[JURIST] The government's lead counsel in its lawsuit against the tobacco industry [DOJ backgrounder] on Wednesday withdrew from the case, as an investigation continues into whether political pressure forced the government to lower its demands in the case. Sharon Eubanks, a US Department of Justice attorney, had pursued a racketeering case against the tobacco industry [JURIST news archive] since being named to head the case [DOJ news release] in 2000, but the government has filed a notice of her withdrawal, effective Thursday, with the district court in the case. A DOJ spokesman said the department would not comment on Eubanks' withdrawal unless she waived privacy protection. In June, the government surprised many by lowering its demands for relief [JURIST report] in the case from $130 billion to $10 billion against the advice of its expert, Dr. Michael Fiore [official profile], in the case. Democratic pressure prompted the DOJ to open an inquiry into whether the decision in the case was influenced by high-level political pressure. AP has more.
Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase...
- DOJ optimistic about tobacco suit despite high court denial of damages appeal
- DOJ seeks award of legal costs in tobacco trial
- DOJ seeks right to sue for past tobacco profits
- US requests $14 billion in penalties in tobacco trial
- Judge urges settlement in tobacco litigation
- DOJ defends decision to reduce proposed penalty in tobacco case