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Holder to Announce Civil Rights Investigation of Ferguson Police

Several news outlets are reporting Eric Holder will announce the Justice Department's civil rights division will launch an investigation into actions of Ferguson police.

A 1994 federal law gave the civil rights division the authority to probe whether police departments are engaging in a “pattern or practice” of violating constitutional rights or federal rights. The law was enacted after the videotaped beating of African American motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.

...Federal investigators look at patterns of excessive force, complaints against officers, and department training to help officers avoid racial profiling and unnecessary use of force.


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Fla. Judge Who Smacked Public Defender Given Leave of Absence

Florida Judge John Murphy got angry when a public defender refused to waive speedy trial. He told the defender if he wanted to fight, to go into the hallway and he'd beat his as*. The public defender didn't think he meant he'd physically beat him, and went into the hallway to continue the verbal dispute. The judge smacked him. The camera doesn't catch the hallway brawl, but you can hear it.

Judge Murphy has been relieved of his duties and will undergo anger management. The public defender's office will file a bar complaint against the judge.

The public defender who got whooped has declined to press charges. [More...]

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DEA to Pay $500k to Tranlators for Improper Polygraphs

Remember the lawsuit filed by a group of contract translators for the DEA who translated Spanish wiretaps over polygraph examinations?

The DEA has settled with the translators, and agreed to pay 14 contractors $500,000. [More...]

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Federal Judge Blasts ATF Stings, Dismisses Charges

In a very powerful opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright has dismissed the charges against three defendants in an ATF reverse sting case, finding the sting constituted outrageous government conduct.

The opinion is here.

The time has come to remind the Executive Branch that the Constitution charges it with law enforcement—not crime creation. A reverse-sting operation like this one transcends the bounds of due process and makes the Government “the oppressor of its people.” ...In this case, the Constitution will not tolerate subjecting an individual to prosecution for an imaginary crime subject to a very real punishment — a punishment which rests entirely on ATF agents’ whims. Since it is the Court’s sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, the Court GRANTS Dunlap’s Motion to Dismiss the Indictment.


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Capetown Police Brutality Captured on Video

A woman named Nicole Peterson Speelman in Capetown, South Africa recorded this two minute video clip yesterday and posted it to her Facebook page. A man is pulled out of his car, stripped naked, and then for no apparent reason, kicked and beaten by police, before being put in a van. Truly disgraceful police conduct. (Click on the "full screen" button for a much better view.)

At the end of the video you can hear Ms. Speelman, who apparently took the video from her office nearby, screaming at the cops, asking why they were beating the man. One cop starts to walk in the direction of her voice, and the video ends. A FB friend asked her whether the officer came after her. Her reply:

Yes he came upstairs banged on our door he came to arrest me for sreaming out the window but all of us asked him why did he do that to the man so he said he was just trying to get him in the van and he arrested my collogue for police interference and the charges was later dropped. [More...]

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Florida Chemist Imperils Prescription Drug Convictions

A chemist with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Pensacola who conducted drug tests in 2,600 cases in 35 counties around the state has been relieved of duty after it was determined some of the drug samples in his cases were tampered with. The chemist allegedly swapped out some of the prescription pills with over the counter pills. Hundreds of drug convictions are now imperiled.

Head-scratching comment from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi:

"This situation simply underlines the extent of the problem our country faces with prescription drug abuse."

Really? A police chemist falsifies evidence and the blame lies not with him but with those using the medication?

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72 Retired NYC Cops Charged With Social Security Fraud

Larger version here.

This is an amazing story. 72 former NYC cops and 8 former fireman are among 106 people charged in New York state court for a massive social security fraud scam that robbed the Government of an estimated $400 million. The amounts paid to these defendants was over $20 million. You can read the Indictment here.

The scheme was allegedly spearheaded by a former FBI agent who is former prosecutor (in the rackets unit, no less, of the Nassau County DA's office.) He and the other three organizers allegedly collected $28,000 per applicant.

Keep in mind, the Indictment is merely a charge, and all of them are presumed innocent. Their lawyers say they did nothing wrong.

The DA says many of the defendants falsely claimed they were disabled due to PTSD from the 9/11 attacks.

What did them in? Their Facebook pages, showing photos of them doing activities they claimed they were too disabled to do. And recorded undercover telephone calls. [More...]

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MA Lab Chemist Sentenced to Prison

Former MA state chemist Annie Dookhan was sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison today for falsifying lab tests.

Dookhan’s falsification of drug tests, in an attempt to look like a highly productive employee, prompted the release of hundreds of convicts, raised questions about thousands of cases, and forced the state to spend millions to address the problems

I reported the details of her fraud, and the implications here.

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US to Pay $4 Million to Student for DEA Neglect in Jail

Remember Daniel Chong, the San Diego college student the DEA forgot about and left in a jail cell for 5 days? The cell was 5' by 10' with no bathroom. Since they forgot he was there, no food or water were provided and he had to drink his own urine. Nor did they hear his screams.

The U.S. has agreed to pay him $4 million. DOJ handled the negotiations. More here.

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Aaron Swartz Lawyers Seek Misconduct Review Against Prosecutor

Via Ryan Grim and Ryan Reilly at Huffington Post, Aaron Swartz's lawyers have asked the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to review the conduct of AUSA Stephen Heymann. In their letter to OPR, available here, they allege Heymann withheld evidence and improperly sought to coerce Swartz into a plea deal. From the letter:

First, AUSA Heymann appears to have failed timely to disclose exculpatory evidence relevant to Mr. Swartz's pending motion to suppress. Indeed, evidence suggests AUSA Heymann may have misrepresented to the Court the extent of the federal government's involvement in the investigation into Mr. Swartz's conduct prior to the application for certain search warrants.

Second, AUSA Heymann appears to have abused his discretion when he attempted to coerce Mr. Swartz into foregoing his right to a trial by pleading guilty. Specifically, AUSA Heymann offered Mr. Swartz four to six months in prison for a guilty plea, while threatening to seek over seven years in prison if Mr. Swartz chose to go to trial.

Swartz' lawyers say they are filing the claim on behalf of Aaron's family. [More...]

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Why Do Police Lie Under Oath?

The New York Times had an op-ed this weekend, Why Police Lie Under Oath. The article quotes Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, who wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

Why do they do it? [More...]

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Suburban Chicago Cops Charged With Ripping Off Drug Dealers

Three police officers in Schaumburg, Il, a suburb of Chicago, are in jail with bond set at $750,000 on charges they ripped off drug dealers, put the drugs back on the street, and pocketed the proceeds.

Three Schaumburg police officers conspired to steal drugs they had seized during legitimate busts, then split the profits after their informant put the drugs back on the streets, with one of the officers later admitting he did it for “the thrill of it," according to prosecutors.

John Cichy, 30, Matthew Hudak, 29, and Terrance O’Brien, 47, were captured on video surveillance and audio recordings stealing money and drugs from the dealers, and all three have made incriminating statements, prosecutor Audriana Anderson said in court this morning.


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