Professor Monroe Freedman of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law (with Georgetown University Law Center professor Abbe Smith, his Understanding Lawyers’ Ethics co-author) published the op-ed “Machen tramples on the mayor’s due process” in the March 23, 2014, edition of the The Washington Post.
The op-ed examines the violation of the lawyers’ code of ethics by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. when he held a press conference and excoriated Mayor Vincent C. Gray of Washington, D.C., even though no charge had been brought against the mayor.
Of course, prosecutors are responsible for bringing charges against people who break the law and for prosecuting them once they are charged. And when a person is charged with a crime, key procedural protections are automatically invoked, including the right to due process of law.
What is frightening — and wrong as a matter of ethics and simple decency — is when prosecutors publicly accuse a person without having brought any charge.