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Marine prosecutor behind rare raid on defense lawyer offices is pulled from cases, reassigned

The senior Marine Corps prosecutor behind a raid on defense lawyers' offices at Camp Pendleton has been reassigned after a judge ordered him off several cases.

Maj. Ray Slabbekorn has been pulled from his post as senior trial counsel for Camp Pendleton and given a position with the Marines' complex trial team for the West Coast, the Marine Corps Times (http://bit.ly/1oZxtWb) reported Thursday.

A Marine Corps review after last month's unusual raid found that it did not compromise cases.

But on Tuesday, a military judge decided the search was a case of "apparent unlawful command influence," meaning an observer would have reason to believe the government had unfairly interfered with the legal process.

The judge ordered Slabbekorn off some cases and placed other restrictions on him.

Camp Pendleton spokesman Jeffrey Nyhart said the limitations had made it impossible for Slabbekorn to do his job, so he was reassigned.

The Associated Press could not reach Slabbekorn for comment, and when reached by the Marine Corps Times he deferred to Nyhart.

In the May 2 raid, military investigators said they were looking for a cellphone in a case involving drug use and gang activity. They said they continued to search all of the defense attorneys' offices even after locating the cellphone in a desk drawer because the lawyers would not verify that it was in fact the correct phone.

Defense lawyers say the 2½-hour search overstepped bounds, may have tainted scores of cases and compromised their client-attorney relationships.

Civilian defense attorney and military law expert Phil Cave said the search may not have been illegal, but it was a serious public image misstep.

"You've got the prosecution in the defense counsel offices searching files, upending couches. That doesn't look pretty," Cave told the Marine Corp Times. "The optics were not good."

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