The following editorial by the Editorial Board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was published on June 7, 2013.
Aaron Brockler was working way too hard. Now he has some time off to think about it.
But the damage he has done will be a long time dissipating, and some of it may well be permanent.
The assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor was fired last week after it came to light that he had tried to influence the testimony of witnesses in a homicide case.
Brockler got into a Facebook chat with two women listed by the defense as alibi witnesses for Damon Dunn, a 29-year-old Cleveland man accused of shooting Kenneth "Blue" Adams to death at an East Side car wash in May 2012.
Brockler posed during the chat as a former girlfriend who had had a child with Dunn -- a tale that angered the women and, Brockler says, persuaded them not to "lie for him."
Brockler said he included a transcript of the Facebook chat in the case file. The Prosecutor's Office, however, says information about the Facebook session came from outside sources.
County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty fired Brockler and withdrew his office from the Dunn case because of the possibility that Brockler will be called to testify. The Ohio Attorney General's Office will take it from here.
Brockler told Plain Dealer reporter James F. McCarty that his sole motivation was getting to the truth. "I think the public is better off for what I did," he said.
He could not be more wrong.
There is a proper, ethical way to impeach a witness, but Brockler's method was out of bounds. As a result, he has handed the defense a prosecutorial misconduct argument to put before a jury.
He has done his own career and his own reputation considerable damage.
His actions have called into question, yet again, the culture of a Prosecutor's Office that has often been accused -- and sometimes convicted -- of being more zealous about winning cases than about seeing justice done.
He has opened the door to questions about the conduct of previous cases in which he was involved, just as revelations of misconduct by Carmen Marino, the star of the Prosecutor's Office in the 1980s and '90s, led to a string of retrials and appeals.
Brockler's firing was a given.
Now McGinty owes the public a thorough inquiry to determine whether it alone solves the problem.