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Archive for April, 2009

Atty. Gen. Holder to Step Up Training for Prosecutors in Light of Disastrous Ted Stevens Case

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

The issue of prosecutors failing to share discovery material is nothing new. But when the issue blew up for the Justice Department in the case of ex-Sen. Ted Stevens, something had to be done to show the Justice Department was responding. Will this additional training do the trick? Who knows. But at minimum, it’s a good act of faith.
Joe Palazzolo
Legal Times
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on Tuesday said he would require additional training for prosecutors to reinforce their understanding of rules that govern discovery in criminal cases, following the advice of a federal judge who recently dismissed the government’s indictment against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

In a statement, Holder said the department will provide supplemental training to federal prosecutors on their discovery obligations in criminal cases and create a working group of senior prosecutors and officials to review such practices in criminal cases. The training will begin in coming weeks, according to the statement.

After reviewing the Stevens case, Holder determined prosecutors had improperly withheld prosecutors’ notes that would have aided in Stevens’ defense, prompting the attorney general to move to erase Stevens’ conviction.
For Full Story

Lax U.S. Gun Laws Let Gun Smugglers Sell To Mexican Drug Traffickers

gunSure the violent drug trade in Mexico is out of control and sure we care. But we have to face up to the fact that our citizens are providing guns down there and helping distribute the product up here. More things need to be done up north to help our neighbor to the south.

By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
New York Times
HOUSTON – John Phillip Hernandez, a 24-year-old unemployed machinist who lived with his parents, walked into a giant sporting goods store here in July 2006, and plunked $2,600 in cash on a glass display counter. A few minutes later, Mr. Hernandez walked out with three military-style rifles.

One of those rifles was recovered seven months later in Acapulco, Mexico, where it had been used by drug cartel gunmen to attack the offices of the Guerrero State attorney general, court documents say. Four police officers and three secretaries were killed.

Although Mr. Hernandez was arrested last year as part of a gun-smuggling ring, most of the 22 others in the ring are still at large. Before their operation was discovered, the smugglers had transported what court documents described as at least 339 high-powered weapons to Mexico over a year and a half, federal agents said.

“There is no telling how long that group was operating before we caught on to them,” said J. Dewey Webb, the agent in charge of the Houston division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Noting there are about 1,500 licensed gun dealers in the Houston area, Mr. Webb added, “You can come to Houston and go to a different gun store every day for several months and never alert any one.”

 For Full Story

Recording Industry Lawyers Filling Ranks in Justice; Not Everyone’s Happy

Ian Gershengorn/law firm photo

Ian Gershengorn/law firm photo

By Mary Jacoby
Main Justice

WASHINGTON — Five lawyers who’ve represented the Recording Industry Association of America have been tapped for high-level Department of Justice jobs, to the dismay and outrage of electronic freedom activists. 

Monday’s news that Ian Gershengorn would be deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Division is the latest affront to electronic freedom activists. Gershengorn served two years in the Clinton DOJ as special assistant and counsel to Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, and as assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno. See our previous post on the mounting controversy here.

To Read the Rest

Suspected Nazi John Demjanjuk Gets a Last Minute Stay on Deportation to Germany

John Demjanjuk/msnbc

John Demjanjuk

The maze of legal entanglements surrounding this case is nothing short of extraordinary.

 (CNN)– Nazi war crimes suspect John Demjanjuk was granted an emergency stay late Tuesday to block what appeared to be his imminent deportation to Germany.

Demjanjuk, 89, is wanted by German authorities for his alleged involvement during World War II in killings at Sobibor, a Nazi death camp in Poland.

The Justice Department would not immediately comment on the stay, saying officials needed to review the order.

The last-minute legal maneuvering leading to the order was the latest chapter in one of the longest-running pursuits of an alleged Holocaust perpetrator in history.

For Full Story

Gov. Blago Camp Was Told Jesse Jackson Jr. Would Raise $5 Million If He Got Senate Seat

The FBI is interested in him, and Jesse Jackson has, as Ricky Ricardo would say “some splainin to do!”. This case is only going to get bigger. Stay tuned.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

BY NATASHA KORECKI
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s camp was told last year that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) would raise up to $5 million in campaign cash for the ex-governor if he was appointed to President Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The overture came from at least two members of the local Indian community who approached the Blagojevich fund-raising team last fall, sources say.

Besides the $5 million to be raised by Jackson, the proposal also included another $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund that would come from Indian donors, sources say.

This is the first revelation that a proposal for the Jackson appointment involved an alleged promise that he’d raise campaign cash for the ex-governor.

Also, the amount of money allegedly offered to Blagojevich is significantly higher than what’s been reported so far.

For Full Story

Blagojevich to be Arraigned Today (AP)

UPDATE: Blago Pleads Not Guilty (Chicago Tribune)

Homeland Security Warns of Rise in “Rightwing Extremist Activity”

Bad times are usually good times for hate groups, which feed on folks’ economic and emotional insecurity. The Department of Homeland Security is paying attention to the current climate, which should be commended.

 

neo-nazi
By Audrey Hudson and Eli Lake
Washington Times
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity,” saying the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the warning says.

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

The nine-page document was sent to police and sheriff’s departments across the United States on April 7 under the headline, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

 For Full Story

Former Dep. Marshal on Trial in Chicago For Allegedly Leaking Secrets to the Mob

chicagoLike father like son? Former deputy U.S. Marshal John Ambrose is accused of crimes in a Chicago trial. His father, a Chicago cop in the 1980s, was convicted of corruption. There’s something to be said about family tradition.

By MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO  — A former deputy U.S. marshal accused of leaking secrets to the Chicago mob about a protected witness committed “a criminal betrayal of trust,” prosecutors said Monday.

John T. Ambrose, 42, took information from a secret file that “he knew was going back to an organized crime figure” and also lied about it when federal officials confronted him, said Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk during opening statements.

Ambrose was charged in January 2007 with theft of Justice Department property, disclosing confidential information and lying to federal agents who questioned him about the leak. If convicted, he faces years in prison.

He has denied the allegations.

For Full Story

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Names Women to Head San Francisco and Honolulu Offices

fbiBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has picked seasoned women agents to head FBI offices in San Francisco and Honolulu.

The women are replacing women agents.

Stephanie Douglas will head the San Francisco office and Charlene B. Thornton will take charge of the Honolulu office, the FBI said.

Douglas started with the FBI in 1989 and went on to the Washington field office where she investigated violent crimes, public corruption and “some of the FBI’s most sensitive counterintelligence and espionage investigations”, the FBI said. In 2000, she was promoted to a supervisory post and was detailed to the CIA, the FBI said.

After taking various posts, she was named deputy assistant director for Operations Support in the Counterintelligence Division, the FBI said. She replaces Charlene Thornton, who goes off to Honolulu.

Thornton joined the FBI in 1979, and started working criminal counterintelligence and counterrorism in the Indianapolis and Los Angeles divisions, the FBI said.

In 1995, she became assisant special agent in charge of the Honolulu office. She later went on to become special agent in charge of the Birmingham, Ala. and Phoenix divisions and in 2006 headed the San Francisco office.
She replaces Janet Kammerman, who is now associate executive assistant director of the Human Resources Branch at FBI headquarters.