MinnPost: Heffelfinger supports declination reporting
"When federal prosecutors decide not to pursue criminal cases in Indian country, should they be required to file detailed reports explaining those decisions?

"Yes," says Tom Heffelfinger, former U.S. attorney for Minnesota.

"No," says Drew Wrigley, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota.

Both men appeared last week before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to testify on the potential benefits and pitfalls of such "declination reports," which would be required under terms of a bill introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who is the committee chairman.

In his testimony last week, Heffelfinger said declination reports "can assist law enforcement, prosecutors and government officials in properly training their employees, identifying resources necessary to investigate alleged criminal misconduct and refining their procedures for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

"There is no reason," he said, "why federal law-enforcement officials and prosecutors considering prosecution of crimes in Indian Country should not issue declination reports and realize the benefits of such reports."

But Wrigley testified that providing detailed information on why a particular investigation was dropped would be risky "because the information could be rendered discoverable in any subsequent prosecution," which "might well compromise the safety and privacy of victims and witnesses, and also provide a damaging roadmap to any weaknesses in the case.""

Get the Story:
Benefits, pitfalls of bill on Indian criminal cases aired (The Minnesota Post 9/24)

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