Tag Archives: DOJ

Sandra Bland Investigation Falling Apart

Looks like the investigation into Sandra Bland’s death  has been derailed….

The Sandra Bland Investigation Is In Trouble

Sandra Bland

On July 13, Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, three days after being arrested over a traffic stop gone wrong. Sheriff Glenn Smith, who oversees the county jail and had been fired from a previous job after allegations of racism and police brutality, promised an all-access, top-to-bottom investigation to uncover what happened to Bland. He set up an “independent” commission to review the sheriff’s department. Smith tapped Paul Looney, a local criminal defense lawyer, to lead the probe and to pick the commission’s other members.

“The whole nation, the whole world is looking at us,” the sheriff said.

But from the beginning, Looney’s investigation was beset by a conflict of interest: His law firm had a financial relationship with Carbett “Trey” Duhon III, Waller County’s top elected official — and the man who’d likely have to write the Bland family a large check out of county funds if that inquiry turned up wrongdoing. (Duhon, who referred clients to Looney in exchange for a monthly retainer, has since severed that relationship.)

Now, despite Waller County officials’ vows, Looney says his panel isn’t looking for possible wrongdoing at all and is simply compiling recommendations that Smith can “throw in the trash” if he chooses.

“I am not looking forward to sharing this information with the Reed-Veal and Sandra Bland family at all,” Cannon Lambert, a Bland family attorney, said when told about Looney’s comments. “I am dreading this conversation. It’s stunning.”

Duhon, for his part, clearly recognizes the value to Waller County of a fair investigation by an untainted commission. “To avoid the appearance of impropriety,” he told The Huffington Post, he asked Looney to serve as a nonvoting member of the six-person panel. Duhon cited worries that “somehow I could influence the outcome of that investigation. That’s the insinuation that people have made.”

Looney agreed not to vote on the panel’s recommendations. He’s still running the probe.

Duhon, who was elected county judge in 2014, is relatively new to Waller County. He moved from suburban Houston a decade ago and started a solo law practice, doing a lot of title insurance work. He also began involving himself in the kinds of local groups and governance boards that ingratiate a new guy with the old guard, such as the chamber of commerce, a toll road authority and a sub-regional planning commission.

When the county judge slot opened up, Duhon won the Republican primary and then a gently contested general election last year. In Texas, a county judge, though properly addressed as “judge,” is not a judicial official. He’s the executive officer of county government and presides over the elected commissioners’ court, which is not a court but the county’s legislative body. In other words, Duhon straddles the executive and legislative branches of local government, much like a mayor who votes with the city council.

With the new job, his law practice got squeezed. “There’s only so many hours in a day,” Duhon said. “The county judge position in Waller County just absolutely requires an incredible amount of time, day in and day out.”

So from June 2015 — a month before Bland’s death — until Sept. 1, Duhon was “of counsel” at Looney & Conrad. What that meant, Duhon explained, is that Looney’s firm paid him a fixed amount each month, and in exchange he passed along potential clients he didn’t have time to help.

Despite his wide network in Waller County, Duhon told HuffPost he is “the anti-good ol’ boy.”


“I am not about sheltering elected officials or anyone else,” he said. “If people need to be responsible for their actions, they need to be responsible for their actions. I am not about to sacrifice my integrity for another elected official.”

Duhon wanted to be clear that he is not somehow profiting, or helping others profit, from the independent investigation run by Looney. He pointed out that Looney and the others on the panel are not being paid and that, in any case, the monthly retainer he received from the firm was not tied to its revenues. He also expressed hope that Looney serving as a nonvoting member would alleviate any suspicions about deals among political insiders.

The county judge is likely best-known for two ill-conceived tweets that he sent after Bland’s death. The first referred to “high levels of active THC in her system at time of death.” In the second, Duhon tried to explain why he mentioned Bland’s possible marijuana use by writing, “It goes to her mental state. Also relevant if she was self-medicating for depression.” He quickly deleted his Twitter account.

Concerns about potential conflicts posed by the county judge’s recent relationship with the law firm of the man probing the sheriff’s work cannot be so easily erased, for they go beyond private profit. Duhon writes the county budget, including funding for the jail and the sheriff’s department. (The commissioners’ court then votes on it.) Waller County collects about $1.23 million in fines a year — otherwise known as revenue — thanks in large part to the sheriff’s department. And county funds could take a serious hit, in the form of a settlement with the Bland family, if Looney’s investigation turns up civil rights violations, criminality by government employees or other wrongdoing.

