Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In the first major national security case of the Obama administration, lawyers representing the government took the exact same position as the Bush administration. Government attorneys asked a judge to throw out a torture case, citing the need to preserve state secrets. Some human rights activists now say they feel betrayed by an administration that had promised greater openness and transparency.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Federal prosecutors are seeking yet another sentencing for would-be millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam — this time without credit for helping to convict a fellow terrorist.
Ressam was sentenced for the second time last week to 22 years in prison for plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium. Prosecutors said at the time that the sentence wasn't long enough, and the guideline range is 65 years to life.
In a motion made public today, the U.S. Attorney's Office asked to withdraw a document prosecutors filed several years ago acknowledging that Ressam cooperated. They say that motion, which provided part of the basis for the lenient sentence, is no longer valid because Ressam told the judge last week he wanted to take back every statement he made to the government, including his testimony against a coconspirator.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested this morning on federal corruption charges. Wiretaps recorded Blagojevich discussing how to "sell or trade" the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama "for financial and personal benefits for himself and his wife," prosecutors allege. Also charged in the 2-count indictment, with a lurid 76-page FBI affidavit, was Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris.
Monday, November 10, 2008
For more than a month, a squad of lawyers has been gathering for the first Justice Department transition in the post-9/11 world. Now that their candidate has won, they're at the gates -- or rather, the 20-foot-high aluminum doors of Main Justice -- waiting for President-elect Barack Obama and President George W. Bush to finalize the rules for information-sharing and access during the transition.
The Justice Department calls its own preparation unprecedented in modern times. Under a 2004 law, the department has been vetting Obama's transition team for security clearances for more than two months. And since at least July, the department has been laying the groundwork for a new administration. Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed his chief of staff, Brian Benczkowski, and Lee Lofthus, the assistant attorney general for administration, to coordinate the transition.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The announcement was made by the office of Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan. Mr. Spitzer announced his resignation in March two days after The New York Times reported his involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring, the Emperors Club V.I.P.
Mr. Garcia said in a statement that his office had found no evidence that Mr. Spitzer had used public money or campaign funds to pay for his encounters with prostitutes.
Monday, September 29, 2008
An internal Justice Department investigation concluded Monday that political pressure drove the firings of several federal prosecutors in a 2006 purge, but said that the refusal of major players at the White House and the department to cooperate in the year-long inquiry produced significant “gaps” in its understanding of the events.
At the urging of the investigators, who said they did not have enough evidence to justify recommending criminal charges in the case, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey appointed the Acting United States Attorney in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy, to continue the inquiry and determine whether anyone should be prosecuted.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Data released Monday by the FBI show violent crime dipped slightly nationwide in 2007. That ended two years of increases in murders, robberies and other kinds of the worst crime in U.S. cities.
An estimated 1.4 million violent crimes were reported across the country last year - about 10,000 fewer, or a 0.7 percent drop, than 2006.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Congress and the Bush administration headed for a pre-election showdown Wednesday over executive privilege, with House Democrats scheduling a hearing that would put a key administration figure under oath and the Justice Department mapping a last-ditch court appeal.
Justice lawyers said they would go to court as soon as today to block a ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bates that aims to force the Bush administration to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the politically charged firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006, including Seattle's John McKay.
The move came as Democrats pushed ahead with that investigation, and Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he was calling former White House counsel Harriet Miers to appear before the committee Sept. 11 to answer questions about her role in the firings.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.
The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
WASHINGTON — Two leading senators said Monday that they were troubled by the F.B.I.’s collection of the phone records of four reporters at The New York Times and The Washington Post and that the episode showed a “pressing need” for legislation pending in the Senate that would provide greater legal protection for journalists.
Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation disclosed to the two newspapers that it had improperly obtained the phone records of reporters in their Indonesian bureaus in 2004 by using emergency records demands from telephone providers as part of an investigation. Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the bureau, made personal calls to Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, and Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post, to apologize.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Tuesday rejected the idea of criminally prosecuting former Justice Department employees who improperly used political litmus tests in hiring decisions, saying he had already taken strong internal steps in response to a “painful” episode.
Two recent reports from the Justice Department inspector general and its internal ethics office have found that about a half-dozen officials at the Justice Department — all but one now gone — systematically rejected candidates with perceived “liberal” backgrounds for what were supposed to be non-political jobs and sought out conservative Republicans.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Detailed in the federal report are jail deaths, excessive use of force and a "disturbing” incident in which a pregnant woman was handcuffed to a rail for 10 hours while giving birth to a premature baby.
