Justice Department defends Christie

The Justice Department has been having ongoing discussions about the selection of federal monitors for several months and was not prompted by reports that New Jersey's federal prosecutor, Christopher J. Christie, had awarded a monitor contract to former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to Peter A. Carr, a spokesman for the Department of Justice in Washington.

"There is no inquiry into that selection. Likewise, the consideration of guidance was not prompted by the actions of any U.S. Attorney," Carr said in a statement released today.

The New York Times reported today that the Justice Department is conducting an internal inquiry of the Ashcroft deal, and others.

Carr said the increased use of independent monitors in deferred prosecution agreements has caused the Criminal Division to "solicit views from both within the Department as well as from experts outside the Department," Carr explained. "For example, attorneys from the private bar, in-house counsel from companies who have had monitors, and former monitors have provided input to the Department about the work of monitors."

The Justice Department is now considering a policy on the selection of monitors.

"The provisions in any agreement with the government to resolve criminal matters are highly specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular matter.This includes whether a monitor is appropriate and, if so, what the responsibilities of the monitor will be," said Carr. "These are matters negotiated between the government and counsel for a particular company.A provision for an independent monitor is not included in every agreement, nor is it used in the majority of corporate resolutions. It is very fact specific."