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Special Counsels

With the much-maligned independent counsel law now near death, one of the attorney general's most strident critics on Capitol Hill proposed an alternate plan Monday giving the Justice Department "unbridled discretion" to decide how top-ranking officials are investigated. But there is a caveat: The plan from Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), the powerful head of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, gives Congress the power to approve--or reject--the investigative procedure beforehand.
March 16, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano and Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
A team of government lawyers prosecuting Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska never fully reviewed evidence that could have bolstered his defense, was inadequately supervised, and withheld information that would have "seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government's key witness," a special counsel said in a report released Thursday. But Washington lawyer Henry F. Schuelke III stopped short of urging criminal misconduct charges against the prosecutors because, he said, the judge in the case never specifically ordered prosecutors to turn over material helpful to the defense.
Former Sen. John C. Danforth, named to lead the reexamination of the Branch Davidian disaster, declared in stark terms Thursday that he intends to find out whether federal agents "killed people" outside Waco, Texas, six years ago and lied to cover it up. The Missouri Republican gave himself a blunt and far-reaching mandate, pledging to use all available prosecutorial powers to find out what happened at David Koresh's compound on April 19, 1993. "I think my job is to answer . . .
November 9, 2011 | By David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau
The Air Force said Tuesday that it had disciplined three top officials at the military's main mortuary in Delaware for "gross mismanagement" after finding that they twice lost track of body parts of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, and cut off a deceased Marine's arm bone without his family's consent. An 18-month Air Force investigation said the three officials failed to take action "despite indications that procedures were inadequate" for tracking human remains at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, which has handled most of the more than 6,000 U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.
August 3, 2000 | From Reuters
President Clinton submitted to a brief interview Wednesday with former Sen. John C. Danforth, the special counsel looking into the government's 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, the White House said. In a three-sentence statement, the White House said Clinton voluntarily agreed to be interviewed and the two spoke in the morning by telephone for 15 minutes. "Consistent with past practice, no further statement about the interview will be made," it said.
January 29, 1986 | United Press International
Former U.S. Atty. Gen. Benjamin Civiletti has been hired by the state of Rhode Island as special counsel to head the impeachment of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Bevilacqua for associating with criminals.
May 27, 1986 | Associated Press
A special federal court announced today that an independent counsel would be appointed to investigate the lobbying activities of former White House deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver. The court gave no time schedule for the appointment. Deaver himself has asked that a special counsel be named to resolve questions of whether he has violated government conflict-of-interest rules in connection with his lobbying activities on behalf of the government of Canada and others.
May 29, 1986 | Associated Press
A federal court announced today that the independent counsel investigating the withholding of Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department documents from Congress has resigned to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. The three-judge court said Washington attorney James C. McKay quit his position because, before his appointment, "advice had been given by another member of his firm in an area that might be considered to create the appearance of a conflict."
February 2, 1987 | Associated Press
James C. McKay, a Washington lawyer, was appointed as a special prosecutor today to determine whether former White House aide Lyn Nofziger violated federal ethics laws when he helped a New York company get a defense contract. McKay, a trial lawyer and a partner in the firm of Covington and Burling, was appointed by a special panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here. He will investigate efforts by Nofziger to help a New York City company get a $31-million Army contract for small engines.
December 5, 1997
I read with astonishment The Times' Dec. 3 editorial about Janet Reno's decision not to appoint an independent counsel in the case of possible fund-raising solicitations from the White House. The Times indicates that it was more difficult for Reno to chose "not to appoint" vs. "to appoint." On what planet? Do you think she would be seen in a good light by her employers (Bill Clinton and Al Gore) if she appointed an independent counsel? As far as being courageous with respect to her other appointments, she had a job to do. She took a lot of pointed criticism from the White House hacks, including a bout where the press thought she was a goner.
July 18, 2011 | By Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times
Persistent management lapses and a poor use of technology continue to hobble Los Angeles County's child welfare system, and two high-profile child fatalities from last year have been newly tied to the breakdowns, according to records and interviews. A special counsel acting for the Board of Supervisors has found that despite pledges to fix the problems, social workers still do not fully retrieve and evaluate case files electronically during home inspections. Not enough equipment is available, officials contend, and it often doesn't work.
