Category: Criminal law

Another Protester Arrested After Being Identified By Distinctive Tattoo

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Can Portland Really Collect The Running Fine On The Federal Government? Probably Not.

Continue reading “Can Portland Really Collect The Running Fine On The Federal Government? Probably Not.”

Two Women Arrested In Assault On State Senator During Madison Protests

We previously discussed the attack on a Wisconsin state senator who simply tried take pictures of rioters destroying statues and causing property damage in Madison on June 23rd.  Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter was hospitalized after the attack. Now, two women, Samantha R. Hamer, 26, (right) and Kerida E. O’Reilly, 33, (left) have been arrested in the attack. What is interesting is that the punitive measures are not just criminal charges against the women.  Hamer is particularly likely to suffer immediate employment consequences as a teacher. She is a specialist in helping kids with “social-emotional needs” and “behavioral issues.”

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Willful Blindness: New Damaging Information On The Russian Investigation Is Promptly Unseen By The Media

Pandora_-_John_William_WaterhouseBelow is my column in The Hill on the recent disclosure of a document showing that the FBI used an agent to gather information for Crossfire Hurricane during campaign briefings of Trump during 2016.  The document directly contradicted the long-standing denial that the investigation to Russian collusion was ever used to gather intelligence on Trump or his campaign.  At the same time, the credibility of the Steele Dossier was further undermined this weekend with the release of new information that Steele misrepresented the sources and information used as the basis for this report, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.  The source for the most alarming allegations was revealed as Igor Danchenko, 42, as confirmed to The New York Times,  He was not the “Russian-based” source claimed by Steele and the FBI learned that Steele took third-hard rumors and presented them as hard intelligence in the report used to help justify the Russian collusion investigation. This source was used in the last two renewal applications to the FISA court as a “truthful and cooperative” and “Russian-based,” according to the Justice Department Inspector General report found. So it turns out that the primary “source” of Steele’s dossier was “not a well-connected current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian-based contract employee of Steele’s firm.”

None of this has made any difference to the coverage.  On ABC Sunday, George Stephanopoulos had Chris Christie as a guest but his involvement in the very meeting discussed in the document did not merit a single question from the host.  In the meantime, Democratic leaders, who once mocked the idea of any investigation of Trump or targeting of the campaign, now say that it really doesn’t matter. Rep. Eric Swalwell says that it was actually “the right thing to do.” 

Here is the column: Continue reading “Willful Blindness: New Damaging Information On The Russian Investigation Is Promptly Unseen By The Media”

“They Were Right To Do It”: Swalwell Praises FBI For Using Campaign Briefing To Investigate Trump [Updated]

440px-Eric_Swalwell_114th_official_photoAs I discussed in a column this weekend, Democratic members have spent years mocking allegations that there was any spying or surveillance of Trump or his campaign by the FBI. That was just a conspiracy theory. Now however there is proof that the FBI used a briefing in August 2016 of then candidate Trump to gather information for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia investigation. It turns out that it did not really matter after all and Rep. Eric Swalwell did not miss a step. He simply declared that such targeting of the opposing party and its leading presidential candidate was the right thing to do. That’s it. A conspiracy theory suddenly becomes a commendable act. Continue reading ““They Were Right To Do It”: Swalwell Praises FBI For Using Campaign Briefing To Investigate Trump [Updated]”

Suspect In Florida Triple Murder Had A Record of 230 Felony Charges And Was Out On Bond For Prior Assault

230 felony charges and was awaiting trial on a violent assault with a crowbar that left a man with a broken arm. That record included 15 convictions and two prison stints. Even as a criminal defense attorney, I am surprised that Wiggins was released on that earlier assault given his record and the violent element of that crime. Continue reading “Suspect In Florida Triple Murder Had A Record of 230 Felony Charges And Was Out On Bond For Prior Assault”

Could The Lee Case Be The First Felony-Murder Case Linked To The Protests?

download-5download-6Two months after a pawn shop was looted and burned in the Minneapolis, a charred body with “thermal injuries” was found in the ruins.  Montez Terrill Lee, 25, was videotaped torching the building and later celebrating the arson.  The question is whether his case may now be the first felony-murder charge to come out of the protests.  If the victim is confirmed as dying as a result of the arson allegedly set by Lee, it could be the first such case with the potential of the death penalty.

