Did Maryland federal prosecutors seek “to disguise and downplay” the dodgy provenance of documents submitted in litigation in a $122,640 BWI cash seizure case? That’s the allegation of an opposing attorney who’s asking for sanctions. Supreme Court precedent indicates that for dog-alert evidence to be given deference, the dog must have been properly certified; the attorney says while that may have been so, a deposition produced evidence that a certification submitted as genuine had actually been generated on a home computer after the fact for use in the litigation, and he’s asking sanctions for that. Van Smith at Baltimore City Paper:
The lead prosecutor, Stefan Cassella — a titan in the field, who wrote a 1,250-page book on federal asset-forfeiture law — cited personal reasons in asking for an extension until September to respond to the dismissal motion.
Brown’s motion calls to mind a dust-up last year involving Cassella, when he was reprimanded in another drug-related asset-forfeiture case by U.S. District judge Paul Grimm for coming “uncomfortably close” to violating his “duty of candor to the Court” by disingenuously cherry-picking supportive elements of cases in prior court rulings that, in their entireties, actually undermined the government’s position.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office says “there was no intent to deceive anyone.” Maryland is a hot spot for federal forfeiture actions, something Smith has covered extensively at City Paper and I’ve covered many times, including the case filed against principals of a well-known Frederick County business, South Mountain Creamery. (& thanks Radley Balko, Washington Post, for the generous mention)