February 4, 2011 | By Ken Bensinger, Los Angeles Times
A Texas judge has named a special counsel to investigate whether Toyota Motor Corp. intentionally hid evidence during a 2006 lawsuit involving a woman paralyzed when her Camry rolled over. Johnson County District Court Judge John E. Neill appointed J. Gregory Coontz to the job, giving him power to probe whether Toyota violated a court order in the case, which was settled in 2007 for $1.5 million. The judge took the unusual step after reviewing internal documents provided by a former Toyota lawyer who managed rollover litigation for the company and subsequently claimed that the automaker intentionally held back safety data in lawsuits.
February 1, 2011 | By Kathleen Hennessey, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON-- The Senate ethics committee has hired a prominent Washington attorney to investigate allegations against Sen. John Ensign, a sign that it is stepping up its probe into how the Nevada senator dealt with the fallout from his extramarital affair with a senior aide's wife. Carol Elder Bruce, a well-known Washington trial attorney and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, has been named special counsel in the ethics investigation, committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.
November 1, 2010 | By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times
Theodore C. Sorensen, John F. Kennedy's close advisor and writer-in-residence in the Senate in the 1950s who became special counsel to the president and remained chief speechwriter during Kennedy's tragically brief presidency, has died. He was 82. Sorensen, who had a long post- White House career as a Manhattan-based international lawyer, died Sunday at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center from complications of a stroke, said his wife, Gillian. Once referred to by Kennedy as his "intellectual blood bank," Sorensen began his nearly 11-year relationship with the future president in 1953 when Kennedy was the newly elected senator from Massachusetts.
September 9, 2009 | Richard Winton
A landmark reform instituted 16 years ago by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to weed out problem deputies has been remarkably successful in identifying officers who have the potential for misconduct and excessive force, according to a report released Tuesday. The study concluded that there is a strong link between the number of complaints filed against a deputy -- proven or not -- and the possibility that the deputy will eventually get into serious trouble and become a liability for the department The monitoring system, which tracks complaints, conduct and use of force, was established in 1993 after a scathing report by a special commission found a "disturbing" pattern of excessive force and mistreatment of minorities in the Sheriff's Department.
August 12, 2009
If Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. believes that crimes may have been committed in the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" against suspected terrorists, he has no choice but to ask a respected prosecutor to weigh the evidence and, if appropriate, bring charges. But the appointment of such a figure, which The Times has reported is imminent, won't provide critics of the CIA with the legal equivalent of a wide-ranging "truth commission" they have been seeking. Nor is it likely to illuminate the conduct of White House lawyers or policymakers.
April 13, 1989 | From Associated Press
A Massachusetts congressman and the special counsel to the House Ethics Committee were robbed by an armed man near the Sup-reme Court, police reported Wednesday. Rep. Chester G. Atkins (S-Mass.) and Richard J. Phelan, the special counsel, were approached late Tuesday by a man armed with a revolver who demanded their wallets, U.S. Capitol police said. After the men complied, the robber fled on foot. Neither victim was injured.
July 18, 2008 | Tom Hamburger, Times Staff Writer
James M. Byrne, second in command at the embattled Office of Special Counsel, resigned his post effective Saturday after leaving his boss, Scott J. Bloch, a stinging letter suggesting that Bloch's "political agendas and personal vendettas" were preventing the agency from fulfilling its mission.
May 7, 2008 | Richard B. Schmitt and Tom Hamburger, Times Staff Writers
Federal agents Tuesday swarmed the home and office of the Bush administration official responsible for protecting government whistle-blowers, part of an investigation into whether the official retaliated against his employees and obstructed justice. More than a dozen agents participated in the daylong raid, temporarily shutting down the e-mail and computer systems of the Office of Special Counsel and confiscating several desktop computers, including that of Scott J. Bloch, the agency head.
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