Archive for Justice

You Lie!

Wow. How’d I miss this?

A federal judge sharply scolded a Justice Department attorney at a hearing on President Obama’s immigration executive actions, suggesting that the administration misled him on a key part of the program — and that he fell for it, “like an idiot.”

The testy court hearing was held Thursday in Texas by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. The judge suggested he could order sanctions against the administration if he finds they indeed misrepresented the facts.

Hanen chided Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett for telling him at a January hearing before the injunction was issued that nothing would be happening with regard to one key part of Obama’s actions, an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, until Feb. 18.

“Like an idiot I believed that,” Hanen said.

A flustered Hartnett repeatedly apologized to Hanen for any confusion related to how the reprieves and work permits were granted.

“We strive to be as candid as possible. It truly became clear to us there was confusion on this point,” she said.

Hartnett continued to insist that the 108,081 reprieves had been granted under 2012 guidelines, which were not stopped by the injunction, and that government attorneys hadn’t properly explained this because they had been focused on other parts of the proposed action.

But Hanen pointed out that the 2012 guidelines only granted two-year reprieves and that three-year reprieves are being proposed under the program now on hold.

“Can I trust what the president says? That’s a yes or no question,” Hanen asked.

Yes it is. It’s one we’ve all been asking lately.

The states asked that Hanen consider issuing sanctions because Justice Department attorneys had made “representations (that) proved not to be true or at a minimum less than forthcoming,” said Angela Colmenero, a lawyer with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the lead attorney for the states.

Colmenero said the three-year reprieves that were granted might have caused the states economic harm as the states may have already issued various benefits, including driver’s licenses, to immigrants who received a reprieve.

“There is absolutely no basis for sanctions here,” Hartnett said. “The government is absolutely trying to do the right thing.”

Hanen said he would issue a ruling “promptly” on what action, if any, he will take against the Justice Department.

Squeeze ‘em till they squeal, your Honor!

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Will No One Rid Him of This Turbulent Judge?

Stephen Sondheim was lucky or wise enough to have written the lyrics to “America” when he did:

Rosalita: I like the city of San Juan.
Anita: I know a boat you can get on.

What rhymes with Tegucigalpa?

Every attempt by the Obama administration to force the launch of his immigration programs has been stymied thus far, and reading the legal tealeaves, their prospects in the lower courts don’t look much better.

The White House has attempted to dismiss as a political stunt U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling last month halting Obama’s issuance of work permits for millions of illegal immigrants.

In the weeks since Obama’s power play was put on hold, the White House has expressed confidence that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans would overturn Hanen’s decision.

However, the White House hasn’t received good legal news of late.

On Friday, that appeals court rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to lift the hold on Obama’s immigration programs. Though procedural, that development could bode poorly for when the court in New Orleans hears a broader appeal to the ruling, putting the brakes on a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda.

Obama has even alluded to a possible battle at the Supreme Court over the largest change to the immigration system in decades.

“The next step is to go to a higher court, the 5th Circuit. That will take a couple of months for us to file that and argue that before the 5th Circuit,” he said at a recent immigration town hall. “We expect to win in the 5th Circuit, and if we don’t, then we’ll take it up from there.”

Maybe John Roberts will rule the patently invalid executive action as a pardon, millions of ‘em. Legions of illegal aliens will be like Thanksgiving turkeys, saved from the metaphorical Jihadi John treatment by the benevolence of The Man, The Law, The State, C’est lui.

It will take an Army of Davids—Judge Hanen, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ted Cruz, Jodi Ernst, Mia Love, et al—to defeat this Goliath. You’re both welcome to join, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

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Picking Up the Pieces of a Shattered Justice System

You think the immigrations system is “broken” (everyone’s favorite word)?

After Ferguson, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Justice together again:

And it confirms that eyewitnesses either lied to investigators or refused to be interviewed out of fear of local vigilantes.

“Witness 109 claimed to have witnessed the shooting, stated that it was justified, and repeatedly refused to give formal statements to law enforcement for fear of reprisal should the Canfield Drive neighborhood find out that his account corroborated Wilson.”

