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Justice Department Asks That 2 convicted Alaska Lawmakers Be Freed Because Trials Were Tainted by Prosecutors

Ex-lawmaker Pete Kott

Ex-lawmaker Pete Kott

Some say this is not a systemic problem in the Justice Department. But from Boston to Washington to Miami to Detroit to Alaska, the issue keeps popping up. In fact, a judge in Boston recently expressed concern about it being a problem in the Boston U.S. Attorney’s Office. And in Washington, a judge recently dismissed the Sen. Ted Steven case because of this.  It sounds like a systemic problem no matter how you dice it.

By RICHARD MAUER, LISA DEMER and SEAN COCKERHAM
Anchorage Daily News

The U.S. Justice Department this afternoon (Thursday) asked that two former Alaska state legislators imprisoned after convictions in public corruption cases be released, saying their trials were tainted by the failure of prosecutors to disclose favorable information.

In filings with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department asked that the Pete Kott and Vic Kohring be set free while their cases are sent back to U.S. District Court, where they were convicted in 2007.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately disclose what new information has come to light. But the issue is the same general problem that led to dismissal of charges against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in April after he was convicted on seven counts of failure to disclose gifts and services.

For Full Story

SCARY! Airline Employee Helps Passenger Smuggle Gun on U.S. Airways Flight

us-airwaysPeople continue to get caught trying to pass through airport security with guns. In the last week in May alone, 23 guns were seized at U.S. airport checkpoints. But this case is a reminder that some guns may be getting on planes. Scary.

By Tony Hanson
KYW Radio
PHILADELPHIA — Authorities say a gun and ammunition were found inside a carry-on bag on a flight from Philadelphia International Airport Thursday morning.

The flight was stopped as it was about to take off just after 7:00am and US Airways employee Roshid Milledge and a passenger, Damien Young, have now been charged in connection with the incident.

Authorities say the airline employee allegedly handed the bag with the gun to the passenger as he boarded the plane. The flight was bound for Arizona.

For Full Story

Calif. Man Who Says He Spied on Mosques Wants $10 Mil in Damages From FBI

Using informants can create complications. Craig Monteilh has become one of those complications the FBI would rather do without. It will be interesting to see how this gets resolved.

mosqueBy Associated Press
SANTA ANA, Calif — An Orange County man who says he spied on mosques for the FBI has filed a claim alleging the agency did not pay him for his services and allowed him to be sent to prison for actions he took as an informant.

Craig Monteilh, a fitness consultant from Irvine, seeks $10 million in damages from the FBI and would be allowed to file a lawsuit if the agency denies his request.

The claim, dated Saturday, alleges the FBI failed to pay Monteilh $100,000 and provide witness protection as part of an exit strategy from his work as an undercover informant in Southern California mosques.

Monteilh, 46, also accuses the FBI of letting him serve eight months in prison on a grand theft charge he said was related to his work on a case involving the illegal distribution of steroids and human growth hormone.

For Full Story

B. Todd Jones Gets Second Chance to be Minnesota U.S. Atty

minnesota-map

President Obama is bringing back Todd Jones, a former U.S. Attorney and veteran of the first Gulf War, who served under Clinton. Considering that he was confirmed once before, he’s not likely to have many problems during the confirmation process.

By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
Minneapolis Star Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS — B. Todd Jones, who was U.S. attorney in Minnesota during the last years of the Clinton administration, was nominated Thursday to return to the job by President Obama.

Jones was recommended for the position in March by Sen. Amy Klobuchar after his name rose to the top among members of a bipartisan advisory committee she had created. Klobuchar was Hennepin County attorney for much of the time Jones last served as U.S. attorney.

“I’m honored to be nominated by the White House and look forward to serving as the U.S. attorney in the district of Minnesota,” he told the Associated Press.

For Full Story

Justice Lawyer Held in Contempt in Sen. Stevens Case Says She’s Not to Blame

Judge Emmet Sullivan held lawyers in contempt /court photo
Judge Emmet Sullivan held lawyers in contempt /court photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The fallout from the messy trial of ex-Sen. Ted Stevens won’t be going away any time soon.

