Russell Plea Bargain Agreement

 Posted on October 05, 2007 in Uncategorized

Here is the plea bargain agreement in the Russell case. As you can see, Mr. Russell pled guilty to misprision of a felony by:

  1. Having knowledge of the commission of a federal felony - that is, possession of child pornography;

  2. Failing to notify federal authorities; and

  3. Deliberately taking some affirmative step to conceal the crime - that is, returning to his law office with the computer containing the child pornography, taking the laptop computer apart, and destroying and concealing the computer.

The first two elements of the offense are things that criminal-defense lawyers do every day. As others have pointed out, it's our job to have knowledge of the commission of felonies and to fail to notify authorities. We are ethically bound, in most instances, not to share with authorities our knowledge of felonies that have been committed.

Question: was Russell's action in destroying the computer so far beyond the pale that we shouldn't be surprised that he was successfully prosecuted? Or does this really mark a major change in the relationship between government and criminal-defense lawyers?

Comment, please.

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