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Oklahoma Teens Charged With Terrorism For Breaking Windows During Protests

download-9We have previously discussed my reservations about the use of federal charges of arson and other crimes to prosecute individuals accused of rioting offenses in the recent protests. The concern was the federalization of local offenses.  Now, however, I have concerns about state charges out of Oklahoma.  Teenagers are facing terrorism charges after allegedly helping to break in the windows of an Oklahoma City bail bonds business in late May. I have long raised concerns about the broadening of terrorism laws and this is an example of why I still hold such concerns. As the Justice Department explores possible terrorism charges, the Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater appears to be adopting an exceptionally broad interpretation of that crime. Among those charged was Malachai Davis, 18, who was shown breaking the window of the CJ Bail Bond building using what appeared to be brass knuckles.  That charge has a tragic irony because, according to his attorney, Davis’ father died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

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Starbucks Employee Criminally Charged For Spitting Into Coffee Of Police Officer

download-4Kevin Trejo, 21, of Westwood, New Jersey has been arrested for the disgusting alleged act of spitting into the coffee of a police officer at Starbucks.  What is interesting is the array of the charges fired against the now former barista.  In an interview on Fox, Park Ridge, New Jersey Lt. James Babcock  said that they confirmed that the act occurred and that they were told that Trejo had done it repeatedly with officers. Babcock said that Trejo claimed to have only done it once.

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Can President Trump Really Send In The Troops To Chicago And Other Cities?

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedWe have previously discussed how President Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted constitutional authority that he does not have in dealing with the pandemic.  The President routinely ignored the principles of federalism in such claims of control over states in their internal health and policing decisions. He is not alone.  Cities like Portland have demanded that federal officers leave the city and stop making arrested.  While there are legitimate questions raised about the conduct of federal officers in putting people into custody and the use of force in Portland, those concerns related to the use of federal powers, not the basis for those powers. The federal government has full authority to protect federal buildings and to carry out arrests for federal crimes in any city. Current reports coming out of the White House appear to refer to surging law enforcement personnel, not sending military personnel.  That would be constitutional if used for protect federal assets or enforce federal laws. That is the flip side of federalism.  But how about the recent claims that the President is about to take over policing from cities like Chicago? The answer is that such a federal deployment without a request from the governors would be unwise but would be legal.  However, there are practical and legal reasons why such any massive deployment is unlikely.

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Son of Federal Judge Killed And Husband Wounded In Attack At Home [Updated]

download-2In a murder that has shocked the nation, the son of federal judge Esther Salas was killed and her husband wounded in their home in North Brunswick, New Jersey.  Daniel Anderl, 20, was a student at Catholic University with hopes to go to law school.  His father is a criminal defense attorney. Such attacks on federal judges are thankfully rare and there is much speculation about high-profile cases that Judge Salas has handled or taken on recently, including a lawsuit related to Jeffrey Epstein and another past case involving “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice. While the crime had the markings of premeditation and even professional elements, police are looking into a body found after the shooting as possibly linked. The apparent suicide in another town involved a lawyer who was being contacted reportedly about a connection to the gun recovered near the scene.

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“This Man, If Nothing Else, Has Been Watered Down”: John Wick Reference Leads To Loss Of Cocaine

Roasted_coffee_beansSometimes flashes of wit or irony can be costly.  When a drug cartel in Medellín, Colombia decided to ship cocaine inside the shell of coffee beans, someone decided it would be funny to label the sender “Santino D’Antonio.”  Apparently, Italian police also like the John Wick series and recognized the name of the mafia boss from “John Wick: Chapter 2.”  The cost of the joke was the cocaine shipment and methinks there is a some avid movie lover in hot water with Medellín. To paraphrase the mafia character Santino D’Antonio, now “you have no [coke], no [beans], no [sale]. You have nothing. Vengeance is all you have left.”

