Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL).
Argument: In the criminal justice system, non-party participants and letter writers, as well as other witnesses deserve a certain level of protection to be free from prosecutorial use of abusive process, free from coercive threats and intimidation, and free from gratuitous retaliation for refusal to accede to those prosecutorial threats and intimidation. In this case, Respondent Eric G. Zahnd holds a special place of trust as a prosecutor. He countenanced and participated in abusive process, coercive threats and reprisal for failure to capitulate to his threats. NACDL and MACDL take no position regarding the appropriate level of sanction, but suggest that a finding of ethical violation of Rules 4-4.4(a), 4-5.1(c) and 4-8.4 is appropriate in this circumstance to both discipline Respondent Zahnd, and also to deter other attorneys, especially prosecutors, from engaging in similar conduct going forward in order to protect future non-party witnesses and letter writers from fear of such abuses; which in turn, protects defendants’ rights to due process and fair proceedings. Discipline in this case is necessary to accomplish the goals of the disciplinary process to protect the public and maintain the integrity of the legal profession. In re McMillin, 521 S.W.3d 604, 610 (Mo. banc 2017).