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Tag: federal judges

Fox News: Surveillance of Americans Violates Constitution, Reduces Our Free Choices

By Judge Andrew Napolitano 
Fox News 

Readers of this page are well aware of the revelations during the past six months of spying by the National Security Agency (NSA). Edward Snowden, a former employee of an NSA vendor, risked his life and liberty to inform us of a governmental conspiracy to violate our right to privacy, a right guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

The conspiracy he revealed is vast. It involves former President George W. Bush, President Obama and their aides, a dozen or so members of Congress, federal judges, executives and technicians at American computer servers and telecoms, and the thousands of NSA employees and vendors who have manipulated their fellow conspirators. The conspirators all agreed that it would be a crime for any of them to reveal the conspiracy. Snowden violated that agreement in order to uphold his higher oath to defend the Constitution.

The object of the conspiracy is to emasculate all Americans and many foreigners of their right to privacy in order to predict our behavior and make it easier to find among us those who are planning harm.

To read more click here.

Massachusetts Prosecutors Mull State Charges Against Mobster ‘Whitey’ Bulger, His Former Associates

 

Updated Bulger photo/wbur

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It might not be over yet for notorious mobster and convicted killer James “Whitey” Bulger and his former associates.

Prosecutors in Massachusetts are exploring whether they can charge Bulger and others with murder and other crimes now that the federal trial is over, the Boston Globe Press reports.

One associate that faces potential criminal charges is Patrik Nee, who was named as an accomplice in several murders but never charged.

Bulger was convicted Monday on murder and racketeering counts in federal court.

“We’re always looking for evidence that can help us investigate and prosecute Suffolk County homicides,” Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, told the Globe in a statement.

Life Tenure for Fed Judges Raises Issues of Senility, Dementia

By Joseph Goldstein
Special to ProPublica

Judge Richard Owen of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan gathered a group of lawyers in his courtroom in 2007 to discuss the possible leak of sealed documents in a business case. As the hearing got under way, Owen, then 84, asked for someone to explain this newfangled mode of communication the lawyers kept mentioning — e-mail.

“It pops up in a machine in some administrative office, and is somebody there with a duty to take it around and give it to whoever it’s named to?” he asked.

Some of the lawyers figured that Owen, whose chambers came with a mimeograph machine when he became a judge in 1973, was just behind the times. Others wondered if the judge’s memory was failing him.

After all, the most famous case in his long career — the back-to-back trials of Silicon Valley investment banker Frank Quattrone — had revolved around a single e-mail. Yet he now acted as though this was the first he was hearing about it. “He didn’t understand what was happening in his own courtroom,” said one lawyer present that day.

Read more »

Convictions Overturned and Sentences Reduced Because of Fed Prosecutorial Misconduct, USA Today Report Says

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –A USA Today investigation shows that federal prosecutorial misconduct has not only put innocent people in prison, but also set guilty people free, sometimes  by shortening their sentences and allowing them to commit crimes again when they should have been behind bars.

The USA TODAY investigation found 201 cases since 1997 in which federal judges found that prosecutors violated laws or ethics rules.

“Each was so serious that judges overturned convictions, threw out charges or rebuked the prosecutors,” wrote USA Today reporters Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy. “And although the violations tainted no more than a small fraction of the tens of thousands of cases filed in federal courts each year, legal specialists who reviewed the newspaper’s work said misconduct is not always uncovered, so the true extent of the problem might never be known.”

To read full story click here.

Justice Department Response as printed in USA Today:

“Once again, USA TODAY misleads readers by providing a statistically inaccurate representation of the hard work done by federal prosecutors daily in courtrooms across the country by cherry-picking a handful of examples dating back to the 1990s and confusing cases where attorneys made mistakes with cases where actual prosecutorial misconduct was involved.

“An internal review conducted by the department last year found prosecutorial misconduct in a small fraction of the 90,000 cases brought annually. When mistakes occur, the department corrects them as quickly and transparently as possible.

