A Carney & Brennan Redux – Yoda

Broken Schoolhouse Clock Symbolic Of FLemmi's Truthfulness

Yesterday I began to write about Carney & Brennan’s (C&B) renewed motion for discovery. I stopped at the point where I noted Stevie Flemmi’s assertion that David Margolis the associate deputy attorney general of the US who has been with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for 48 years has ties to the Mafia.  I scoffed at Flemmi’s allegation as another one of his many lies and rejected it out of hand.

I was caught up short when some who comment on this blog and who keep me in check noted I was jumping the gun defending Margolis.  (See comment section) They aver  just because Flemmi’s tells the truth as often as a broken schoolhouse clock even that is truthful once every twelve hours. They suggest  that just because he has  been with the DOJ 48 years that did not make Flemmi’s assertion he was a Mafia plant wrong.

Yes, 48 years in a job is not necessarily a good thing as we saw with J. Edgar Hoover who seemed to have become an untouchable. We’re all familiar with the stories of how a grim Richard Nixon told his staff he was having Hoover come to his office to tell him he was going to remove him as director.  Hoover arrived for the meeting carrying a handful of dossiers. A short time later a smiling Hoover and Nixon came out of his office. After Hoover left Nixon said he’d changed his mind.

Those dossiers and many others were part of Hoover’s secret files. They were carted out of FBI headquarters within days of Hoover’s death by Helen Gandy who was Hoover’s secretary all during his term as Director. She and Hoover’s friend Clyde Tolson went through them and destroyed each one concealing forever Hoover’s dirty secrets.

So 48 years really proves nothing as to a person’s  rectitude. Still I don’t accept Margolis has a Mafia connection. Although it does appear he is the enforcer of the mandate Don’t Embarrass The Family” within the Justice Department.

One person referred me to a blog discussing David Margolis  called emptywheel. That blog noted a National Law Journal article about Margolis that called him Yoda noting no one takes him on because it is a losing battle stating: “Margolis cut his teeth as an organized-crime prosecutor, and he often uses mob analogies in talking about his career at the Justice Department. When asked by an incoming attorney general what his job duties entailed, Margolis responded: “I’m the department’s cleaner. I clean up messes.””

The emptywheel article concludes: “Further views into the professional soul of David Margolis, or lack thereof, can be found from Jeff KayeScott Horton and more Scott Horton. So, the in-house “Yoda”, who considers himself the “department’s cleaner” is the guy the DOJ put in charge of protecting the American public from the virulent malfeasance of actors such as John Yoo and Jay Bybee, not to mention all the other cases that courts and citizens have been able to get no action on over the years. It seems David Margolis has his own institutional interests that present an appearance of conflict with his duties to protect the public from malevolent lawyering by DOJ attorneys, especially high ranking ones. Pretty much explains everything.”

C&B in their motion also talk about Margolis. They note that discovery is now “even more relevant in light of the Government’s recent filing of the affidavit of AUSA David Margolis . . .  and the likelihood of a pretrial hearing on the question of immunity . . . . so  that [Whitey] can respond to the Margolis Affidavit . . . .”

As you may recall the Government at the eleventh hour sneakily slipped into its filing opposing C&B’s claim of immunity Margolis’s affidavit without giving C&B an opportunity to respond to it. Judge Stearns’s order denying the claim of immunity noted the government raised for the first time the issue of O’Sullivan’s authority under DOJ rules to give immunity by using Margolis’s affidavit so C&B must have the opportunity to cross-examine him.

The Governments last minute use of Margolis’s affidavit backfire on it. Whitey’s team noted that if the prosecutors can reach out to the DOJ when it needs help it should be able to get Whitey his discovery. When Whitey needs DOJ files the prosecutors say they can’t get them because they are separate from the DOJ. Going on they say if they are separate there is no way they can “assure the Court that Department records were adequately reviewed or provided.”

