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June 2012


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Archive for June, 2012

Justice Department Kicks Off Annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride Month

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj file photo

Shoshanna Utchenik

There was a time in Washington where such an event would have been unheard of. That’s all changed.

Attorney General Eric Holder kicked off  the Justice Department’s annual LGBT Pride Month Program on Wednesday, celebrating contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) employees as well as the civil rights gains made across the country.

Highlights of the event’s honors, according to a press release included:

  • Keynote speaker Chai Feldblum was the first openly lesbian Commisioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whom Holder described as an “advocate, a law professor, a public servant, and a pioneer.”
  • The James R. Douglass Award was presented to Diana Flynn –Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Appellate Section for raising awareness about and addressing issues facing LGBT employees in the Justice Department.
  • The Roemer Award recognized legal teams from the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, and student plaintiffs for resolving harassment of middle and high school students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota.

Holder said to the crowd, “we have made meaningful, once-unimaginable progress in recent years. And we come together at an exciting moment…But there can also be little doubt that, when it comes to making good on the promise of equality for every American, the hard work is far from over.”

To read the Attorney General’s entire speech, click here.


Senator Wants Legislation for Prosecutors to Disclose Info to Defense

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel

Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the failings of prosecutors to turn over evidence in the Ted Stevens trial wasn’t systemic in the Justice Department, according to McClatchey Newspapers.

“The problem wasn’t what the rules were; the problem was that the prosecutors didn’t follow the rules,” Cole said. “We are confident, had the rules been followed, it would have been a fair and just trial.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) wasn’t buying that.

She argued before the panel that legislation is needed to create a uniform standard for prosecutors  to disclose all possibly exculpatory evidence to the defense, the newspaper reported

The Stevens case ended in disaster for the government. After getting a conviction, the Justice Department asked the judge to vacate the conviction because prosecutors failed to turn over some potentially helpful evidence to the defense.

To read more click here. 

FBI’s Chief of Birmingham Office Tapped to Become IG in South Carolina

Patrick Maley/FBI photo

By Allan Lengel

Patrick Maley, head of the Birmingham, Ala. FBI office, has picked to become South Carolina’s Inspector General to head up a new agency, according to the Post and Courier.

Gov. Nikki Haley made the announcement on Wednesday.

Haley, 53, a 30 year veteran of the FBI, must be confirmed by the Senate for a four-year term, the paper reported.

“His 30 years of experience with the FBI, focusing on fraud, waste, managing costs and program evaluations will be a tremendous asset to South Carolina,” she said. “Combine that with him being a CPA and dealing with white collar crimes throughout his career.”


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Column: What if Spice/K2 Were Only a Black Thing

By Darrell Dawsey
Deadline Detroit

With fears growing over the hazards of K2 and Spice — forms of incense that young people in recent years have been smoking like weed to get high –Metro Detroit has opened up a new front in the battle against illicit drugs: The War on Potpurri.

While I don’t mind seeing politicians, businessmen and media types banding together to fight an obvious health hazard, my impolite ass still has to ask: Just how much of this outrage over K2 would we see if most of those smoking it, getting sick from it and dying because of it were black teens and young adults in the city?

Sure, I can appreciate Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s recent anti-potpurri posturing, where he essentially told businesses selling K2 to hit 8 Mile Road as he announced a local ban on synthetic pot. Nothing wrong with taking up the battle as a region. But Bing needs to consistently show just as much backbone and defiance when addressing the more pressing hazards facing the children in the city he’s supposed to be in charge of.

To read the full story click here.

Penny-Stock Co.’s, Officers, Promoters, Face SEC Charges for Kickback Schemes

Shoshanna Utchenik

Collaboration between the SEC, FBI, and Florida U.S. Attorney’s office has resulted in charges against several penny-stock companies, their officers, and three promotors for bribes and kickbacks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that shady players charged by the SEC Monday include one caught paying kickbacks to an FBI agent posing as a trustee. Those charged are variously accused of paying to hype microcap stocks in the interest of generating sales illegally.

Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami office, stated, “The company officers and promoters in many of these schemes disguised their kickbacks as payments to phony consulting companies that performed no actual work. These illegal activities were fully intended to artificially inflate the stock volume and prices of these penny stock companies to the detriment of investors.”

To read more click here.

Colorado Woman Sues ATF for Entering Home without a Warrant, Pointing Guns at 8 Year Old

Shoshanna Utchenik

Linda Griego of Colorado has filed a lawsuit against the ATF for entering her home without a warrant and threatening her and her 8-year-old  son, Colby Frias, reports the WND.

Griego was already cautious about opening the door to her apartment due to a restraining order against her estranged ex-husband when a SWAT team came knocking, early on the morning of June 15, 2010, pulling Griego out of the shower and her son out of bed. The WND recounts that the agents were looking for a previous tenant who Griego explained didn’t live there anymore.

The SWAT team allegedly cuffed Griego, restraining her from comforting her child, and seemed to ignore her efforts to identify herself while they busted down the door of the child’s room.

In the meantime, Griego said they held her son at gunpoint with laser sights visible on his body. She says that two years later, he is afraid of all police and startles easily, often sleeping in her bed out of fear.

The agents finally let them go after emptying Griego’s purse and finding her ID. They left without apology.

The Indiana Supreme Court recently ruled that “there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” Though admitting it was dismissing hundreds of years of Supreme Court decisions and the Magna Carta, it said, “We believe however that a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.”

To read more click here.

Tribal Special U.S. Attorney Pilot Program Will Bridge Tribal and Federal Law Enforcement, Targeting Violence Against Women

Shoshanna Utchenik

The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) announced Tuesday that four Native American Tribes will participate in a new program aimed at improving law enforcement coordination in cases of violence against Native women, which “has reached epidemic proportions” according to the OVW press release.

The pilot program supports four Tribal Special U.S. Attorneys (SAUSA’s) to serve as cross-designated prosecutors, working with both Tribal and Federal law enforcement. The recipients of these awards are:

  • Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico
  • Fort Belknap Tribe in Montana
  • Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in North Dakota and South Dakota

The program pays for training, salary and travel costs to selected applicants. SAUSA’s will maintain an active violence against women crimes caseload, in tribal and/or federal court, also promoting higher quality investigations, improved training and better inter-governmental communication.

OVW Director Bea Hanson stated in the press release,  “Restoring safety for Native women requires the type of sustained cooperation between the federal and tribal justice systems that we see in the jurisdictions participating in our Tribal SAUSA project.”