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Archive for March, 2016

Washington Times: Justice Department Forces Courts to Punish Lawbreakers by Ability to Pay

justice-dept-photo-with-woman-and-courtBy Editorial Board
Washington Times

The rule of law is meant to guide the administration of justice. But in an administration obsessed with race, not necessarily. The Obama Justice Department has instructed judges across the nation to lighten up on the poor, and especially poor minorities, or else. The lady with the blindfold and sword has tossed her blindfold aside and put the weight of her sword on the scale to favor those with the right connections.

The Obama administration is all about payback. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has written to municipal and state judges from coast to coast warning them that federal funds for their courthouses could be cut unless they dial back fees and fines levied against “economically disadvantaged” defendants guilty of minor crimes, particularly those of ethnic minorities who don’t have the money to pay their fines.

The letter, dispatched March 14, was signed by Vanita Gupta, an assistant attorney general, and Lisa Foster, the director of the Office for Access, and lays out what they call “basic constitutional principles relevant to the enforcement of fines and fees.” Among them is a prohibition against jailing someone for failing to pay without first asking whether he is poor and whether the nonpayment was willful, together with a demand to consider alternatives to jail. Judges were warned that practices that “impose disparate harm on the basis of race or national origin” may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the wake of Justice Department investigations into civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, municipal authorities are sensitive to racial discrimination, as they should be, but now judges are asked to be financial analysts and cut offenders a break if they’re broke. Who says crime does not pay?

To read more click here. 

Response

By James Burdick

What’s the point of printing the ka-ka that the Washington Times pouts out? This is their absurd take on a very serious problems. It’s not the assessment of costs, fines and fees that the economically disadvantaged suffer – typically black and other minorities – it’s putting them in jail “until” they can pay.

Which of course is never. How does that help society. Someone steals a pound of hamburger meat from a grocery store. What is he, a terrorist? A murdered? A rapist? No, he’s hungry and has no money for food for himself or his family. So order him to pay thousands in costs, court fees and fines and then jail him for not paying because he has no money? This the Washington Times thinks is evidence of race bias by the President’s administration. They should try living on $7.00 an hour with a few kids and see how long they can do that.

James Burdick, a former Wayne County prosecutor, is a criminal defense attorney who also handles health care cases at Burdick Law, P.C. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Border Patrol Releases Photos of Latest Cross-Border Tunnel Discovered

Latest cross-border tunnel discovered by authorities. All photos by Border Patrol.

Latest cross-border tunnel discovered by authorities. All photos by Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mexican authorities found a border tunnel in Nogales that stretched about 80 feet from Mexico to the United States.

The tunnel, which authorities said was “incomplete,” extended about 30 feet into the U.S.

The first illicit cross-border tunnel was discovered in Douglas in 1990. Since then, Border Patrol said it investigates more than 115 tunnels – all but five in the Nogales areas.

“The tunnels, typically primitive in nature, are generally used by transnational criminal organizations to smuggle narcotics into the United States,” the Border Patrol said. “Agents put themselves in dangerous, unnerving situations when they investigate tunnels.”

Here are photos, taken by Border Patrol, of the latest tunnel discovery.

border tunnel5

The pink marking indicates an access point.

Digging tools in the tunnel.

Digging tools in the tunnel.

Homeland Security Chief: Republicans Candidates Undermining National Security with Anti-Muslim Remarks

donald trump rallyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican presidential candidates are undermining national security efforts by resorting to harsh rhetoric about Muslims, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday.

In an interview with MSNBC, Johnson said it’s dangerous to single out Islam as the federal government is trying to build connections with Muslims who could help thwart possible terror attacks.

“Inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighbors or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests,” he said.

Some Republican candidates, especially Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, are sacrificing law enforcement relationships with law-abiding Muslims, Johnson said.

The rhetoric has heated up after last week’s Brussels attacks.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Opens iPhone without the Help of Apple; Justice Department Withdraws Case

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The federal government has successfully cracked the security function on an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists and officially withdrew its legal battle against Apple.

But the USA Today suggests the bigger battle over tech privacy “is just getting started,” citing observers in the industry.

“This lawsuit may be over, but the Constitutional and privacy questions it raised are not,” Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who had criticized the Justice Department’s suit against Apple, said in a statement Monday.

