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Judge rebukes attorney

Assertion of secret meetings with feds 'outrageously false and unfounded,' states order

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- The judge presiding over prominent Winchester attorney Paul Hampton Thomson's federal case has rebuked his defense lawyer for "unprofessional conduct."

Chief U.S. District Court Judge James P. Jones filed an order Thursday in response to a letter John P. Flannery II filed Tuesday that accuses the judge of secretly collaborating with prosecutors in the investigation into the former Winchester commonwealth's attorney.
Thomson, 56, faces a cocaine charge and multiple counts of witness and evidence tampering. The government says he bought cocaine from clients and then committed crimes while trying to cover up the transactions.

Flannery's letter says that the prosecution has had secret meetings with Jones "apparently to advance an ongoing post-indictment grand jury investigation."

"It appears that Mr. Thomson and his counsel were consciously and expressly precluded from participation and this Court permitted that to happen, and, more of a concern, this Court was informed beforehand by the Justice Department that we would be kept in the dark," it says.

The letter references docket numbers that appear to be missing from the online court docket.

"Mr. Flannery's assertion is outrageously false and unfounded," Jones' order says.
Two missing documents referred to by Flannery were actually motions Assistant U.S. Attorney Grayson Hoffman tried to file under seal and whose sealing Jones denied, his order says.

As for the missing documents Flannery couldn't see on the court docket, court clerks "record purely internal case processing matters, such as the filing of the court reporter's notes after a hearing or the data or bond sheets for defendant, showing their home addresses" on it.

Rather than asking the court for an explanation, "Flannery has simply accused me, without any reasonable basis, of misconduct," Jones' order says. "In fact, I have engaged in no proceedings with the government that did not occur on the record, in Mr. Flannery's presence."

It closes with a warning for Flannery.

"I have been lenient with attorney Flannery in this case, believing that his conduct on occasion was the result of either misguided zeal or inexperience," the order says. "I caution him, however, that my patience is not inexhaustible. I will not tolerate further unprofessional conduct, as exhibited by his letter."

Flannery has a great deal of experience, according to his website, www.johnpflannery.com. The site states that Flannery was a federal prosecutor in New York and was in private practice at least as far back as 1981, and has served as special counsel for two congressional committees.

He has filed numerous motions in Thomson's case, including one accusing the government of prosecutorial misconduct and another that repeatedly referred to an informant in the case as a "snitch." Additionally, Flannery released some grand jury testimony, a problem Hoffman said his office hadn't had to deal with in the past.

Jones isn't the only judge Flannery has accused of collaborating with prosecutors. In a Feb. 11 filing, he said the government had secretly met with District Judge Glen E. Conrad to talk about the investigation into Thomson and that the court was "complicit in misconduct."

"We respectfully submit that, when the affidavit was presented to Judge Conrad, he should have declined to review the material as an ex parte communication that was not properly before him," it says. "Unfortunately, Judge Conrad continued to handle the case even after this first encounter.

"It has now been confirmed that Judge Conrad surrendered his judicial function as an impartial magistrate and participated in this undercover investigation that manipulated court pleadings and orders to advance an ongoing criminal investigation that led to a criminal complaint and indictment that is now pending in the same federal court."

Instead of being impartial, the motion says, Conrad became "so deep into his role as an agent of the government," he continued to allow secret "confab."

"Judge Conrad is so inexplicably intertwined in this investigation he apparently makes up a cover story in his order dated December 17, 2010 in order to cover up his ex parte communications and strategems with the prosecution," the motion says.ยป

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