Who Is Brenda Morris?

This week’s announcement that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan had tossed out the conviction of former Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens shed some light on the workings of the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice.

The Public Integrity Section (which is part of the Criminal Division of the DOJ) is tasked with the following mission:

The Public Integrity Section oversees the federal effort to combat corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government….Section attorneys prosecute selected cases against federal, state, and local officials, and are available as a source of advice and expertise to other prosecutors and investigators. Since 1978, the Section has supervised the administration of the Independent Counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act.

The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 mandates that the Attorney General report annually to Congress the conduct and operation of all PIN activity. Ostensibly this requirement is to ensure that the prosecution of publicly elected officials does not become a political weapon wielded by the Executive branch. The PIN is staffed and led by a cadre of career prosecutors, one of whom is Brenda Morris, the lead trial attorney in the Stevens prosecution and the object of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s wrath. Judge Sullivan, as readers may recall, has ordered a criminal investigation into the activities of Steven’s prosecutors and noted,

“In nearly 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,”

So, who is Brenda Morris? (CV here) Well, she’s been with the Public Integrity Section since 1991. She was in on the Jack Abramoff prosecution. She has a record of getting herself and her office in sticky situations (read: financial penalties assessed to the DOJ for prosecutorial abuse). She was a supervisor of the Scooter Libby prosecution team. She was trained in the office of legendary New York District Attorney (Democrat) Henry Morgenthau. I very much look forward to finding out more about Brenda Morris as the criminal investigation of her proceeds.

What little we do know about Ms. Morris, however, puts the lie to the idea that it was George Bush’s Republican appointed Justice Department that convicted Senator Stevens. Instead, it’s beginning to look more and more like a case brought by career prosecutors that smell a lot like partisan Democrats.

If any readers have more information on Brenda Morris then please do share.

Update: Curiously the Halcro link is no longer available so use this one concerning Ms. Morris’ previous problems.

H/T Instapundit

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  • bryanD

    “What little we do know about Ms. Morris, however, puts the lie to the idea that it was George Bush’s Republican appointed Justice Department that convicted Senator Stevens.”-hs

    May Chester A. Arthur and his patronage politics rot in hell! Forever!

    *Now, let’s grab a bite to eat!*

  • ODA315

    Does Stevens have recourse to sue her and the team for damages?

  • gianid

    All part of the vast lib conspiracy to influence elections? 10 weeks in office, and the surrender monkey is an utter failure, on all fronts.

    Shameful no liberal has the balls or integrity to condemn corrupt ACORN.

  • ACR

    Do you have any evidence (beyond the one paragraph AP bio) that Brenda Morris was involved in the prosecutions related to the Abramoff scandal?

    “Helped supervise the investigation” doesn’t tell me much. I’ve never seen her name in court documents related to Abramoff-related defendants.

  • let’s stipulate that partisan democrats in the justice department brought this against Stevens… but where was the supposedly adult supervision in the form of the republicans who were supposed to be running the justice department?

    were they were more afraid about the hit their reputation would take from democrats screaming coverup than they were in keeping partisan democrats from unfairly going after stevens?

    I’d guess yes given the number of other times the bush administration stood idly by while unethical prosecutors went after targets the bush folks were afraid to be seen as too close (Arthur Anderson, KPMG, Enron, Scooter Libby, AIG (by Spitzer) to name a just a handful).

    Just as we should criticize democrats for bringing politically motivated prosecutions, we should also condemn republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up and defend the rule of law because they’re afraid of what the likes of Barney Frank might say about them.

  • Do you have any evidence (beyond the one paragraph AP bio) that Brenda Morris was involved in the prosecutions related to the Abramoff scandal?

    She was principal deputy chief of the section that prosecuted Abramoff as described in this report.

    She also had this bio listed at a Stanford Law and policy Review presentation:

    Details
    September 12, 2007 @ 12:30 pm
    Room 180
    For the past fifteen years, Brenda Morris has prosecuted political corruption crimes for the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which oversees all federal public corruption cases. As deputy chief, Brenda is the highest-ranking official in the Section who is not a political appointee. She will discuss her role supervising high-profile cases, including the Jack Abramoff investigation and the Scooter Libby trial, as well as her experience working as a career prosecutor under Alberto Gonzales. Sponsored by: Stanford Law & Policy Review (SLPR), Levin Center for Public Service & Public Interest Law, Stanford Criminal Justice Center, Criminal Law Society, Stanford Mock Trial, Black Law Students Association, and Women of Stanford Law

  • Deke

    Just as we should criticize democrats for bringing politically motivated prosecutions, we should also condemn republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up and defend the rule of law because they’re afraid of what the likes of Barney Frank might say about them.

    Good Job Steve your right on the money! Republicans have become weak, poll driven, no core principal, hacks as bad as any other group of politicians. They are so in fear of what public perception is going to be and the names they may be called that they are frozen and absolutly ineffective. The AIG scandal and the spending bill are both examples. Instead of standing up for the rule of law, those were contracts the democrats voted on, instead of standing up and saying “You voted for this Ms. Frank, but were not going to help you get out of it” they caved to public perception and voted for it. The hypocrits voted against the spending bill but filled it full of pork knowing damn well it was gonna pass over them. The gaining of power is the sole motivating factor in thier political stances.

    I am so reminded lately from the classic scene in Blazing Saddles where the governor says “Gentleman we have to do something to keep our Phoney Bologne jobs, can I get a harumph!” That, I think, sums up Washington on both sides atm. They knew the housing crisis was coming, yet kept silent for fear of being called racist, they know the Justice Dept. is outta control and still remain silent, spending they participate in on the sly, the list goes on. I know 3rd party is supposed to be a no-no topic and the mantra of working from within is non stop, but when is enough a enough and the sheeple stand up and demand more CONSERVATIVE, principal based opposition to the socialization of America?