Looney told HuffPost last week that Duhon’s ties to his firm posed no conflict of interest. He also said that their arrangement ended as of Sept. 1 because it was scheduled to run just three months.

Duhon has a slightly different take. He told HuffPost he ended the relationship because of an Aug. 3 advisory opinion from the chair of the ethics committee of the State Bar of Texas’ Judicial Section. Evelyn Keyes, who also sits on an appeals court in the Houston area, indicated that a county judge being of counsel to a law firm did indeed pose a conflict for that firm within that county’s courts.

Whatever the reason, Duhon’s departure seems to resolve the appearance of at least one conflict that hung over the Looney-led commission, leaving it free to uncover malfeasance and root out wrongdoing in the sheriff’s department and the Waller County Jail.

Waller County Courthouse

But that still isn’t what the commission is doing.

“We’re not trying to do an exposé,” Looney told HuffPost. “It’s more in the nature of a consultant report for the sheriff to use as he wants.”

Looney emphasized that his independent commission would make its report public at the same time the findings went to the sheriff — but the sheriff has sole discretion over what to do with the report. “He can read it or not read it,” Looney said. “If he wants to throw the whole thing in the trash can, he can.”

Duhon, who said he’s had no involvement with the panel since asking Looney to be a nonvoting member, had a different impression of its mission. “I was told early on that they would be doing a comprehensive review,” he said. “If that’s changed, that’s not anything I would have any knowledge of.”

According to Looney, the voting members of the commission are taking their jobs seriously and pursuing their review earnestly. “It’s kind of cool to see,” he said, although they are mostly just “observing and taking notes” at this point.

There is no deadline for Looney’s panel to finish its work. Meanwhile, local and outside critics have begun calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate potential civil rights violations in Bland’s case.

Unprompted, Duhon raised the possibility that the federal government could conduct its own inquiry.

“Waller County has been open to that since day one,” said Duhon. “We are OK with the Justice Department. We have never been opposed to that.”



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Obama’s Civil Rights Moves

Conservatwits love to criticize Obama for “having some nothing for black folks”, knowing full well that in the one or two cases he has said something, they can whine full throttle about our “racist President”.

Obama’s approach from the beginning has been low key. Despite all the caterwauling, whimpering, and hysterics of the Republicans – he gets it done. Sometimes his hand moves in ways which the Public never really recognizes until way too late. This one is a masterstroke!

Case in point – The Justice Department working for Civil Rights in local courts around the country. Of course in some places, specifically those with right wing justices, they know they can’t win – but they can put a point on the case which will may change things in higher court. This started a long time ago under former Attorney General Eric Holder. Good to see Loretta Lynch is continuing the struggle.

Justice Dept. Presses Civil Rights Agenda in Local Courts

Burlington, Wash., was a small city fighting what seemed like a local lawsuit. Three poor people said that their public lawyers were too overworked to adequately represent them in municipal court cases. The dispute went mostly unnoticed for two years, until the Obama administration became involved.

Unannounced, the Justice Department filed documents in the case and told the judge that he had broad authority to demand changes in Burlington and nearby Mount Vernon. The judge quickly agreed and ordered the cities to hire a new public defense supervisor. He also said he would monitor their legal aid program for three years.

That 2013 decision was a significant victory for the Justice Department in a novel legal campaign that began early in the Obama administration and has expanded in recent years. In dozens of lawsuits around the country involving local disputes, the federal government has filed so-called statements of interest, throwing its weight behind private lawsuits and, in many cases, pushing the boundaries of civil rights law.

The federal government has typically waded into local court cases only when the outcome directly affected a federal interest, such as national security or diplomacy. Recently, however, the Justice Department has filed statements of interest in cases involving legal aid in New York, transgender students in Michigan, juvenile prisoners in solitary detention in California, and people who take videos of police officers in Baltimore. The government has weighed in on employment discrimination claims brought by transgender plaintiffs and a lawsuit over the right of blind people to be able to use Uber, a car-sharing service.

“The Justice Department is sending a clear message: that we will not accept criminal justice procedures that have discriminatory effects,” former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in February after filing documents in a case involving high court bonds in Alabama. “We will not hesitate to fight institutionalized injustice wherever it is found.”

Loretta E. Lynch, who became attorney general in April, has continued the initiative unabated.

Civil rights groups have applauded the move — and in turn flooded the Justice Department with requests for government intervention in their cases. But to lawyers on the other side, it can feel as if the government is using private court cases to make political points.