“Attorney General (Eric) Holder has made a priority of preventing mistakes before they occur, instituting a comprehensive training curriculum for all federal prosecutors, and mandating annual discovery training. The Justice Department has taken unprecedented steps to ensure prosecutors, agents and paralegals have the necessary training and resources to properly fulfill their discovery and ethics obligations.”

Federal Judges Beginning to Equalize Punishment for Crack Cocaine

This has long been one of the unfair disparities in sentencing. No question crack cocaine has plagued urban America and destroyed neighborhoods and lives. But should crack have ever been treated differently than powdered cocaine when it came to sentencing?

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
crack-cocaine-deaWASHINGTON — Federal judges are beginning to equalize punishment for crack and powder cocaine crimes, resulting in shorter prison terms for crack dealers and putting pressure on Congress to address a wide disparity in how the legal system handles cocaine-related offenses.

In two recent rulings and interviews, a federal judge in the District and one in Iowa said they had policy differences with Congress and a judicial commission that they said did not go far enough to change the guidelines for crack sentences in 2007.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Judge OKs Feds’ mandatory DNA Collection Policy

This may not make civil liberties groups happy, but it’s a big victory for law enforcement.  Of course, this isn’t likely to be the end of the issue.DNA code analysis

By Mosheh Oinounou
FOXNews.com

A California federal judge ruled Thursday that mandatory DNA collection for all individuals facing federal felony charges is constitutional, dealing a setback to civil liberties advocates.

U.S. District Court Judge Gregory G. Hollows upheld the DNA Fingerprint Act, a 2006 law which allows federal law enforcement officials to collect DNA from individuals “arrested, facing charges, or convicted” of federal offenses.

Previously, states throughout the country had a variety of different laws on the books regarding DNA collection—with most mandating testing only after a suspect had been convicted of a crime.

For Full Story

Atty. Gen. Holder Assures Federal Judges He’ll Upgrade Professionalism at Justice Dept.

In recent months, federal judges have chastised federal prosecutors around the country including in Washington, Miami and Montana. The newly minted Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. has vowed to address this.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Joe Palazzolo
The National Law Journal
WASHINGTON — In his first confab with the nation’s chief federal district judges, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. pledged to raise the bar of professionalism in the U.S. Department of Justice and acknowledged that the current procedure for reviewing complaints against attorneys was too slow and opaque.

Nine chief judges described the April 21 meeting on the condition of anonymity because it was closed to the public. Holder’s words held the promise of reform for the approximately 90 judges who attended the annual meeting at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington as discovery abuses and other prosecutorial misconduct, new and old, have come under increased scrutiny in the aftermath of the Ted Stevens case.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Security For Federal Judges Improves

us-marshall2Good news for federal judges who put their lives on the line going up against some of the nation’s toughest criminals and angry litigants who can get unhinged. Protection has improved. Not long ago the Marshal Service was under attack for not promptly investigating threats against judges.

Matthew Barakat
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Four years after the husband and mother of a federal judge were murdered in their home by a disgruntled litigant, federal marshals have dramatically increased resources dedicated to judicial security to keep pace with an increased number of threats.

At a ceremony Tuesday, the U.S. Marshals Service highlighted the new efforts to protect federal judges and prosecutors. Since September 2007, the work has been coordinated out of a secure Threat Management Center at its headquarters in Crystal City.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow of Chicago prodded Congress to increase funding for security after her husband and mother were killed in 2005 by an unemployed electrician whose lawsuit had been thrown out. She had also received death threats from a white supremacist.

Judge Lefkow said at the ceremony that judicial security is “so much improved over what it was before. … I can only hope this will prevent another incident such as ours.”

The ceremony formally dedicated the Threat Management Center’s conference room in Judge Lefkow’s name and in memory of her husband, Michael Lefkow, and mother, Donna Humphrey.

The Marshals Service said its judicial security efforts have improved significantly the past few years, thanks in part to millions of dollars in new funding from Congress.
For Full Story