WHOOPEE! Obama Instructs Holder to investigate Holder!

Eric Holder

This goes beyond the ridiculous and is an insult to the intelligence of everyone concerned with freedom of speech, press or our Department of “Justice.” Obama has asked AG Holder to investigate his own actions!

Jonathan Turley’s post today is a must read:

President Barack Obama recently came out to remind people that “Leaks related to national security can put people at risk.” He however denied knowledge of this and the other scandals. In the past, Obama has been able to weather criticism by civil libertarians due to his iconic status with many citizens. This time is different. The media (rather belatedly) is seeing his Administration in a different light as a true threat to liberty. Now, Obama has given a speech proclaiming that he now thinks that reporters should not fear investigation for just doing their jobs so he has ordered an investigation . . . by Eric Holder and the Justice Department. Of course, it was disclosed on the same day that it was Holder who approved the abusive targeting of Fox reporter Jeff Rosen.

There is more. Click here to read it all.

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More Evidence of Double Standard for Prosecutors’ Dealing INjustice

Brooklyn Prosecutor Vecchione

ProPublica has another disturbing article today, including the troubling details of the wrongful prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of a man for 16 years, and the history of a district attorney’s office that has done nothing to stop it.  Now the wronged defendant has found a good lawyer, and they are suing the prosecutors and the city for $150 million.

Meanwhile, bar associations and supervisory attorneys have failed miserably to police their own.

For many legal experts, defense lawyers and advocates for the wrongly convicted, Vecchione [the prosecutor with a lengthy record of misconduct] is a prominent example of a troubling aspect of the American criminal justice system: Prosecutors who are implicated in misconduct often seem immune from meaningful punishment.

recent investigation by ProPublica looking at more than a decade’s worth of court records found that New York judges don’t routinely refer prosecutorial misconduct to state panels that handle attorney discipline, even when they overturn convictions and upbraid prosecutors for constitutional violations. State disciplinary panels, when they do get referrals, rarely impose meaningful sanctions. Read More »

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IRS Lois Lerner Pleads 5th Amendment in Congressional Hearing




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Freedom of Speech and Press In Peril

DOJ sealConcern continues to mount, as it should, over the Obama administration’s seizure and review of the telephone records of journalists, their movements and their contacts.  In fact, alarm bells should be sounding everywhere.  This administration has already criminalized more freedom of speech as espionage than any other. USA Today reports:

Gregg Leslie, legal director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said documents filed in support of search warrant in a leak prosecution involving Kim marks the first time a reporter has been classified as an unindicted co-conspirator or a participant in an alleged crime for seeking information.

The search warrant affidavit, dated May 28, 2010, and signed by FBI Special Agent Reginald Reyes, seeks contents from a reporter’s e-mail account, Read More »

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New York Times Editors Lament Failure to “Fulfill Brady’s Promise”

nytlogo152x23For the second time in the last two years, the New York Times has rightly pointed to open-file reform, coupled with “punishment for prosecutors who flout the rule,” as the “best way to fulfill the promise of Brady.” Citing the weakening of Brady in subsequent decisions, its inapplicability in the context of plea bargaining (“which account for about 95 percent of [criminal] cases”), and the lack of accountability even in the most egregious cases, the Times concludes that “the Brady rule” as currently enforced “is simply insufficient to ensure justice.”

Acknowledging the excellent examples of North Carolina and Ohio, the Times asserts that the “the better approach is to require the opening of prosecutors’ files to defendants, as a general rule.” These state statutes (bright-line rule not subject to any post-hoc materiality analysis) require “prosecutors  in felony cases, before trial, to make available to the defense ‘the complete files of all law enforcement agencies, investigatory agencies and prosecutors’ offices involved in the investigation of the crimes committed or the prosecution of the defendant.’”

DOJ sealThe failures of the Justice Department to adhere to even the most basic obligations of fairness in criminal prosecutions are well documented.  The Times therefore properly concludes, that Congress, like Ohio and North Carolina, should act to demand more of its federal prosecutors:

The Justice Department insists that it has solved this problem by tightening requirements for disclosure in its manual for federal prosecutors, but numerous misconduct scandals show that is not sufficient. Since the Brady decision, prosecutors throughout the justice   system have acquired more Read More »

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White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler Should Resign

Ruemmler & Obama

Ironic that we are just now getting a call from a prominent Democratic crisis manager for White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler to resign.  He bases it on reports of her prior knowledge of the IRS’s discriminatory and politicized harassment of conservative groups at the same time he touts her “impeccable legal credentials.”

Lanny Davis obviously knows nothing of-or like many others, simply chose to ignore-the unethical and corrupt practices Ruemmler employed while on the Enron Task Force along with former Acting Attorney General Matthew Friedrich (who later micromanaged the corrupt prosecution of former Senator Ted Stevens), and with now Deputy Director/head legal Counsel for the FBI Andrew Weissmann.

In fact, every case the Enron Task Force prosecutors actually took to trial was reversed in whole or in part for some form of their overreaching, illegal or unethical tactics.

Our question is:  Why is she in the White House in the first place?’  . . . . Unless, . . . obviously, this is the kind of  “talent” this President wants, and, apparently it was . . .  and, worse, it still is.