US DOJ Chief Prosecutor of Civil Rights Enforcement, Vanita Gupta. “We want to do as much federal civil rights work as possible, and statements of interest are effective, efficient tools,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, said in an interview.

“From the community’s perspective, it was an ongoing nightmare,” said Scott G. Thomas, the lawyer for Burlington in the lawsuit over legal aid. The Obama administration’s involvement turned the city of about 8,000 people into a national symbol. “Why is the Department of Justice interested in a little case involving two little communities in northwest Washington?” Mr. Thomas said…

By using such court filings in civil rights cases, the Obama administration is saying it has an interest in preserving constitutional rights in the same way it has an interest in foreign policy. There are examples of past administrations using statements of interest to coax public policy — such as in 2005 when the Bush administration intervened in the case over whether to keep Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman with severe brain damage, on life support. But neither career Justice Department officials nor longtime advocates can recall such a concerted effort to insert the federal government into local civil rights cases…

When the Justice Department intervened last year in a lawsuit over legal aid in New York, for example, officials said it took no position on whether the state was violating the constitutional rights of indigent defendants. But government lawyers adopted the same core legal arguments as the plaintiffs and encouraged the judge to scrutinize the legal aid system broadly.

“It was a game changer,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which was involved in that court fight. The state settled the lawsuit soon after the Justice Department became involved. Ms. Lieberman said the agency’s intervention was “a powerful way to help support a fundamental right.”…More



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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Truth in Dating – DOJ Looking At Lying on Websites as a Crime

Well… there goes the 5000 under 50 something women on E-Harmony and match – and most of the guys with those fancy jobs and fancy wheels!

The Department of Justice is now saying that lying on personal sites, like the dating sites or Facebook…

Could be a crime.

So much for that “About Average” body type classification on those dating sites!

Athletic and Fit, Driving a Mercedes... Not.

DOJ: Fibbing on web sites should be a crime

The U.S. Department of Justice is defending computer hacking laws that make it a crime to use a fake name on Facebook or lie about your weight in an online dating profile.

In a statement obtained by CNET that’s scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, the Justice Department argues that it must be able to prosecute violations of Web sites’ often-ignored, always-unintelligible “terms of service” policies.

The law must allow “prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider,” Richard Downing, the Justice Department’s deputy computer crime chief, will tell the U.S. Congress tomorrow.

Scaling back that law “would make it difficult or impossible to deter and address serious insider threats through prosecution,” and jeopardize prosecutions involving identity theft, misuse of government databases, and privacy invasions, according to Downing.

The law in question, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, has been used by the Justice Department to prosecute a woman, Lori Drew, who used a fake MySpace account to verbally attack a 13-year old girl who then committed suicide. Because MySpace’s terms of service prohibit impersonation, Drew was convicted of violating the CFAA. Her conviction was later thrown out.

What makes this possible is a section of the CFAA that was never intended to be used that way: ageneral-purpose prohibition on any computer-based act that “exceeds authorized access.” To the Justice Department, this means that a Web site’s terms of service define what’s “authorized” or not, and ignoring them can turn you into a felon.

On the other hand, because millions of Americans likely violate terms of service agreements every day, you’d have a lot of company.

A letter (PDF) sent to the Senate in August by a left-right coalition including the ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and FreedomWorks warns of precisely that. “If a person assumes a fictitious identity at a party, there is no federal crime,” the letter says. “Yet if they assume that same identity on a social network that prohibits pseudonyms, there may again be a CFAA violation. This is a gross misuse of the law.”

Orin Kerr, a former Justice Department computer crime prosecutor who’s now a professor of law at George Washington University, says the government’s arguments are weak.

Kerr, who is also testifying tomorrow before a House Judiciary subcommittee, told CNET today that:

The Justice Department claims to have an interest in enforcing Terms of Use and computer use policies under the CFAA, but its examples mostly consist of cases in which the conduct described has already been criminalized by statutes other than the CFAA. Further, my proposed statutory fix (see the second proposal in my testimony) would preserve the government’s ability to prosecute the remaining cases DOJ mentions while not raising the civil liberties problems of the current statute…

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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Nawwwwww!


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Investigation Finds Massive Problems in NOLA Police Department

One of the impacts of Katrina’s aftermath…

A Corrupt Beauty

Report Finds Wide Abuses by Police in New Orleans

Justice Department officials on Thursday released the findings of a 10-month investigation into this city’s Police Department, revealing a force that is profoundly and alarmingly troubled and setting in motion a process for its wholesale reform.