C&B argue further the prosecutors are taking a “trust us” attitude. Whitey is supposed to trust those prosecuting him “to determine what is relevant to his defense.” They note Margolis’s affidavit is part of the “trust us” posture. Margolis averred he was O’Sullivan’s boss.  If O’Sullivan requested immunity he would have done it through one of Margolis’s deputies and “as far as I know” he never did.  Is Margolis guessing at this? Did he talk to these deputies? Who were they? Isn’t Whitey entitled to know who they are and what they knew?

C&B finish with Margolis by stating: “The “trust us” approach is pushed to an absurd extreme in the final paragraph of the Margolis Affidavit: “I am advised that a thorough search of the records of the DOJ and the FBI disclosed no documentation that James Bulger was ever actually authorized to engage in any criminal activity.” (Margolis Aff., ¶ 9). Margolis does not identify who “advised” him nor does he elaborate on these individuals’ basis of knowledge. The Government merely submits this hearsay-based conclusion without any context or detail. The defendant must now trust not only Margolis; he must trust anonymous employees of the Justice Department to correctly identify for him evidence favorable to his defense. This Kafkaesque arrangement does nothing to protect his constitutional right to exculpatory and material evidence and the right to a fair trial. . . .  James Bulger does not trust the DOJ to select for him the evidence that he may use in his defense . . . .”

Sorry for the diversion. Blame those who comment here. I’ll get back to the other assertions in C&B’s discovery motion after the weekend. But for now we can salivate over the thought of C&B cross examining Yoda.

11 thoughts on “A Carney & Brennan Redux – Yoda

  1. after decades of speculation in new england the picture has now become much more clear for your average person. one fbi agent can not protect top criminals. however the top federal man in a city gerimiah sullivan can guide the process clear the way so to speak as the 1978 horseracing fix case showed. mr sullivan wanted top itilian mafia leaders more than whitey and stevi. mr margolis and his almost 50 years of work at the fbi could be the name of your book. regards,

    1. Norwood:
      Margolis is an intriguing subject especially when he believes after 48 years as a prosecutor his job is to protect the department of justice rather than to serve the American people. One has to wonder at his mindset.

  2. Margolis smells fishy. “Guile” and “bluff” are words manipulators liars, thieves and card-sharps use! How about relying on honesty, integrity, fairness, straightwordness, full disclosure, openness, open-mindedness, candor, the qualities of mercy and a willingness to seek and do justice? He sounds like a bullyboy! “Balls” and “luck”! People who advertise their “ballsiness”, who claim to have “balls” generally are artless, gutless blowhard bully boys. What he may meaconveys by boasting of his “balls” is that he’s the type or reckless ruffian who runs rough shod over the facts, the law and over people. Not a man of prudence, modesty, decorum and restraint. People who rely on “luck” rather than rationality are shot-in-the-dark pot-shot artists who generally operate out on a limb or knee deep in . . . .. (Use your God-given imagination to finish the sentiment.) He smells fishy: a bloated big-feeling fish in a bloated bully-boy self-promoting secretive lawless bureaucracy, which I fear our DOJ has become, at least the DOJ, its judges, clerks and prosecutors in the First Circuit. Souter’s condemnation of Wolfe and Stearns is very telling as is the fact that he was fed, I surmise, faulty evidence about Connolly’s convictions by the clerks or fellow judges in the First Circuit. Holy Week is also a time to reflect upon abuses of power and false prosecutions and the mob mentality and craven people in positions of authority and false testimony and selling out our friends and selling our souls for silver, fame or glory! Haughty, sadistic, inglorious, vainglorious (?) men have crucified innocent men before in history and seem to be at it again, in Boston.

    1. Bill:
      Yes, it seems something is not right with that guy who professes such toughness but seemed somehow to have avoided joining so many of his contemporaries in going into the military service. He did at the most 12 years of trial work then went to DC where he worked behind the scenes with one goal in mind, not embarrassing the department of justice. The country would have been better off if the guy left after 25 years but he defines himself by his job and fears relinquishing any power. It’ll be good to see him under cross-examination. Then we’ll see how tough he is.

