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Federal Review Finds As Many As 27 Problematic Death Penalty Convictions

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As many as 27 people were convicted of the death penalty by exaggerated scientific testimony, an unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases shows, the Washington Post reports.

The review found that FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked to defendants to the exaggerated testimony.

In one case in May, the review led to an 11th-hour stay of execution in Mississippi in May.

How many people were wrongfully convicted will be further studied, the Post wrote.

The outcome may have a lasting impact on the wisdom of the death penalty.

Commentary: Frightening Questions Raised Over Drones Patrolling Border

 

istock photo

Glenn Garvin
The Columbus Dispatch

Last month, when the Senate passed an amendment to its immigration-reform bill that included $46 billion to beef up border security, Sen. John McCain declared: “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall!” He didn’t know the half of it.

Since then, documents released as part of a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation have revealed that the Department of Homeland Security has been preparing to fly armed drones along the border.

A long-term-planning document prepared by the department’s Customs and Border Patrol service, which is using Predator drones for surveillance along the border, would authorize the use of “ nonlethal weapons designed to immobilize” targets of interest.

That gets scarier when you thumb through some of the other newly released documents, which reveal that the Border Patrol plans to more than double its drone fleet over the next three years, to 24, and make them more easily available to other government agencies.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Detroit U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade: We Expected Some Ridicule From the Dig For Jimmy Hoffa

Featured_mcquade3_6597U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Things haven’t been dull for Barbara McQuade.

Right after being sworn in as the Detroit U.S. Attorney in January 2010, she started dealing with the “Underwear Bomber” case involving Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate an explosive aboard a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas day.

Later that year, her office indicted ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

This year, her staff scored a major victory, convicting Kilpatrick, his buddy Bobby Ferguson and his dad Bernard Kilpatrick.  She was involved in the decision that lead to the FBI digging for Jimmy Hoffa in June. And her prosecutors continue to investigate corruption in Wayne County government.

In a wide-ranging interview, McQuade, who has been a prosecutor in the office for 15 years,  sat down with Deadline Detroit to talk about public corruption, terrorism,  Hezbollah’s links to Metro Detroit,  Kwame Kilpatrick’s upcoming sentencing, the Hoffa mystery, the credibility of ex-mobster Tony Zerilli who provided the latest tip as to Hoffa’s whereabouts, and what went into the decision to dig for the legendary union leader recently in Oakland Township.

“We knew there’d be some ridicule, like ‘Oh my gosh, they’re digging for Hoffa again,” she says.

The following interview was condensed and the questions were edited for clarity.

DD: Can we expect more indictments out of City Hall?

McQuade: I don’t know about city hall per se. I guess I wouldn’t want to comment on that. The pension fund case is pending and we’ll go to trial early part of next year. It’s no secret that we’re currently investigating Wayne County government because that has all been very public despite our efforts to do our best make sure we protect the integrity of people involved in that investigation. I think there have been six defendants convicted to date in that investigation.

DD: I noticed in the paper that former U.S. Attorney Jeff Collins, who works for Bob Ficano, has asked you for a letter for Ficano saying he’s not a target of the investigation. Apparently he’s not gotten one. Is there a reason not to issue a letter?

McQuade: I don’t want to comment on that other than we are investigating all aspects of Wayne County and we don’t know yet where the evidence may lead us. So people should not infer anything positive or negative from that.

DD:  It’s unusual for a federal judge to detain a defendant in a white collar case before sentencing. Were you surprised Judge Nancy Edmunds detained Kwame Kilpatrick?

McQuade: We thought we had a reasonable chance of that outcome.  I don’t know I expected that outcome. I wasn’t stunned in light of the history he had in the state court with flouting court orders.

DD: Have you seen that before in a white collar case?

McQuade: From time to time people get detained in white collar cases. I agree with you that it is more rare. There was no argument that he was a danger to the community and more often, those are the kind of defendants who get detained.  This was more along the lines of risk of flight and a history of not complying with court orders.

DD: How involved was the Justice Department with the Kwame case and how worried were they about pulling the trigger and indicting?

McQuade: Not much at all.  The Justice Department does get involved in certain kinds of cases with national implications. For example, the Abdulatalab case (Underwear Bomber), which was an international terrorism case. They were very involved in that and wanted to be kept apprised at every step of the way and we needed approval from them every step of the way.  The Kilpatrick case much less so. Really we were notifying them of significant events in that case.  But other than that, they really let us run that case on our own.

