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Archive for February, 2009

Two Pa. Judges Plead Guilty in Bribery-Juvenile Justice Scandal

FBI Pleads for Public Help to Solve about 43 Civil-Rights Era Murders in Miss.

The FBI is turning to the public,  calling for help to bring some justice to a painful era of decades past. Will the calls fall on deaf ears? Very possible, but FBI director Robert Mueller III said he isn’t giving up.

By TIMOTHY R. BROWN
Associated Press Writer
JACKSON, Miss. — The FBI pleaded for information Thursday about 43 unsolved civil rights-era slayings in Mississippi, saying time is running out because potential witnesses and suspects are growing old or dying.
The agency launched an initiative in 2006 to tackle cold cases from the mid-1950s to the late and 1960s, mostly in the South. Though the effort hasn’t resulted in any new prosecutions, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said his agency remains committed to it.
Officials from several state and federal agencies joined together in Mississippi to issue a call for help from the public.
“We owe it to the victims. We owe to the people,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. “We owe it to future generations to know that we did everything we possibly could.”
Last year, President George W. Bush signed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which gives the Justice Department more money to investigate such crimes.
Till was a black teenager slain in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. No one has been convicted.
A grand jury examined evidence from a three-year FBI investigation but in 2007 declined to issue indictments.
U.S. Attorney Jim M. Greenlee, who handled the case, said even though no one was prosecuted, a grand jury saw all the evidence.
“We just couldn’t find any way of finding a federal crime (in the Till case), but I think that the process was … good,” Greenlee said. “You have to read through everything. It’s easy for people to say that they know this happened, but that’s hearsay. You have to find someone who actually saw it who can remember it. And then you’ve got to corroborate that.”
for Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Report Says Homeland Security’s Immigration Mission Undermined By Wasteful Spending Along the Southern Border (N.Y. Times)

Mississippi Judge Bobby DeLaughter Indicted in Bribery Case

Judge Bobby DeLaughter/gov photo

Judge Bobby DeLaughter/gov photo

We always like to think of judges as the gold-standard for integrity. We’re always reminded that there’s one too many exceptions.

Jerry Mitchell
The Clarion-Ledger
JACKSON, Miss. — The former prosecutor who made a worldwide name for himself for putting Klansman Byron De La Beckwith behind bars pleaded not guilty today to a five-count indictment in court, accused of ruling in favor of the former lawyer once called Mississippi’s “king of torts.”
An April 6 trial was set for Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter in federal court in Oxford on a charge he was influenced to rule in favor of former high-profile lawyer Dickie Scruggs, who was sentenced this week to seven years in prison in the case.
DeLaughter, who entered the courtroom wearing a dark suit and handcuffs and leg irons, was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman shook DeLaughter’s hand in the courtroom and said, “I’m sorry we even have to be here.”
For Full Story

Justice Indicts Hot-Shot N.Y. Attorney and Wants to Look at Source of Fees in Baltimore Drug Case

Robert Simels/simelslaw.com

Robert Simels/simelslaw.com

Is New York attorney Robert M. Simels, a nemesis of the Justice Department,  just an aggressive advocate for his clients or a danger to public safety as the government claims? His long-standing battle with the Justice Department continues.

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper
BALTIMORE — On Thursday, Feb. 5, the Justice Department took two shots at Robert M. Simels, the self-described “Rolls Royce” of criminal-defense attorneys.
In New York, where Simels is charged with witness intimidation in connection with his defense of former Marylander Shaheed “Roger” Khan, who is accused of running a violent Guyanese cocaine conspiracy, prosecutors called Simels a “palpable danger” to public safety and convinced a judge to keep Simels’ bond, which is secured with his $2.5 million Westchester, N.Y., home, at $3.5 million. [view pdf below]
Meanwhile, in a Baltimore case that appears unrelated to Khan, another Justice Department attorney asked a judge to order Simels to cough up detailed information to a grand jury about how he’s getting paid to represent accused drug trafficker and money launderer Shawn Michael Green.
Just another day in the decades-long war between Justice and Simels.
For Full Story

Read Court Document

Houston Judge Dismisses Bulk of Roger Clemens’ Defamation Suit Linked to Steroids

Winning baseball star Roger Clemens lost a serious round in civil court. Meanwhile, the FBI is trying to figure out whether he lied to Congress. That probe could eventually land him on the prison softfball team.