The report describes in chilling detail a department that is severely dysfunctional on every level: one that regularly uses excessive force on civilians, frequently fails to investigate serious crimes and has a deeply inadequate, in many cases nonexistent, system of accountability.

Using the report as a guideline, federal and local officials will now enter into negotiations leading to a consent decree, a blueprint for systemic reform that will be enforced by a federal judge.

“There is nobody in this room that is surprised by the general tenor and the tone of what this report has to say,” said Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, at a news conference attended by city and federal officials.

But, added Mr. Landrieu, who publicly invited federal intervention in the Police Department just days after his inauguration in May, “I look forward to a very spirited partnership and one that actually transforms this Police Department into one of the best in the country.”

The city’s police chief, Ronal Serpas, said he fully embraced the report and would be going over its findings with senior leadership later in the day.

While the report describes an appalling array of abuses and bad practices, it does not address in detail any of the nine or more federal criminal investigations into the department. These inquiries have already led to the convictions of three police officers, one for fatally shooting an unarmed civilian and another for burning the body.

Justice Department officials chose to exclude the information gleaned in the criminal inquiries to keep a wall between those investigations and the larger civil investigation into the practices of the department. But there were more than enough problems left to uncover.

While other departments generally have problems in specific areas, like the use of excessive force, “New Orleans has every issue that has existed in our practice to date, and a few that we hadn’t encountered,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

The report reveals that the department has not found a policy violation in any officer-involved shooting for the last six years, though federal officials who reviewed the records found that violations had clearly occurred. The department’s canine unit was so badly mismanaged — the dogs were so aggressive they frequently attacked their handlers — that federal officials encouraged the department to suspend it last year even though the investigation was still under way.

The report details a record of discriminatory policing, with a ratio of arrests of blacks to whites standing at nearly 16 to 1. Calls for police assistance by non-English speakers often went unanswered.

The report also found that the police “systemically misclassified possible sexual assaults, resulting in a sweeping failure to properly investigate many potential cases of rape, attempted rape and other sex crimes.”


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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in American Genocide, Domestic terrorism


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In the End, For Conservatives – It’s Always About Their Racism

Here’s the core of the arguments against Atty General Holder’s DOJ. And up until the last paragraph, the author makes a reasonable case of why is the DOJ involved in such minor things that should be handled within the purview of the local school administration or at worst – State Courts.

‘Civil Rights’ Gone Wild
To the Civil Rights Division, pilgrimages and stiletto heels matter more than actual violations of the Civil Rights Act.

The Author  points out several cases where Federal involvement seems a bit on the overkill side such as –

In the latest outrage, the Civil Rights Division is suing the board of education in the leafy Chicago suburb of Berkeley, Ill. The board’s offense? It would not allow a middle-school computer-math-lab teacher to take off three weeks during December’s crucial end-of-semester course reviews and final exams in order to make a pilgrimage to Mecca…In 1977, in TWA v. Hardison, the Supreme Court held that it is an “undue hardship” if the employer has to “bear more than a de minimis cost” in order to provide the accommodation.

The author hints at going off the rails here with:

Extremists in the Civil Rights Division are pouncing on other school policies as well. When it was first formed in the 1960s, the division pursued cases of real discrimination — cases where, for example, black students were harassed or intimidated or provided with intentionally inferior education.

Why? Because one of the problems with the Bushit Administration’s DOJ was a complete ignoring of Minority Civil Rights for a all hands on deck, fruitless search for the Holy Grail of conservative bigots – cases of reverse discrimination.

They managed to actually find and prosecute 1 case in 8 years, despite 12,000-16,000 cases of discrimination against minorities being referred to the DOJ by local authorities a year… Which they ignored. So when the author is referring to “Extremists”… The Bushit Administration perversion of the Civil Rights Division resulted in filling the Division with…what? Good Ol’ Boys?

The current cases involve two schools in upstate New York that supposedly discriminated against one male student who wore a pink wig and makeup and another male student who wore a wig and stiletto heels and wanted to be able to “dress like a woman.” These students had violated the schools’ common-sense dress codes and were told to change clothes and remove the makeup. That prompted the Civil Rights Division to come knocking. The boys were being treated “differently” from female students, and such differential treatment, the division asserted, “implicate[s] the civil rights laws that we enforce.”