The child died at a metro-area hospital.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The US Justice Department has appealed to nation's highest court to re-hear a major death penalty case involving sentencing for child rapists, saying the ruling was made without all the facts.
The Supreme Court last month ruled 5-4 against the death sentence for child rapists, but did so without considering a 2007 executive order that makes child rape a crime punishable by death according to military law, the Justice Department said in a rare motion filed this week.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions, picking less-qualified applicants for important nonpolitical positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility, an internal report concluded on Monday.
A longtime prosecutor who drew rave reviews from his supervisors was passed over for an important counterterrorism slot because his wife was active in Democratic politics, and a much-less-experienced lawyer with Republican leanings got the job, the report said.
Another prosecutor was rejected for a job in part because she was thought to be a lesbian. And a Republican lawyer received high marks at his job interview because he was found to be sufficiently conservative on the core issues of “god, guns + gays.”
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Presents data from the 2007 National Inmate Survey (NIS), conducted in 282 local jails between April and December, with a sample of 40,419 inmates. The report and appendix tables provide a listing of results for sampled local jails, as required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-79).
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
From NPR.com: As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put renewed focus on the issue of veterans' mental health, a judge in Buffalo, N.Y., has created a special court to assist veterans who wind up in the criminal justice system.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
From online.wsj.com: Military prosecutors filed war-crimes charges yesterday against Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an al Qaeda operative implicated in the simultaneous 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The case makes for another useful lesson in the post-9/11 military commissions process, and ought to provide a measure of justice for the atrocities, which killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands.
Currently incarcerated at Guantanamo, Ghailani procured the truck, TNT, detonators, and oxygen and acetylene canisters that comprised the suicide bomb that destroyed the Dar es Salaam embassy. He scouted for the attack and coordinated between his terror cell and the one in Nairobi. A day before the bombing, Ghailani fled to Pakistan, where he was captured in 2004 following a 10-hour firefight, part of a joint Pakistani-U.S. operation. At least 10 of the conspirators remain at large, including Osama bin Laden.
Ghailani confessed to his role in the plot during a 2007 hearing but claimed he was a dupe, for instance that he thought the TNT was "soap for washing horses." Yet Ghailani continued his service to al Qaeda after the bombing. He worked as an instructor at a terrorist training camp and forged documents, becoming at one point a bin Laden bodyguard. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Thursday, October 11, 2007
From USATODAY.com: Since 2006, the Justice Department has yet to spend any of the $8 million set aside by Congress for DNA tests for convicts to prove their innocence while it has used $214 million to collect DNA from convicted criminals and improve crime labs, records show.
"DNA evidence is such a powerful tool in proving guilt or innocence that it's inexcusable not to use it," says Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chief sponsor of a bill to provide more funding for what is known as innocence testing.
If spent, the $8 million could affect dozens of cases, says Barry Scheck, a defense lawyer who specializes in using DNA to overturn convictions. Exact costs for a DNA test vary from case to case.
Rules imposed by Congress have made it difficult for states to qualify for post-conviction DNA grants, says the department's National Institute of Justice, which administers the funds. Only Virginia, Connecticut and Arizona have applied.
The law requires a state's attorney general to certify that the state requires police departments to take "reasonable measures" to preserve biological evidence for possible future testing. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
Monday, September 17, 2007
Story here. This is really quite unbelievable; one of the lesser reasons is that it is difficult to understand how an experienced prosecutor could fail to realize that the free-thinking mother who offered up her 5 year old child for a sexual experience with an gentle older man was almost certainly a cop.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
From wsj.com: In the past few years, U.S. attorneys' offices around the country have been unable to fill vacancies. Lawyers sometimes can't travel to interview witnesses. Even funds for basic office needs such as photocopying documents and obtaining deposition transcripts have been cut, according to current and former officials.
Overall, funding for the offices has grown well below the rate of inflation. As a result, "fewer cases were getting charged and bigger investigations were taking longer because there weren't enough prosecutors to do them," says Debra Yang, who stepped down in October 2006 as the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.
Department of Justice data show the impact. Prosecutions are down overall, with large drops in categories such as drugs, violent crime and white-collar offenses. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]