Posted: March 30, 2017 Filed under: Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: American Farm Bureau Federation, Associated Press, Capital punishment, Donald Trump, Presidency of George W. Bush, Republican Party (United States), Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, United States district court, United States Environmental Protection Agency
The Constitution guarantees our right to a jury trial in “all criminal prosecutions.” Our commitment to this constitutional safeguard is tested when the government haughtily claims a trial isn’t necessary…
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Lee v. United States.
The case, which concerns the right to counsel and the right to trial by jury, is a very interesting one.
In 1982, Jae Lee came to the United States from South Korea as a child. Now 48 years old, Lee has lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for decades. In 2009, he pled guilty to a drug crime after his lawyer assured him that he could not be deported as a result.
As it turned out, Lee received bad legal advice. His conviction made Lee subject to mandatory removal, meaning that after serving several years in prison, he would eventually be deported to South Korea and essentially banished from the U.S.
When Lee learned of this mistake, he asked the court to vacate his plea, arguing that his counsel’s assistance was ineffective and he only pled guilty because of the recommendation from his lawyer.
He wants to take his case before a jury. The district court denied this motion because of the overwhelming evidence against Lee, ruling that his conviction at trial was so certain that his counsel’s bad advice didn’t actually harm him, particularly given the much longer prison sentence he would receive if convicted after trial.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed that a jury wasn’t needed to determine Lee’s guilt and that denying the “chance to throw a Hail Mary at trial is not prejudicial” and therefore doesn’t violate Lee’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial.
Federal prosecutors say there’s no need for a trial because the evidence against Lee is strong, but our constitutional right to trial by jury doesn’t depend on the government’s assessment of its own case.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reasoned that that the only chance Lee had was acquittal by “jury nullification,” which is the doctrine that says a jury can return a “not guilty” verdict even after it has concluded that the person on trial violated the law. Why order a new trial based upon an idea so irrational and antiquated, the Court reasoned.
Well, for one thing, there’s nothing wrong with jury nullification. The Framers of our Constitution believed that jury nullification was part and parcel of what a jury trial was all about.
The Supreme Court itself has noted that the jury is supposed to be the “conscience of the community” and should check the government when necessary to protect individuals from injustice or oppression. The jury cannot perform that function if it is told that it must always apply the law mechanically, without regard to justice.
Lee is now pressing the matter at the Supreme Court, which heard his argument earlier this week. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 8, 2017 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Education, Law & Justice | Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, Boy-Crazy Teacher, Cedar Rapids, County attorney, Iowa, Judge, Mandatory sentencing, Mary Beth Haglin, Plea, Preliminary injunction, Sexual Misconduct, Suspended sentence, Teacher, United States district court, Washington High
In addition to the jail time, Haglin also will have to serve a special sentence of parole for 10 years and be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years due to the nature of the offense.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Trish Mehaffey reports: A judge on Friday sentenced former Washington
High substitute teacher Mary Beth Haglin to 90 days in jail for having a sexual relationship — that started in 2015 and continued into last year — with a 17-year-old Washington High
Sixth Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever said he didn’t think a deferred judgment and probation, as recommended by defense, and 180 days in jail, as recommended by prosecutor, were appropriate.
McKeever said he had considered all the facts of the case and both recommendations, but he believed the appropriate sentence was 360 days in jail. He did, however, suspend 270 days, which requires Haglin to serve 90 days in jail. He also placed her on supervised probation for two years.
Tell it to the judge
Haglin, 25, of Cedar Rapids, was found guilty by McKeever in December of sexual exploitation by a school employee, an aggravated misdemeanor. She agreed to a bench or nonjury trial based on the “minutes of testimony,” a limited summary of evidence the prosecution would present at trial.
In addition to the jail time, Haglin also will have to serve a special sentence of parole for 10 years and be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years due to the nature of the offense.
[ALSO SEE – ‘It’s the School’s Fault I Had Sex with That Boy’]
McKeever also warned her that because this is a sexual offense she would be subject to an enhanced penalty — more prison time — for any future conviction.
Haglin, during the sentencing, apologized to the victim and the court. She never went into teaching for this to happen, she said.
“I’m more complex than this one snapshot in time,” Haglin told the judge.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Heidi Carmer said during the hearing these kinds of cases are particularly difficult because the best outcome for both the victim and the community have to be considered. But the facts in this case “can’t be overlooked.” There was an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student, she argued.
Carmer said 180 days in jail would hold her accountable, protect the victim and community and discourage others from this kind of crime.