Sounds reasonable. The local school system should have the ability to define a dress code for all students as far as I can see. One of my personal heroes is the principal in memphis who has developed “The Urkel” System –

But then the author goes and quotes these scumbags –

As Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity observes: “The Obama administration apparently believes that it is unconstitutional for high schools to have a dress code that makes distinctions between what is appropriate dress for males and what is appropriate dress for females.” Clegg also points out that the division’s attempt to equate “sexual-orientation discrimination” with sex discrimination, by asserting that the use of sexual “stereotypes” is an instance of the latter, is nothing but naked bootstrapping (if you will pardon the expression). But legal justification or not, in the eyes of the warped and silly (but dangerous) lawyers inhabiting the division, barring boys from wearing stiletto heels is a serious civil-rights violation.

For those not familiar with right-wing racist code language, “The Center for Equal Opportunity” is one of the KKK organizations in suits that occupies the right, whose sole purpose is to re-segregate schools fully with the financial and legal support of the so called “Federalist Society” made up of right wing, and racist lawyers little better than the Council of Conservative Citizen scum they shill for.

So our writer isn’t really pissed about th DOJ’s intrusion  into local decision making, as much as he is pissed that such intrusion isn’t on behalf of re-segregation, and the re-institution of Jim Crow.

The proof?

Oddly, one of those views is that discrimination by some racial groups is perfectly acceptable. This explains why the Justice Department dismissed the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case it had already won. It is why this administration is studiously not pursuing cases like the one filed against Southern Illinois University in 2006 for maintaining a paid fellowship program that categorically excluded white males from applying. It was the Bush administration’s race-neutral enforcement policy in such cases that enraged the radical civil-rights organizations that dominate Washington and formed the basis for much of the unfair and misleading criticism of that administration’s enforcement of civil-rights laws.

The “author” in this case, was one of the racist scumbags illegitimately placed in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division during the Bushit Administration, who now works at one of the right wing’s premier racist “think tanks”…

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.

Methinks this conehead sheet wearer…

Has a problem.

If the best the right can do is to complain that Atty General Holder is a “bad man” because he won’t let them be bigots-in- charge anymore.

They have a weaker case than even I thought, and I already had them as the “bargain brand” in those toilet tissue commercials where one drop of water cases where you wouldn’t want to set the good china on the cheap stuff…


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Orange Tapdance Award! Tom Delay Investigation Dropped

Tom Delay on Dancing With The Stars

The Obama Administration Justice Department prosecution of Republican political crime bosses has led to the need for the creation of a new type of orange finery beyond the normal orange jumpsuit these guys should have been wearing…

Tom DeLay cleared in federal probe, but Texas charges loom

After a six-year investigation, the Justice Department ended its probe into former House majority leader Tom DeLay’s relations with convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, without bringing criminal charges. The announcement did not come from the Justice Department, which typically does not comment on investigations that do not result in charges, but from Mr. DeLay’s legal team, as reported by Politico. “Six years is a long time, and I’m sure he wishes it had happened years ago,” Richard Cullen, attorney for the former Texas Republican lawmaker, told Politico Monday. The broad investigation of Mr. Abramoff and his connections stirred up a storm of allegations and led to convictions or charges for some 20 House staff, former lobbyists, and Bush administration officials. One member of Congress, Rep. Robert Ney (R) of Ohio, former chair of the House Administration Committee, was convicted for doing official favors for Mr. Abramoff in exchange for campaign contributions, trips, gifts, sports tickets, and meals. House Democrats used such allegations as Exhibit A in their successful bid to take back the House in 2006. Other members of Congress, including former Sen. Conrad Burns (R) of Montana, Rep. J. D. Hayworth (R) of Arizona, and Rep. Richard Pombo (R) of California lost their 2006 reelection bids in the midst of allegations of involvement in such pay-to-play schemes, but, like DeLay, were not subsequently charged with a crime.

So what was Tom using to Tango away from the Justice Department?

The Orange Tap Dance Award - To Tap Dance Away From Federal Prosecution

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Posted by on August 16, 2010 in Stupid Democrat Tricks


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Sherrod to Sue Brietbart

Even if the DOJ won’t do it’s job and pursue criminal charges, at least, like the OJ case there may be some justice in the Civil Court…

Let’s hope she doesn’t get an all-Republican jury.

Sherrod plans to sue Breitbart

Former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will pursue a lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

Breitbart posted an edited video clip of Sherrod appearing to say she discriminated against a white farmer looking for assistance. The clip showed her addressing a chapter of the NAACP.

“I will definitely do it,” she said when asked whether she was considering legal action. Sherrod made her remarks during an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego, California.

Breitbart “had to know that he was targeting me,” Sherrod said. “At this point, he hasn’t apologized. I don’t want it at this point, and he’ll definitely hear from me.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 29, 2010 in Faux News, News, The Post-Racial Life


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