U.S. attorney faces disciplinary review for 2011 Danziger Bridge posts

Sept. 24, 2013 at 4:31 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A federal prosecutor could face disciplinary action for posting comments on a newspaper's website during a trial of New Orleans police officers, officials say.

The internal disciplinary review of Karla Dobinski, an attorney with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, was begun after a judge revealed her comments last week, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.

Dobinski made the comments on the newspaper's website during the 2011 trial of five New Orleans police officers charged with shooting unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

At the time, Dobinski was the head of a team assigned to protect the rights of one of the police officers, Kenneth Bowen, who had provided evidence on the shooting during a grand jury investigation.

Using a screen name, she made a series of comments about the case. U.S. District Judge Kent Engelhardt said last week Dobinski had been identified as the source of the statements in an investigation that has resulted in a retrial being ordered for the officers.

Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said Dobinski's actions had been referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility "prior to the judge's order" for the attorney's disciplinary review.

Engelhardt said Dobinski's comments "personally fanned the flames of those burning to see him [Bowen] convicted."

A number of the comments appeared to be replies to other posters. In one instance Dobinski tells several other commenters to "get to court early on Wednesday and then let the rest of us know as much as you can remember about the closing arguments."

A few days earlier, Dobinski posted: "Please keep letting us know what you observe in the courtroom. Many people appreciate it."

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