  3. Sounds like the man behind the curtain has been exposed.

    Interesting statements and moves by the AUSA”s on the Bulger case…Interesting but maybe not so smart. We need a REAL Congressional investigation if there’s anyone down there with the intestinal fortitude to conduct one.

    1. Notaboyo:
      I’d love to see the correspondence between Margolis and the Boston prosecutor office. He has been hiding in DC for 37 years pulling the strings. He’s a man in the Justice Department who is not concerned for justice but for covering up its problems. He calls himself the clean up man. It’s getting more interesting.

  4. “Sorry for the diversion. Blame those who comment here. I’ll get back to the other assertions in C&B’s discovery motion after the weekend.”

    Not really certain that the Margolis Affidavit is a diversion, but instead the center piece for the defense.

    However, we are in Easter Week, and this reminds us that Jesus died for all of our sins. Something to keep in mind as we pray that the those who have a duty to serve Justice have an awakened conscious going forward.

    The secret to Pandora’s Box myth is to put the lid on the box after it has been purged by while there is still hope left…Happy Easter to you and your family.

    1. Jean:
      Thanks:
      You’re right. The more I think of it the Margolis involvement may be the critical item in blowing up much of this case and all the happenings that have surrounded this since Flemmi first testified in 1997 or 1998. Just thin of it, J. Edgar Hoover leaves in 1972 and Yoda comes in to take his place off the stage to ensure the embarrassment to the family in the main concern of DOJ rather than justice. Maybet the name should change to DOC (the Department of Cover-Ups).
      You’re right again noting that the Pandora’s Box myth teaches us that despite all the ills of the world if we don’t give up hope then we’ll get along just fine for all we really need three hots and a cot.
      Happy Easter to you and yours.

      1. Matt, I think Mr. Big has been identified. Well, a strong suspect. Perhaps he’a toadie for another Mr. Big but right now the trail leads to him.

        His career needs a forensic review. Check out this passage from a Brown University Alumni magazine

        “Margolis first worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in Hartford, prosecuting organized crime. Just four years into his job, an escaped bank-robbery suspect called him up and offered to surrender if Margolis met him at a deserted baseball field. He turned out to be armed, and Margolis spent the longest fifty minutes of his life convincing the fugitive to put his gun away and turn himself in.”

        How many red flags go off in your prosecutor/defense attorney mind on that on Matt?

        Matt the next paragraph in the same story lifted an eyebrow,

        “The Hartford Courant, which covered the story, described Margolis as a man with long sideburns and a penchant for “modish clothes.” At the time of his face-off with the escapee, the repoter noted, Margolis was wearing an “Edwardian suit.” “I don’t fit into that stuff anymore,” Margolis says, “but I cut quite a dashing figure back then.”

        Something not quite right here.

        Another thing Matt, it seems crazy not to think that J. Edgar Hoover would have not controlled U.S. Attorneys offices around the country. Wouldn’t surprise me if the FBI ran most of the prosecutors’ case loads.

        So getting back to Margolis, anything about this guy that stick out before examination of his lengthy record of standing in the way of justice?

        A need to be noticed?

        Dress like Oscar Wilde?

        I don’t know, he sounds like perhaps he was the kind of guy that Hoover and Tolson took a shine to.

        Also his body of work suggests a compete lack of empathy for human beings.

        Seems like a shrink could make a career of analyzing this character.

        This quote from him is disturbing when looked at in light of his entire resume:

        Asked to explain how he’s lasted for nearly fifty years as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, David Margolis answers bluntly: “I rely on guile, bluff, balls, and the good work of my colleagues, not to mention some luck.”

        More light needs to shed on Margolis.

