Chairman Grassley Presses Loretta Lynch on DOJ Civil Rights Division Attorney Misconduct

Chairman Grassley pressed Loretta Lynch in written questions about attorney misconduct in the Civil Rights Division.

55. Department of Justice attorneys have a great deal of power and discretion but I am
concerned that without proper oversight, this power and authority can be abused without
consequences. For example, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) does not
have the ability to investigate attorney misconduct. Rather, attorney misconduct is
currently investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility but this office does not
have the same strong statutory independence as the IG. Currently, there are at least three
examples of attorneys who remain employed by the Department despite evidence that
these attorneys committed serious misconduct.

a. A Federal judge found that Karla Dobinski, a trial attorney in the Civil Rights
Division, engaged in a “wanton reckless course of action” when she posted comments
to news stories under a pseudonym about a trial where she provided
evidence as a disinterested expert witness.57 If confirmed, what steps will you take to
ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken in this case, and will you pledge to
provide updates to this committee about the status?

RESPONSE: Consistent with the positions taken by previous Attorneys General, across
Administrations, I support the role of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in
investigating attorney misconduct. OPR has been recognized consistently as a strong,
independent entity within the Department that has a long and distinguished history of
investigating allegations of attorney misconduct and recommending appropriate punishment. I
understand that OPR is unique in that it has a singular focus on investigating attorney
misconduct. If confirmed, I will commit to ensuring that the Department holds accountable any
employees who are found to have committed misconduct.