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Tag: judges

Federal Judges Dismiss Cases After FBI Hosted Child Pornography Site

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s child pornography sting “Operation Pacifier” was successful at locating and identifying abusers, but it has come under attack by federal judges across the country.

Agents took over the “dark web” site, The Playpen, for two weeks, when 48,000 images and 200 videos of sexual abuse were posted or swapped. The FBI arrested more than 180 people in the U.S.

But the Knoxville New Sentinel reports that at least seven federal judges ruled that the FBI’s takeover of the site was illegal and violated federal rules of criminal procedure.

The judges cited constitutional violations.

Washington Times: Justice Department Forces Courts to Punish Lawbreakers by Ability to Pay

justice-dept-photo-with-woman-and-courtBy Editorial Board
Washington Times

The rule of law is meant to guide the administration of justice. But in an administration obsessed with race, not necessarily. The Obama Justice Department has instructed judges across the nation to lighten up on the poor, and especially poor minorities, or else. The lady with the blindfold and sword has tossed her blindfold aside and put the weight of her sword on the scale to favor those with the right connections.

The Obama administration is all about payback. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has written to municipal and state judges from coast to coast warning them that federal funds for their courthouses could be cut unless they dial back fees and fines levied against “economically disadvantaged” defendants guilty of minor crimes, particularly those of ethnic minorities who don’t have the money to pay their fines.

The letter, dispatched March 14, was signed by Vanita Gupta, an assistant attorney general, and Lisa Foster, the director of the Office for Access, and lays out what they call “basic constitutional principles relevant to the enforcement of fines and fees.” Among them is a prohibition against jailing someone for failing to pay without first asking whether he is poor and whether the nonpayment was willful, together with a demand to consider alternatives to jail. Judges were warned that practices that “impose disparate harm on the basis of race or national origin” may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the wake of Justice Department investigations into civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, municipal authorities are sensitive to racial discrimination, as they should be, but now judges are asked to be financial analysts and cut offenders a break if they’re broke. Who says crime does not pay?

To read more click here. 

Response

By James Burdick

What’s the point of printing the ka-ka that the Washington Times pouts out? This is their absurd take on a very serious problems. It’s not the assessment of costs, fines and fees that the economically disadvantaged suffer – typically black and other minorities – it’s putting them in jail “until” they can pay.

Which of course is never. How does that help society. Someone steals a pound of hamburger meat from a grocery store. What is he, a terrorist? A murdered? A rapist? No, he’s hungry and has no money for food for himself or his family. So order him to pay thousands in costs, court fees and fines and then jail him for not paying because he has no money? This the Washington Times thinks is evidence of race bias by the President’s administration. They should try living on $7.00 an hour with a few kids and see how long they can do that.

James Burdick, a former Wayne County prosecutor, is a criminal defense attorney who also handles health care cases at Burdick Law, P.C. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Judges Consider Releasing Full CIA Torture Report by Senate Intelligence Committee

torture1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Judges are deciding whether to release full Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation practices that include torture.

The ACLU is asking two D.C. Circuit appeals court judges to release the 6,963-page report under the Freedom of Information Act, U.S. News & World Report writes. 

An executive summary of the report was released with redactions in 2014, showing how terrorism suspects were subjected to sleep deprivation, waterboarding and a procedure known as rectal feeding.

The ACLU argues that the full report has tremendous public value because it would help ensure the harsh tactics are never again used.

A lower court refused to order the release of the documents.

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Warns Courts to Stop Targeting Poor People for Money

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department on Monday urged state judges nationwide to end unconstitutional policies of jailing low-income people as a way to collect fines and debt.

The letter to chief judges and court administrators said courthouses are not money-making ventures and should not use arrest warrants to collect fees, the New York Times reports. 

The practice of locking poor people up creates a cycle of fines, debt and jail, the letter said.

“This unconstitutional practice is often framed as a routine administrative matter,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, wrote. “For example, a motorist who is arrested for driving with a suspended license may be told that the penalty for the citation is $300 and that a court date will be scheduled only upon the completion of a $300 payment.”

Some courts lock people up on minor offenses and won’t release the defendants until their fines are paid.

