Former assistant prosecutor from Butler County, Ohio, Jason Phillabaum, was convicted of negligently failing to perform his lawful duty to review the charging documents in a grand jury case. More serious charges stemming from allegedly trying to get a clerk to change those grand jury documents were dropped in the plea deal, thus avoiding the risk fo being convicted of a felony at trial. He will serve probation for these charges, and was previously fired from his prosecutor’s job.
It’s a sad state of affairs when out public officials violate our trust, especially when it’s those whose job it is to enforce the laws. Sadly, they can also succumb to human weaknesses. We cannot assume that trustworthiness of people just because they work for the government, and we need to be vigilant in watching those who watch over us.
Paul Bergrin’s attorneys recently filed a letter to the the judge requesting a hearing on their claim accusing the government of leaning on witness to coerce them to testify positively against him. He represented himself months ago in his first murder trial, and received a hung jury. Since then, the judge was ordered off the case, and prosecutors are trying to get the new judge to try more of his charges at the same time (where the murder charge had been severed). The new trial is tentatively scheduled for next month.
Bergrin’s attorneys are now asking for a hearing on the matter, which could result in testimony being thrown out. Even if they are unsuccessful in this effort, they get additional opportunity to prepare their defense and cross examination of these witnesses. Prosecutors have dismissed the request as a chance for the Defense to score a deposition.
Bergrin was formerly a hotshot defense attorney (and former prosecutor, himself). The most serious of these charges are that he participated murders by conduct such as giving names to conspirators and suggesting they should be elimated to help his case. The government’s case featured jailhouse snitches and other witnesses with significant reliability issues, independent of the coercion that is now alleged. The case has seen some heated animosity in the courtroom, leading up to the previous judge’s ouster. I haven’t found anymore recent articles, but I will post them here as they come up.