Katie Frank, Haglin’s lawyer, asked the judge to consider a deferred judgment or a suspended sentence and probation. Frank argued that Haglin had no previous criminal history, and she believed it was the intent of the law, that because this wasn’t a forcible felony, she would be eligible for a deferred or suspended judgment. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 7, 2016 Filed under: Economics, Mediasphere, Science & Technology, White House | Tags: American Civil Liberties Union, American Legislative Exchange Council, Barack Obama, Bill (law), Bureau of Land Management, Congressional Research Service, Fiscal year, Presidency of Barack Obama, Scott W. Skavdahl, United States, United States district court
WASHINGTON — In a recent stump speech for Hillary Clinton, President Obama once again took credit for increased domestic energy production and low gasoline prices:
“Remember when we were all concerned about our dependence on foreign oil? Well, let me tell you — we’ve cut the amount of oil we buy from other countries in half. Remember when the other team was promising they were going to get gas prices down in like 10 years? We did it…”
Today, the Institute for Energy Research released an updated analysis explaining how the increase in energy production has happened despite the president’s policies, not because of them. Using a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, IER’s analysis highlights the stark contrast between booming oil and natural gas production on private and state lands and the anemic production on federal lands. IER’s findings include:
- In fiscal year 2015, oil production on federal lands was 0.8 percent more than its high reached in fiscal year 2010, while production on private and state lands was 113 percent higher.
- Natural gas production on federal lands has not regained the high reached in fiscal year 2007. For example, it was 27 percent less in fiscal year 2015 than in fiscal year 2010, while production on private and state lands in 2015 was up by 55 percent since 2010.
- Under the Obama administration, it takes an average of 237 days for the BLM to process a federal drilling permit.
[Click here to read IER’s full analysis.]
- In contrast, some states approve permits within 10 business days.
- The average number of leases issued by Obama’s BLM is almost 60 percent less than the average issued by the Clinton Administration and over 45 percent less than those issued by the Bush 43 Administration.
In recent years, oil and natural gas production on private and state lands has skyrocketed, while production on federal lands is largely in decline and has been throughout most of President Obama’s time in office. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 10, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Mediasphere, Religion, Terrorism, War Room | Tags: 1996 United States campaign finance controversy, Bill Clinton, Chicago, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Democratic National Committee, Democratic Party (United States), Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States, United States Attorney, United States district court
Richard A. Serrano, Richard Winton, Sarah Parvini and James Queally report: An examination of digital equipment recovered from the home of the couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last week has led FBI investigators to believe the shooters were planning an even larger assault, according to federal government sources.
Investigators on Thursday continued to search for digital footprints left by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, scouring a downtown San Bernardino lake for electronic items, including a hard drive that the couple was hoping to destroy, sources told The Times.
FBI agents will probably spend days searching Seccombe Lake and canvassing the neighborhood for clues after receiving a tip that the couple may have visited the area on the day of the attack, according to David Bowdich, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Farook and Malik were in the final planning stages of an assault on a location or building that housed a lot more people than the Inland Regional Center, possibly a nearby school or college, according to federal sources familiar with the widening investigation.
Investigators have based that conclusion on evidence left behind on Farook and Malik’s computers and digital devices, not all of which the couple were able to destroy before they were killed in a firefight with police, the sources said.
Images of San Bernardino-area schools were found on a cellphone belonging to Farook, according to a law enforcement source. But the source cautioned that Farook may have had a legitimate reason to have the images because his work as a county health inspector involved checking on school dining facilities.
On Thursday, one of the federal government sources told The Times that Farook asked his friend and neighbor, Enrique Marquez, to buy two military-style rifles used in the attacks because he feared he “wouldn’t pass a background check” if he attempted to acquire the weapons on his own. The rifles were bought at a local gun store, the source said.
The timing of the rifle purchases is significant to FBI investigators. Another federal government source previously told The Times that Farook may have been considering a separate terror plot in 2011 or 2012.
Farook was self-radicalizing around that time, FBI Director James Comey said, and met Malik soon after, eventually escorting her to the United States. Farook was a practicing Muslim. Marquez converted to Islam around the time he purchased the weapons, sources have told The Times.
FBI agents believe Farook abandoned his plans to launch the earlier attack after a law enforcement task force arrested three men in Chino in November 2012. The men were later convicted of charges related to providing material support to terrorists and plotting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. A fourth man arrested in Afghanistan also was convicted in the scheme. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 21, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Entertainment, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Audi, Beverly Hills, California, Class action, Escorts, Hookers, Lawsuit, Los Angeles, New York Post, Prince, Prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia, United States district court
Prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is the son of the late King Abdullah, allegedly engaged in the lurid behavior at his $37 million mansion in Beverly Hills, according to a lawsuit filed by a trio of women who worked for him there, the Daily Mail reports.
