Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Reason for the Bar Counsel Investigation of FL U.S. Attorney Nominee Robert O'Neill

The Reason for the Bar Counsel Investigation of FL U.S. Attorney Nominee Robert O'Neill

by James Scanlan

In a June 23, 2010 editorial here on the nomination of Robert E. O’Neill for the position of US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, among other things suggesting O’Neill’s unsuitability for the position, I pointed out that O’Neill made a false statement in an application for the position that he submitted to the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. In the application, O’Neill attributed the initiation of a District of Columbia Bar Counsel investigation of his conduct in United States v. Deborah Gore Dean to a complaint filed by the defendant. In fact, the investigation was not initiated by Dean or anyone associated with her. I also explained that if O’Neill made the same misrepresentation to a federal entity he likely violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

Concern about DC Bar confidentiality rules caused me not to reveal the initiator of the investigation in the earlier editorial. But those rules could not be intended to keep the public from knowing that a nominee for one of the most important law enforcement positions in the country made a false statement in the course of seeking the position, particularly when the nominee may have violated federal law. As reflected in a July 9 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the investigation was initiated by the Office of Bar Counsel itself as a result of reading a court of appeals opinion criticizing the conduct of O’Neill and his colleagues in the prosecution of the Dean case. The inference is inescapable that O’Neill misrepresented the origin of the investigation because he believed an investigation initiated by a complaint filed by a convicted defendant would raise fewer concerns with the Florida Nominating Commission or other readers of his application than an investigation initiated by Bar Counsel itself, especially one prompted by a court’s criticism of O’Neill’s conduct. One would think that such a misrepresentation would disqualify the maker from further consideration for any law enforcement position.

The July 9 letter encourages the Attorney General to advise the President to withdraw the O’Neill nomination. If that does not happen, and if the Judiciary Committee should confirm O’Neill, his tenure will be remarkable for nothing if not irony. For O’Neill has achieved some of his notable successes by provocatively asserting that other people lied. Materials on the Dean case made available under the ’Must’ Reading (and Viewing)” portion of this site give great attention to O’Neill’s 50 or so provocative assertions that Dean lied on the stand, often if not invariably in circumstances where he believed or knew for a fact that Dean had not lied. Section B.1 of the Prosecutorial Misconduct page of and Section B of the Robert E. O’ Neill Profile address the way O’Neill and a colleague apparently pressured a government agent into providing testimony that would seem to categorically contradict Dean’s testimony about an interaction with the agent in order that O’Neill could stridently assert that the agent’s testimony showed that Dean lied about the interaction (when O’Neill knew with absolute certainty that Dean had not lied about the interaction). See Section E.2 of the O’Neill profile for other examples of O’Neill’s tactics to facilitate his asserting the Dean lied.

In United States v. Spellissy – a case, like Dean, that O’Neill cites in his application as one of his most important – much of the government’s proof rested on O’Neill’s impeachment of his own witness in these provocative terms:

A liar is a liar. And whether someone is lying to save their soul or their hide, they are still lying. And once you are a liar, you can not trust that person. And for [the witness] to have said what he said in this courtroom, he must have lied repeatedly before the other judge. Or as I said before, he told lies here and told the truth before others.

Only O’Neill knows how often this tactic played a important role in cases that never attracted attention. But regardless of O’Neill’s own practice of calling people liars, in light of the false statement in his US Attorney application, an O’Neill confirmation will diminish the faith of the public in prosecutors generally and the faith of prosecutors in each other. But maybe that would be a good thing. As one observer recently noted:

There is a bond among prosecutors, as there is in most organizations. If a prosecutor makes a statement, there is a consensus among other prosecutors that the statement is correct. For many years, I shared that perspective. I no longer do. Now, I am more apt to question my colleagues when they embark on dubious courses of action. I do not take what a colleague says at face value simply because he or she is a federal prosecutor.

These seemingly philosophical remarks may be found at page 39 of O’Neill’s Florida Nominating Commission application, where he disparages allegations against him by a former subordinate four pages before falsely attributing the DC Bar Counsel investigation of his conduct in the Dean case to a complaint filed by the defendant.


Judicial Malpractice said...

This shows what a corrupt probate judge can do.

Truth in Justice Files said...

I think the correct url is Also see

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't believe that Robert O'Neill was investigated by the DC Bar as what likely was meant as a DIRE WARNING then continued down his smarmy path and had the wherewithal to TRY to misrepresent this matter in his application for a law enforcement job in the federal sector. With all the enemies he has created among the good and just in the world. The people who understand the wrongdoing of Robert E. O'Neill are not limited to criminals and people he has vindictively prosecuted. (those found guilty of all charges.) Instead you see his dirty tricks being revealed by some in the legal field whose good names precede them. Thank you.
Laura Thacker, Tampa FL

Anonymous said...

Breaking news: As alluded to many times, I can now firmly and completely tie Robert E. O'Neill to the knowledge of mortgage theft, and likely the complicity in same. It was hard to pin down without multiple 'leaps of fait' bassed in personal experience and what he was putting my family through with his cohorts but I now can tie him to it. Most of the information which was most helpful was fuond online at and in public recrds. Becasue he was having us terrorized along with his associates I KNEW IT but now can prove it. As well, those he associates with closely, including his long time business partner have very close ties to those who pushed my family member to suicide, had very VERY close procimity to the suspicious untimely deaths of my mother and sister and property theft following and attempted property theft. But what finally led to the ONE PIECE OF PAPER very clear connection to O'Neill was the illegal foreclosure on my family member's home. I'm sure if I live to tell the story it's the tip of the mortgage fraud iceberg. Laura Thacker Tampa FL.