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June 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

News Story

FBI Director: Agents Can’t Monitor Communication Between ISIS And Dozens of Americans

Smart PhoneBy Steve Neavling

FBI Director James Comey said Thursday that agents are unable to monitor communication between ISIS and dozens of American supporters.

Comey told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that Americans are encrypting software to block the FBI’s ability to monitor the communication, NBC reports.

“ISIS is sending a poisonous message that buzzes in the pockets of troubled souls, unmoored people, all day long,” Comey told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “The challenge we face is finding those needles in a nationwide haystack, assessing where they are on a spectrum between consuming this poison and acting on it, and disrupting them before they act.”

Comey has been pressing lawmakers to require the technology industry to make it more difficult for encryption software to be used.

Man Who Posted Fake Craigslist Sex Ad about FBI Agent Ordered to Undergo Psych Exam

courtroomBy Steve Neavling

A man accused of stalking and harassing an FBI agent with a fake Craigslist ad has been ordered by a judge to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, the Associated Press reports. 

U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak ordered a competency hearing after expressing concerns about 47-year-old Frederick Banks’  mental health.

The 47-year-old is accused of posting a fake Craigslist sex ad with an FBI agent’s phone number and address on Jun 25.

The agent helped build a case against Banks in 2003. Banks spent five years in prison.

Border Parol Supervisor Charged with Trying to Set Up Man Helping with Sex Crimes Case

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol supervisor was so bent on protecting his brother-in-law from sexual assault allegations that he created bogus alerts in the agency’s database to prompt traffic stops of the man whose son and step-son were allegedly victimized, reports. 

Martin Rene Duran, the supervisor of the San Diego Border Patrol station, was charged with falsifying records, illegal transportation of firearms and depriving the victim of his civil rights.

Duran’s brother-in-law has been charged with sexually abusing the son and stepson of the legal U.S. resident who was targeted.

Secret Service Agent Credited with Saving President Reagan’s Life Died

President Reagan assassination attempt, via Wikipedia.

President Reagan assassination attempt, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

Jerry Parr, the Secret Service agent who helped save President Ronal Reagan from a 1981 assassination attempt, has died at a hospice in Washington, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

He died Friday of congestive heart failure at the age of 85.

Parr shoved the president into a limousine after John Hinckley Jr. unloaded five shots – one of which struck Reagan – outside the Washington Hilton.

“Jerry Parr was one of my true heroes,” Nancy Reagan said in a statement Friday. “Without Jerry looking out for Ronnie on March 30, 1981, I would have certainly lost my best friend and roommate to an assassin’s bullet.”

Parr was born in Montgomery, Ala., in September 1930 and was thrust into the spotlight after being credited with saving the president’s life.

Father of Mass Shooting Victim in Oregon Said He Was Denied Access to President Obama Meeting

Father James Cooper

Father James Cooper

By Steve Neavling

The father of an 18-year-old who was fatally shot during the mass shooting at an Oregon community college said the Secret Service and FBI blocked him from meeting with President Obama while in town to comfort the victims’ families.

Biz Pac Review reports that the father, James Cooper, was upset after being denied access to the meeting at Roseburg High School.

“I cannot believe the president of … the whole United States has denied a grieving father the right to see what’s going on and the right to see,” the father said.

It’s unclear why Cooper was blocked access, but he was vocal about his opposition to gun control.

“All I hear is gun control, gun control… hell with gun control, that’s not the issue,” Cooper added. “The issue is we are grieving, we are hurting and he won’t see me, that’s wrong.”

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime History: Crack in the 1980s

Lengel: President Obama Needs to Show Backbone and Nominate an ATF Director

Thomas Brandon

Thomas Brandon

By Allan Lengel

President Obama gets very angry and expresses frustration when he talks about how common mass shooting have become in this country. He wants America to get tougher and implement stricter gun laws.

Enough talk. Step up, Mr. President. Show some backbone.