Witness 113 “gave an account that generally corroborated Wilson, but only after she was confronted with statements she initially made in an effort to avoid neighborhood backlash. . . . She explained to the FBI that ‘You’ve gotta live the life to know it,’ and stated that she feared offering an account contrary to the narrative reported by the media that Brown held his hands up in surrender.”

Now there’s a story for the media: A community in which honest people can’t tell the truth for fear of running afoul local thugs enforcing “the narrative reported by the media.” Or is that more of a story about the media?

Courts can send you to the can for five years for the crime of perjury; another five for suborning perjury. Intimidating a witness has its own set of sentencing guidelines.

How many of you out there think a single witness or community “activist” will be charged with lying before the Grand Jury? Me neither. Same goes for those who looted, pillaged, and incited riot. Nothing. No justice.

So, Darren Wilson gets off (under an assumed name and new identity somewhere in Idaho); not so lucky Ferguson:

But let’s move to the other Ferguson fable, which is the Justice Department’s allegation, in an unfortunate second report, of systemic racism in the Ferguson police department.

This isn’t to say that the report doesn’t uncover more serious problems, including a number of racist emails in the department, policing that seems needlessly obnoxious or aggressive, and a municipal government desperate to prosecute every minor violation of the law in order to maximize city revenues—in effect, using cops as taxmen.

But this only demonstrates the journalistic truism that you can always find the “story” you’re looking for. Using ticket revenue and other fines to raise revenues is one of the oldest municipal tricks in the book, so much so that the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis even published a paper about it in 2006. “As local tax bases have been exhausted and public opposition to increases in local tax rates have increased over time, local governments face increased pressure to find alternative sources of revenue,” noted economists Thomas Garrett and Gary Wagner.

That turns out to be as true in Milwaukee, Nashville and Washington, D.C., as it is in Ferguson. So are we talking about institutional racism or just the usual government bloodsucking?

Exactly. The police were acting on instructions from elected officials. Just as they were in Staten Island, when trying to arrest Eric Garner for the tax crime of selling loose cigarettes on the street corner. It is a terrible use (and abuse) of police power, corrosive to the relationship between the officer on the beat and the community, but it is lawful. Blame the politicians who demand it, not the cops forced to carry it out. Same goes for the SWAT teams fielded by any number of federal agencies, from Education to the Railroad Retirement Board.

[T]he lesson of Ferguson is that there is no truth in statistics. There is truth in fact. There is truth in reason. There is truth in truthfulness. Nothing less.

To which I would add there is no truth in anything Obama and Holder have to say on race. None. Which is why they return to the subject so often.

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Where Does Darren Wilson Go to Get His Reputation Back?

Witness protection:

The Justice Department formally closed its investigation of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson, declining to bring criminal charges for the killing of Michael Brown.

In a report released Wednesday, prosecutors said that “Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations” of federal civil rights law.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the Justice Department report said.

The Justice Department investigation found that Brown reached into Wilson’s squad car and that a struggle ensued. Prosecutors couldn’t corroborate Wilson’s claim that Brown reached for his gun, but couldn’t find any evidence to disprove Wilson’s account. Brown moved at least 180 feet away from Wilson, but then turned and moved toward the officer, prosecutors said. Several witnesses claimed that Brown had his hands up, signaling surrender, when Wilson shot him. Some gave varying accounts, and some later recanted those claims made in media interviews.

The report says: “While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson — i.e., balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants — and varying accounts of how he was moving — i.e. ‘charging,’ moving in ‘slow motion’ or ‘running’ — they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him.”

Hands up, don’t shoot? Try hands out, don’t stint.

But Holder always gets his man (in blue):

In a separate report, the Justice Department described what it said was a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against African-Americans by the Ferguson police and municipal courts.

The department suggested 26 recommendations, including requiring the Ferguson police to providing training to ensure officers aren’t using bias in policing; that officers practice community policing by getting out of their cars and getting to know their communities; and that the police focus stops, searches and ticketing on protecting the public instead of as a fundraising method for the city’s coffers.

The investigation found that the Ferguson police and courts used minor traffic and other violations to raise money for the city, targeted African-American motorists for traffic infractions, and black residents disproportionately for violations such as jay walking.