An unidentified entity suggested a method to open the phone without erasing its contents, allowing the government to gain access to the phone.

Apple still defended its position that creating a backdoor for law enforcement would enable less scrupulous people from hacking into phones.

“This case should never have been brought,” Apple said in a statement released late Monday. “We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated. … This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy.”

Boston Globe: Apple’s Battle with FBI Is Not a Free Speech Issue

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Editorial Board
Boston Globe

Apple may have won widespread public sympathy in its showdown with the FBI, but some of its less publicized decisions in the case should raise alarms. As part of its legal campaign to resist an order to break into a terrorist’s iPhone, the company is quietly pushing a pro-corporate interpretation of the First Amendment that could do real damage to the government’s ability to regulate commerce and protect consumers.

A bit of background: After the terrorist massacre in San Bernardino last year, federal investigators were unable to access an iPhone that belonged to Syed Farook, one of the attackers. To overcome the phone’s security features, authorities ordered Apple to write new software that would allow the FBI to break into the phone. Apple says creating the code the FBI demands would weaken privacy protections for all iPhone users and has engaged in a war of words with the Justice Department over the government’s demand. The legal battle is now on hold as the FBI explores a possible workaround that might allow investigators to enter the phone without Apple’s help. But if that method fails, the case could soon heat up again.

Much of the company’s case rests on reasonable objections to the FBI’s interpretation of a 1789 law, the All Writs Act, which the government claims gives investigators the power to demand Apple help them. But Apple goes a step further, adding a misguided constitutional contention. That part of the company’s case goes like this: Complying with the FBI order would require it to write code. Computer code, courts have ruled in other cases, is a form of speech. Thus, the order amounts to a First Amendment violation.“The government seeks to compel Apple’s speech” in the form of code it objects to writing, the company said in a court filing.

But while Apple has a lot of good reasons to fight the FBI in the San Bernardino case, the First Amendment is not one of them.

To read more click here. 

Nearly 150 FBI Agents Investigating Clinton’s Use of Private E-Mail

hillary-clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If you think the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server is just a right-wing creation, consider this: 147 agents are investigating the case.

And the investigation has entered a second stage as agents prepare to interview Clinton and some of her top aides.

But the Washington Post reports that “Clinton is very unlikely to be punished” because it wasn’t forbidden for secretary of states to use private e-mail. Plus, past secretaries of state also have used private e-mails.

The Post writes:

On the good news front, the push to wrap it up one way or the other soon means that if she is largely cleared of wrongdoing, this story won’t continue to dog her in a general election race — or it at least won’t be an active investigation during that contest. On the bad news front, you never really want 150 FBI agents chasing down leads in relation to anything you have a hand in. That’s just a lot of people digging through your professional life.

Justice Department Resumes Controversial Program That Lets Cops Seize Cash, Property

cash2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s controversial program that allows police to seize and keep cash and property from people who have never been convicted or even charged is resuming.

The Justice Department suspended the “equitable sharing” program last year because of budget cuts.

“In the months since we made the difficult decision to defer equitable sharing payments because of the $1.2 billion rescinded from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, the financial solvency of the fund has improved to the point where it is no longer necessary to continue deferring Equitable Sharing payments,” spokesman Peter J. Carr told the Washington Post. 

The program has a lot of critics who contend police become motivated “more by profit ad less by justice,” the Post wrote.

Asset forfeiture has exploded over the past several years, climbing from less than $1 bill in 2004 to more than $5 billion in 2014.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI, Local Officials Briefly Detain 17 Men of Middle Eastern Descent After 100+ Gunshots Reported

Apple ValleyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Law enforcement briefly detained 17 men of Middle Eastern descent in a remote part of Apple Valley, Calif., after campers said they heard chanting and hundreds of gunshots Sunday morning.

The FBI and San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies responded and interviewed the men, but no charges were filed and the shooters were released.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Mille said there was no evidence the men committed a crime or had outstanding warrants.

“None of the persons interviewed yesterday were identified as terrorists,” she said.

Law enforcement officials found several handguns, a shotgun and rifle.

“A records check of the subjects, their weapons, and their vehicles was completed,” the statement said. “The records check revealed none of the subjects had a criminal history or outstanding warrants, the weapons were registered with the Department of Justice except for the rifle, and the vehicles were also registered.”