|A federal appellate court in Denver ruled last month that it is not
illegal for prosecutors to offer leniency to witnesses in exchange for their testimony.
ruling overturned a decision by a three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals which
found in July that such leniency amounted to a bribe and was illegal. By a 9-3 vote, the
full court said that ruling is "patently absurd."
The July decision had sent shock waves through the federal criminal justice system. The
Justice Department said law enforcement would be paralyzed if it were allowed to stand.
Although the panel's decision would have applied only to the six states of the 10th
Appellate Circuit - Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah and New Mexico - the Justice
Department feared it might be adopted by federal appeals courts in other parts of the
Prosecutors have traditionally offered plea bargains to some defendants in order to get
them to testify against other defendants.