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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department to Perform Expansive Review of FBI Lab’s Forensic Testimony

U.S. Attorney Sally Yates

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is performing an expansive review of forensic testimony by the FBI Laboratory to determine whether evidence was overstated to secure convictions, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced.

Beginning in March, the Justice Department will determine how it will audit samples of testimony from FBI units that handle pattern-based evidence, which includes crime-scene evidence such as bullet impressions, fiber, soil and shoe treads, the Washington Post reports. 

It won’t be an easy task. More than 100,000 examinations of such crime-scene evidence is conducted annually by the FBI and other crime labs.

“We are undertaking this quality-assurance review because we think it is good operating procedure — and not because of specific concerns with other disciplines,” Yates said Wednesday in an address to the American Academy of Forensic Scientists’ annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The move comes after serious flaws were found in the collection of so-called hair matches.

The FBI declined to comment.

Other Stories of Interest

Obama Administration to Crack Down on Cities That Provide Sanctuary to Illegal Immigrants

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Obama administration plans to target sanctuary cities that actively thwart federal efforts to deport illegal immigrants.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she would go as far as ceasing federal grant money from going to cities that provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, the Washington Times reports. 

The move surprised many lawmakers because the Obama administration has long opposed crackdowns on sanctuary cities.

As part of the crack down, Lynch aid the federal Bureau of Prisons would stop releasing illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities and instead would turn them over for deportation.

“This is a very significant change, and we’re deeply grateful to you,” Rep. John Abney Culberson, Texas Republican, told Ms. Lynch at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee.

Culberson said he would provide a list of sanctuary cities.

“If they insist on paying it out of their policy, and they won’t honor detainers, and they won’t share information, you know, don’t ask for federal money unless you follow federal law,” he said. “Delighted to hear you’re moving in that direction, and we’re going to work with you cooperatively and in a supportive way to ensure that that happens.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Ferguson City Council’s Problems with Consent Degree Make No Sense

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Editorial Board
St. Louis Post Dispatch

The more we learn about the Ferguson City Council’s decision to reject key terms of a consent decree with the Department of Justice and fight it out in court, the less sense it makes. The council seems intent on inflating cost estimates as a tactic to avoid compliance. Members should reconsider before it’s too late.

“There is no chance, zero, that the city of the Ferguson will prevail in this kamikaze mission,” police accountability expert Scott Greenwood told the Post-Dispatch’s Stephen Deere. “They are never ever likely to get the deal that they had. … It will never be that good again.”

Greenwood works for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been involved in dozens of consent decree negotiations with police departments around the country. None of the precedents augur well for Ferguson’s case. TheDOJ filed suit Feb. 10, the day after the council objected to seven of the 464 points in the consent decree its representatives had negotiated with Justice Department lawyers.

Rather than collaborate and rely on the federal judge who will oversee the agreement to handle sticky issues, the city decided to tug on Superman’s cape. Ferguson officials still don’t quite understand that they can’t wing it anymore.

Ferguson’s objections center on the costs involved. The city’s already got a $2.8 million budget deficit. Its municipal court cash cow has been severely restricted. The cost of monitoring the consent degree has been pegged at $350,000 a year, but other costs have not been publicly quantified. That should have been the first step.

Instead, the city’s estimates keep going up, more than quadrupling in one 10-day period from $800,000 to $3.7 million.

To read more click here. 

Justice Department Demands Apple Unlock At Least 9 More iPhones

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple is now facing demands from the Justice Department to unlock at least nine iPhones,  besides in the one in the San Bernardino attack, supporting the company’s claims that its encryption safeguards are under attack.

The tech company is objecting to the demands in at least seven of the nine cases, the New York Times reports. 

“Apple has not agreed to perform any services on the devices,” Apple attorney Marc J. Zwillinger wrote in a letter unsealed Tuesday in federal court.

Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said the Justice Department demands will set a dangerous precedent.

“Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices,” Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said in a letter to customers.

