Category: Criminal law

Modus Operandi or Old News? Comey Under Investigation In New Leak Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey is back in the news this week after The New York Times  reported late Thursday that he is again under investigation for leaking information to the media. The Justice Department Inspector General previously found that Comey was a leaker and violated FBI policy in his handling of FBI memos, including material  containing the “code name and true identity” of a sensitive source. Now, he is again accused of leaking information. There is an element of a modus operandi in the story since the same academic Comey used in the earlier leaks is also named in this leak, Columbia Law Professor Daniel Richman.

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Mississippi Man Sentenced To 12 Years For Having Cellphone In Jail

There is a deeply disturbing ruling out of Mississippi where the state supreme court affirmed the sentence of Willie Nash for having a cellphone in the Newton County Jail. He received an absurd 12-year sentence. The decision not only shows how our criminal justice system continues to disproportionate sentencing but also how the Eighth Amendment has been effectively gutted as a tool to address such cases.

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Courting Disaster? The Democrats Are Demanding Witnesses With One Notable Exception

Below is my column in the Washington Post (slightly expanded) on the upcoming fight over witnesses, including the unresolved question of Hunter Biden. The problem facing Democrats is that Hunter Biden is a clearly material witness to the defense on why there was a hold on military aid to Ukraine. The plain fact is that, from the perspective of the defense, the worst Hunter looks, the better the hold looks.

Here is the column:

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FISA Court Selects Lawyer Who Vehemently Denied FBI Misled FISA To Oversee FBI Reforms

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has triggered a wave of condemnations over the selection of David Kris, to oversee reforms of the FBI FISA process. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) presiding Judge James Boasberg, left, appointed Kris, a lawyer that the Washington Post describes as “highly controversial.
Critics have objected that Kris writes for Lawfare, a legal site widely criticized by conservative lawyers for its left-oriented, anti-Trump positions, as well as shows like Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. That objection strikes me as attenuated and unfair. The more serious allegations however is that Kris was one of the most public advocates for rejecting allegations of FBI abuse. In a city where you can throw a stick and hit ten lawyers, FISC went to someone who insisted that allegations of abuse were nonsense and should be rejected. If the court was seeking to assure the public, it has added a new controversy for those who see a “deep state” response to reforms.

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“Behold He Who Has Repented of His Sins”: Oregon Women Sues Mormon Church Over Reporting Husband’s Child Abuse

There is an interesting case out of Oregon where the wife of a convicted child sex offender is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for contacting police after he confessed to sexually abusing the couple’s daughter. Timothy Samuel Johnson and his wife Kristine Johnson were members of a Stayton “ward” and his wife prompted his going to the church after learning that he had “engaged in inappropriate conduct” with a minor known to him.  Kristine Johnson is seeking $9.5 million for the breach of promised confidentiality by a clergy member. It is a fascinating twist on the usual challenge to evidence obtained by police in such clergy cases. Here the defendant is the church itself in a civil action for inducing the disclosure of incriminating information under allegedly false representations of confidentiality. The case could prompt churches and religious organizations to post warnings about their intention to go to police with any allegation of criminal conduct — a notice that could have an impact on the willingness of the faithful to be forthcoming in such confessional settings.

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Prison Officials Announce Video Of Epstein’s Cell Has Been Permanently Deleted In Due To “Technical Errors”

For those who remain suspicious about the timing of the suicide of disgraced financier and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, news yesterday from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York legitimately magnified those concerns. In a breathtaking statement, the MCC announced that a “clerical error” led to the destruction of the surveillance footage taken from outside Jeffrey Epstein’s jail cell on the day that he first attempted suicide attempt. The tape was permanently deleted due to confusion with another tier. The levels of sheer incompetence, negligence, and stupidity required for such an act is almost beyond belief.

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British Man Lights His Head On Fire In Attempting To Burn Down Synagogue

There have been a highly disturbing increase in anti-Semitic attacks around the world. Not surprisingly, those carrying out such attacks tend to be disturbing or extremist elements. Tristan Morgan fits that profile and showed that his overwhelming hate is combined with an underwhelming intellect. Morgan succeeded in lighting his own head on fire in trying to burn down a synagogue and then walked away laughing in front of witnesses.

