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Tag: Justice Department

FBI Advises Local Police to Keep George Zimmerman’s Gun, Evidence

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Sanford Police won’t return to George Zimmerman his gun and other evidence used at his murder trial after the FBI urged against giving back the weapon, The Orlando Sentinel reports.

It’s a sign that the Justice Department is moving forward with an investigation into whether Zimmerman violated the civil rights of Trayvon Martin, a black, unarmed 17-year-old who was shot dead, The Orlando Sentinel wrote.

The request comes less than a week after a six-member jury acquitted Zimmerman following 16 hours of deliberations.

“The evidence is just in a hold status, pending their DOJ investigation,”  Sanford police spokesman Capt. Jim McAuliffe told the Sentinel.

Ex-Federal Prosecutor: Zimmerman Case Resembles CIA Interrogators Case

Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review

For those of us who are very proud of our service in the Justice Department – I was a federal prosecutor for nearly 20 years – there is nothing more appalling than seeing the attorney general of the United States heaping praise on, and joining in the machinations of, a race-mongering political demagogue such as Al Sharpton. As I’ve summarized before, Sharpton not only has a history of obstructing the administration of justice but was actively threatening, at the very time Eric Holder colluded with him, to “occupy” Sanford, Fla., if the state declined to file charges against George Zimmerman.

In my two decades at the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, most of my best friends and many of the best prosecutors I knew were liberal Democrats. This made for lively debates when we’d go out for beers on a Friday night. But it had nothing to do with our performance of the job. We all understood that our duty was to keep the politics out of the courtroom and out of law enforcement. And it wasn’t hard to do: It was what the judges expected of us, it was what we expected of the judges, and it was what ordinary citizens who serve on juries were told in every single trial — decide the case based on evidence, not passion, prejudice, fear or favor.

To read more click here.

Feds Prosecuton of Zimmerman Case Would Be a Mistake

 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.

Trayvon Martin

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The acquittal Saturday of George Zimmerman in a Florida state courtroom has already brought cries by civil rights leaders for a federal civil rights prosecution. On Sunday, the Justice Department announced it was going to review the case.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder of a 17 year old African American boy, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was an armed neighborhood watch volunteer patrolling in his Sanford, Florida townhouse complex because of his concern about some recent burglaries in the area. Martin was returning home in his gray hoodie from a snack run for some Skittles and a fruit drink. Zimmerman pursued him, at least for a time, a struggle ensued, and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest during the fight. The evidence was murky, emotional, conflicting, and heart rending.

A nationwide controversy erupted from the beginning over the racial implications of the case and whether and what to charge. The local prosecutor and law enforcement officers were replaced by state officials who chose to charge second degree murder. Although late in the trial they sought an instruction for the lesser included offense of manslaughter, they clearly focused their evidence, trial theory and argument on murder with malice aforethought and intent rather than on manslaughter based on an imperfect and unjustified self defense.

After the not-guilty verdict the charges of racial profiling and counter-charges are flying fast and furious and will undoubtedly continue for some time. My son’s social media is buzzing with a wide assortment of wacky accusations on both sides.

Among the protests has been discussion in the media about a federal investigation and prosecution under the U. S. Civil Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. 245. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not bar such a re-prosecution since the state and federal governments are separate sovereignties. Such cases are rare, however, and require a full Justice Department review.

A federal civil rights prosecution requires proof of an intentional interference with a person’s right to enjoyment of public accommodations on the basis of race or national origin. So the question is whether George Zimmerman was motivated by racial animus when he pursued and shot Trayvon Martin. Or more precisely, the question is whether there is evidence and proof of such a motivation.

The case and the cries for federal prosecution bring to mind a case of thirty years ago when members of one ethnic group appealed to the public and prosecutors when they were greatly dissatisfied with the lack of state justice, in their opinion, over the homicide of another young man by someone of a different race.

Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American was bludgeoned to death by a baseball-wielding white man after an argument in a bar in Highland Park, Michigan. The killer was accused of being motivated by his anger over the success of Japanese auto makers and the effect it was having over American auto workers.

Like the Zimmerman/Martin case, epithets were allegedly spoken during the events which preceded the killing. This, the protesters insisted, proved that the killing was racially motivated.

Angry protests, supported by the media, led to political pressure on Congressmen, which led to pressure on the Justice Department. Receiving literally thousands of letters, the Detroit U. S. Attorney Len Gilman ordered a re-examination of the record. A young AUSA, John Thompson, did so and concluded that the evidence of race was insufficient for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. His supervisors and Mr. Gilman also reviewed the evidence, came to the same conclusion and recommended no prosecution by the Justice Department.