The latest: The BLT-The Blog of LegalTimes reports that Patty Stemler, one of the four Justice Dept. attorneys held in contempt for failing to turn documents over to the defense, has filed a motion saying that she had no involvement in the missteps. She wants out of this mess.

Stemler, chief of the Appellate Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, filed the motion Wednesday before D.C. U.S. District Judge James Robertson, BLT reported.

It was U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan who presided over the trial and subsequently found Stemler and three other prosecutors in contempt. Sullivan eventually let one of the prosecutors off the hook after finding he had a minor role in the debacle, BLT reported.

Sullivan also vacated the conviction of Stevens at the request of the Justice Department because of the missteps on the part of prosecutors.

In her Wednesday filing, Stemler said her section helped put together a pleading that accompanied the documents, but it did not play a role in collecting them, BLT reported.

“Ms. Stemler is not aware of any contumacious conduct with regard to these documents,” the motion states. “In any event, she was not part of ‘the team of attorneys responsible for’ the underlying collection, logging, and production of documents.”

Stemler is being represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Read Patty Stemler’s Motion to Vacate Contempt

Calif. Judge Upholds Immunity for Phone Companies in Gov. Wiretaps

attThis case isn’t over yet. Lawyers representing customers have vowed to appeal the ruling. Privacy is a hot button issue and will continue to be one as we try to strike a balance between privacy and our security needs.

Bob Egelko
San Franciso Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Wednesday upheld an immunity law for telecommunications companies and dismissed dozens of lawsuits by customers who accused AT&T and other carriers of collaborating in illegal government wiretapping.

The law, pushed through Congress last year by President George W. Bush, validly authorized the attorney general to protect phone companies from liability without having to publicly disclose whether a company had actually allowed the government to eavesdrop on its customers, said Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco.

For Full Story

Philly Mortgage Broker Charged With Hiring Cooperating Fed Witness as Hitman

These cases all seem to follow scripts right out of television crime shows. In this case, like many others, the person hired a hitman who just happened to be a cooperating federal witness. Soon to be on Law and Order.

hitman-gun1

By George Anastasia
Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA — A South Philadelphia mortgage broker was ordered held without bail yesterday on murder-for-hire charges as prosecutors revealed that the man he allegedly attempted to hire was a cooperating federal witness who secretly recorded several conversations in which the murder plot was discussed.

“Make it look like a robbery,” Mahn Huu “Bruce” Doan said, according to a partial transcript in a pretrial motion filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine E. Sykes.

“Do whatever you think is best in your mind where it don’t bring back heat,” Doan allegedly added during the conversation recorded May 1 at his business office in the Econo Lodge Airport Hotel in South Philadelphia.

Prosecutors allege that Doan wanted a hit man to kill two individuals and maim a third. While authorities have not identified the targets, sources familiar with the investigation said one was a Center City lawyer and the others were plaintiffs the lawyer represented in a civil suit against Doan.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

San Francisco Fed Judge Declines To Penalize Justice Dept Lawyers For Flouting His Orders in Warrantless Wiretapping Case

Judge Walker/photo penn law school

Judge Walker/photo penn law school

This case  has far reaching implications. The fact the Obama administration has sided with the Bush administration has alarmed civil liberty groups. The question here is how transparent is this administration going to be? And how far will it go to keep things secret?

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer

A federal judge yesterday declined to penalize Justice Department lawyers for flouting his orders in a sensitive electronic surveillance case where the Obama administration sided with its predecessors to the alarm of civil liberties groups.

But U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker did not give the government what it wanted, either. The San Francisco-based judge batted away fresh Justice Department attempts to appeal his rulings, which have been critical of the Obama approach to protecting state secrets.

Instead, the judge directed attorneys for the administration and for a now-defunct Oregon charity to prepare court filings this summer about the legality of the government’s warrantless eavesdropping program and the scope of the executive branch’s authority.

For Full Story