The lawsuit accuses Al Saud, 29, of being drunk and on drugs — and of making crude sexual advances on men and women alike.
The prince is accused of getting on top of one woman and grinding on her in a “sexual and aggressive manner.” He also allegedly threatened the life of another woman after she refused to “party” with him, the report said. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 11, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Religion, War Room | Tags: Chattanooga, Columbus, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Golden Triangle Regional Airport, ISIS, Istanbul, Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Tennessee, The Clarion-Ledger, United States district court
But in reality, according to a criminal complaint, she and her soon-to-be husband had a far more sinister trip in mind: flying from Mississippi to Europe, then traveling to Syria and joining ISIS.
Now 20-year-old Jaelyn Delshaun Young and 22-year-old Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla are facing federal charges after authorities arrested them at Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus, Mississippi, over the weekend. They’re accused of conspiring and attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS…(read more)
Posted: August 10, 2015 Filed under: Law & Justice, Mediasphere | Tags: Advertising, Apple Inc, Class action, Cologne, False advertising, Human settlement, MacKeeper, United States district court, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Zeobit
Mikey Campbell reports: The original developers of much maligned Mac security software MacKeeper have agreed to a $2 million settlement in a class action lawsuit over deceptive claims and false advertisement, with part of the sum set aside for customer refunds.
Under the proposed settlement, ZeoBIT, creators of MacKeeper that later sold the software to German firm Kromtech, will put up to $2 million in a fund to cover attorney fees, refunds and administrative costs, reports MacWorld. One-third is earmarked for lawyers, with a large chunk of the remainder to be meted out equally among claimants who purchased MacKeeper prior to July 8. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 10, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, White House | Tags: Beth Wilkinson, Cheryl Mills, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Contempt of court, Court order, Emmet Sullivan, Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Internal Revenue Service, Judicial Watch, Pantsuit Report, United States Department of Justice, United States Department of State, United States district court
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court also demanded Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin provide assurances by Wednesday that they would not delete any federal records in their possession.
Sarah Westwood reports: A federal judge ordered Hillary Clinton and two of her top aides not to delete any potentially work-related emails after Clinton’s former chief of staff vowed to discard all electronic copies of her records by Monday.
“The destruction of federal documents in the face of a court order is par for the course for a Clinton-related scandal….If not for the swift action of Judicial Watch’s legal team and an alert federal judge, there is no telling what important public information would have been lost forever.”
— Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court also demanded Clinton, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin provide assurances by
Wednesday that they would not delete any federal records in their possession.
The order came Friday evening in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch seeking documentation of a controversial employment status bestowed on Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, that allowed her to work simultaneously for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.
After Sullivan asked Clinton, Mills and Abedin to certify under penalty of perjury that they had each submitted all work-related emails, only Clinton reportedly responded.
Mills and Abedin seemingly ignored requests that they had handed over all their emails as each continued to prepare emails for the State Department. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 8, 2015 Filed under: Law & Justice, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Advertising, Ageism, Albany, Class action, discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Lawsuit, LGBT, New York, United States district court, Walmart
The suit claims that in September 2013, 30 employees were targeted for dismissal, mostly older and minority employees. They were replaced ‘in virtually every case by a white employee under the age of 40,’ the suit claims.
Keith J. Kelly reports: The New York Times Co. and its chief revenue officer are being sued by a former ad executive with nine years of service for “age, gender and race” discrimination after she got a new boss.
Tracy Quitasol, a 51-year-old Asian-American woman, was let go in January 2014 by Meredith Levien, who was a high-profile hire from Forbes two years ago and is now the chief revenue officer of the NYT Co.
Quitasol had been heading the Idea Lab, designed to come up with new digital ad programs, and was the executive director of product marketing and ad platform innovation.
The most explosive claim in the suit is the allegation that Levien, in a downsizing that took place in September 2013, let go predominantly older and minority employees.
A Times spokeswoman pointed out the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has passed on taking action on Quitasol’s complaints and said, “We plan to mount a vigorous defense against this suit.”
[Read the full text here, at New York Post]
On the personal front, Quitasol claims in the Manhattan federal court suit that her problems began when Levien — then the executive vice president of advertising — along with the company’s human resources department failed to curb a junior-level staffer who refused to follow her instructions.
