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Tag: Justice Department

Federal Court Prohibits Feds from Prosecuting Medical Marijuana Cases

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal court ruled Tuesday that the Department of Justice cannot pay to prosecute people who are in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

That means the DOJ cannot prosecute people who have a license to smoke medicinal marijuana, even if it violates federal drug laws, Time reports. 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cited a 2014 Congressional law that prohibited the Justice Department from getting involved with state medical marijuana laws.

The court sent back cases in which defendants were charged with distributing marijuana in states where it’s legal.

There already are 25 states that allow medical marijuana, and nine more states will decide on similar laws in November.

Unreasonable Police Searches Are Illegal And Happen Far Too Often

police lightsBy Steve Chapman
Chicago Tribune

The most memorable moment of the recent Democratic National Convention was when the father of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq demanded of Donald Trump, “Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.” Conservatives, however, also revere our founding document. At the first tea party rallies in 2009, attendees waved copies.

But the Constitution is not self-enforcing, and one important section has eroded to the point of invisibility: the Fourth Amendment. It says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” In much of America, that guarantee is an empty promise.

The latest evidence came in a report on police practices in Baltimore, issued Aug. 10 by the U.S. Department of Justice after an investigation spurred by the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. It documents that the city’s law enforcement officers operate with virtually no regard for the Fourth Amendment.

In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cops may stop someone when they have reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity and, if they have reasonable grounds to think the person is armed, may frisk him lightly to detect weapons. They may not stop anyone they please, and they may not vigorously search a citizen’s clothing and body without a good reason.

The court intended to empower police only within strict limits. It emphasized, “No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law.”

But the Justice Department found that in Baltimore, police routinely stop people on the street without reasonable suspicion, conduct physical searches that lack adequate grounds and exceed legal limits, and arrest people without justification. Each of these practices is more than a mistake: It is a violation of fundamental liberties at the heart of what it means to be an American.

To read more click here. 

Ex-ATF Agent Agrees to Pay $40,000 After Falsely Claiming He Had Cancer to Collect Sick Leave Pay

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By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former ATF agent who faked having cancer to collect sick leave pay, has agreed to pay the federal government $40,000 to resolve the matter, the Justice Department announced this week.

The Justice Department’s Civil Division alleged that Douglas daCosta of Livermore, Calif.  agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations that he falsely claimed more than 80 days paid sick leave while working as a criminal investigator for the ATF’s San Francisco field division from January 2009 until his retirement in June 2009.

Specifically, the government alleged that  daCosta falsely told his supervisors that he was undergoing extensive treatment for cancer and went as far as to provide a forged letter from a physician to back his claim, the government said in a press release, noting that he did not have cancer.

“When a law enforcement officer misuses taxpayer funds, he does a disservice to his colleagues who serve with professionalism and distinction,”  Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement. “This settlement shows that we will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable if they misuse taxpayer funds.”

DaCosta had worked for ATF for 28 years.

His Linkedin page states that he currently works for an international security and investigations firm.

 

Strip Searches, Racial Disparities Among Problems with Baltimore PD

baltimore police departmentBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s investigation into the Baltimore Police Department revealed a number of alarming findings.

The Washington Post examined the report and highlighted these excerpts from the investigation:

“BPD Conducts Unconstitutional Strip Searches”

“Numerous Baltimore residents interviewed by the Justice Department recounted stories of BPD officers ‘jumping out’ of police vehicles and strip-searching individuals on public streets. BPD has long been on notice of such allegations: in the last five years BPD has faced multiple lawsuits and more than 60 complaints alleging unlawful strip searches.

“BPD Ignored Prosecutors’ Warnings Against Problem Officers”

“Even where prosecutors have provided BPD with specific information on problematic officers who routinely make improper arrests, searches, or seizures, the Department has failed to meaningfully investigate the information or take appropriate action.

“BPD’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Strategy Focused on African American Neighborhoods”

“In some cases, BPD supervisors have instructed their subordinates to specifically target African Americans for enforcement.

“Racial Disparities in Arrests”

The racial disparities in BPD’s stops and searches are further reflected in BPD’s arrest practices. From November 2010 – July 2015, BPD charged African Americans with 280,850 criminal offenses, constituting over 86 percent of all charges filed for which the race of the offender is known.

Justice Department: Baltimore Police Routinely Violated Civil Rights of Residents

baltimore police departmentBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Justice Department investigation determined that Baltimore police often are quick to stop, search, arrest and use excessive force on black residents who often did nothing wrong.

The investigation, prompted by the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, found deficiencies in training, supervision and policies “that fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police effectively and within the bounds of federal law,” the Baltimore Sun reports. 

Part of the problem stems from a zero-tolerance policy that encouraged officers to make a lot of stops, searches and arrest without the proper training.