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New Zealand Horrified By Videos Of Beachgoers Kicking Shark To Death While Laughing and Taking Selfies

We have discussed disgraceful attacks or abuse of wild animals from birds to squirrels to tortoises to rabbits to sharks in the past but few reach the level of reported savagery as this week in New Zealand where a shark allegedly was pulled from the water and kicked to death on a beach. Most of us cannot imagine wanting to participate in such an attack on a wild creature. Indeed, many of us travel hundreds or thousands of miles just to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Yet, there remain many people who get a sick joy in harming animals or watching such unspeakable scenes of cruelty. The most distressing element is to see children in some of these pictures. However, the one promising note is that there were people who sought to intervene to help the shark though they said that they roughly treated by the mob.

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Homicidal But Not Homophobic? Mafia Reportedly Embraces Gay Mobsters

I wanted to start the New Year on a positive note and one legal story stood out. The Italian Mafia has reportedly opened its doors to gay men for the first time. However, La Cosa Nostra has adopted a type of organized crime “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy implemented by the Clinton Administration.

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What If Monica Actually Had Taken The Stand?

Below is my column in the Wall Street Journal on the issue of witnesses at impeachment trials and how they can have a determinative impact on the outcome of such trials. The best example remains the Senate trial of Bill Clinton and the ultimate “what if.” What if Monica Lewinsky actually took the stand in the Senate trial?

Here is the column:

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Guatemalan Justice For Schiff? Trump Draws Fire Over Wanting A “Tougher” Judicial System

I have previously criticized President Donald Trump for his attacks on the media and references to “tough” measures in dealing with protesters or immigrants. Yesterday, President Trump made a disturbing comment to the visiting Guatemalan President about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Trump stated that Guatemala would know how to get “tougher” with Schiff over his controversial speech where he pretended to read from an exchange between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart — a mocking speech that made up incriminating lines. The remark suggested that Trump would prefer a system where legislators and critics could be arrested for such political commentary. No president should express a preference for such abusive legal measures. Trump’s own State Department has documented abuses in the Guatemalan legal system, including mistreatment of political opponents.

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Swalwell: Failing To Turn Over Documents Is Proof Of Guilt

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., has made sensational statements into a signature style over the last couple years. However, this week Swalwell appears to be contesting the touchstone of due process: the presumption of innocence. On Tuesday, Swalwell declared that, President Donald Trump refuses to give Congress the documents and witnesses that it has demanded, he is clearly guilty of all charged offenses. Swalwell declared “We can only conclude that you’re guilty.” Trump has gone to the courts to challenge the demands under presidential immunities and privileges.

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Schiff Under Fire For Denying Any Knowledge Of FBI Abuses

Various commentators, including Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, have expressed disbelief with the statement of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Fox News Sunday that he had no idea of the extensive FISA abuse found by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. I share that view. Schiff’s predecessor at the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, raised many of these abuses which were adamantly denied by Schiff for months. The media for its part virtually mocked such claims as conspiracy theories and false news. Now the media and Schiff is claiming total surprise by the findings (if they acknowledge them at all). The lack of media scrutiny over Schiff’s denial is breathtaking and explains why many voters do not trust reporting over the various investigations.

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Flynn Judge Accuses Defense Counsel In Curious Plagiarism Claim

Judge Emmet Sullivan

It is bad enough when a judge refuses to let out your client from a plea deal but it is worse when he then suggests that his lawyer is a plagiarist to boot. That however is what former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his counsel, Sidney Powell, faced in the 92 page order of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. Flynn has been trying to get out of his plea bargain in light of new information of improper conduct by the FBI in its Russia investigation as well as exculpatory information regarding his guilt. Many of us have criticized the prosecution of Flynn who pleaded guilty to a single false statement in interviews with the FBI. In addition, Flynn may not want to be sentenced by Sullivan whose last major hearing included false allegations against Flynn and dramatic condemnations. One can certainly understand Sullivan’s refusal to let Flynn get out of a plea that he willingly entered. However, the opinion contained an attack on his counsel that seemed gratuitous and unsupported.

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