Quitasol claims it was a case of “gender discrimination” by the male employee — who, the suit claims, would only respond to instructions from male superiors. She brought the problem to the attention of Levien and HR who, the suit alleges, failed to take action. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 29, 2015 Filed under: Entertainment, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, fraud, hoax, Jann Wenner, journalism, Lawsuit, Phi Kappa Psi, propaganda, Rape, Rolling Stone, Sexual assault, The New York Times, United States district court, University of Virginia
The magazine commissioned an analysis of the article by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and its report in April cited failures at every stage of the reporting process. After the report was made public, Rolling Stone retracted the article.
The magazine has since been the target of lawsuits from an assistant dean at the university and by three members of the fraternity at the center of the article, who filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday.
The New York Times
Posted: June 24, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, U.S. News | Tags: Boston, Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Massachusetts, Sport utility vehicle, United States district court, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Watertown, WCVB-TV
Morgan Rousseau reports: Police arrested a man who drove an SUV past the barricades of a Boston court before removing what appeared to be a large knife or cleaver from under his rear license plate.
A Metro photographer at the scene said police wrangled the bearded man to the ground before arresting him. No one was hurt. The incident happened around 12:50 p.m. outside of the Moakley Federal Court entrance.
Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, is currently inside the court facing victims of the 2013 terror attack. The court has a high media presence today due to the formal sentencing. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 30, 2014 Filed under: Global, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Appellate court, Berkeley, Center for Constitutional Rights, Commencement speech, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Jan Brewer, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States district court, University of California
Liberals and even some conservatives embrace the ‘heckler’s veto’ threat to the First Amendment
Barry A. Fisher writes: An essential freedom-of-speech paradigm was established in 1949 by the Supreme Court in Terminiello v. Chicago. In that case a vitriolic, racist speaker spoke to an auditorium packed with supporters. Outside the auditorium was what was described as “ ‘a surging, howling mob hurling epithets’ at those who would enter and ‘tried to tear their clothes off.’ ” The police blamed the mob’s action on the speaker, Arthur Terminiello, a Catholic priest under suspension by his bishop. He was convicted of disturbing the peace and fined.
“University of Chicago law professor Harry Kalven Jr. would later coin the term “heckler’s veto” to describe what would have happened had the court decided otherwise. First Amendment rights could be “vetoed” by others who create a public disturbance that forces the silencing of the speaker.”
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, reversed the conviction and ruled that Terminiello’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. The court said that the police, instead of taking action against the speaker, should have protected him and controlled the crowd, including making arrests if necessary. University of Chicago law professor Harry Kalven Jr. would later coin the term “heckler’s veto” to describe what would have happened had the court decided otherwise. First Amendment rights could be “vetoed” by others who create a public disturbance that forces the silencing of the speaker.
Sony ’s recent crisis over the film “The Interview”—along with the domestic political correctness and anti-hate speech movements, various international agreements and globalization itself—is leading the country precisely toward a heckler’s veto.
There is growing support, including among academics and racial and religious advocacy groups, that what they define as hate speech…Law professors have concocted influential concepts like ‘outsider jurisprudence,’ ‘critical race theory,’ ‘critical feminist theory’, and ‘storytelling’ theory to define some kinds of politically incorrect speech as not speech at all, but ‘mechanisms of subordination.'”
Protesters have silenced speakers on several occasions this year, sometimes with the law’s support. In February a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California high school’s decision to prohibit students from wearing American-flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo “to avert violence.” In August a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ejection of an anti-Islam Christian group from an Arab festival in Dearborn, Mich., on the theory that the group’s speech would incite festivalgoers to violence. (In October the full court agreed to reconsider the decision.)
In December protesters against the non-indictment of a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., stormed into an auditorium at the University of California, Berkeley, and shut down a speech by Internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel . And during the past academic year, protesters caused the cancellation of commencement addresses by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University, and International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde at Smith College. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 16, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Andrew C. McCarthy, Arthur J. Schwab, Barack Obama, Enforcement discretion, Executive (government), Judicial opinion, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Substantive rights, United States district court, United States federal judge
Andrew C. McCarthy writes:
“I wonder how the Republican establishment will take this: A federal court has the gumption to declare the obvious — namely, that Obama’s immigration policy is unconstitutional, just as Republican candidates argued while seeking votes during the recent midterm election campaign — only three days after 20 Republican senators astonishingly joined with the Democrats to endorse Obama’s policy as constitutionally valid.”
[Also see – Chris Christie Prediction: ‘In 2017, there won’t be an Obamacare‘]
From Jon Adler‘s analysis on Judge Schwab’s opinion at the Volokh Conspiracy…
Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.
