Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Steven S. Reed, March 21, 2019

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is the second oral history interview with Steven Reed...

Segment Synopsis: Anu Kasarabada introduces Steven S. Reed and outlines the subjects of this oral history session.

00:00:46 - Joining the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Now, we're going to turn our attention to your time in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky. So how did that, uh, how did it come about?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about his transition from Brereton Jones' administration to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky. He describes what the office was like and how he would work on cases.

Keywords: Assistant U.S. Attorneys; Federal prosecutors; Justice; Prosecutorial discretion; Trial experience; Western District of Kentucky

Subjects: Litigation; Louisville (Ky.); Prosecution--Decision making; United States Attorney's Office.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
00:11:35 - Training within the U.S. Attorney's Office

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Partial Transcript: What kind of training or were there other kinds of training that the office gave you?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about the different forms of training given to him by the U.S. Attorney's Office, from shadowing senior prosecutors to mock trials with federal judges.

Keywords: Courtroom experience; Law training; Trial experience

Subjects: Court proceedings; Mock trials; Public prosecutors; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
00:20:01 - Prosecuted cases

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Partial Transcript: Is there, uh, any particular case that comes to mind for you when you think about, you know, when you're preparing a case, working on a case...

Segment Synopsis: Reed recounts several cases from his days as a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office. Special attention is paid to his amicable relationships with opposing defense attorneys and defendants.

Keywords: Courtroom relationships; Drug cases; Federal prosecutors; Judge John G. Heyburn

Subjects: Court proceedings; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
00:29:13 - Plea bargaining

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Partial Transcript: So I wondered how did you use that power to plea bargain, and how common was it in the office and what was the nature of them?

Segment Synopsis: Reed explains the process of plea bargaining, his personal stance on it, and then recounts personal experiences with it in the court.

Keywords: Federal prosecutors; Plea bargains; Prosecutorial discretion; U.S. Attorney's Office; Victims

Subjects: Court decisions and opinions; Court proceedings; Plea bargaining; Prosecution decision making; United States Attorney’s Office

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
00:40:29 - Discretion and drug laws as a prosecutor

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Partial Transcript: Um, so this was the '90s, this wa--there was a lot of fervor in Congress, in the public, about, you know, um, fighting crime and fighting crack cocaine...

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about the impact of drug laws on his role as a prosecutor. He brings up the pros and cons of the sentencing guidelines that are associated with the crackdown on drugs in 1990s legislation. Reed also mentions the discretion of prosecutors in the sentencing aspect of criminal proceedings.

Keywords: 5K motions; Charging decisions; Court sentencing; Federal prosecutors; Mandatory minimums; Prosecutorial discretion; Sentencing guidelines; U.S. Attorney's Office

Subjects: Court decisions and opinions; Mandatory sentences; Prosecution decision making; United States Attorney’s Office; War on Drugs

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
00:50:53 - Sentencing in the Western District

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Partial Transcript: Is there--it doesn't sound there was any sort of, um, office-wide, a standardized understanding of what a, a substantial assistance would be...

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about how sentencing was handled in the Western District. He goes on to talk about how mandatory minimum law, combined with plea bargains, affected the judges' ability to render judgement. He also shares anecdotes regarding 5K motions that he handled.

Keywords: 5K motions; Federal prosecutors; Mandatory minimums; Prosecutorial discretion; Western District

Subjects: Court decisions and opinions; Mandatory sentences; Prosecution decision making; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:00:56 - Interactions with investigative agencies

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Partial Transcript: Um, you mentioned that, uh, FBI or various agencies, when--investigative agencies, um, at a certain point, they open up conversation with the office or, um, prosecutors to start seeing whether this was a case that, you know, could go somewhere.

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about his interactions with investigative agencies and the differences in views between prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.

Keywords: Court sentencing; Evidence; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Federal prosecutors; Law enforcement; Prosecutorial discretion

Subjects: Court proceedings; Evidence; Plea bargaining; Police; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District); United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:07:30 - Preparing a case for prosecution

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Partial Transcript: So once, um, it got to a point where, uh, you were ready to take the case over from the agency, um, what happens then? How do you go about preparing a case?

Segment Synopsis: Reed explains how he would prepare cases for trial. He goes over the particulars of questioning witnesses and reviewing evidence.

Keywords: Federal prosecutors; Pre-trial preparation; Prosecutions; Prosecutorial discretion

Subjects: Court proceedings; Criminal law; Evidence; Public prosecutors; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District); Witnesses

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:10:23 - White collar crimes

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Partial Transcript: We haven't touched much on the white collar aspect of your work.

