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May 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Weekend Series on Crime: The Chicago Mob


Texas Dad Suspected of Killing His Teen Daughters Is Added to FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List

By Steve Neavling 

Meet Yaser Abdel Said, the latest addition to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.

The 57-year-old is a suspect in the brutal New Year’s Day murders of his two teenage daughters, CBS News reports.

The girls, ages 17 and 18, died after being shot multiple times in the back of a taxi in Irving, Texas.

In a 911 call, the 17-year-old told the operator, “Oh my god. I’m dying.”

Said was born in Egypt, and his whereabouts are unknown.

Democratic Senator Creates Bill to Counter FBI Attempts to Make Cell Phones Less Secure

Sen. Ron Wyden, via the Senate

By Steve Neavling 

As FBI Director James Comey wants to force phone makers to create products that are easier to monitor, a Democratic senator is trying to pass a law that would protect the consumer’s privacy, Gizmodo reports.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has proposed the Secure Data Act “to protect Americans’ privacy and data security.”

The bill is an attempt to revive trust in the use of technology and data.

“Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans’ data safe from hackers and foreign threats,” he explained in statement. “It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person’s whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone.”

The bill aims to block any government attempts to make data security less strong.

Police Kill Civilians At Much Higher Rate Than Is Reported by Federal Agencies

By Steve Neavling 

Police killings are underreported and occur more often than federal agencies have reported, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between 2007 and 2012, more than 550 homicides by cops were not included in federal statistics.

The Journal examined figures from the nation’s 105 largest police departments to find that at least 1,800 deaths occurred in the six-year timeframe. That’s a 45% increase from the FBI’s tally of 1,242.

The problem, the newspaper reported, is that law enforcement agencies aren’t reporting all of the killings by police officers.

The discovery comes as protests have broken out across the country following the deaths of several black people at the hands of white police officers.

Justice Department Issues Scathing Report of Cleveland Police Department’s Abusive Practices

By Steve Neavling 

A federal examination of the practices and procedures by the Cleveland Police Department prompted the Justice Department to deliver a scatting review of the department with a mandate for sweeping changes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Attorney General Eric Holder based the findings on a civil rights investigation that involved nearly 600 use-of-force incidents from 2010 to 2013.

Among the problems found were insufficient accountability, ineffective policies and inadequate training.

The 58-page report found that police have shot at suspects without justifiable case, beat people who were in handcuffs and covered up abuse by writing false reports.

“The reality is that there are problems,” Holder said. “But I also think the people of Cleveland should have a sense of hope … that these problems have been identified and that they can be rectified.”

Case Stemming from ATF Stash House Sting Shouldn’t Be Dismissed, Appellate Court Rules

By Steve Neavling 

Federal agents did not commit “outrageous” misconduct by luring suspects into a robbery of a fictitious drug house, a federal appellate panel ruled Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The decision reverses a district court judge’s earlier ruling that the suspects’ due process rights were violated when the ATF enticed them into committing a robbery.

The reversal by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals means the suspects, Antuan Dunlap and Joseph Whitfield, still face charges.

The three-judge panel questioned the practice but said the actions didn’t raise to “extremely high standard” for dismissing cases.

“The ATF targeted individuals who had already demonstrated an interest in committing robberies, and did little more than ‘set the bait’ by inventing a fictitious cocaine stash house they could rob,” the judges wrote.

Other Stories of Interest

Parker: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael F. Cavanagh’s Remarkable Judicial Career Celebrated

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
By Ross Parker

Legal luminaries this week celebrated the distinguished judicial career of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, the longest serving appellate judge in state history. Several hundred people attended the court’s extraordinary session in Lansing on December 3rd to express their appreciation for his exceptional service to the legal profession and the people of the state of Michigan.

Justice Cavanagh became a judge in 1972 when he was elected as a district judge in Lansing. Two years later he was elected as Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals, and in 1983 the electorate promoted him to the state Supreme Court where he has served for thirty-three years. He was Chief Justice from 1991-1995. When he retires on January 1st  next year, he will have sat on the bench for forty-two years and ruled on nearly 100,000 cases.

His life on the bench reminds us of the qualities that make up a great judge: integrity, a consistent sense of justice, common sense, contribution to the development of the rule of law, and civility.

Successfully navigating the treacherous waters of Michigan judicial politics is itself a notable accomplishment. There are many arguments against an elected judiciary. Voter neglect and indifference regularly produce judges who are mediocre or worse and who serve as prime examples of why a well constructed appointive system makes more sense. But Justice Cavanagh is the exception. Even when his views on subjects such as criminal law and procedure are out of the mainstream, he continues to be respected for the integrity of his opinions.

Fifty years ago Chief Justice Earl Warren and the U. S. Supreme Court revolutionized criminal procedure in America by a decade of cases which re-interpreted the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments to the Constitution. In the decades which followed many of these rulings have been tempered and contracted by conservative Court majorities who struck the balance differently between defendants’ rights and crime control.

As prosecutors we have applauded this shift. So why should we celebrate the views of judges like Justice Cavanagh, who often ruled contrary to the changing majority by supporting the continued expansion of defendants’ rights? Because his views, majority or dissent, made us all better prosecutors and law enforcement officers. They poked and prodded us in the nuances of investigation and prosecution to be more careful, more consistent, and more professional in our jobs. His sense of justice contributed significantly to the creation of a better criminal justice system.

His enrichment toward the development of the rule of law extends well beyond criminal law and procedure into a wide variety of other substantive areas. He also mentored 53 law clerks (including me), was a law school teacher of ethics and practice, a champion of victims’ rights, a national leader in the support of tribal courts, and a tireless worker for the improvement of the law and its practitioners.

For all of these attributes, it is Michael Cavanagh’s civility and peacemaking qualities which are most valued by those who worked with and for him.  Having seen judges who demean, terrify, and reduce lawyers to tears, and having been the object of thrown briefs, vocal tirades, I have more than once wished, at least for a moment, that I had stayed on the family farm. But being in Justice Cavanagh’s presence is always a refreshing, even enjoyable, experience.

Justice Cavanagh is that rare judge who can probe and question, and even ultimately rule against you, without making litigators want to retreat to a life of wills and debt collection in the safety of their offices. Surely this courtesy and respect will continue to be paid forward into countless acts of civility and professionalism by lawyers and judges for decades to come.

So thanks Justice Michael Cavanagh. Your life’s work made a difference for us all.

FBI Director James Comey Warns of Social Media Dangers During Jacksonville Visit

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling 

During a visit to the FBI’s Jacksonville field office, Director James Comey delivered a warning about social media.

“You have a feeling you’re safe and alone in your kitchen, when you’re actually out wandering all over the world,” Comey said about the availability of personal information on social media, First Coast News reports.

Comey said terrorists use social media to keep tabs on law enforcement and the military.

“We want to make sure, given these terrorists are bent on hurting people, especially those in uniform, that we are not communicating things that make it easy for them,” he said.

But Comey said he doesn’t “want to freak people out.”

“I just want them to be prudent,” he said.