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Criminal or Comical? Investigation Finds An Antifa Supporter Behind Hoaxes Triggering The Extreme Right

The_ScreamThe Washington Post recently made an interesting find when it sought the person responsible for recent extreme right actions like the appearance of heavily armed citizens at Gettysburg on Independence Day.  Two members of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., demanded that government investigate and identify who was behind the Gettysburg hoax and similar false claims in nine other cities this summer. While there has been evidence of extreme right groups fueling violence in the recent protest, the Post found instead Adam Rahuba, a part-time food-delivery driver and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Rahuba said he supports the ant-fascist movement Antifa, a loosely organized group that I have criticized in the past for its anti-free speech agenda. Rahuba, 38, was trying to make chumps out of the far right but some have suggested possible criminal liability for the hoaxes.

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The Case Against Bill Barr: A Response To Professor Turley From Ralph Nader, Lou Fisher, and Bruce Fein

440px-William_BarrI recently received a letter contesting my statements concerning Attorney General Bill Barr in columns (here and here and here and here) and congressional testimony (here and here).  The letter is from Ralph Nader, Lou Fisher, and Bruce Fein. I have known all three signatories for many years and I have the utmost respect for them.  They offer detailed and thoughtful disagreements with my past statements and the record of Attorney General Bill Barr. I asked them if they would allow me to share their arguments with the blog and they have agreed to do so.  As with the prior posting of Professor Morrison, I strongly encourage you to consider the analysis from three of the most influential minds in Washington.

These are figures who require little introduction.  They are well known throughout the world for their contributions to the law and public policy.  Ralph Nader is as legendary figure who has fought his entire life for consumer protection, environmental protection and good government. He has run for president repeatedly (indeed I voted for him) and is widely viewed as one of the most influential figures in the world on public policy.  Lou Fisher spent four decades at the Congressional Research Service and is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the shaping of congressional legislation and policies.  He is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on constitutional and congressional issues.  Bruce Fein was a high ranking Justice Department figure in the Reagan Administration and has been one of the most influential conservative voices in print and television for decades. He is known for his independent and principled analysis of legal and constitutional issues.

As I stated in Attorney General Barr’s confirmation, he comes to this position with long-established and robust views of executive privilege and powers.  While I have long disagreed with him on many of these issues, I view many of the current controversies to reflect policy and interpretative differences, not ethical or criminal or impeachable misconduct.  I do not agree with presumptions made about his improper motivations or designs in carrying out his duties, for a second time, as Attorney General of the United States. Despite my many friends on the other side, my view has not changed. Nevertheless, people of good-faith can disagree and that is precisely what is offered by Messrs. Nader, Fisher, and Fein (sounds like a great law firm!)

Here is their letter for your consideration:

Continue reading “The Case Against Bill Barr: A Response To Professor Turley From Ralph Nader, Lou Fisher, and Bruce Fein”

Sen. Hawley Calls For Federal Civil Rights Probe Over McCloskey Investigation

downloadUS-DeptOfJustice-Seal_svgMissouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley has called upon Attorney General Bill Barr to launch a federal civil rights investigation of the St. Louis couple who wielded guns outside of their house during a protest in their gated community.  I have previously written about the possible charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey and expressed my skepticism over the apparent effort of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to find a criminal charge.  However, Attorney General Barr should decline this request from Sen. Hawley.  There is no civil rights violation in this investigation.  Indeed, while I thought the charges could be defeated in trial or on appeal, I previously wrote that the vague criminal provisions could be used to bring a charge.  The issue turns on how the guns were used.  While I find the criminal provisions to be vague and the application in this case to be unwarranted, it is not a civil rights violation to advance such an interpretation of the law.

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