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Over the past few weeks, the Justice Department’s leadership has been under fire from virtually all sides. Add Johnny Sutton to the list of those feeling the heat. The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, Sutton is also chairman of the powerful Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, making him the chief liaison between the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys and Justice Department headquarters. On March 16, the 320,000-member Fraternal Order of Police wrote to the White House asking that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility open a formal inquiry into Sutton’s handling of two criminal cases against law enforcement officers. The first, in which Sutton successfully prosecuted U.S. Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos in the nonfatal shooting of an alleged marijuana smuggler, has made Sutton a popular punching bag for media personalities such as CNN’s Lou Dobbs and Fox News’ Sean Hannity. The second case to irk the police union: Sutton’s conviction of Guillermo Hernandez, a deputy sheriff in Edwards County, Texas, for a separate shooting of a Mexican national, who was injured. (Hernandez claimed the shooting was in self-defense.) “It has been alleged that the U.S. attorney pursued these cases with vigor at the expressed wish of the Mexican government,” wrote the police organization’s president, Chuck Canterbury, in his letter to the White House. “Law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not act at the behest of foreign governments.” Through a spokeswoman, Sutton issued a statement saying, “I take no pleasure in prosecuting law enforcement officers, but a prosecutor must follow the evidence where it leads.”
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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