Fine. Squeeze the cops till it hurts. As a jay walker of pallor, I support the equal opportunity to cross against the light. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find this sort of behavior in most police departments. The Ferguson fracas and fiasco wasn’t about the execution of an unarmed black man; it wasn’t about how much black lives matter; it was about jay walking. What a waste of time, money, and wide-screen TVs.

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That’s It?

To employ one of my recurrent themes: what was that all about?

ACCORDING TO a report in Monday’s New York Times, the Justice Department is preparing to tell the embattled Ferguson, Mo., police department to shape up or get sued. In an impending analysis, the Justice Department will reportedly accuse Ferguson authorities of racially discriminatory practices, a move that will force them to change their behavior voluntarily or face a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Uh-oh. Here comes the boom:

Justice Department investigators conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into the Ferguson police, from patrol car to lockup. One major finding, according to the Times, is that officers disproportionately pull over and arrest African Americans.

Eric Holder storms into Ferguson, MO like some crusading crime fighter, with the might and weight of the Justice Department behind him (and the rest of the Executive Branch behind them), and all he comes up with is excessive traffic stops for black people? For cause, it would seem, given the arrests that followed?

That’s it?

I use the analogy too often, but it so often fits: they nailed Al Capone only for tax evasion. Except in this case, the Ferguson PD isn’t guilty of much more than excessive ticketing (if even that). If the arrests after the traffic stops were bogus, I’m sure the Justice Department would have said so.

Michael Brown didn’t die because he or anyone else was pulled over in a traffic stop. He died because he got high, knocked over a convenience store (roughing up the owner in the process), walked obliviously down the middle of the street and MF-ed the cop who told him to knock it off, got into a fight with said cop, punching him and trying to grab his sidearm, then bull-rushed the cop when ordered to stop leaving the scene of the above crimes.

For Holder and company to go all Elliot Ness on FPD and come away with this report is an embarrassment. To Eric Holder.

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The Chicago Way

Do you think this is where Chimpy Bushitler McHalliburton and Dick-Don Cheney-Rumsfeld got the idea?

Seems too uncannily similar to be a coincidence:

If there’s one thing you must read today, it’s this: an expose in The Guardian, detailing the Chicago Police’s secret “black sites,” inspired by Guantanamo Bay and used to illegally detain American citizens.

According to the Guardian, a “nondescript” warehouse in Chicago’s Homan Square is used by the CPD for work they would like to keep “off-the-books,” particularly work that happens to violate the Constitution. “It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place,” Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes told The Guardian. “If you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” being subjected to the following treatments:

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.

Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.

Shackling for prolonged periods.

Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.

Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

You sure this wasn’t Abu Ghraib?

Or even Gitmo?

The article’s author, Spencer Ackerman, recently published another expose about the Chicago police, in which he accused an award-winning Chicago detective of engaging in horrific acts of interrogation and torture, including “shackled suspects to walls for extended periods, threatened their family members, and perhaps even planted evidence on them.” The detective, Richard Zurley [Zuley, actually], eventually transferred these tactics to Guantanamo Bay, where he “oversaw a shocking military interrogation that has become a permanent stain on his country.”

The examples of abuse in the article date from 2012 and 2013, well within the reign of Rahm Emanuel. I wonder if he recommended Det. Zuley to Obama for employment at Guantanamo?

Obama sure seems grateful.

PS: The original Grauniad article suggest the black site has been operational since the late 90s—so it could well have served as the model for Bush’s medieval torture chambers. Thanks for the suggestion, Chicago!

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Sorry, Trayvon

Can’t say they didn’t try:

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that George Zimmerman will not face federal criminal civil rights charges for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, 17, while the unarmed African American teenager was walking in Sanford, Fla. The shooting became a national flash-point, sparking a discussion of race relations that continues to reverberate in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and other incidents across the country.

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country.”

Holder that the “comprehensive examination” determined that there was not enough evidence for a federal hate crime prosecution. But he said that Martin’s “premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface.”

Absolutely, sir. We’ll continue that dialogue and confront those issues and tensions like there’s no tomorrow. For example, do not pound the head of someone who’s carrying a loaded weapon.

And lose the fascination with gangsta “culture”. Not healthy.

