(Reuters) – A former longtime federal prosecutor in Michigan has been suspended for one year from practicing law for making a “false statement of material fact” to a federal judge in a criminal case, an ethics panel said in a new disciplinary order.
The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board’s Dec. 31 notice said that Diane Marion, a former assistant U.S. attorney “engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice.” Marion “misrepresented information and facts to the court” in the prosecution of a member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, the ethics panel said in a report last month.
Marion did not respond to the February 2021 complaint that the Michigan grievance commission filed, and she was found to have committed misconduct by default. She did not immediately return a message on Monday seeking comment. No counsel appeared for her at a hearing in the case in May.
“Prosecutors are held to a bit of a higher standard in many regards,” Michael Goetz, Michigan attorney grievance administrator, told Reuters. “The sanction, the one-year suspension, is right in line with the violation that she committed.”
At the May hearing in Marion’s case, Sarah Lindsey, senior associate counsel at the grievance commission, said Marion, a member of the Michigan bar since 1981, resigned from the U.S. attorney’s office in 2014 “and to my knowledge she has not practiced law in that time and had no intention to practice law.”
Lindsey said her office received notice of the misconduct in 2015 and “it took time to conduct our investigation.”
The grievance office’s complaint said Marion’s misconduct included certain statements she made about an ATF agent who was involved in the investigation of the motorcycle club. The presiding judge in the case found certain statements from Marion inconsistent with information in a pre-sentence investigation report, the Michigan grievance commission said.
Public reprimand of federal prosecutors is rare compared with the volume of ethics cases involving other lawyers. Still, the Michigan disciplinary order in Marion’s case was at least the state’s second since October against a federal prosecutor.
The Michigan attorney discipline board issued a public rebuke of longtime prosecutor Susan Fairchild over trial remarks referencing evidence that a judge had earlier suppressed. Fairchild consented to the sanction in an agreement with the ethics board.
The U.S. Justice Department conducts internal inquiries on claims of prosecutorial ethics transgressions, but the department does not as a matter of routine publicly release detailed reports.
The case is Attorney Grievance Commission v. Marion, Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, Case No. 21-9-GA.