July 25, 2012 — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
William Hodes, Esq. @ 317-590-1692
Sidney Powell, Esq. @ 214-707-1775
SERIOUS ETHICS CHARGES FILED AGAINST CHIEF WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR CONCEALING EVIDENCE IN 2004 ENRON CASE
A 33-page ethics complaint has been filed with the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility against Chief White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. The complaint alleges that in 2004, when Ms. Ruemmler served as an Enron Task Force prosecutor in the so-called “Nigerian Barges” case, she and her colleagues “plainly suppressed” crucial evidence favorable to the defense. As a result, four Merrill Lynch executives were unjustly convicted and sent to prison.
According to the complaint, Ruemmler and her fellow prosecutors — including Andrew Weissmann, now General Counsel and Deputy Director of the FBI, and former Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich, who later micro-managed the similarly tainted prosecution of the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens — suppressed more than 6,000 pages of evidence. This evidence included significant material that the prosecutors themselves considered favorable to the defense, and had highlighted in yellow for the judge's review before the trial.
The court ordered the government to provide “summaries of the exculpatory information” to the defense, but, as alleged in the ethics complaint filed against Kathryn Ruemmler,
Instead of fairly summarizing “the exculpatory information” that they possessed with respect to these witnesses [and had yellow-highlighted], the prosecutors created “summaries” that were a calculated and deceitful exercise in selective inclusion and misdirection. Indeed . . . the bogus “summaries” put the defendants in a worse position than they were before the court’s order, because the defense had to assume that exculpatory information not produced in response to a court order simply did not exist.
Thus, Ms. Ruemmler not only violated several Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers generally, and prosecutors in particular, but she acted in defiance of a specific court order was well. The charges of falsifying evidence, engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and obstruction of justice are serious, and could lead to her suspension from the practice of law or disbarment.
The most striking example of how the “summaries” supplied to the defense had been falsified concerned former Enron Treasurer Jeffrey McMahon. The entire case turned on whether McMahon had guaranteed that Enron would buy back the electricity-generating barges that were being sold to Merrill Lynch, or whether he merely gave his assurance that Enron would use its “best efforts” to “remarket” them. Ruemmler’s “summary” of the interviewers’ notes disclosed only that McMahon “does not recall” making a guarantee, but the interview notes of 5 separate interviewers, which did not come to light until 2010, showed that McMahon recalled perfectly well that he had not made any guarantee.
Indeed, at the same time that Ms. Ruemmler personally told the jury that McMahon "made an oral guarantee to these Merrill Lynch Defendants that they would be taken out of the barge deal by June 30th, 2000, at a guaranteed rate of return," she was hiding from the defendants McMahon's own statement, as transcribed by government agents: "NO-never guaranteed to take out [Merrill Lynch] with rate of return."
As the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later held, the Enron Task Force prosecutors “plainly suppressed” favorable information: “‘No’ is not the same thing as ‘I do not recall.’”
The complaint was filed by nationally known legal ethics expert and former Indiana University law professor William Hodes, co-author of The Law of Lawyering, and Sidney Powell, herself a former federal prosecutor, who now maintains a federal appellate practice in Dallas, and is a past-president of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Ms. Powell and Mr. Hodes represented one of the Merrill defendants in post-trial and appellate proceedings, but the ethics complaint against Ms. Ruemmler was filed in their individual capacities only, as lawyers who are concerned about their own profession, the administration of justice, and the standing of the Bar in the community.