I disagree with the caption. I don’t thank Zimmerman for getting into that situation. He’s not liable, criminally or civilly, but he’s not entirely blameless.

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Guilty

Oh, to have been on this jury:

New York federal court was scheduled to hand down a verdict later Monday as to whether or not the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization can be held responsible for terror attacks that killed US citizens in Israel.

The $1 billion lawsuit was filed over a series of deadly attacks in or near Jerusalem that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, a decade ago. The plaintiffs have turned to the US court because some of the victims were American citizens.

At issue are several Palestinian terror incidents between 2001 and 2004 targeting civilians, including a bombing at a packed cafeteria at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, as well as suicide bombings and shootings on busy streets.

From the trial:

Family members suing Palestinian governing bodies took to the stand last week to share often heartbreaking memories of relatives killed in a spate of attacks against Israeli civilians in the early 2000s, known as the Second Intifada.

During one witness’s testimony, a juror “broke into sobs and uttered an expletive,” the Palestinian Authority’s lawyer Mark Rochon said.

“I don’t want to embarrass jurors, and I am very cognizant of the fact that an element of the damages can be powerful emotional testimony, but if someone has a personal experience … that would affect their ability to be fair, that’s something we do need to know about,” he added.

Rochon, from the Washington-based firm Miller & Chevalier, suspected that unexpected testimony about “sexual assault issues” caused the juror to weep.

Declining to issue a jury instruction, U.S. District Judge George Daniels commented, “This isn’t the first time that I have seen a juror cry or react strongly to the emotional testimony of a particular witness.”

Lawyers for the families contend that Palestinian Authority payment records, employment files and intelligence documents show a tie to the bombing’s “mastermind,” Ahmed Barghouti.

Lawyers for the families submitted records from the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service allegedly linking their employees Ahmed Salah and Ali Ja’ara to that attack, a spokeswoman said.

Ja’ara was the bomber, and Salah was convicted of aiding it, she added.

The Palestinian Authority’s lawyer Rochon contends that the paperwork reflects only his client’s massive “social welfare state.” He estimated that he would kick off a four-day defense case this week.

They got Al Capone for tax evasion. If they take down the PA and the PLO by bankrupting them, it won’t be enough. But it’ll have to do.

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The Fix Is In

Not that there was any doubt:

The Obama administration is refusing to publicly release more than 500 documents on the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups.

Twenty months after the IRS scandal broke, there are still many unanswered questions about who was spearheading the agency’s scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations.

The Hill sought access to government documents that might provide a glimpse of the decision-making through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups.

TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal. TIGTA also declined to comment for this article.

You demand justice?

Here ya go:

Holder conducted an interview with Melissa Harris-Perry on topics ranging from the Voting Rights Act to Ferguson, Missouri to the noises made by water birds.

“You know, we call you the duck,” Harris-Perry told Holder. “In nerdland,” she began, referring to her show’s fans.

“The duck?” a puzzled Holder asked.

“We call you the duck. In nerdland we say you have sort of a placid and even way of presenting, but you are just working for justice underneath,” explained Harris-Perry, mimicking the paddling motion of a duck as she shook her head feverishly.

Did it make her tampon earrings flop around?

“Would you quack for us?” Harris-Perry asked sincerely.

“Well, I’m not sure I’m going to do that, but, uh, I like the analogy,” Holder answered.

“You do like the analogy? Good!” Harris-Perry responded.

If we’re going to compare the Attorney General to fowl, I’d go with chickens**t.

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WWII Vets’ Lives Matter

We covered the brutal killing of Delbert “Shorty” Belton at the time it happened. Justice is finally having her say:

A judge sentenced Kenan Adams-Kinard to 20 years in prison Thursday for the 2013 murder of World War II veteran Delbert ‘Shorty’ Belton.

Adams-Kinard, 17, pleaded guilty on Jan. 7 to severely beating Belton in the parking lot of the Eagles Lodge as Belton sat in his car. His accused accomplice, Demetruis Glenn, is scheduled to stand trial in March.

Grief, forgiveness and redemption were on the minds of friends and family for both killer and victim.

Two of Belton’s nephews, as well as his friend Martha Denison, spoke before the sentencing, remembering the man they knew and loved, while expressing hope that Adams-Kinard could change.

