit that investigates allegations of professional misconduct involving DOJ lawyers. In December, Holder announced the appointment of career prosecutor Robin Ashton to serve as counsel for OPR, replacing Mary Patrice Brown. Brown moved to a front-office post in the Criminal Division under Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. Ohlson served as Holder’s chief of staff and counselor since February 2009. Previously, he served as director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review.