In a statement published in the Huffington Post in 2011 when she was appointed, Obama praised Ruemmler as “an outstanding lawyer with impeccable judgment. . . .”

In the same 2011 article, former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick said Ruemmler; “brings several strengths to the post, namely that she already knows the ‘traditions and values’ of the administration as well as the people there. In addition, Gorelick said, Ruemmler is someone who  ‘can be forceful when she needs to.'”

Really, where is the surprise that Ruemmler would condone or cover-up the IRS’s malevolent tactics?   No one has even acknowledged that Ruemmler has long had a serious grievance pending against her in front of the DC Disciplinary Authority-one that the DC Bar has had for 10 months, is still under active consideration, and could result in her suspension or disbarment Read More »

Michael Morton Act Signed Into Law By Texas Governor

After approval by both houses of the Texas legislature, Governor Rick Perry has signed the Michael Morton Act into law.  The new legislation, while not perfect advances Brady’s legacy by making uniform and crystal clear Texas prosecutors’ obligations to disclose to the Defendant potentially exculpatory evidence, such as witness testimony or offense reports. In pertinent part, the Act codifies that:

as soon as practicable after receiving a timely request from the defendant the state shall produce and permit the inspection and the electronic duplication, copying, and photographing, by or on behalf of the defendant, of any offense reports, any designated documents, papers, written or recorded statements of the defendant or a witness,     including witness statements of law enforcement officers … or any designated books, accounts, letters, photographs, or objects or other tangible things not otherwise privileged that constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action and that  are in the possession, custody, or control of the state or any person under contract with  the state.

While a cynic could argue that the statute goes no further than Brady demands, justice will undoubtedly be served by the Act – enforcement of its close-to “open file” requirements would have saved Michael Morton nearly 25 years of his life. An interview from his young son, withheld from the defense, indicated that another man had murdered Morton’s wife. Perhaps more significantly, the fact that a State legislature has acted at all, and in an attempt to curb prosecutorial abuses and even the playing field for criminal defendants, suggests that the worm could turn toward a more fair and transparent criminal justice system.  That would be a refreshing change from the gamesmanship and inequality that have infected the system in the 50 years since Brady was decided.

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Government Seizes Phone Records to Intimidate


Investigative reporter Carl Bernstein on Tuesday called the scandal involving the Department of Justice securing telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors a “nuclear event.” “This is outrageous,” Bernstein said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It is totally inexcusable.

This administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning.”The object of it is to intimidate people who talk to reporters,” he said. “This was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event, and now it’s happened.

“The AP reported late Monday afternoon that the “Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press.

“The organization was not told the reason for the seizure. But the timing and the specific journalistic targets strongly suggest they are related to a continuing government investigation into the leaking of information a year ago about the CIA’s disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner, The New York Times reported.

Under President Barack Obama, six current and former government officials have been indicted in leak-related cases, twice the number brought under all previous administrations combined.

See the full article at http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/carl-bernstein-ap-scandal/2013/05/14/id/504370?s=al&promo_code=137C0-1#


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“Justice” Department Spying on Reporters

DOJ sealNow the FIRST Amendment is under attack:  Freedom of Speech and of the Press.  It is way past time for Attorney General Eric Holder to GO.  The latest surreptitious seizure of Associated Press telephone call records just piles onto the outrageous abuses of power by the Obama administration for which past Presidents were excoriated.  Georgetown Law Professor and friend Jonathan Turley has the following post which we quote in full:

Now, it appears that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. This disclosure follows another recent disclosure that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative groups associated with the Tea Party. Yet, once again, most Democrats remain silent in a type of cult of personality where principle is discarded in favor of loyalty to the President.

The spying on reporters by the Obama Administration included outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters. The seizure covered general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn. The Justice Department showed no restraint or concern, even including the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. Read More »

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Happy Birthday Brady v. Maryland!



We reproduce the primary message from a letter to all the members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers from its President:

Fifty years ago today, the United States Supreme Court held in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), that the government must disclose to the defense all information favorable to the accused. This obligation — which applies to both the determination of guilt and the imposition of sentence — is too often ignored. The list of victims of the government’s failure to comply with this constitutional requirement continues to grow. Summaries of stories like those of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, Lindsey Manufacturing, Edgar Rivas, and Anthony Washington are available in NACDL’s “Human Cost of Brady Violations” paper.

The systemic violation of Brady must stop. Towards this end, NACDL seeks codification of the government’s obligation to provide to the defense all information favorable to the accused. On March 15, 2012, with NACDL support, leading U.S. Senators introduced bipartisan legislation to achieve needed discovery reform in criminal proceedings – The Fairness in Disclosure Act of 2012. This Act was introduced on the heels of Special Counsel Schuelke’s Report to Judge Emmet Sullivan on Prosecutorial Misconduct in the late Sen. Ted Stevens case. And the NACDL Task Force on Discovery Reform is developing model state disclosure legislation to aid legislators in 50 states to ensure due process for those accused of crime.

The May edition of The Champion will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brady. It will focus on the critical subjects of Brady and discovery in criminal proceedings. More information about NACDL’s work in the area of discovery reform is available at www.nacdl.org/discoveryreform. Enforcing the constitutional obligation to disclose favorable information to our clients is central to NACDL’s mission.  * * *


Steven D. Benjamin
NACDL President

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