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Tag: Justice Department

AG Sessions Creates Safeguards After Reinstating Controversial Asset Forfeiture

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is creating safeguards to detect problems with the asset forfeiture program that he reinstated amid criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

In July, Sessions reversed a decision by former Attorney General Eric Holder to end the program, which had been mired in problems.

Sessions directed his deputy attorney general to hire a director to review the policy and identify and correct any problems that arise, the Washington Post reports

“The asset forfeiture program has proven to be extremely valuable to law enforcement in our country, but it has received certain criticisms,” Sessions wrote in his memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Holder ended the program two years ago to prevent state and local police from seizing cash and other property without warrants or criminal charges.

Judge Limits DOJ Warrant Seeking Data from Anti-Trump Site

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge drastically scaled back a Justice Department warrant seeking digital data about visitors to an anti-Trump website that helped organize protests against the president.

Superior Court Chief Judge Robert E. Morin ruled that the Los Angeles web host may redact information that identifies site visitors because of constitutional rights to privacy, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The Justice Department cannot force the disclosure of identifying information unless there is evidence of criminal activity.

“While the government has the right to execute its warrant, it does not have the right to rummage through the information contained on DreamHost’s website and discover the identity of, or access communications by, individuals not participating in alleged criminal activity, particularly those persons who were engaging in protected 1st Amendment activities,” Morin wrote.

In July, the Justice Department filed a search warrant for information on the 1.3 million visits to the website, disruptj20.org.

Justice Department Awards $37M to Address Backlog in Rape Kits

police tapeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to use $37 million to help state, local and tribal governments address a backlog of sexual assault evidence that is preventing the capture  of violent offenders.

The grants are intended to help law enforcement reduce the backlog of sexual assault kits to help track down rapists, the Los Alamos Daily Post reports

“There is no greater injustice to a victim of sexual assault than a failure on the part of the system to exhaust its investigative possibilities,” said Alan Hanson, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. “These awards will supply badly needed resources and manpower to our nation’s law enforcement agencies and prosecutors helping investigators and analysts do the urgent work of closing out cases and bringing answers to survivors.”

The Post wrote:

Administered through the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, managed by the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance, 21 grant awards totaling more than $35 million were awarded to improve the processing of sexual assault kits and strengthen jurisdictions’ capacity to act on evidence resulting from kit processing. Those awards are available online at: https://www.bja.gov/funding/FY-2017-National-Sexual-Assault-Kit-Initiative-Funding-Awards.pdf 

Solving sex crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice requires a thorough understanding of the value of sexual assault evidence and a solid commitment to submitting sexual assault kits for testing. OJP’s resources help jurisdictions reduce their inventory of unsubmitted kits, bring offenders to justice, provide answers to victims and restore the safety of our communities.

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative provides competitive grants for teams committed to reforming how their jurisdictions deal with cases of sexual assault. SAKI helps jurisdictions address the issues that lead to delayed testing of kits by providing funds to inventory, test and track sexual assault kits, as well as collect and submit DNA from suspects to the FBI’sCombined DNA Index System and hire crime analysts. The grants also support the investigation and prosecution of resulting cases and support the victims of sexual assault.

Other Stories of Interest

DOJ Trying to Force Facebook to Reveal Names Associated with Anti-Trump Event

computer-photo1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is trying to force Facebook to disclose the names of everyone who interacted with an event page about an anti-Donald Trump rally during the presidential inauguration.

If the social media giant complies with warrants issued by the DOJ, the federal government would receive the Facebook accounts of everyone who “liked” the disruptj20 page and signed up to attend the protest, Gizmodo reports

The ACLU says the Justice Department’s warrants are a violation of the First and Fourth amendments.

“What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to have their political associations and views scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting,” ACLU attorney Scott Michelman told CNN.

Facebook said it plans to fight the warrant.

Manafort Calls on Justice Department to Investigate Leak of FBI Wiretaps

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is urging the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate who leaked to the media information about the FBI conducting several wiretap probes of him, Bloomberg reports.  

Manafort also is asking the Justice Department to release “any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there,” Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement Tuesday.

Using leaked information, CNN reported Monday that two FISA court orders were obtained by the FBI to authorize wiretapping of Manafort before and after the presidential election.

Of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement on Tuesday. The Justice Department’s inspector general “should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent.” 

White House: DOJ Should ‘Absolutely Look at” Charging ousted FBI Director

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The White House is striking back at former FBI Director James Comey, saying the Justice Department should “absolutely look at” charging the ousted bureau leader for leaking classified information.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating allegations that President Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing Comey after he refused to back off an investigation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated Tuesday that Trump had every right to fire Comey. When she was asked whether Comey should be prosecuted, she said, “That’s not the president’s role,” The New York Times reports. 

She added, “That’s the job of the Department of Justice, and something they should certainly look at.” 

She continued, ““If there’s ever a moment where we feel someone’s broken the law, particularly if they’re the head of the F.B.I., I think that’s something that certainly should be looked at.”

Significant Portion of Trump’s Travel Ban Set to Expire Before Reaching Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is appealing an injunction on President Trump’s travel ban, even though a significant portion of the ban is set to expire by the Oct. 10 court date.

Even more, the entire ban is likely to expire by the time the justices rule on the case, the Washington Post’s Editorial Board wrote

The Justice Department is appealing a federal court’s ruling against the Trump administration’s temporary travel ban of refugees and residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

The Post wrote:

Mr. Trump’s order halts entry into the United States by citizens of the six banned countries for 90days and suspends refugee admissions for 120days. After courts blocked the ban, Mr. Trump clarified that these clocks would begin ticking as soon as the policy was allowed to go into effect. Because the Supreme Court lifted in part the lower-court injunctions against the order on June26, the refugee ban will expire in late October, and the entry ban at the end of September.

As a matter of law, the Supreme Court can’t rule on a case that no longer presents an ongoing issue. Yet the Justice Department hasn’t given any indication of awareness that the court might well dismiss the case without deciding whether the ban is legal. Not only is the department now battling over an injunction on a policy that likely expires in two weeks, but its opening brief before the Supreme Court didn’t even address the issue.

If the White House wants to keep the case alive, Mr. Trump could declare that the clock has yet to start with respect to those immigrants and refugees with “bona fide” connections to the United States, for whom the ban has remained on pause. Or he might extend the order on the grounds that the government has been unable to conduct reviews of vetting procedures — ostensibly what the halt in travel was meant to allow — without the ban fully in place. He could even issue a new ban or make the existing order permanent.

Justice Department to Retry Woman Charged for Laughing During Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to retry a woman who was arrested and charged for laughing during the conformation hearing of Jeff Sessions.

A judge dismissed the original charges against Desiree Fairooz in July, saying “laughter alone was legally insufficient to convict someone of disorderly or disruptive behavior on Capitol grounds, or disrupting Congress.”

Fairooz laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby said Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” Noting Sessions’ history on civil rights, Fairooz said she laughed because the claims were so ridiculously false.

Fairooz has rejected a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty, so the 61-year-old is headed back to trial, the Advocate reports. 

The judge in the case vacated the conviction but granted a motion for a new trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 13.

Other Stories of Interest