Follow-up Information on the Operations of the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility

GAO-01-135R: Published: Jan 19, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 20, 2001.

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Richard M. Stana
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In response to concerns about the professionalism and conduct of some Department of Justice attorneys, as well as the process of holding them accountable to ethical standards, this report provides information on Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). GAO obtained information on the types of allegations OPR was able to substantiate against attorneys, the source of the allegations, the specific allegations, and OPR's recommendations for disciplinary actions. OPR generally placed its findings in the attorneys' official personnel folder, either temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of misconduct. OPR said that although some attorneys under investigation retired or resigned from the Department, it was unable to determine whether they left because of the investigation. Those attorneys would deny that their departure was triggered by the investigation, and OPR officials said it would be difficult to establish a cause-an-effect relationship. OPR would, however, continue the investigation if other Justice employees were involved or if the allegations were serious. When OPR administratively closed a case because the issues were before the courts, it flagged these cases in its tracking system so that it could continue its investigations at a later date.

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