And You Thought Biglaw Was Dangerous: Prosecutor Assigned Homicide Instances On Maternity Go away
Parental leave is designed to give workers the opportunity to take care of tiny people. There shouldn’t be a time assigning you extra high-profile work. But that’s exactly what happened at the St. Louis District Attorney’s Office.
A murder case against Brandon Campbell was dismissed last week by St. Louis District Judge Jason Sengheiser because prosecutors “abandoned their duty to prosecute the defendants” after the firm missed three separate hearings and a deadline for production of the court order. Campbell has been charged with crime, but the question arises – why didn’t anyone show up in the first case? It found that attorney on the case, Kimberly Arshi, did not receive the assignment until a week after maternity leave began.
District Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner blamed Campbell’s dismissal of charges of “internal policies and procedures relating to family medical leave.” She said “Corrective action is needed to further prevent a future recurrence of the incident in question,” but gave no reason why no one else was assigned the case during Arshi’s vacation.
In addition to this case, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Arshi was assigned at least nine (9!) Other offenses during his vacation, including one murder with the death penalty, two other murders, three robberies and two assaults. This is more than a simple administrative slip-up. This is a massive miscarriage of justice, especially given the lack of a plan to cover someone while she was away.
Peter Joy, a law professor at Washington University, told the Post-Dispatch that 12 weeks – a common length of maternity leave – “is not a long time in criminal cases. It would depend on what the trial date is and also when the person is expected back. So it can make sense because seasoned litigators may be able to take a case and get it ready in a couple of months. ”But still no reason why no one was asked to handle Arshi’s cases.
Nick Zotos, a defense attorney on one of the cases Arshi was assigned during his absence, said, “It’s just a small reflection of what is going on in the office. Either they don’t care or they are sloppy. “
And he’s not the only one with this opinion:
Matt Waltz, a public defender for clients on at least two cases recently assigned to Arshi, said his office had not assigned him any new cases when he was on sick leave some time ago. He speculated that assigning Arshi cases while she was on vacation was a standstill tactic until she returned.
Arshi is said to have resigned from office earlier this week. Hopefully her next job does a better job when it comes to respecting parental leave.
Kathryn Rubino is Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please contact them. Feel free to email her with tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@ Kathryn1).