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Tag: prosecutors

Report on Sen. Stevens’ Prosecutors Doesn’t Call for Charges, But Finds Plenty Wrong

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens/campaign photo

By Nedra Pickler
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The special prosecutor who investigated the botched case against late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is not recommending criminal charges against any of the Justice Department attorneys who tried him despite finding widespread misconduct beyond what has yet been publicly revealed.

The findings in a two-and-a-half-year investigation by Washington lawyer Henry F. Schuelke III were revealed Monday in an order from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan. Sullivan wrote that the investigation found the Stevens prosecution was “permeated” by the prosecutors’ concealment of evidence they collected that could have helped the senator’s defense.

The full 500-page report remains under seal until the Justice Department has a chance to respond, but Sullivan says he will release it publicly.

To read more click here.

Ex-CIA Agent Claims She Was Railroaded by Overzealous Detroit Fed Prosecutors and FBI Agents

By David Ashenfelter
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Nada Prouty, the former Taylor woman who was drummed out of the CIA, prosecuted and stripped of her U.S. citizenship in 2007 because of a fraudulent marriage, says in a new book that she was railroaded by overzealous prosecutors and FBI agents in Detroit.

“They had no interest in the truth,” Prouty, 41, says in “Uncompromised: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of an Arab American Patriot in the CIA” (Palgrave Macmillan, 282 pages, $26). She is launching a two-week nationwide tour today to promote the book.

“As a national security worker, I was an easy target,” Prouty said, adding that prosecutors coerced her into pleading guilty, partly by threatening to destroy her husband’s career at the State Department. She said she is a patriot who put her life on the line in the war on terror as an FBI agent and CIA officer.

Prouty pleaded guilty in 2007 to citizenship fraud and accessing an FBI computer without authorization to get information about a Detroit-based national security investigation involving Hizballah, which the U.S. designates as a Lebanese terrorist group.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

FBI’s Tape Recorder Went Dead During Portland Terrorism Probe

Mohamed Mohamud

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Despite all the advances, human error can still trump  modern technology.

The Portland Oregonian reports that the FBI’s efforts last July to record Mohamed Mohamud  first talking about taking part in a terrorist bombing plot in Portland failed because the tape recorder went dead.

“Put simply,” the government wrote in court paper filed Thursday, “it was human error: the device was accidentally turned on hours before the meeting time and therefore ran out of battery power as the meeting began.”

Mohamud’s lawyers have claimed their client was entrapped into participating in a plot to kill and maim thousands at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Nov. 26.

The paper reports that the first utterances in the case could be very significant.

The paper reported that legal scholars say “the FBI’s botched recording will make for interesting arguments in court because first utterances of criminal intentions are pivotal in entrapment cases.”

S.F. U.S. Attorney’s Office Gets Bad News in Barry Bonds Case

Barry Bonds/facebook
Barry Bonds/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Home run slugger Barry Bonds just keeps knocking them out of the park in the legal arena.

On Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a federal judge’s ruling that bars three steroid tests from being introduced into his perjury case, a ruling that will weaken the federal government’s case, the San Franciso Chronicle reported. And it could potentially spell the end to the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco.

Bonds, 45, had told a federal grand jury in 2003 he had never knowingly taken performance enhancing drugs. He was indicted in 2008 for perjury and obstruction of justice.

The court, in a 2-1 ruling,  barred the evidence because Bond’s trainer Greg Anderson, who had arranged the tests, refused to testify against Bonds, resulting in no valid evidence that Bond was the source of samples for the tests,  the San Francisco Chronicle wrote.

The prosecution had delayed the case pending the ruling on the evidence.

Dennis Riordan, a lawyer for Bonds, told the Chronicle that the delay in trial was a concession by the prosecution that it “could not proceed against Mr. Bonds in a jury trial without the evidence that’s now been excluded.”

“We hope that this puts the entire prosecution to rest,” Riordan said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office does have other evidence in the case, the Chronicle reported. It said the office declined comment on the ruling.

To read more click here.

Read Court Opinion

Drug Task Forces Targeting Mexican Cartels to Shrink

Maybe there’s more to this, but from outward appearances it seems rather bothersome that the Justice Department is scaling back in an area so important. We need to crack down more, not less on the violent Mexican cartels that have spread their tentacles in the U.S.

mexico-border-sign

By Joe Palazzolo
Main Justice

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is eliminating 30 attorney positions from anti-drug trafficking task forces, scaling back a key program as the U.S. tries to combat Mexican cartels and stem the flow of weapons and illegal drugs across the border.

U.S. Attorneys’ offices will realize the loses through attrition, and all nine Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force regions will be affected, Justice officials said. The OCDETF cuts were announced in a memo sent to U.S. Attorneys offices last month.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the memo, citing personnel matters and the ongoing budget process.

For Full Story

Some Fed Prosecutors Think Atty. Gen. Holder Sold Out in Ted Stevens Case

This controversy is far from over. But apparently some prosecutors outside of Washington feel Atty. Gen. Eric Holder bowed to politics when he dismissed the Ted Stevens case. Are they right? Or was Holder just trying to do the right thing?
Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By Dan Levine
The Legal Pad

When Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed all charges against former Republican Senator Ted Stevens in March, he won plaudits from several quarters – including the New York Times editorial page – for putting the law above politics.