Through tears, they described Belton as soft-spoken, patriotic and unfailingly kind.

“If he needed money or something,” Denison said, referring to Adams-Kinard, “all he had to do was ask and Shorty would have given it up without a problem.”

Nephew Steve Belton spoke about Belton’s service in Okinawa, and described him as the “patriarch” of the family – the last of his siblings left alive.

“He was small in stature, but he made up for it with heart,” he said.

I wasn’t there, but out of misery might have shone a ray of light:

Adams-Kinard read the court a lengthy prepared statement in which he asked for forgiveness and assured the Belton family that he has grown into a better person since the night he killed Belton.

“Life is a precious gift, and to know that I have taken the life of another person has severed my spirit,” he said. “From this day forward, I intend to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life.”

Judge Annette Plese said it was apparent Adams-Kinard had matured since he first appeared in her courtroom.

“You’re owning up and taking accountability for your actions. That’s what a man does,” she said.

Of course, it took a while to get there:

He did not address the accusation made in a letter tied to Adams-Kinard claiming the 88-year-old man shorted the teen on a crack deal. Belton’s friends and family have dismissed the claim as absurd, and police said there was no evidence to support it.

Water under the bridge. Just like the next twenty years of his life. See you in 2035, Kenan.

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What Does Al Sharpton Have in Common With…

Chuck Berry, Lauryn Hill, Ron Isley, Richard Hatch, Leona Helmsely, and Pete Rose?

Not a damn thing!

Serial tax avoidance appears to be a hallmark of Al Sharpton’s operations. But there’s a warning here: Others have gone to prison for lesser amounts. The list includes rock legend Chuck Berry, Grammy winner Lauryn Hill, Ron Isley of the Isley Brothers, Survivor reality star Richard Hatch, hotel queen Leona Helmsely, and baseball’s Pete Rose.

According to a New York Times’ review of government records last fall, the MSNBC host and civil rights activist personally faces federal tax liens for more than $3 million in back taxes owed, and state tax liens of $777,657. So in total, Sharpton reportedly owes more than $3.7 million in back taxes. His other two for-profit businesses, Raw Talent and Revals Communications, (both now defunct) owe anywhere from $717,000 to more than $800,000, based on state and federal tax liens, reports from the Times and National Review indicate. Revals Communications also either didn’t file its tax returns, or underpaid its tax bills from 1999 to 2002.

Sharpton’s National Action Network also owed more than $813,000 in federal back taxes as of December of 2012, according to the nonprofit’s recent filings. At one point, the National Action Network’s tax liability more than doubled last decade, jumping from $900,000 in 2003 to almost $1.9 milion in 2006. In 1993, Sharpton also had entered a guilty plea for the misdemeanor of failing to file his New York State income-tax return. Sharpton has also said the National Action Network had once given him a loan to pay for his daughters’ tuition, which is a violation of the law.

You know what they say, Al. Orange is the new black.

Leona Helmsley was quoted as saying “only little people pay taxes”. Al Sharpton has shrunk in size in recent years, but the littler Al Sharpton still doesn’t pay taxes.

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How Do You Spell LGBTQ?

If a baker can be forced to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding that might offend his religious beliefs—and he can be—then what’s the problem here?

A bakery is fighting a legal claim after it refused to inscribe a gay slur on a cake.

Thousands of customers are coming to the defense of the Azucar Bakery in Denver.

The owner says a customer came into her shop about a year ago asking to have the slur written on a bible-shaped cake, but she says she had to draw the line.

Marjorie Silva said she’d make the cake, but not write the message.

The customer cancelled the order then filed a religious discrimination complaint.

“We did feel it was not right for us to write hateful words or pictures about human beings,” Silva said.

People from across the world have sent messages in support of the owner’s decision.

A state agency will hear the case in March.

Boilerplate disclaimer: I support gay marriage, and oppose gay slurs.

But I also support religious freedom (as areligious as I am), and can’t get my head around a baker who does not discriminate against gay customers being compelled by the state to participate in a celebration he finds privately offensive.

That being the case, however, if the customer wants “fa**ot” written on a cake, start writing or we start seizing assets.

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