United States v. Morton

In United States v. Morton, the Third Circuit threw shade at the United States Attorneys Office in the Virgin Islands for its handling of a cooperation agreement and a related indictment for contempt after the defendant, who was also a cooperating witness, invoked her right to remain silent. After being convicted and sentenced, the defendant agreed to cooperate with the government, but the cooperation agreement did not protect her from future prosecution. When she was called to testify at a codefendant’s supervision revocation hearing, she invoked her right to remain silent. The District Court ordered her to testify and, when she refused, the government indicted her under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3). The defendant was convicted of that charge and appealed. The Third Circuit liberally footnoted the blunders it observed in the proceedings below. On the merits, the Third Circuit found that the defendant had a legitimate reason to be concerned about future prosecution based on her testimony, and thus the government should have made it clear that her fears were unfounded. That did not happen, so the Third Circuit reversed her convictions.

MORTON