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Daniel Heath blogs here

Removing Carmen Ortiz is pointless

There have been a few petitions to remove Carmen Ortiz (U.S. Attorney), Stephen Heymann & Scott Garland (assistant us attorneys) from office.

It’s natural to want the wrongdoer to be punished when their behavior causes something as awful as Aarons death. It’s also unhelpful, and a waste of energy that could be directed towards preventing future cases like this.

Ortiz, Heymann and Garland reacted the same way you or I would. This is a controversial position because few people like the idea that they could become that kind of amoral scoundrel. However, almost all human beings derive their sense of right and wrong from those around them.

The US attorneys office promotes those who successfully prosecute high-profile cases. That is the metric by which success is judged, and Ortiz (and other US attorneys) have adjusted their behavior to optimize for this.

As long as prosecutorial overreach results in promotions (and is only infrequently punished, however severely) we are going to keep seeing US attorneys behaving like this.

The solution isn’t to fire more attorneys.

So here’s my question: What criteria for promotion within the US Attorneys office would result in genuine criminals being chased (instead of ‘people who have upset the government’)?

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