The investigators concluded that “supervisors have issued explicitly discriminatory orders, such as directing a shift to arrest ‘all the black hoodies’ in a neighborhood.”

Police practices in Baltimore “perpetuate and fuel a multitude of issues rooted in poverty and race, focusing law enforcement actions on low-income, minority communities” and encourage officers to have “unnecessary, adversarial interactions with community members,” the report said.

NYT Editorial: Justice Department Too Slow to Apply Mercy

jail2photoBy Editorial Board
New York Times

President Obama last week commuted the prison terms of 214 federal inmates who were sent to prison under draconian, ’80s-era laws that have since been revised. Among them were 67 people serving life sentences, nearly all of them for nonviolent drug offenses.

Mercy was granted in these cases. But the federal clemency system — which moves far too slowly and is too often blocked by politics in both the Justice Department and the White House — was never intended to manage miscarriages of justice that happen on a vast scale, as was the case when so many Americans were sent to prison under the “tough on crime” policies of the 1980s.

The country needs a variety of mechanisms for reducing unreasonably long sentences. And the Justice Department, which has considerable latitude in these matters, needs to do more within the course of its regular operations to deal with the legacy of sentencing policies that have been recognized as destructively unfair.

The former attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took an important step: In 2014, he supported the United States Sentencing Commission’s decision to reduce sentences for many nonviolent drug crimes and asked that people in prison be made eligible for the reductions. According to the Justice Department, more than 12,000 people have been released under that effort.

Recently, however, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a Justice Department agency, has come under criticism for not doing enough with the powers it already has to help inmates who deserve to be released. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 authorizes the bureau to ask a federal judge to reduce an inmate’s sentence when there are “extraordinary and compelling” reasons for doing so.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Columnist: Justice Department’s Data-Sharing Plan Protects Privacy

department-of-justice-logoBy Melanie Teplinski
Christian Science Monitor

Earlier this month, the Justice Department unveiled a legislative proposal to facilitate cross-border data sharing for law enforcement purposes. While critics called it a “threat to privacy,” that characterization reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the plan. To the contrary, it’s an approach that would promote privacy, security, and innovation. It should be applauded, not decried.

The draft legislation responds to significant law enforcement problems that result from the rise of the global reach of the Internet, and the peculiarities of US law.

Until recently, law enforcement officials could find most of the evidence needed to investigate local crimes within their own countries. There were, of course, times when evidence was moved across borders or agents were tracking multinational criminals and gangs. In those situations, law enforcement officers either opened joint investigations with foreign counterparts or employed the mutual legal assistance process and made diplomatic requests for sought-after evidence.

Today, however, evidence is routinely located in other jurisdictions, often in the US. Much of the world’s communications are digitized and held by American companies such as Google or Microsoft. A 30-year-old US law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prohibits these firms from turning over the contents of US-held communications to foreign governments, even if the requesting government is investigating its own citizens with respect to a local crime.

Now, imagine if British police investigating a murder in London seek the suspect’s emails. If the perpetrator used a British internet provider, investigators would have the emails in days. But if the email provider is an American company, police must initiate the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process, which requires a US judge to approve the request. And that takes an average of 10 months to complete. Meanwhile, the murder goes unsolved.

To read more click here.

Former Judge: A Lot of Unanswered Questions Remain in Hillary Clinton Case

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Andrew P. Napolitano
for Washington Times

What if the folks who run the Department of Political Justice recently were told that the republic would suffer if Hillary Clinton were indicted for espionage because Donald Trump might succeed Barack Obama in the presidency? What if espionage is the failure to safeguard state secrets and the evidence that Mrs. Clinton failed to safeguard them is unambiguous and overwhelming?

What if President Obama never really liked his former rival whom he appointed as his secretary of state? What if he had no real interest in seeing her succeed him because he and his wife simply could never trust her?

What if, when Mrs. Clinton suggested to the president that the United States wage a secret, undeclared war against Libya, the president went along with it as a no-lose proposition? What if he assumed that if her secret war succeeded he’d get the credit, and if her secret war failed she would get the blame?

What if the means of fighting the secret war consisted of employing intelligence assets rather than the U.S. military? What if Mrs. Clinton concocted that idea because the use of the military requires a public reporting to the entire Congress but the use of intelligence assets requires only a secret reporting to a dozen members of Congress?

What if Mrs. Clinton expanded her war by permitting American and foreign arms dealers to bypass the NATO arms embargo on Libya by selling heavy-duty, military-grade arms directly to militias in Libya? What if this was Mrs. Clinton’s dream scenario — an apparent civil war in Libya in which the victorious side was secretly armed by the United States, with democracy brought to the country and Mrs. Clinton the architect of it all?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is a contributor to The Washington Times. He is the author of seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

To read more of the column, click here

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