Start by standing up to the NRA by nominating acting director Tom Brandon as permanent director of ATF, you know, the agency that is tasked with enforcing the current gun laws and fighting gun violence. Show the public that you’re willing to expend some political capital and take on the NRA, a bully-organization that has done everything it can to undermine gun control and ATF’s mission.

In general, the NRA has historically opposed confirmation of a permanent director for ATF, its nemesis. Lawmakers on the Hill – and presidents for that matter – have bowed to the NRA, which realizes ATF is weaker without a director.

Why is this directorship issue so important?

Politico reports that the Obama administration has no plans to name Brandon permanent director for the agency. It doesn’t want to expend political capital on what would be a tough battle. And mind you, Brandon is one of the best to come along. He was named Fed of The Year in 2011. It’s not as if the President would be fighting for a candidate that’s not worthy (and believe me, there have been some that have not been).

By law, Politico notes, that Brandon can’t hold that interim title for longer than 210 days. It runs out Oct. 27. That means after that date, Brandon will still run the agency, but ATF will not officially have a director. He’ll be the deputy director.

That’s not good.

First off, it’s bad for morale for agents not to have a director.  It sends a message that the President and Congress don’t think much of the agency.  That can impact funding, staffing and mission. The DEA was without a permanent director for years, and I think that hurt the agency and morale.

The White House would never leave the FBI director’s post open. Why? Because it believes that agency’s mission is far too important.

In this case, the message is: We fear the NRA far more than we respect ATF.

Don’t be mistaken:  To be sure,  ATF is not the answer to our gun violence. Yes, we need tougher federal gun control laws that apply uniformly across the county.  And the president needs to push again for tougher laws and see what he can accomplish through executive orders.

That being said, ATF is part of the answer.

So President Obama, if you really care about the gun crisis in this country, you need to show it.

Talk is cheap. And with these mass shootings, so are lives.

Have some balls. Keep pushing for tougher gun control laws. And while you’re at it, nominate Tom Brandon.

Ross Parker Takes A Look At Some Key Supreme Court Cases That Impact the Legal System

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

Supreme Court Justices have a busy November with, among their other duties, six days of Oral Argument, including five cases of interest to criminal justice folks on both sides of the aisle.

US Supreme Court

Death Penalty Jury Selection:   No Court calendar would be complete without a contentious death penalty case. Foster v. Chatman involves the issue of whether Georgia courts bungled in failing to recognize and remedy a racially discriminatory jury selection.

In Batson v. Kentucky (1986) the Supreme Court held that equal protection is denied to an African American defendant if members of his race are purposefully excluded from the jury. That includes the prosecution’s use of peremptory challenges. Once the defendant makes a prima facie (on the first appearance) case of discrimination, the prosecution must prove that the challenges had a neutral, non-racial basis.

In this case the defendant, an 18 year old African American man with an IQ measured to be between 58 and 80, was charged with killing an elderly white woman. The prosecution challenged all four of the black prospective jurors but presented numerous neutral explanations for having done so.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

In the habeas corpus proceeding decades after the defendant’s conviction and sentence to death, the defendant obtained the prosecutor’s jury selection notes. These marked the names of the black jurors with a “B,” highlighted their names, and ranked them against each other in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.” The notes were contradictory as to neutral bases for challenges and listed all of the black jurors as ”Definite NOs,” along with a single white juror.

The Georgia courts during direct appeal and habeas proceedings blithely rejected the defendant’s arguments and accepted the prosecutor’s assertions, despite the clear plan evidenced in the notes.

Prediction—reversal by a 7-2 vote. Affirming this conviction would confirm the opinion of many that Batson challenges are meaningless as long as the trial prosecutor has disingenuously prepared neutral explanations which have been found acceptable in previous cases and as long as trial judges lack the courage to challenge the prosecutor’s veracity in the face of such questionable circumstances. The case does a disservice to all of the honest prosecutors who seek a fair and impartial jury regardless of race.

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