But politics and emotion at DOJ trumped a calm investigation of the facts, the Detroit USAO was countermanded, and a prosecution was ordered in July 1983. At the time, I was chief of the criminal division at the U.S Attorney’s Office in Detroit.

After five years of intense effort, including a trial in Detroit, a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversal, and a trial in Cincinnati, both defendants were acquitted for the same reason that first AUSA declined the prosecution. Like that of Travon Martin, the killing was a tragedy, but there was not enough evidence of racial motivation to convince the jury that a federal civil rights prosecution was warranted.

I do not pretend to know the evidence of the case as well as the media pundits and armchair trial lawyers claim to. Maybe the state prosecutor did overcharge and should have focused on defective self defense theory for manslaughter. Maybe in his mind and his actions George Zimmerman was wrongly affected in his decision-making and mistaken perceptions about a young black man in a hoodie in the neighborhood.

But I do know that the jury has spoken after hearing all of the evidence. And I still adhere to the jurisprudential truism that the jury is the greatest truth-finder ever invented.

Agree with the verdict or not, there does not appear to be enough evidence of manifestations of a racial basis for a federal re-prosecution. Federal court is not the place to fix every wrong result in state court.

Sometimes, however unsatisfying, a case is just over.

 

Opinion: Unpaid Scholarships at Justice Department ‘Misguided And Unethical’

By Sarah Mahmood
PolicyMic.com

If you naively thought that the unpaid internship grind would end after college, when all your uncompensated hard work would land you a fancy job upon graduation, you thought wrong.

Forget college, it apparently doesn’t even end after graduate school. What’s even more disheartening is that not only is this practice sanctioned by the government, in this case it is the government: the Department of Justice (DoJ) has currently employed 96 unpaid assistant attorneys, and its jobs website features advertisements for 12 more such positions.

For a Department charged with looking after the public interest, this is a misguided and unethical policy.

To read more click here.

Justice Department Accused of Supporting Anti-Zimmerman Protests After Martin Shooting

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has spent tax dollars supporting a campaign against George Zimmerman following the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Fox News reports, citing a conservative watchdog group.

The Justice Department has a branch, called the Community Relations Service, that handles conflicts over race.

According to documents cited by Fox News, the CRS agency filed a series of expenses related to late March and early April demonstrations.

One filing, for $674, shows federal officials went to a Sanford, Fla, to “work marches, demonstrations and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain.”

A Justice Department spokesman said the CRS was “fulfilling their mandated mission.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


House Committee Grows Impatient with FBI, Justice Department’s Handling of Boston Bombing Case

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

If the U.S. wants to stop an attack similar to the Boston Marathon bombing, the Justice Department and FBI must do a better job sharing information with local law enforcement, officials told lawmakers Wednesday, The Hill reports.

“We can no longer deal with this by not sharing information. We’re going to miss other Bostons if the federal government doesn’t engage the local police department in a very, very big way,” said Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City during the 9/11 attacks.

“They’re our only asset to finding these isolated single individuals and small groups,” Giuliani said. 

Wednesday was the second day of a hearing by the House’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to determine how the suspected bombers managed to escape capture.

“The FBI has refused to appear, and continues to refuse this committee’s appropriate requests for information and documents crucial to our investigation into what happened in Boston,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said.

“The information requested by this committee belongs to the American people. It does not belong solely to the FBI, and I sincerely hope they do not intend to stonewall our inquiry into how this happened.”

Justice Department Investigates Miami Police for Its Handling of Some Shootings

 Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department will monitor the Miami Police Department because of several police-involved shootings over the past four years that didn’t appear to be justified, the Miami Herald reports.

The review, which included police shootings from 2008 to 2011, is part of a civil rights investigation of the Miami police force.

Of the 33 shootings reviewed, three were “unjustified” and an unspecified number involved excessive force, the Herald reported.

The excessive force “may have resulted from tactical and training deficiencies” within the police department, according to the letter of findings by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.

 

NSA Debate Likely to Extend to Confirmation Hearings of James Comey

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama’s nominee to lead the FBI, James Comey, is likely to face scrutiny over government surveillance following the discovery that the NSA had access to virtually all Americans’ phones, The Wall Street Journal reports.

That’s because Comey, a former prosecutor, is intimately familiar with surveillance.

In 2004, Comey threatened to resign from the Justice Department after senior White House aides wanted to reauthorize a secret surveillance program over Comey’s opposition.

“I don’t think the Senate will hold up his confirmation, but I do think you’ll have these collateral issues becoming part of the confirmation process,” said Joe Whitley, a former senior lawyer with the Justice Department and Homeland Security Department during the Bush administration. “Both sides of the aisle, I think, will ask questions about it, and one or more senators could say they want answers on this before they move forward with the confirmation process.”