Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Prosecution misconduct
alleged in Rutledge case

Defense lawyers in the case of indicted labor union figure Tony Rutledge say they soon plan to file allegations of misconduct by the prosecution in a motion to dismiss Rutledge's case. The government denies wrongdoing.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren, ruling on a related discovery motion yesterday, said Rutledge's defense has enough specific information to file a motion and bring the matter before the court. Kurren said he had no position on the merits of such a motion.

Rutledge, former head of hotel workers union Local 5, and son Aaron Rutledge were indicted by a federal grand jury in August on tax fraud charges related to the family's Waikiki beach concession stand. Both Rutledges have pleaded not guilty and face trial Feb. 24.

The defense's misconduct accusations revolves around the grand jury used to indict Rutledge, though specifics were not available yesterday.

"I've never seen such outrageous government misconduct," said Jeff Rawitz, Los Angeles-based attorney for the elder Rutledge, and a former assistant U.S. attorney.

Special Attorney Edward Groves, of the Justice Department's Tax Division, said the defense is being aggressive in defending their clients, and that the government has not committed the alleged misconduct.

The defense alleged that the grand jury that indicted Rutledge received tainted information from a previous grand jury. Groves denied that.

The Rutledges' lawyers sought access yesterday to all of the grand jury transcripts to find any other misconduct to bolster their case.

Groves said the defense was going on a fishing expedition.

Kurren, in ruling against the defense lawyers, said that turning over grand-jury information was an extraordinary request that required a specific need, which he did not see in this case. Grand jury proceedings are secret.

Kurren said the defense has enough information to make a motion without the requested documents.


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