“When bail is set unreasonably high, people are behind bars only because they are poor,” Lynch said at the White House in December. “Not because they’re a danger or a flight risk — only because they are poor. They don’t have money to get out of jail, and they certainly don’t have money to flee anywhere. Other people who do have the means can avoid the system setting inequality in place from the beginning.”

Detroit News: Justice Department Wants to Limit Our Fourth Amendment Rights

By The Detroit News
Editorial Board

If Americans had no civil liberties, it would be a snap to keep the country safe and secure. Police states are highly effective at dissuading criminal activity and rooting out threats.

But as inconvenient as it often is for law enforcement, we do have a Bill of Rights that guarantees protections and procedures aimed at keeping us free, as well as safe.

Unfortunately, in recent years, many Americans have been too willing to forfeit those rights in the name of battling perceived existential threats, most notably drugs and terrorism. And federal agencies are all too keen about snatching bits and pieces of our freedoms to make it easier for them to do their jobs without the bother of adhering to the Constitution.

The latest example comes from the Justice Department, which has slipped a major intrusion on the Fourth Amendment into nearly 400 pages of arcane rule changes being considered by a judicial committee.

Federal prosecutors want to make it easier to find and hack into computers being used for cyber crimes, including child pornography and identity theft.

The Fourth Amendment limits property search warrants to geographical areas in which the signing judge has jurisdiction. The government claims the rules are no longer adequate in an era when cyber criminals can use their computers to not only hide their identity, but their whereabouts as well.

The proposed changes would allow judges in a district “where activities related to a crime” have occurred to issue a warrant. That would allow prosecutors to search computers currently outside their reach.

Civil libertarians are rightly concerned that the language of the proposal would sidestep the constitutional requirement that warrants be specific about who and what is being targeted by a search.

Ooops! U.S. Marshals Service Loses Track of at Least 2,000 Encrypted Two-Way Radios

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s an embarrassing revelation about the U.S. Marshals Service.

Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reports that the agency has lost track of at least 2,000 encrypted two-way radios and other communication devices valued at millions of dollars.

The Journal cites internal agency documents, and notes that “some within the agency view as a security risk for federal judges, endangered witnesses and others.”

Barrett writes:

The problem, which stretches back years, was laid out in detail to agency officials at least as early as 2011, when the Marshals were deploying new versions of the radios they use to securely communicate in the field. Agency leaders continued to have difficulty tracking their equipment even after they were warned about the problems by an internal technology office, according to the documents, which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

To read more click here. 

A Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore’s High-Flying Pot Conspiracy

ILLUSTRATION BY NOAH PATRICK PFARR/Baltimore City Paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — The Lancair IV-P airplane is a sleek four-seater, capable of flying 330 miles per hour and more than 1,500 miles on a tank of gas. The one that was seized in June 2009 from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, near Denver, had been purchased the previous summer for $450,000. The buyer, a Delaware company called Air Sky Holdings LLC, still owed the seller about $64,000. But the Lancair was not repossessed due to outstanding debt. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration took it.

What led law enforcers to that Lancair was a game-changing series of events for a sprawling, sophisticated outfit of Baltimore-based potrepreneurs whose illicit, high-volume business had been a veritable license to print money. Its seizure didn’t immediately end the flow of eye-popping amounts of premium weed they’d been moving, but it was a red flag, putting key players on notice that the gig was nosediving into a forest of cops, lawyers, and judges.

And nosedive it did, ultimately resulting in at least three federal cases and possibly dozens of state-level ones, all in Maryland.

To read the full story click here.

Ga. FBI Forms New Squad to Take Aim at Corrupt Judges and Lawmakers

Brian Lamkin/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI in Georgia is trying to hone in on corrupt judges and legislators.

The Associated Press reports that the FBI has created a new squad to investigate those folks. Brian Lamkin, who heads the FBI office in Georgia, told The Associated Press he formed the team after months of reviewing the agency’s priorities.

“It impacts the everyday system. It’s not just a dirty law enforcement officer that might be shaking you down,” he said, according to AP. “You’re talking about people that you elect to an office to represent you who try to line their pockets.” To read more click here

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

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