In 2011, a federal judge in Washington scolded prosecutors for maneuvering that “effectively snookered” the defense lawyers in a groundbreaking foreign-bribery case in which charges were brought against more than 20 individuals arrested in a sting operation. The case ended in dismissals and not guilty verdicts.

Last year, in an unrelated civil fraud case against one of the country’s largest providers of skilled nursing centers, a federal magistrate judge lambasted prosecutors for what she described as a “house of cards” case built on an expert who suffered from an “utter lack of credibility.” The government went on to drop its case against HCR ManorCare.