In a rather unique set of circumstances, the First Circuit has today granted a petition for mandamus by the United States in a public corruption case, reversing a district court's denial of a motion by the United States for the trial judge to recuse himself on grounds of actual prejudice, albeit not on grounds of actual prejudice but of a "reasonable basis for questioning the impartiality of the district court judge." The appellate court also orders the investigation into government misconduct in violation of Fed.R.Crim.P. 6 cease, unless new claims arise, and that trial (which had been stayed pending the district court's investigation into government misconduct in relation to the grand jury) be promptly scheduled. See In Re: United States, No. 06-1136 (1st Cir. March 24, 2006) (per curiam). The appellate court describes the claim that the District Judge exhibited actual bias against the government as "overreaching" by the government.
The lead prosecutor in the case at the district court level is Mary K. Butler, of DOJ's Public Integrity Division, although she did not argue the appeal. Ms. Butler also has been in the news for the Jack Abramoff cases. See The Hill. On appeal the government's case was argued by Kathleen Felton, of the Criminal Division's Appellate Section. Appearing for defendants were PRACDL members Edgar Vega-Pabón and Francisco Rebollo-Casalduc, together with Florida defense lawyers Howard Srebnick and Richard Straffer. Howard Srebnick argued for defendants.