Featured_22_33_49_874_bernard_kilpatrickBernard Kilpatrick

DD: You indicted Bernard Kilpatrick, Kwame’s dad, who worked as a business consultant for city contractors. I know prosecutors sometimes worry the jury might be more sympathetic when they see a family unit on trial.  Was that something that was debated?

McQuade: I guess I don’t want to talk about specifics of what we debated. But you’re absolutely right that those are always the kinds of things that you think about: How does this affect the jury’s perception of the case? Are we overreaching in any way? But we felt very strongly about charging Bernard Kilpatrick because we thought the evidence against him was very strong. Ultimately, the jury was hung on him with respect to RICO charges but did convict him of the tax charges. There was wire tap evidence, video evidence, that we thought was very strong that (showed) he was just not a participant but a leader in this activity.

DD: Do you think in his case or others the laws involving lobbying and consulting are too vague?

McQuade: Well, sometimes the lines are unclear about what is permitted and what is not permitted. But the evidence we thought in this case was very strong that there was no gray matter, that this was misconduct. But as I said, reasonable minds can disagree.

DD: A lot of people were happy to see the indictment, but some supporters of his  wondered if it was racially motivated. Did you feel pressure if he walked that it would bolster his cries of racism?

McQuade: I wasn’t worried about it. Defendants always have some argument about why they’re being unfairly targeted.  That’s a fairly common tactic. Certainly it was an important case for the city of Detroit. And so we did feel strongly and had great hopes the jury would see it our way and convict him.  If he had not been held accountable I think it would have sent a terrible message to the entire city of Detroit and the entire community.

To read full interview click here.

South Shore Businessman Testified That ‘Whitey’ Bulger Forced Him to Pay Friend’s $300,000 Debt

 

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just weeks after his friend was killed in 1982, a South Shore businessman came face-to-face with James “Whitey” Bulger.

Michael Solimando testified in the racketeering and murder trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, saying the accused mobster ordered him at gunpoint to pay his friend’s $400,000 outstanding debt, the Boston Globe reports.

“We want our money,” Solimando said Bulger told him. “He pulled a revolver out and stuck it in my face and told me how disappointed he was that I hadn’t come to him sooner.”

Solimando said he had little choice but to hand over the money.

“It was either that or get killed,” said Solimando. “I was sufficiently scared, I’ll tell you that.”

NSA Leaker Snowden May Leave Moscow Airport in Next Few Days

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

NSA Leaker may have plans to soon leave the Moscow airport where he has been stuck in legal limbo, the USA Today reports.

A lawyer assisting Snowden is helping him apply for temporary asylum in Russia. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Snowden has been advised not to do anything that would jeopardize Russian-U.S. relations, the USA Today wrote.

“We have warned Mr. Snowden that any actions by him connected with harming Russian-American relations are unacceptable,” Putin said.

It’s unclear where Snowden plans to go once he leaves the airport.

FBI Bars Florida Examiner from Releasing Autopsy of Chechen Man Killed by Agent

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has blocked the release of the autopsy report of the Chechen man killed by an FBI agent during an investigation in May, the Boston Globe reports.

Ibragim Todashev, a friend of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, was in his Orlando apartment when the agent shot and killed him. 

The medical examiner said the autopsy is complete and “ready for release,” but the FBI does not want the public seeing it because the case is still under investigation, according to the Globe.

“The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando, said in a media statement Tuesday.

Did Boston Marathon Bombers Have Help? FBI Investigates Accused Terrorist in Boston Area

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators are trying to determine whether the Boston Marathon bombers received help from a terrorism suspect who had all the materials needed for a pressure-cooker bomb, Reuters reports.

The Boston-area man, Daniel Morley, is accused of trying to blow up an airplane and having bomb-making equipment at his home on June 9, Reuters wrote.

Morley told his mother that his best friend was bragging about knowing one of the two Chechen brothers accused of detonating a pressure-cooker near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Police found a large pressure cooker and a block duffel back inside Morley’s closet. Included were black power, ignitors and pieces of metal to be used as shrapnel, according to Reuters.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

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