From the NY Times:
Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, is attempting to prevent a justice in State Supreme Court from issuing a ruling that may accuse his office of an ethics violation — and possibly open the door to appeals and motions in many criminal cases.
Lawyers for Mr. Brown filed a petition this month asking a state appellate court to prevent the judge, Justice Joel L. Blumenfeld, from issuing an opinion on whether the office violated a disciplinary rule by making a misrepresentation to get a defendant to talk. Prosecutors fear that Justice Blumenfeld’s decision could not only smear the district attorney, but also provide an uncontested judicial opinion that defense lawyers will use against them in other cases.
“Judge Blumenfeld,” Donna Aldea, an assistant district attorney, wrote in her petition to the appellate court, “has already repeatedly exceeded his authority and jurisdiction, and is about to do so twice more, potentially causing irreparable harm to the reputation of the district attorney’s office and individual prosecutors involved in this case.”
The case is a remarkable example of legal finger-pointing, with Justice Blumenfeld and the prosecutors alternately taking stabs at each other’s ethics, and a former judge taking a critical shot at an academic. It also presents perhaps the most fierce challenge to the Queens district attorney’s Central Booking Interview Program, which has come under scrutiny from defense lawyers and judges in the past.
The program, which was created three years ago, has processed more than 5,000 cases, prosecutors said.
The issue in the current case rose after the lawyer for a defendant named Elisaul Perez filed a motion seeking to throw out a statement his client gave to prosecutors before he was arraigned on charges of robbery and possession of stolen property. Before interviewing Mr. Perez, prosecutors read to him from a standard script it reads to all defendants. After the prosecution completed the script, it read Mr. Perez his Miranda warnings, which he waived and proceeded to give a statement.
But the script includes a line informing the defendant that if there is something he would like the office to investigate he “must tell us now so that we can look into it.” And Justice Blumenfeld questioned whether that statement constituted a false representation to induce the defendant to talk, which could be a violation of the rules of professional conduct for lawyers.
Justice Blumenfeld called on Ellen C. Yaroshefsky, a professor at Cardozo Law School, to produce a report on the prosecution’s conduct. Professor Yaroshefsky issued a report saying that prosecutors had committed four ethics violations.