By MARY FLOOD
Houston Chronicle

Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens

HOUSTON — A Houston federal judge on Thursday dismissed most of pitcher Roger Clemens’ defamation lawsuit against the ex-trainer who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled that Brian McNamee did indeed have an immunity from being sued for the comments he made about Clemens to Sen. George Mitchell’s investigators in a Major League Baseball sponsored look at steroid abuse in the sport.
The judge found that evidence shows prosecutors threatened trainer McNamee that if he did not talk to Mitchell, he could have become a target of a criminal investigation. The judge therefore ruled McNamee was compelled to speak to Mitchell as part of a government proceeding and could not be sued for defamation for his comments.
The judge also ruled that he does not have jurisdiction over McNamee for Clemens’ complaints about McNamee’s statements made to Mitchell or statements made to a Sports Illustrated reporter because the statements were made in New York by McNamee, who lives in New York.
The judge suggested Clemens could refile his complaint about McNamee’s interview with the reporter in a New York court.
For Full Story

Recession Impacts Plans for National Law Enforcement Museum

It’s not surprising, still it’s unfortunate that funds for projects such as this are getting hit by the sour economy.

WASHINGTON — Plans for a National Law Enforcement Museum are being scaled back because organizers say the recession has made it hard to raise money.
They are cutting $29 million from the $80 million project and reducing its square footage by nearly half. The group also announced Wednesday that its completion date for the museum at Judiciary Square in Washington will be pushed back from 2011 to 2013.
For Full Story

Grand Jury Subpoenas Ex-Sen. Pete Domenici in U.S. Atty. Firings

Ex-Sen. Pete Domenici

Ex-Sen. Pete Domenici

The subpoena has sent a message that the government is serious about getting to the bottom of the U.S. Attorney firings.

By PETE YOST
Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury has subpoenaed records of former Sen. Pete Domenici, and prosecutors are preparing to interview an ex-aide to former White House political adviser Karl Rove in an investigation of politically tinged firings of U.S. attorneys.
The moves are the clearest sign yet that the criminal inquiry, which began in September, is likely to continue for many months.
Career federal prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy is looking into whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, other Bush administration officials or Republicans in Congress should face criminal charges in the dismissals.
Some White House officials, including Rove as well as Domenici, R-N.M., the retired senator’s former chief of staff and others refused to be interviewed in an earlier joint inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general and the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Rove has said he will cooperate with Dannehy’s investigation.
Tom Carson, a spokesman for Dannehy, declined to comment.
For Full Story

Police in Maine Say Dirty Bomb Materials Posed No Danger

Police say the materials itself posed no danger, but it sounds like the person who had them might have.

By Eric Russell
Bangor Daily News
BANGOR, Maine – In the wake of revelations that a Belfast man had a stash of potentially hazardous materials at his home when he was killed last December, state Public Safety Commissioner Anne Jordan stressed Wednesday that at no time was the public at risk.
Jordan did confirm that a number of materials were taken from the home of James G. Cummings on the night of Dec. 9, and that the FBI was contacted.
“A [hazardous materials] team from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection was called to the home the night of the homicide to remove a number of items from inside the home,” the commissioner said in a statement Wednesday. “An assessment that night by members of the hazmat team indicated the home was safe for State Police detectives to enter and conduct their investigation after the materials had been removed. In addition, detectives felt it was appropriate that the FBI be contacted.”
For Full Story

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuh-ziTiSOE