SAN FRANCISCO — Just how and why a letter sent on behalf of former Uber employee ended up in the hands of the federal judge overseeing the company’s trade secret showdown with Waymo has left local legal circles abuzz—especially veterans of the San Francisco U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Federal prosecutors’ decision to hand over the letter—a piece of evidence that surfaced in a criminal investigation running parallel to the high profile civil showdown over autonomous vehicle technology—was a highly unusual, if not unprecedented, move.

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