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No critic of Special Prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr has been more persistent than New Haven-based public defender Francis T. Mandanici, who’s taken his quest all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he’s filed a petition for certiorari in a final attempt to convince the federal judiciary to look into Starr’s alleged ethical misdeeds. When critics of President Bill Clinton were pressing for his disbarment in June 1999 in Arkansas, Mandanici urged the federal judiciary to investigate Starr. He filed a grievance against Starr in the U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., but all seven federal judges there recused themselves. The hot potato matter kept moving, finally landing with a St. Louis Judge, John F. Nangle. This was Mandanici’s fourth grievance against Starr since 1996. He listed six grounds for investigating Starr’s alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Starr’s ethics advisor, former Watergate prosecutor Samuel Dash, resigned in protest when Starr went before the House Judiciary Committee in November, 1998 to testify in favor of Clinton’s impeachment. Dash said that exceeded Starr’s legal power under the independent counsel act, and Mandanici said the action should be formally investigated by the federal courts. Additional grounds for investigating Starr and his office were the allegations of prepared scripts for witnesses pressured to present false, incriminating testimony to the Whitewater grand jury. Further, a Washington D.C. federal judge found that news leaks established a prima facie case of Starr’s office violating rules of grand jury secrecy. Mandanici also questioned the offer to Starr of deanship at Pepperdine Law School, funded largely by Clinton foe Richard Mellon Scaife. He alleged legal conflicts with the special prosecutor role from Starr’s simultaneous private representation of Big Tobacco and his firm’s battles with federal regulators over the savings and loan mess. Nangle found claims of witness pressure “subjective,” based simply on Whitewater defendant Susan H. McDougal and Julia Hiatt Steele’s “thoughts and responses.” Dash’s resignation was ruled a difference of opinion between two top constitutional lawyers. Mandanici’s suggestion that it was grounds for an ethics investigation, Nagle wrote, was “ridiculous.” Since the Washington, D.C., press leaks were being investigated by another court, that issue was moot, the judge added. Furthermore, Nangle wrote, the notion that the Pepperdine job offer was an actionable ethics issue is “the stuff that dreams are made of. Mandanici seems to be arguing that in the future Starr is not allowed to take any job that has any connections with conservative organizations or Scaife. This court has never heard a more absurd argument.” Similarly, Nangle dismissed ideas of conflicts and entanglements with the tobacco industry and the savings and loan industry, saying that while serving as special prosecutor, Starr was fully entitled to practice law and represent private clients. In his petition for certiorari, Mandanici says Nangle has turned his grievance against Starr into a bench reprimand — issuing punishment without notice, hearing or other due process. The New Haven public defender argues that Nangle “publicly reprimanded and defamed” him in the lower court ruling, by calling certain of his arguments ridiculous, nonsense and “the stuff that dreams are made of.” Such alleged defamation gave Mandanici a personal injury, he contends, which creates standing for appeal. MANDANICI CRITICIZED After clearing Starr, Nangle wrote a final piece to his opinion headed “A Final Matter.” When the case was sent to Nangle “the parties were informed that the assignment and all issues related to it would remain under seal until further order of this Court.” But Mandanici was “obviously the source of a news report that appeared in a Connecticut paper [ The Connecticut Law Tribune] indicating that this court had accepted assignment of the matter and indicated Mandanici ‘has a case,’ … This interview and leak was a violation of this court’s order and was false,” Nangle wrote, adding that another improper disclosure resulted in an article in an Arkansas paper. The Tribune article cited a Feb. 14, 2000 order from Nangle stating, “[t]his court finds these matters to be at issue.” Nangle’s listing of Mandanici’s “known violations of this Court’s order” makes a veiled reference to a letter that Mandanici submitted to “a person who clearly should not have received such a copy.” He concluded these three “violations of this court’s order merit serious considerations of both discipline and sanctions, matters that this court may consider at a later date.” Statistically, the chances of the nation’s top court choosing any individual petition for certiorari are less than one in 500, because many are filed but few are chosen.

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