On Monday, Apple noted on its website that law enforcement agencies “have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the F.B.I. wins this case.”

Post-Dispatch: Social Justice Movement in Ferguson Gets Off Track

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Blake Ashby
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Something has gone terribly wrong with the social justice movement. The heavy lifting of making things better is being consumed by a free-floating anger that has little connection to what is actually happening in our country.

Think I’m exaggerating? Some of the angrier members of the social justice community are calling for the recall of Ferguson Councilwoman Ella Jones. She is a very clever political operator who worked her way up, built relationships, accumulated allies and got elected. She is also African-American, as are most of her constituents.

So why are they trying to get Jones kicked out? Because the Department of Justice wants Ferguson to spend an extra $2 million implementing community policing, and Jones and every other council member pushed back and said we can only afford to spend a million. Basically, Jones was voting to spare her constituents $1 million in extra taxes. Activists have concluded that not increasing taxes on the African-Americans who actually vote for her makes Jones a traitor to African-Americans in the rest of the country.

And of course the DOJ sued the city of Ferguson on Feb. 10; the night before, the council had unanimously voted to accept the consent decree the city’s attorneys had negotiated, with a small number of cost-saving modifications. The DOJ used some fairly dramatic language to suggest that Ferguson was somehow fighting progress and clinging to its racist past.

But … did the DOJ even read the proposed changes? Basically, the City Council asked the DOJ to delay implementation for three months while the city looked for a police chief and not require Ferguson give all of its police officers substantial raises. These two changes, along with hiring a local instead of Washington monitor, took the first-year costs down from about $2 million to about $1 million.

The DOJ wants Ferguson to give its mostly white police force a very large raise in hopes the city will be able to recruit more African-American officers. Once the consent decree was publicly released and scrutinized, the city realized the very high cost of the raises.

To read more click here. 

DEA Leaves Seized Drugs Vulnerable to Theft, Tampering, Report States

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Drug seized by the DEA are left vulnerable to theft or tampering, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report released Thursday.

The DEA often improperly documents or tracks its seized drug, compromising evidence used in court, Govexec.com reports. 

For example, inspectors found that DEA was placing seized drugs in temporary forage for more than the maximum three days in nearly 70% of the cases examined by the IG. The DEA often fails to enter the drugs into the comprehensive tracking system.

“We believe that the longer a shipment is in transit or missing, the higher the likelihood that theft or tampering of the drug exhibit can occur,” the IG wrote.

Inspectors all found that the DEA failed to locate drug seizure documents.

“Gaps in the formal documentation of the chain of custody for drug exhibits can compromise the security of the drugs and jeopardize the government’s ability to use the evidence in court proceedings,” the IG said.

Other Stories of Interest

Feds Sue Ferguson Over Police Reforms Aimed at Curbing Misconduct

Ferguson protest.

Ferguson protest.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is suing Ferguson to force police reforms in a city accused of a pattern of unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement.

CNN reports the decision to file a lawsuit came after the Ferguson City Council voted Tuesday to alter a deal negotiated for months to crack down on misconduct.

“We intend to aggressively prosecute this case,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters Wednesday, “and we intend to prevail.”

Lynch added: “The residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights, the rights guaranteed to all Americans, for decades. They have waited decades for justice,” Lynch said. “They should not be forced to wait any longer.”

Ferguson officials declined to comment on the suit, which alleges a common practice violating residents’ civil rights.

Judge Orders Justice Department to Quit Stalling on Releasing Hillary Clinton E-mails

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge wants to know why the Justice Department has been delayed in producing the remaining 3,700 e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, CBS News reports. 

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras gave the Justice Department one day to explain why the Justice Department can’t produce the e-mails by Feb. 18.

The judge said the e-mails must be released at the end of the month as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed for the electronic communications.

The issue is unrelated to an FBI investigation to determine whether any laws were broken when Clinton used a private server to send and receive e-mails.

It was divulged less than two weeks ago that the State Department said investigators found 22 “top secret” e-mails.

Other Stories of Interest