According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.
This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I’ve now posted the opinion here.]
The procedural background of the case is somewhat unusual. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 26, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: ATF gunwalking scandal, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, John D. Bates, Judicial Watch, Justice Department, United States Department of Justice, United States district court, Vaughn
Sharyl Attkisson writes: The unexpected resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder follows a series of court rulings against his Department of Justice over its failure to produce documents related to the government’s “Fast and Furious” firearms operation.
Holder also has come under increasing congressional criticism for a tepid investigation of evidence that IRS officials deliberately targeted tea party and other conservative groups for greater scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Calling the government’s arguments for “even more time … unconvincing,” a federal judge this week refused to grant Holder’s Justice Department the additional time it requested to turn over a list of Operation Fast and Furious documents withheld under executive privilege exerted by President Obama.
The list is referred to as a “Vaughn index” and requires the Justice Department to justify document-by-document the reasons it hasn’t released the materials. This exercise alone often prompts the release of documents.
The Justice Department sought to delay the Vaughn index until one day before the Nov. 4 midterm elections. But the court ordered the index produced by Oct. 22 instead. The order comes in a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 13, 2014 Filed under: Censorship, Law & Justice, Mediasphere | Tags: Amicus curiae, Cato Institute, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Ohio, Ohio Election Commission, P. J. O'Rourke, Susan B. Anthony List, Timothy Black, United States district court
Over at The Corner, Ian Tuttle has two items concerning an Ohio free speech court ruling:
An Ohio federal judge landed a blow for free-speech advocates on Thursday, striking down a law that gave the state government the right to regulate political speech it deemed false.
Under the law, it was illegal to “post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, if the statement is designed to promote the election, nomination, or defeat of the candidate.” According to U.S. District Court judge Timothy Black’s decision: “We do not want the government (i.e., the Ohio Elections Commission) deciding what is political truth – for fear that the government might persecute those who criticize it. Instead, in a democracy, the voters should decide.”
Politico reports the details of the suit here.
National Review Online
Then there’s this:
P. J. O’Rourke’s Defense of Truthiness – O’Rourke’s brief here
I noted [above] U.S. District Court judge Timothy Black’s ruling yesterday striking down an Ohio law that allowed the state election commission to censor “false” political speech.
The judge’s decision is a good one, but the best reading in the case is an amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of the plaintiff — by none other than right-wing humorist P.J. O’Rourke. “The case concerns amici,” he writes, “because the law at issue undermines the First Amendment’s protection of the serious business of making politics funny.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 21, 2014 Filed under: Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: Andrew Breitbart, David Glass, Dick Cheney, Larry O'Connor, Resignation of Shirley Sherrod, Tom Vilsack, United States Department of Justice, United States district court
POLITICO‘s Josh Gerstein reports: A federal judge delivered a severe tongue-lashing to a Justice Department lawyer Thursday, slamming the Obama Administration for its handling of demands for government records in the libel lawsuit fired Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod filed against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
During a 40-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon repeatedly ripped into the government and DOJ trial counsel David Glass for resisting requests from both sides in the case for government files and e-mails that might be of use in the litigation. At one point, the judge snapped at Glass, ordering him to “sit right down.”
Sherrod was forced to resign as a state rural development director for USDA in 2010 after Breitbart posted video clips online from a speech she gave earlier in the year at an NAACP event. The videos appeared to suggest that Sherrod was a racist. Within a matter of hours, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dismissed her, acting in consultation with the White House.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 27, 2013 Filed under: Law & Justice, U.S. News | Tags: National Security Agency, NSA, September 11 attacks, United States, United States Constitution, United States district court, United States federal judge, William H. Pauley III
The judge says the government learned from its mistakes on 9/11. | AP Photo
NEW YORK — A federal judge on Friday found that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records is legal and a valuable part of the nation’s arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism and “only works because it collects everything.”
U.S. District Judge William Pauley said in a written opinion that the program “represents the government’s counter-punch” to eliminate al-Qaida’s terror network by connecting fragmented and fleeting communications.
“This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” Pauley said. “The collection is broad, but the scope of counterterrorism investigations is unprecedented.”
He said the mass collection of phone data “significantly increases the NSA’s capability to detect the faintest patterns left behind by individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations. Armed with all the metadata, NSA can draw connections it might otherwise never be able to find.”
He added that such a program, if unchecked, “imperils the civil liberties of every citizen” and he noted the lively debate about the subject across the nation, in Congress and at the White House.
“The question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This court finds it is. But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of government to decide,” he said.
Read the rest of this entry »