  • Deke: even more of a problem is that the GOP has done a p***-poor job of even trying to shape public perception on any given issue, they’ve ceded the high ground to the democrats on issue after issue.

  • JC Hammer

    435 pink slips to the house, 99 to the Senate, get new blood that will represent the people, and we may see all the different Fed offices cleaned up. Until then, comments don’t do crap to fix the problem. Both parties are corrupt, time for some spring cleaning.

  • Old Coot

    steve sturm nailed it with both of his posts. The R’s fight with Nerf balls, the D’s use whatever it takes to win.

  • bryanD

    Amen, Deke. Only, I wouldn’t credit the Republicans’ failure with a desire to not be seen as racist or insensitive, but rather by being moral milquetoasts. The globalists control both parties and discussing the fact is verboten, and 95% of elected Republican officials are just fine with that. Pity the fool that dares to focus on where we’ve been against where we are heading on the freedom-tyranny continuum.

    The only hope I see, frankly, in recapturing the government for the people under law, is term limits. And note how “libertarian” Leviathan suddenly got concerning THAT issue.

    Or a third party conservative-libertarian coalition. I’m an optimist at heart.

  • mockmook

    let’s stipulate that partisan democrats in the justice department brought this against Stevens…
    …we should also condemn republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up and defend the rule of law because they’re afraid of what the likes of Barney Frank might say about them.

    I’ve got a GREAT idea, let’s punish the R’s at the ballot box and let the D’s skate!!!

  • Hollymer

    She sounds like another affirmative action hire…only able to work for a government.

  • maggie

    Wizbang has been Instalaunched!

  • jc hammer – “99 to the Senate”

    So… you’re willing to leave either Coleman or Franken on the job?

  • swift_boater

    steve sturm, this was a win win for a partisan Dem with Stevens. Either keep prosecuting while the election is going on (with the desired effect occuring) or the prosecution stops – with the ‘leaks’ that it was the partisan Bush DOJ who put an end to it.

    Yep, a no lose for the Dems for the AK Senate race in 2008. Hopefully this hack will see a penitentiary from the wrong side soon enough.

  • Steve

    morris photo here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/24/AR2008102400435 ( in the slideshow )
    Stevens supported too much government spending. Anyway, the public is too afraid to vote for free market economics. Even if republicans do regain political control, they will have to compromise their principals. Better to advocate for people to be able to opt out or peacefully secede from the government.

  • Mike

    What happened to the “sticky situations” link contents? At least now, its a bad link anyways.

  • willis

    Sadly, all of this can be laid directly at the feet of the Republican party. They ceeded domination of the public agenda to the left and their only remaining quest is to grab as much for themselves and their cronies as possible before passing from the scene. However, we do not need a third party to right the ship. Term-limits will break the stalemate and return participation in government to its citizens.

  • ACR

    Hugh,

    Thanks for pointing me to the DoJ report and the Brenda Morris bio at Stanford. Unfortunately, neither one really helps me answer the question about what work, if any, Ms. Morris did on the Abramoff corruption cases. We do know that she was active in prosecuting cases herself (e.g. the Stevens case), which would eat into her supervisory time.

    I’m concluding that Ms. Morris did very little, if anything, with respect to the Abramoff corruption cases (the AP, DoJ and Stanford documents notwithstanding).

  • JC Hammer

    Ref #15. Neither one is a Senator yet, due to Coleman’s BS. So right now there is 99 Senators. Makes one wonder where you get your news. Flunked grade school, did you?

  • Contreras

    San Antonio Express-News

    Top prosecutor of Stevens was criticized in S.A. case

    by Guillermo Contreras
    STAFF
    04/02/2009
    THURSDAY
    A Section
    04A

    A Justice Department prosecutor at the center of the tossed-out corruption conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens led the failed prosecution of a San Antonio criminal defense attorney that wound up costing taxpayers at least $1.34 million.

    Tax fraud charges against Alan Brown took six weeks to try in 2004 and 2005, but jurors deliberated less than an hour to hand the prosecutor, Brenda Morris, a defeat.

    Brown sued the government over the tax agents’ conduct and after the trial won a $1.34 million settlement.

    Morris, in the Washington, D.C., office, had been picked by the Justice Department to handle the case after it recused every prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Antonio because of a potential conflict of interest.

    Some observers believed Brown’s prosecution was doomed from the start, partly because the government’s star witness, a former staffer in Brown’s office who fell in love with a drug-trafficking client, was deemed not credible. Those familiar with the case said Morris pushed it forward regardless. Before the trial, two judges found IRS agents acted with reckless disregard for the truth when they used uncorroborated accusations to justify an all-night search of Brown’s home and office.

    She was promoted in August 2006 to principal deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section in Washington and was the lead prosecutor in the Stevens case.

    “This is a prosecutor who needs to be removed, and I would hope the attorney general utilizes the same test of integrity as he did in the Stevens case,” said U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who ruled against Morris in Brown’s case. “Though (the Brown case) is several years old, there is no statute of limitations on integrity.”

    Brown’s lawyers say Morris never reined in the agents and proceeded unfairly.

    “I wasn’t shocked about her behavior. I was shocked that anybody did anything about it,” Brown said, referring to the Stevens case. “It restores my faith – a little bit – in the Justice Department. I felt there was enough in my case that they would have taken action, maybe some sanctions. It surprised me when I saw her on the (Stevens) case.”

    In fact, during Stevens’ trial, his defense team contacted Brown and his lawyers after learning of Morris’ earlier actions.

    “It appears as though she’s continuing a conduct of not following the rules, not reining in her agents and not operating fairly,” said Bill Reid, a former federal prosecutor who handled Brown’s lawsuit against the government.