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Archive for June 2nd, 2016

Ken Walton, the Most Flamboyant SAC Ever to Head FBI Detroit Division, Dead at 76

Ken Walton

Ken Walton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Kenneth P. Walton, whose career as an FBI agent spanned 24 years, and who was regarded inside and outside the bureau as the most flamboyant person ever to head the Detroit FBI, died late last month in New Mexico after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Walton, who headed the Detroit FBI from 1985 to 1988, oversaw some key investigations during his tenure in Detroit including a high-profile FBI sting that resulted in the indictments and guilty pleas of a number of crooked Detroit judges from 36th District and Recorder’s courts. After Detroit, he moved on to headquarters and retired in 1989.

“He loved the FBI and was a workaholic,” said retired FBI agent John Anthony, who worked at the time as legal advisor to the Detroit office and press spokesman. “I would usually get in at around 7 a.m. He was there in the office at 5:30 or 6 o’ clock everyday. He had a keen mind for investigations. He knew personnel. He knew who the hard workers were. He was a good organizer.”

Publicly, he had a TV-like image with his full-head of hair, which always seemed perfectly in place, much like the TV character Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in the TV show, The F.B.I.

He was articulate and dapper, often dressing in French-cuffed shirts his wife designed. In the colder months, he would be seen with a trench coat over his shoulders, which earned him the nickname “The Cape Crusader.”

He also wasn’t shy about expressing his views, and he ended up bumping heads with then-U.S. Attorney Roy C. Hayes. He made no secret of his dislike for Hayes.

Ross Parker, a retired federal prosecutor who was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Hayes, recalled the first time he walked into Walton’s FBI office.

“It was like walking into the Ken Walton Museum,” he said. “There were hundreds of photos of him with well known people and plaques covering every square inch of wall.”

“Non-Bureau law enforcement people did not always agree with his views but you had to admire his confidence and willingness to take a position. An example was the investigation of local judges. While some were ringing their hands over the undercover methods, he was full-steam-ahead and he made some innovative suggestions. He was charismatic, controversial, and did everything with flair.”

Many agents admired him.

“He was a legend,” said retired FBI Agent Terry Booth. “He was old school. Everybody liked him.  He seemed to back the agents and they loved him for it.”

Walton was sometimes criticized for flocking to TV cameras like a moth to light, and having a large ego.

“He was flashy, no doubt about it,” Anthony said.

But Anthony said it was really about getting the FBI publicity.

“He felt the FBI needed to be in the media because the public needed to know what the FBI was all about,” Anthony said, adding:

“You won’t see another one like him.”

Walton was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

He is survived by his wife, Charlotte; brother Jim of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; and various in-laws and friends, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Scalia’s Participation in Discussions and Drafts Circulated Undoubtedly Affected the Rationales and Nuances of The Rule of Law

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia

The Supreme Court issued four opinions in criminal cases in May, which leaves nine more cases to be decided in June before the end of the 2015-2016 term. The split in the vote for the cases was 8-0, 7-1, 5-3, and 5-3, with the Court siding with the government argument in three of the cases and the defendant in one case. The Court has issued 54 full opinions thus far in the term, 13 of them in criminal cases.

The votes seem to indicate that the absence of Justice Scalia has not, thus far, changed the result of criminal cases although his participation in the discussions and drafts circulated undoubtedly affected the rationales and nuances of the rule of law that resulted from the opinions. The politically charged cases that need a swing vote to give the case a 5-4 majority have ,of late, tended to be more often civil cases. An example since Justice Scalia’s death was Zubik v. Burwell on the issue of contraceptive coverage and First Amendment freedom of religion. In that case a week ago a 4-4 vote let the lower court’s decision stand.

And that, perhaps, has some positives by shifting the responsibility to resolve difficult disputes from a single unelected Justice to elected officials to find a compromise and a solution acceptable to a majority of their constituents. Not that our Congress has of late shown any ability to achieve this result.

Justice Scalia, however, showed no shyness about close votes or his role to stake an opinion on a result and reasoning that he felt was right. In her eulogy in February, Justice Ginsburg said, “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.” So things are not as much fun without him, both in public at oral argument and apparently in chambers.