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about the difference in perception between violent and white collar crimes in the eyes of jurors, and how he worked to avoid bias in his own work as a federal prosecutor.

Keywords: Courtroom behavior; Criminal law; Defendants; Federal prosecutors; Prosecutorial discretion

Subjects: Bias (Law); Jury; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District); White collar crime

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:20:58 - Trial experience with the U.S. Attorney's Office

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Partial Transcript: So, you know what was that like? You're, you're--most defendants are pleading out, you're focused mostly on prepping cases that ultimately resolve before reaching trial. So are you getting the trial experience that you wanted to get?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about gaining trial experience as a prosecutor, and how the nature of his job prevented him from getting as much as he may have wanted. He supplemented this by gaining experience practicing with Judge Johnstone.

Keywords: Federal prosecutors; Judge Edward H. Johnstone; Judge Johnstone; Prosecutorial discretion; Trial experience

Subjects: Court calendars; Court proceedings; Plea bargaining; Public prosecutors; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:22:01 - Practicing before Western District judges

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Partial Transcript: Did you, uh, practice in front of Judge Johnstone?

Segment Synopsis: Reed comments on the Western District judges he came before as a prosecutor and praises their commitment to fairness and justice.

Keywords: Federal prosecutors; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judge Johnstone; Judge McKinley; Judge Russell; Judge Simpson; Judicial neutrality; Law clerks

Subjects: Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States; Public prosecutors; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:28:08 - Presenting cases for different judges

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you mentioned that, you know, they all have their different temperaments and different styles. How did that--you know, knowing that, how did you prepare cases differently depending on, you know, who you were going in front of?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about the different ways he would present cases to different judges to ensure maximum efficacy as a prosecutor. Reed mentions how different judicial temperaments affected the relationships between the judge and prosecutor. Reed also talks about the importance of maintaining good relationships with the judge.

Keywords: Case preparation; Courtroom etiquette; Federal prosecutors; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judge Russell; Judges

Subjects: Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States; Public prosecutors; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:37:04 - Opposing counsel

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Partial Transcript: Who were some of the opposing counsel that you went up against? Do you recall anybody in particular?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about some of the defense attorneys he faced as a prosecutor in the Western District. Reed also explains the challenges of dealing with a team of opposing lawyers.

Keywords: Dan Taylor; Defense attorneys; Federal prosecutors; Jack Smith; Scott Coggs

Subjects: Criminal defense lawyers.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:48:13 - Appointed counsel in the Western District

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Partial Transcript: What were your experiences with appointed counsel?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about the experienced nature of the publicly appointed counsel in the Western District. Reed comments on their capabilities and willingness to pursue cases even at a financial cost to themselves.

Keywords: Appointed counsel; Community defender organizations; Federal prosecutors

Subjects: Criminal defense lawyers.; Public defenders; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
01:52:56 - Sentencing in the Western District

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Partial Transcript: What happens after conviction?

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about what the sentencing phase looked like from his view as a prosecutor.

Keywords: Sentencing; Western District

Subjects: Court decisions and opinions; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
02:00:55 - Determining recommended sentences as a prosecutor

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Partial Transcript: So, you know, even in cases where there's the mandatory minimum, um, it's the minimum, but then it's up to you what you would like--you know, what you will argue to the judge at the sentencing hearing about what they should get. How do you come to that?

Segment Synopsis: Reed describes the process and mindset as a prosecutor of determining the recommended sentencing of defendants. Reed talks about the relationship between the prosecutor, the judge, and the probation office in the determination of a sentence.

Keywords: Federal prosecutors; Mandatory minimum; Probation Office; Prosecution; Prosecutorial discretion; Sentencing; Western District

Subjects: Court decisions and opinions; Probation officers; United States Attorney’s Office; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498
02:12:35 - Relationship with state and local law enforcement

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Partial Transcript: I want to ask you about, you know, what your relationships are like as a prosecutor with state and local law enforcement, how that works, how you all interact together, whether you do...

Segment Synopsis: Reed talks about the relationship between prosecutors and state and local law enforcement. Reed recounts several cases he participated in that required close contact with the state police. Reed also describes the nature of asset forfeiture in cases.

Keywords: Federal prosecutors; Local law enforcement; State law enforcement; State police

Subjects: Asset forfeiture; Police; Public prosecutors; United States Attorney’s Office

GPS: United States Courthouse, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.246879, -85.762498