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Archive for July 22nd, 2009

And the Answer is: Ex-Rep William Jefferson Won’t Testify at His Trial

After all the speculation and suspense, in the end, the defense played it safe and decided not to let Jefferson take the stand on his own behalf. With 16 counts, the odds are stacked against the Congressman. So it may be hard to tell whether it was the right move.

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Former Rep. William Jefferson is not expected to testify in his federal corruption trial, his attorney said today, setting up the possibility that the defense could open and rest its case Thursday.

Lead attorney Robert Trout told Judge T.S. Ellis III, that “we do not expect” to call the nine-term Democrat to testify on his on behalf.

Ellis said both sides had assured him they could wrap up the case by mid-day Thursday, when the court will recess for a long weekend, staying out through Monday. Closing arguments could begin when court resumes Tuesday, with the jury getting the case later next week.

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Fewer Immigrants Illegally Crossing Mexico-U.S. Border

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Advocates Elimination of Crack-Powder Cocaine Sentencing in Speech to Black Prosecutors

The sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine has long been a controversial one. Many critics say the law is unfair and targets the black community. But some federal agents and prosecutors argue that crack is far more likely to be associated with violence, and consequently should carry tougher penalties.

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By Lawrence Buser
Memphis Commercial Appeal
MEMPHIS — The nation’s top prosecutor told members of the National Black Prosecutors Association today that the pursuit of justice should include eliminating sentencing disparities in cases involving crack and powder cocaine.

Speaking to some 200 association members at the Marriott Downtown, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said the Justice Department is reviewing federal sentencing policies, including “the 100-to-1 crack-powder sentencing ratio” adopted in the 1980s.

“Although some may seek to impose the soft-on-crime label on anyone who speaks the truth about this issue, we all know that this egregious difference in punishment is simply wrong,” said Holder, 58, a former federal judge in Washington.

“I have seen first-hand the effect that disparities in drug sentences have had on our communities. In my career as a prosecutor and as a judge, I saw too often the cost borne by the community when promising, capable young people sacrificed years of their futures for non-violent offenses.”

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Read Prepared Text

DEA and LAPD Raid Office of Michael Jackson’s Doctor

You have to wonder if authorities would try nearly as hard to get to the bottom of a death involving an Average Joe.  On the other hand, this probe may once again highlight the dangers of  prescription drugs.

Dr. Conrad Murray/facebook photo

Dr. Conrad Murray/facebook photo

By JUAN A. LOZANO and THOMAS WATKINS
The Associated Press
HOUSTON — A lawyer for Michael Jackson’s doctor says police who searched the physician’s north Houston clinic were searching for evidence of manslaughter.

Dr. Conrad Murray had been interviewed by police as a witness to the pop star’s death, but has not been considered a suspect.

Los Angeles police and agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration searched the Armstrong Medical Clinic on Wednesday for about 2 1/2 hours. Authorities said they were searching for documents.

“The search warrant authorized law enforcement to search for and seize items, including documents, they believed constituted evidence of the offense of manslaughter,” Ed Chernoff, Murray’s attorney, said in a statement posted on his law firm’s Web site.

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What It Means to be a True Public Servant

I have struggled with this column the past few months. Part of that comes from the demands of my day job, trying to keep my small company successful in today’s economy.

James Sloan-the Gold Standard for Public Servants
James Sloan-the Gold Standard for Public Servants

But, the balance of my distraction comes from my discomfort in trying to be relevant in the era of Facebook and Twitter and tweeting and blogging.

I think I preferred the less formidable presentation of news by the traditional media that I came to age with. In any case, recent events have jarred me to express my dismay at how attitudes have changed in my lifetime about many things, but, none more so than what it means to be a public servant.

In recent weeks, we have witnessed the quirky behaviors of two Governors, Sarah Palin’s whimsical resignation of her office in Alaska, and Mark Sanford’s explanations for his international leave-of-absence from his duties in South Carolina.

Both luminaries, much in the news, purport to be public servants, a description whose definition, I believe, has drifted considerably from its original historical moorings. My understanding of a public servant is close to that which describes the ancient Roman office of tribune, a person who upholds or defends the rights of others.

I know a real tribune who recently died on June 24 after a long struggle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). James F. Sloan was a friend; a fellow retired U.S. Secret Service executive and veteran Army officer. He was also in his time the Director of the Department of the Treasury’s FINCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) , and most recently until this past February, the Assistant Commandant of the Coast Guard for Intelligence and Criminal Investigation.

Jim’s whole adult life was a testament to the true definition of public service. Public service, especially in federal law enforcement – is a vocation.

The men and women who devote their lives to this high calling every day, as true tribunes of the people- do so in the face of corrosive self absorption and promotion that all too often defines public service today.

James F. Sloan was the gold standard for duty well-performed, honor in all things, and country above the self which was the officer’s code, he learned at the outset of his federal career, and which he lived his life fulfilling.

When one contrasts his dedication and purposeful life with the shallow traces of what the cult of celebrity serves up today as exemplars of public service, we realize the true loss of this fine man and deeply appreciate those who are like him.

(Jim Huse is the CEO of IntegriGuard, LLC, a program integrity, payment accuracy company in Omaha, NE. You can learn more about him and his company at www.integriguard.org).

N.J. Gov. Corzine Attacks His Opponent — Ex-U.S. Atty. Christie in Campaign Ad

Fed Judge Questions Why FBI Interview With Cheney Shouldn’t Be Released

We could use some more info to figure out exactly what happened in the Valerie Plame case. The Justice Department wants to keep some things under wraps. In this case, the right thing to do is to be transparent.

Dick Cheney/meet the press

Dick Cheney/meet the press

By Ben Conery
Washington Times
WASHINGTON — A federal judge questioned Tuesday whether the Justice Department’s request to not release notes from an FBI interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney essentially would require the judge to create new law, something he said he couldn’t do.

The government asked Judge Emmett Sullivan to keep the notes from being made public because, officials say, revealing them may discourage top White House officials from cooperating with future investigations.

Judge Sullivan, however, said adopting the government’s reasoning would essentially create new limits for freedom of information laws.

“What the government is asking this court to do is to create another exemption, to legislate, something judges cannot do,” he said in federal court in Washington. “Why isn’t this a job for Congress? Why aren’t you before Congress asking them to carve out this additional category that you want me to create?”

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Report Says Immigration Agents in Long Island and N.J. Forced Way into Homes Without Warrants

This program was supposed to focus on illegal immigrants who posed a threat to national security. That wasn’t the case. Law enforcement abused the program.

ice-logo

BY SUMATHI REDDY
Newsday

Immigration agents in Long Island and New Jersey forced their way into private residences without judicial warrants, arrested hundreds without any legal basis and committed widespread constitutional violations, according to a report to be released today on home raids carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey headed an advisory panel that reviewed the report from the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.

The study found that two-thirds of arrests made in home raids under the National Fugitive Operations Program were not of targeted individuals but of undocumented immigrants, largely Latinos, with no criminal records. The program was designed to focus on immigrants who pose a threat to national security.

“There is an established pattern of misconduct, certainly in New York and New Jersey, enough to really suggest that we need to look hard at whether this is a widespread national phenomenon,” said Peter L. Markowitz, director of the clinic. “I think if these types of systematic constitutional violations were happening targeting any other group in society we would have seen a national outcry a long time ago.”

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