Feds Told to Look Again for Docs on Prosecutor

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct yet another search for records on a prosecutor’s unauthorized practice of law while working for the government.
     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 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 a 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.
     The battle over Jackson’s records has volleyed between District Court and the Justice Department for four years with numerous orders for the Department to perform additional searches.
     U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson ruled this week that the Department must search again for records specifically concerning disciplinary and remedial matters taken against Jackson.
     “This is the third memorandum opinion in this case, and the Court must again determine whether defendant conducted an adequate search for responsive records and whether its withholdings of responsive records are justified,” the judge writes. “The Court finds that defendant has yet to demonstrate that its searches were adequate, but that most of the contested documents were properly withheld. Therefore, the Court will once again remand this case to defendant so that it may conduct an adequate search for responsive records.”
     In addition, the judge ordered the release of non-exempt records found.
     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 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.

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