A few career federal prosecutors perceive the decision more cynically, however. Stevens, a longtime senator from Alaska, had been convicted on seven counts by a Washington, D.C., jury for lying on a financial disclosure form.

But prosecutors soon came under fire from the trial judge for failing to turn over interview notes to the defense, which an FBI whistleblower alleged was intentional. Those disclosures led Holder to toss the conviction and announce that Stevens would not be retried.

Despite the allegations, prosecutors contacted by The Recorder in three federal districts outside D.C. – who requested anonymity because they currently work for the Justice Department – said Holder’s decision rankled, partly because no official determination had yet been communicated to the field as to whether the DOJ personnel on the Stevens case truly acted in bad faith.

The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating, along with a special counsel appointed by the trial judge. If it turns out that the disclosure failures had been a mistake, then Stevens should not have been let off the hook without a retrial, these prosecutors believe.

To Read More

Threats Against Nation’s Judges and Prosecutors Rise Sharply

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's Husband and Mother Were Murdered
U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s Husband and Mother Were Murdered

This is a dangerous trend. We’ve seen in nations like Mexico and Colombia where threats to the justice system have undermine democracy,  justice and order. The problem isn’t nearly as bad in the U.S. , but it’s still a big problem.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer

Threats against the nation’s judges and prosecutors have sharply increased, prompting hundreds to get 24-hour protection from armed U.S. marshals.

Many federal judges are altering their routes to work, installing security systems at home, shielding their addresses by paying bills at the courthouse or refraining from registering to vote. Some even pack weapons on the bench.

The problem has become so pronounced that a high-tech “threat management” center recently opened in Crystal City, where a staff of about 25 marshals and analysts monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats, use sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened and tap into a classified database linked to the FBI and CIA.

“I live with a constant heightened sense of awareness,” said John R. Adams, a federal judge in Ohio who began taking firearms classes after a federal judge’s family was slain in Chicago and takes a pistol to the courthouse on weekends. “If I’m going to carry a firearm, I’d better know how to use it.”

For Full Story

Prosecutors Need More Accountability

Some believe that prosecutors are the most powerful figures in the criminal justice system. Many of their decisions are virtually unreviewable: charging, case disposition, dismissals, plea bargains, and sentence recommendations, to name a few. Local and State prosecutors can be held accountable to the voters.. But given the power of incumbency, that checks and balance is rarely exercised.

The advent of DNA exoneration reversals (233 at last count) in the last decade has hammered home the point: The criminal justice system is not perfect. A 2003 study by the Center for Public Integrity claims that prosecutorial misconduct contributed to decisions on charge dismissals, conviction reversals, and reduced sentences in 2,012 cases since 1970.

Conversely, some say, given the millions of cases during that 23 year period, the “error rate” of less than .1 % is probably the lowest of any civilization in human history. Likewise, almost everyone active in the system would probably say that that rate has fallen dramatically in the last half-century with the judicial reforms of criminal procedure.

Still, a raw number of instances of material misconducts in the thousands is alarming to a public who blithely assumed that the system was always right and that procedural reforms have guaranteed that no innocent person could get convicted.The misconduct figure, plus various estimates of 1% or higher of wrongful convictions, i.e., conviction of the factually innocent, have spawned a nationwide movement to require more transparency and accountability for prosecutorial decision-making.

Such groups as The Justice Project conclude: “This lack of accountability has led to widespread abuse of prosecutorial power, and a flawed and inaccurate criminal justice system.”

In response to this over-generalization, the group recommends sweeping reforms, including: Clearly defined official policies and procedures, open file discovery, documentation of all witness and informant agreements, mandatory judicial reporting of every instance of prosecutorial misconduct, and a review board to investigate and sanction any such misconduct.

For those of us who were and are federal prosecutors, these “reforms” are essentially the status quo, but for many state prosecutors, these changes would severely curtail the wide discretion in which such an overworked system has come to depend.

The Project also advocates wide ranging reform to criminal procedures generally, including: improving and standardizing eyewitness identification practices, electronic recording of interrogations and confessions, expanded discovery rights, and higher standards for the performance of counsel in capital cases.

No doubt some jurisdictions need some of these reforms. Scientific studies on the need for more objective lineup protocols and methods of avoiding false confessions are increasingly persuasive.

Forensic testing problems, likewise, are likely to receive more attention by a public which is getting used to the forensic infallibility of the many television shows on the subject.

The mind-boggling misconduct alleged in the prosecution of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, and its very public consequences, demonstrates that even federal prosecutors are not immune from such controversies.

Every case like Stevens fosters a new wave of increased and unjustified public cynicism that prosecutors commonly railroad the innocent. The significant difference in these high profile federal cases is that it is the Justice Department itself which has aggressively investigated and taken action in response to allegations of such behavior.

The public is largely unaware that there is a highly effective review and accountability function in the federal system. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is a meaningful deterrent of misconduct, as well as a source of exoneration for federal prosecutors unfairly accused of misconduct.

Prosecutors, both state and federal, cannot ignore this “reform” movement. They need to participate actively in the public forum, contribute to legislative debate, and acknowledge that, in some jurisdictions, and in some areas of the criminal justice system, changes need to be made.

Ross Parker, a former assistant U.S. Attorney,  is the author of a new book: “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815-2008”  The book is available on amazon.com and rparker54@comcast.net.