The column’s predictions of the results of the May cases included one swing-and-a-miss in the Courts’s decision in Betterman v. Montana. The Court unanimously found that the roots of Speedy Trial were limited to delays prior to conviction and did not extend to delays prior to sentence. I had thought that today’s importance of sentencing hearings and the effect of delay on a defendant’s ability to defend himself at the time of sentence could, in effect, expand the constitutional right to one of Speedy Justice. But I was unaware, at the time of the column, that defense counsel would concede at oral argument that they had failed to preserve the issue of whether due process could afford such protection. So that issue remains open for future litigants.

For prosecutors the most important opinion may have been Foster v Dulles, in which the Court found that a death penalty defendant had a right to a Batson hearing on whether the prosecutor had impermissibly made peremptory challenges to prospective jurors based on race. The trial and appeals judges accepted the trial prosecutor’s “neutral explanations,” but notes obtained 30 years after the trial showed otherwise. The case breathes life into the Batson prohibition and will hopefully discourage the practice and make trial judges more skeptical about disingenuous explanations.  The effect of unscrupulous removal of Black jurors is a taint on the perception of justice by members of the African American community. Black jurors matter.

As a practical matter this racist practice gives support for elements who want to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of peremptory challenges given to trial prosecutors. This was the recent recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Rules of the Judicial Conference. In this age of strange people showing up for jury duty, such a change would damage a trial prosecutor’s ability to get an unbiased jury. The other effect of the decision will be to be to make prosecutors more careful about what they leave in their case files.

The two 5-3 cases involved questions of predicate offenses under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (Torres) and whether the person from whom property was taken could be a Hobbs Act conspirator. He can. (Oceano)

There are a bunch of interesting and knotty cases left for next month, including former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s future as a free man.

 

 

Parker: Scalia’s Participation in Discussions and Drafts Circulated Undoubtedly Affected the Rationales and Nuances of The Rule of Law

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.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supreme Court issued four opinions in criminal cases in May, which leaves nine more cases to be decided in June before the end of the 2015-2016 term. The split in the vote for the cases was 8-0, 7-1, 5-3, and 5-3, with the Court siding with the government argument in three of the cases and the defendant in one case. The Court has issued 54 full opinions thus far in the term, 13 of them in criminal cases.

The votes seem to indicate that the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia has not, thus far, changed the result of criminal cases although his participation in the discussions and drafts circulated undoubtedly affected the rationales and nuances of the rule of law that resulted from the opinions. The politically charged cases that need a swing vote to give the case a 5-4 majority have, of late, tended to be more often civil cases. An example since Justice Scalia’s death was Zubik v. Burwell on the issue of contraceptive coverage and First Amendment freedom of religion. In that case a week ago a 4-4 vote let the lower court’s decision stand.

And that, perhaps, has some positives by shifting the responsibility to resolve difficult disputes from a single unelected Justice to elected officials to find a compromise and a solution acceptable to a majority of their constituents. Not that our Congress has of late shown any ability to achieve this result.

Justice Scalia, however, showed no shyness about close votes or his role to stake an opinion on a result and reasoning that he felt was right. In her eulogy in February, Justice Ginsburg said, “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.” So things are not as much fun without him, both in public at oral argument and apparently in chambers.

The column’s predictions of the results of the May cases included one swing-and-a-miss in the Courts’s decision in Betterman v. Montana. The Court unanimously found that the roots of Speedy Trial were limited to delays prior to conviction and did not extend to delays prior to sentence. I had thought that today’s importance of sentencing hearings and the effect of delay on a defendant’s ability to defend himself at the time of sentence could, in effect, expand the constitutional right to one of Speedy Justice. But I was unaware, at the time of the column, that defense counsel would concede at oral argument that they had failed to preserve the issue of whether due process could afford such protection. So that issue remains open for future litigants.

For prosecutors the most important opinion may have been Foster v Dulles, in which the Court found that a death penalty defendant had a right to a Batson hearing on whether the prosecutor had impermissibly made peremptory challenges to prospective jurors based on race. The trial and appeals judges accepted the trial prosecutor’s “neutral explanations,” but notes obtained 30 years after the trial showed otherwise. The case breathes life into the Batson prohibition and will hopefully discourage the practice and make trial judges more skeptical about disingenuous explanations.  The effect of unscrupulous removal of Black jurors is a taint on the perception of justice by members of the African American community. Black jurors matter.

