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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Must Open Up About Disbarred Prosecutor

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Department of Justice must search further for records on a prosecutor's unauthorized practice of law while working for the government, a federal judge ruled.

Lonnie Parker sued the DOJ's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys for improperly withholding records under the Freedom of Information Act pertaining to Lesa Gail Bridges Jackson, who worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Arkansas from 1989 to 2001.

Court records indicate the Arkansas Bar admitted Jackson in 1987, the same year that the Kentucky Bar suspended her for nonpayment of dues. Before Jackson accepted a job with the Arkansas federal prosecutor's office, the state bar there suspended her over unpaid dues as well. Prompted by a Justice Department investigation, she resigned in 2001 and surrendered her law license the following year.

A website that was purportedly "created and is sponsored by the many friends of Dr. Parker" describes the plaintiff as a veteran and medical doctor who was wrongly convicted of possession of child pornography in Arkansas. The site says Jackson was in charge of his prosecution, and that Parker spent four years in custody for the crimes.

Last week, Parker persuaded the U.S. District Court for the District of Washington to order disclosure of several documents about Jackson.

"This court concludes that DOJ's response to plaintiff's FOIA requests and the declaration it submitted in support of its motion for summary judgment are insufficient to resolve the cross-motions before it," U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson wrote.

Parker had requested six categories of documents: all agency records that document or describe whether Jackson was authorized to practice law; records that describe any annual or periodic certifications made by Jackson asserting that she was an attorney authorized to practice law; records documenting communication between Jackson and the U.S. Attorney's Office that discuss whether she was a member in of good standing of the Bar of the State of Arkansas; records that describe any disciplinary action taken against her for being unauthorized to practice; and records discussing any remedial measures implemented by the U.S. Attorney's Office to prevent future circumstances.

The DOJ told Parker that it had no relevant documents, and advised him to search the National Personnel Records Center, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration in St. Louis. The records center sent Parker back to the DOJ.

The judge denied the DOJ's motion for summary judgment and remanded the matter back to the department for further action.

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