Category: Criminal law

FBI Agents Connected To Carter Page Surveillance Barred From FISA Process

In a further demonstration of the abuses that led to the surveillance of Trump officials, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has barred FBI officials involved in the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page from appearing before the court. in rebuke that exceeded the remedial recommendations made by the independent monitor recently appointed by the court. Notably, this goes beyond the recommendations for David Kris, the highly controversial choice as an independent monitor of reforms. The order of Judge Boasberg further belies arguments that the surveillance of the Trump-relate figures was well-based and justified, as I discussed in any earlier column.

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Canadian Court Acquits College Student After He Takes Magic Mushrooms, Breaks Into the Home of Professor, And Physically Assaults Her

A judge in Calgary, Canada has handed down what may be the first acquittal to a violent crime for a student who attacked a professor under the influence of magic mushroom or Psilocybin. Matthew Brown entered the home of Professor Janet Hamnett entirely naked and high on magic mushrooms. He then attacked her with a broomstick, leaving her with severe injuries. Nevertheless, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Michele Hollins found him intoxicated to the point of “automatism” and acquitted him.

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Court: Clinton Must Testify On Email Scandal

In a remarkable turnaround, Hillary Clinton will have to testify after all on the email scandal. Clinton has never been subject to true examination on the issue under oath. Instead, she was allowed to meet with investigators shortly before being cleared during the Obama Administration. D.C. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that her prior answers were insufficient and cursory. One interesting twist is that she will not be able claim the privilege against self-incrimination on the original alleged offenses since the statute of limitations has passed. While she would have been unlikely to do so, she would have evoked on a crime that could be prosecuted. Ironically, it will be the Trump Administration that will have to defend her in opposing such demands since they are handling the litigation as it relates to her prior public service as Secretary of State.

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Presidential Debates: The Rhetoric and Reality Of Gun Control

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the reality and rhetoric of gun control in light of promises in the Democratic primary. The fact is that many of the ideas raised by the candidates have merit but they are likely to be marginal in their impact on real gun-related fatalities.

Here is the column:

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Barr Is Wrong On FISA Reforms

Attorney General Bill Barr appears on a collision course with President Donald Trump over reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. Civil libertarians like Sen Rand Paul (R., Tenn.) are pushing for reforms in light of the abuses uncovered from the Russian investigation. Despite my respect and friendship for Barr, he is wrong in my view and the President should push forward with the reforms. When President Trump declared “Now is our chance to fix it,” he is absolutely correct.

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Feminist Groups Call For Ban On Rough Sex Defense In The United Kingdom

Women’s Rights groups are moving in the United Kingdom to ban the use of the rough sex defense in criminal cases. Recently, the defense was used in the murder trial of Grace Millane, 22, who was killed on a backpacking trip to New Zealand. The banning of a defense raises troubling questions as criminal defendants, who may face life imprisonment or death in some countries, being denied the ability to present their own account to jurors — an account that they maintain is true.

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Roger Stone Should Be Given A New Trial, Not A Pardon

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Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the calls for either a new trial or a presidential pardon for Roger Stone. I believe that he has a far greater claim to the former than the latter.

While I believe that the sentence of 40 months was longer than was warranted in this case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone where some of us had predicted on the guidelines range. It was less than half of what the prosecutors originally asked for. Yet, the decision to go forward with the sentencing seemed odd given the substantial claim of juror bias raised by the defense in a pending motion. The other pending motion for disqualification is quite weak, but the motion for a new trial in my view should be granted. Although the odds are against Jackson ordering a new trial, it is clear that the foreperson has no business being on this jury and that her past comments raised significant and legitimate questions over whether Stone was given an impartial jury.

Here is the column:

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Judge Jackson Slams Stone Defense Over Disqualification Motion

I previously wrote that I thought that the motion to disqualify Judge Amy Berman Jackson filed by the Roger Stone defense team was exceedingly weak and should not have been filed. Jackson has now rejected the motion, but the final line of the opinion is a real stinger. The judge effectively accuses the team of filing a frivolous motion to pander to the public. It was ill-conceived and poorly executed motion that only further alienated the court.

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“America Is Not Great”: Trump Supporters Allegedly Forced Off Road In Indiana

We have been discussing how the media coverage on political-related violence often downplays attacks on conservatives. I have repeatedly criticized Trump for his rhetoric, but I also see dangerous rhetoric coming from his critics. That is not covered as much and certainly not treated as a pattern is violence against conservatives and Republicans or motivated by the politics from the left. Another such example can be found in Indiana where Kyren Gregory Perry-Jones, 23, and Cailyn Marie Smith, 18, are accused of using their car to force two twin brothers off a road after they were spotted bicycling with flags supporting Trump.

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Stone Moves To Remove Jackson From Case [Updated]

Roger Stone’s defense team moved to force the recusal of Judge Amy Berman Jackson from the case for bias. These motions have a very low success rate and this particular motion likely has an even lower likelihood of success. Jackson is a respected and experience judge. I actually was taken aback by a couple of her comments about the case but courts of appeal are extremely reluctant to force such recusals. Moreover, the main thrust of the motion is a statement about the jury which would be viewed as virtually standardized language for courts. Update: the Defense motion is available below.

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Roger Stone Convicted and Bill Barr Vindicated With 40 Month Sentence [Updated]

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Roger Stone has been sentenced to 40 months by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. I previously stated that the likely sentence would be half of what the prosecutors originally sought and that is precisely what the court did. The sentence not only completed the conviction of Roger Stone but completely vindicated Attorney Bill Barr on the appropriate length of the sentence. Barr has been unfairly accused of political influence in modifying the original sentence even though many of us denounced the original recommendation as wildly offbase. Not only did over a thousand former prosecutors demand his resignation without knowing the full facts, but one former colleague declared Barr to be “unAmerican.” If these individuals have a modicum of decency, they will acknowledge that Barr was right on the merits of this sentencing recommendation as demonstrated by the court itself.

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New York Man Arrested Three Times In One Day Under New Bail Reform Law

Scott Nolan was arrested and released three times in several hours under New York's new bail reform law.

Just a week after a New York man with 139 arrests was released under New York’s new bail-reform law thanked Democrats, the police union protested another case where a man, Scott Nolan, was arrested three times in one day but released each time under the new law. Nolan’s criminal record is 50 pages long.

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Admission Against Interest? Crime Pays . . . Until It Doesn’t

Donald Murray is not quite as good as his advertising. The Indiana man with a “Crime Pays” tattoo across his forehead has been arrested again after a police chase. He is now facing a windfall of charges for resisting law enforcement, reckless driving, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a common nuisance and auto theft.

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Juror 1261: Was Justice Undone In The Trial Of Roger Stone

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Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the controversy surrounding the foreperson on the Stone trial and the discovery of biased public comments made before she was called as a juror. The comments raise very serious questions about not just the inclusion of Tomeka Hart on the jury but the legitimacy of the conviction in light of her participation. Courts are extremely reluctant to set aside verdicts and often deny motions for new trials like the two filed by Stone. However, such disclosures make a mockery of the process — and ultimately the court — if undisclosed bias does not have a remedy for a defendant. No defendant can prove conclusively that such bias made the difference, but no prosecutor can prove that it did not. What remains is a dangerous element of doubt in a criminal trial.

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Suspect Charged In The “Murder” Of His Accomplice By A Homeowner

There is a controversial criminal case out of Danville, Illinois this month where Reggie Haywood, 30, has been charged with first-degree murder stemming from a house invasion. The charge is not strange but the underlying facts are. The person “murdered” was the alleged accomplice of Haywood and he was shot not be Haywood but the homeowner.

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