        Happy Easter Matt

        1. Ernie:
          Margolis’s story about meeting a felon alone as a prosecutor has to have a good bit of hyperbole connected to it. I assume it means the guy was held in jail on bail pending an armed robbery charge and escaped. How he connects up with Margolis is strange. Did Margolis know him? Was he prosecuting him? In the former case I could see a meet. In the latter I have to say I’ve never heard of an escapee calling up a prosecutor to surrender. How did he get his number? It’s far fetched to think of a prosecutor meeting alone with a suspect in a deserted baseball field. I’m sure if the incident happened Margolis had Pattern’s Fifth Army backing him up.
          The long sideburns and penchant for modest clothes as an “Edwardian suit” reminds me of the descriptions given to John Connolly and Paul Rico. For them it was considered a negative, but Margolis likes to brag about it. Any guy who would say, “I cut a dashing figure back then” is really taken with himself and his importance. He’s some sort of a head case. I wonder what his trial court record was working out of Hartford, Ct.
          It’s always bad for someone to be in a position of power for a long time especially right out of law school. Their view of what is in the real world is usually highly limited. I’m amazed anyone in the prosecutorial business for such a long period would answer that his longevity is due to “guile, bluff, balls, and the good work of my colleagues,not to mention some luck.”
          I’d be ashamed to say as a prosecutor I used guile and bluff. I’ve never heard a guy with “balls” proclaim such. In fact, my experience is the opposite. I can only say the guy a big blowhard. His longevity is due to his fear of facing the real world and getting a job there or thinking of living without that big office decorated with awards and pictures of him being with big guys. He’s so big and powerful few have heard of him and his mark on our society has been hardly noticed if not a big negative.
          I’m sure he’s Mr. Big in the DOJ because he sounds like a vengeful little man who slinks around in the background currying favor with every new attorney general and picking on younger attorneys. I can’t believe there are people still around like him. No wonder the Boston office of the DOJ has the type of prosecutors it has, people who want to be like Mr. Big – the Big Bluff. I’d like to ask him one question if he has balls: “how did you avoid serving in the military during Vietnam?”
          Here’s some more on him: “The son of a school administrator and a teacher, Margolis was raised in Hartford, Conn. After graduating in 1964 from Harvard Law School, he returned to Hartford as an assistant U.S. attorney, simultaneously beginning his legal career and his decades-long tenure at the Justice Department.According to a lengthy 2006 profile in the Legal Times, he drew notice in 1969 for personally persuading an armed bank robber to surrender to him in a deserted baseball field. Soon after, Margolis joined the department’s organized crime task force and prosecuted mafia cases until 1976, when he first moved to Washington and began rising in the DOJ’s central bureaucracy.”
          Best that can be said is for 12 years he may have prosecuted cases and since that time hid in the bureaucracy of the Department of Justice. For 37 years he has been in DC. Hardly is he a line prosecutor.
          But this sums it up: “Fundamentally, individual interests don’t exist for him,” said a senior Justice Department official in the Bush administration. “He is there to protect the institutional interests of the department. If you were his best friend — and a Yankees’s fan — I’m sure he would feel bad about giving you the ax. But he would not hesitate.”
          This all goes to the issue at hand. Carney and Brennan are sniffing around the edges. The reason the DOJ which has probably been involved since 1987 is now coming out of the woods is that to admit O’Sullivan and others in the DOJ gave Whitey a pass will severely damage “the institutional interest of the Department.”
          Then there’s this to explain the local prosecutors wanting to keep Judge Stearns: “Margolis is the unofficial liaison for the Deputy Attorney General with the FBI, the Criminal Division and the 93 U.S. Attorneys. He is consulted on ethics issues, such as recusals, on a formal and informal basis.”
          Shades of Hoover “After criticism from civil libertarians, Margolis was defended in a letter signed by 17 former top Justice Department officials, including attorneys general from both political parties dating back to the administration of President George H.W. Bush.”

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