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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department to Drop Case Against Convicted Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

If ever there was a federal prosecution begging to be dismissed, this is it. The prosecution time and again screwed up and was admonished by the judge. Then came the big bomb: an FBI agent accused another agent on the case of misconduct. In the end, some questions linger: How could the prosecution have screwed up so badly? And will someone in the Justice Department get fired or demoted and will the FBI agent accused of wrongdoing face criminal charges?

By Nina Totenberg
National Public Radio
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends.

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt.

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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Federal Marshals Seized Madoff’s 55-foot Boat (AP)

Justice Department to Review Criminal Case Against Ex-Justice Civil Rights Division Head Bradley Schlozman

Bradley Scholzman

Bradley Schlozman

One question is: How much resources and how much resolve does the Holder Justice Department have to continue investigating the question marks in the Bush era? This case may test that question.

By Justin Elliott
TPMMuckraker

The Bradley Schlozman saga might have some life left in it, yet.

The Justice Department is reviewing a decision made earlier this year under the Bush Administration not to charge Schlozman, the former official who was found by an Inspector General report to have made false statements to the Senate about whether he considered political affiliations in hiring.

A DOJ spokesman told TPMmuckraker today the Schlozman case is “under review,” confirming that Attorney General Eric Holder is acting on a promise he made during his confirmation hearings to take another look at the case.

An IG report released in January found Schlozman broke federal law by considering ideological affiliations in hiring at the department’s Civil Rights Division. The report also found Schlozman falsely denied he considered politics in hiring in sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Justice Dept. Lawyer DeMaurice Smith to Head NFL Players Assoc.

DeMaurice Smith

DeMaurice Smith

It looks like the NFL players are in good hands if Smith’s credentials are any indication. With an economy in the dumps and issues like steroids always surfacing, Smith should have his hands full.

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Washington lawyer DeMaurice F. Smith was voted the executive director of the NFL Players Association last night, the union announced.

Smith was elected on the first ballot by a majority vote of the players who serve as union representatives for the 32 teams, sources familiar with the voting results said. The vote took place at the union’s annual meetings in Maui, Hawaii.

Smith is a D.C.-based partner at the firm Patton Boggs with no significant previous NFL ties. He succeeds the late Gene Upshaw.

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Fed Judge in Va. Says Justice Dept. May Have Hoodwinked Defendant

If true, this is another black eye for the Justice Department, which has been trying to dig its way out of allegations of misconduct in another high profile case — Sen. Ted Stevens. Are these isolated incidents? A good question for someone to ask.

MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Justice Department may have hoodwinked a defendant in a high-profile terrorism case into thinking his plea bargain would protect him from furthe

Sami Al-Arian

Sami Al-Arian

r prosecutions, a federal judge said Monday.

Monday’s hearing in U.S. District Court was the latest in which Judge Leonie Brinkema questioned the Justice Department’s tactics in pursuing a criminal contempt case against former professor Sami Al-Arian, once accused of being a leading Palestinian terrorist.

Brinkema gave Al-Arian’s lawyers 10 days to file papers seeking dismissal of the case on the grounds that prosecutors failed to keep promises made under the plea bargain. She acknowledged that the protections Al-Arian wants enforced may not have been explicitly outlined in the original agreement.

“But I think there’s something more important here, and that’s the integrity of the Justice Department,” she said.
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Justice Dept. Probing Interim Philly U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid For Fundraiser

U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid
U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid

It’s never good, even if just for perception sake, when the Justice Department is investigating a U.S. Attorney. The question here is whether interim U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid went beyond the boundaries of a federal employee.

By Emilie Lounsberry and George Anastasia
Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — A $250-a-person fund-raiser held at the townhouse of interim U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid has drawn the attention of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

Investigators are examining whether a law that limits the political activities of federal employees has been violated, those sources said. The Jan. 30 fund-raiser was held for former U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan, a likely Republican candidate for governor in 2010. Several hundred people were invited, including as many as 20 prosecutors who work for Magid. The host was her husband, Jeffrey A. Miller, a prominent caterer, and Magid and a handful of of the prosecutors she supervises attended.

Magid, 48, a Republican who became the region’s top federal prosecutor when Meehan stepped down in the summer, declined to comment Friday. She said her husband also would have no comment.

People close to her said she had cleared the fund-raiser with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that provides guidance on activities prohibited by the Hatch Act.

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Obama Proposes 3.5% Increase in Justice Dept. Budget

Eric Holder
Eric Holder
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – The Obama adminstration is proposing a 3.5 percent budget increase in fiscal 2010 for the Justice Department to boost enforcement in such areas as civil rights, national security and intelligence, financial fraud  and border controls. The total budget comes to $26.5 billion.
“The President has promised that, from the day he took office, America will have a Justice Department that is truly dedicated to justice,” Atty. General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a prepared statement.

“This budget supports this vital task by investing in our critical law enforcement mission, including protecting Americans from terrorism, fighting financial and mortgage fraud, getting more cops on the beat, reinvigorating civil rights enforcement, and providing essential resources for our prisons.”

A Justice Department press release provides the following details of the funding:

Counters the Threat of Terrorism and Strengthens National Security – Provides $8 billion for the FBI, including $425 million in enhancements, and $88 million for the National Security Division to address the Attorney General’s highest priority – protecting Americans from terrorist acts. Funding supports the detection and disruption of terrorists, counterintelligence, cyber security, and other threats against our national security.

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Thomas Saenz Tapped to Head Justice Dept. Civil Rights Division

Thomas Saenz

Thomas Saenz

The selection of Thomas  Saenz is getting a thumbs up from the civil rights attorneys and academics, which is important considering the division had its share of problems during the Bush years.

By Wall Street Journal Law Blog

This just in: The Los Angeles Daily Journal is reporting that President Obama has tapped Thomas Saenz to head the civil rights division at the Department of Justice.

Saenz, 42, the former vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Los Angeles, is currently serving as counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Neither Saenz nor representatives from the DOJ provided comment to the LADJ, which cited unnamed sources.

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Can A.G. Eric Holder Jr. Heal the Justice Department’s Wounds of the Past?

Eric Holder Jr/gov photo

Eric Holder Jr/gov photo

President Obama inherited a mess: two wars, a failing economy a sky-high anxiety level around the country, and oh yes, a Justice Department that needed serious mending.
He’s tasked Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. with reparing things at Justice. Can Holder do it?

By Michael Weisskopf
Time magazine
WASHINGTON — Eric Holder Jr. was trained long ago in crime and punishment. He grew up in the East Elmhurst section of Queens, N.Y.–so populated by cops and firefighters that rush hour looked like the shift change at a station house.
A popular teen prank was setting off the red fire-alarm box near his modest brick house on 101st Street. Nearly everyone tried it once, but not Eric, the churchgoing Boy Scout who knew the consequence of disobeying rules: “A good, quick smack on the bottom,” his mother Miriam recalls. “If you did something wrong, you’re going to have to pay a price.”
That rule guided Holder after he left Queens to become a corruption prosecutor, municipal judge and U.S. Attorney. And it will probably guide him as the nation’s 82nd Attorney General. Holder takes over a sprawling, 110,000-person Justice Department that was treated at times like a private law firm by the Bush Administration, both in its novel interpretation of the law and in the way it purged employees who did not share its political views.
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