As a practical matter this racist practice gives support for elements who want to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of peremptory challenges given to trial prosecutors. This was the recent recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Rules of the Judicial Conference. In this age of strange people showing up for jury duty, such a change would damage a trial prosecutor’s ability to get an unbiased jury. The other effect of the decision will be to be to make prosecutors more careful about what they leave in their case files.

The two 5-3 cases involved questions of predicate offenses under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (Torres) and whether the person from whom property was taken could be a Hobbs Act conspirator. He can. (Oceano)

There are a bunch of interesting and knotty cases left for next month, including former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s future as a free man.

 

 

Senate Report Cites ‘Inferior’ Whistleblower Protections for FBI Agents

whistleBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has a habit of punishing its own whistleblowers.

That may change soon under the proposed FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Washington Post reports. 

“Whistleblowers play a critical role in keeping our government efficient and honest, yet they also risk retaliation from their employers, sometimes being demoted, reassigned, or fired as a result of their actions,” says a report issued in support of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

The legislation would strengthen protections for whistleblowers who expose fraud, waste and abuse.

It also would allow employees to report abuses to their own supervisors.

“This has left protections for FBI whistleblowers inferior to those of other Executive Branch employees …” the report said. “Unlike all other Executive Branch employees, including employees in the intelligence community. … FBI employees enjoy no legal protection for making reports of wrongdoing to supervisors or others in their chain of command.”

FBI Steps Up Search for Convicted Murder Who Escaped 45 Years Ago

Leonard Rayne Moses, via FBI.

Leonard Rayne Moses, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Leonard Rayne Moses was sentenced to life in prison when he was allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Pennsylvania.

Moses escaped from authorities and has been missing ever since.

That was June 1, 1971.

On the 45th anniversary of his escape, the FBI began posting information about Moses on electronic billboards in several states, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The FBI all is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to his arrest.

At the time of his escape, authorities thought he may have fled to Detroit.

No other Pennsylvania inmate has been on the run as long as Moses.

Moses was convicted of murder after tossing a Molotov cocktail at a house in Homewood, Pa., on April 6, 1968 as people rioted in the wake of the Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Border Patrol Mechanic to Be Sentenced for Stealing Parts from CBP Vehicles

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Customs and Border Protect mechanic who sold parts from Border Patrol vehicles on eBay is scheduled to be sentenced soon.

Herold Demes, who worked for Border Patrol in Tucson, was indicted by a grand jury last month on a theft charge, Fronteradesk.org reports. 

Among the parts Demes sold were two driver-side airbags, a fuel pump and seat belt tensioner.

Demes admitted in federal court that he sold the parts.

Prosecutors will ask a judge to impose a maximum six-month sentence and order restitution of $2,400.

FBI, ATF Help Investigate Suspected Murder-Suicide at UCLA Campus

UCLA campus, via Wikipedia.

UCLA campus, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and ATF are helping investigate what appears to be a murder-suicide on the campus of UCLA on Wednesday.

Agents from both agencies responded to the campus shooting soon after it was reported, UPI reports. 

Police confirmed two people – both male – were shot dead. One of the men shot himself.

Their ages and identities have not yet been released.

“There is a note. I don’t know if it’s a suicide note. I don’t know if it’s a confession. I don’t know what it is,” the LAPD chief told reporters.

Federal Lawmakers Propose Widely Different Ways to Tackle Long Lines at Airports

Airport crowdBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Lawmakers are offering potential solutions to long wait times at airport.

After Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, suggested $28 million in extra funding for three busy northeast airports, another lawmaker suggesting adding private screeners.

The Hill reports that Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., wants the TSA to use more private screeners.

Of the 472 commercial airports, only 22 have help from private contractors.

“My question is: why?” Black said. “Congress must ensure that TSA culture and policies aren’t standing in the way of allowing businesses the ability to compete for these opportunities.”

Black also wants a realistic cost of private contractors.

“Congress can’t keep throwing taxpayer money at a broken agency that, by every metric, is failing our travelers, without demanding reform,” Black said.

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