Failed Sting Against Lawyer Draws Protests

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. --Longtime lawyer Eileen Hongisto didn't take the bait when the police officer lied about who he was, but the attempted sting is drawing protests from her fellow attorneys nonetheless.

Court papers say Brattleboro Police Detective Mark Carignan, executing a court-approved warrant, called Hongisto earlier this month and pretended to be a witness in a domestic violence case in which Hongisto was representing the defendant.

Saying he wanted to help Hongisto's client, he asked whether he should try to avoid police efforts to serve him a subpoena to come and testify in court or whether, if served with a subpoena, he should fail to show up in court.

Court papers say police thought Hongisto might commit the crime of obstruction of justice by advising the phony witness to take those steps. The sting failed when Hongisto told the caller she wasn't his lawyer and that if he got a subpoena he would need to go to court.

Lawyers, including the local prosecutor, say the attempted sting, approved by Vermont District Court Judge Katherine Hayes, is unprecedented in Vermont.

"I'm in my 21st year as state's attorney and this is the only one I'm aware of," said Windham County State's Attorney Dan Davis. "That's extremely rare."

Details here from the AP via the Boston Globe.