Category Archive 'Department of Justice'

08 Aug 2014

Justice at Yale as Decreed by Barack Obama and Eric Holder

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Woodbridge2
Woodbridge Hall, meeting room where Yale’s top officials make decisions.

K.C. Johnson, at Minding the Campus, describes the truly Orwellian system of adjudicating complaints of sexual assault which has evolved at Yale as the result of threats of sanctions by Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights.

Yale, as part of an agreement with OCR (Office of Civil Rights), revised its procedures and promised biannual reports from Yale deputy provost Stephanie Spangler.

Over the past three years, these Spangler documents have provided a first-hand illustration of what passes for due process at one of the nation’s leading universities. From them, we learned that more than a half-dozen Yale students (including former quarterback Patrick Witt) had been found culpable for sexual assault under “informal complaint” procedures that provide no grounds for an accused student to present evidence of his innocence. The latest Spangler report has now been released. It suggests that due process still stands in short supply on the New Haven campus. …

Seven cases this semester have gone through the “informal” process—which can best be seen as a kind of “Scarlet Letter” approach. That is: given the limitations on the accused student’s ability to present evidence, it’s almost impossible for an “informal complaint” to end without the accused student being branded a rapist. But beyond the branding, Yale allows only limited punishment through the informal procedure. Of the six students (one case remains pending) who faced charges of sexual assault through the “informal complaint” process, each received the same punishment—“counseling” and a prohibition on contacting the accuser.

For one student last spring, the allegation was just the beginning. Yale’s “formal complaint” procedure prevents the accused from having an attorney as part of the process; brands the accused a rapist based on a 50.01 percent finding from a panel specially trained panel; and denies the accused any right to cross-examine the accuser. Even under these guilt-tilting procedures, one accused student was found not culpable—meaning that Yale’s disciplinary panel concluded that it was more likely than not he was the subject of a false allegation.

The outcome of the case? The accused student was punished. He received a no-contact order with his accuser (there was no reciprocal order)—meaning that if the two happen to enroll in the same course, the accused student would need to drop the class; or if the two happened to be assigned to the same dorm, the accused student would have to move.

Yale also referred the accused student for “sexual consent training.” (Yale’s website contains no description of what this “training” entails, but here’s a summary from a feminist blog.) Again: Yale concluded that it was more likely than not that the accused student was the victim of a false allegation. Yet even though Yale’s own accuser-friendly procedures concluded that it was more likely than not the accuser leveled a false allegation, the accused was punished, while the accuser received no punishment of any sort.

In the several years of Spangler reports, there never has been any indication that Yale has punished even one student for filing a false claim of sexual assault. …

One of the Title IX cases from the spring provides a sense of the Orwellian nature of the Title IX coordinator’s work. “A third party reported,” according to Spangler, “that more than one female [Yale] student, whom the reporter would not identify, [emphasis added] was sexually assaulted by a male Yale student.”

Or, in plain English, a Yale student is now being investigated as a serial rapist, with the possibility of sanctions—even though none of the females he allegedly raped have filed a complaint, or have even been identified. How any student could defend himself against such a charge is unclear.

Read the whole thing, and feel your blood run cold.

14 Mar 2010

Like Saul Alinsky, Not John Adams

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Neal Katyal celebrates the decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Andrew C. McCarthy rebuts misleading editorial claims that certain attorneys now employed by the Department of Justice were “only doing their job” and following the conventional ethical obligations of the Bar in pursuing various kinds of innovative litigation on behalf of War on Terror detainees.

The fictional premise of these wayward complaints is that the Justice Department’s al Qaeda lawyers stand in the same shoes as criminal-defense lawyers. The latter must represent even unsavory characters because the Constitution guarantees counsel to those charged with crimes.

To the contrary, the Justice Department’s al Qaeda lawyers were volunteers, just as Mr. Holder volunteered in the Heller case. Unlike the British soldiers represented by John Adams, the Gitmo detainees are not entitled to counsel. They are not criminal defendants. They are plaintiffs in offensive lawsuits, filed under the rubric of habeas corpus, challenging their detention as war prisoners. The nation is at war, and the detainees are unprivileged alien enemy combatants. By contrast, the United States was not at war with England at the time of the Boston Massacre, and the British soldiers were lawful police, not nonuniformed terrorists.

There is no right to counsel in habeas corpus cases. Thousands of American inmates must represent themselves in such suits—there is no parade of white-shoe law firms at their beck and call. Until 2004, moreover, enemy prisoners were not permitted to challenge their detention at all. The Supreme Court rejected such claims in the 1950 Eisentrager case, precisely because they damage the national war effort. Yes, left-leaning lawyers have convinced the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc to ignore precedent and permit Gitmo habeas petitions. That neither makes these suits less damaging, nor endows the enemy with a right to counsel.

Advocating for the enemy is a modern anomaly, not a proud tradition. Defense lawyers representing accused criminals perform a constitutionally required function. Not so the Department of Justice’s Gitmo volunteers. They represented al Qaeda operatives because they wanted to, not because they had to. The suggestion that they served a vital constitutional function is self-adulating myth. Their motive was to move the law in a particular direction.

Ironically, a number of Republican and conservative lawyers have written editorials and signed letters expressing the same specious analysis that equates the proactive defense of the enemy by the members of the treasonous community of fashion with the conventional acceptance of an assigned duty to provide representation to an unpopular or controversial client. You do not find Mr. Katyal, Mr. Holder, or certain representatives of Shearman & Sterling volunteering to defend the marines charged with murder or the Navy seals who gave the leader of a mob that murdered and mutilated Americans a fat lip.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, I suppose, deserve some special appreciation for their highmindedness and inclination to bend over backward in order to refrain from pointing fingers at members of their own profession in the opposing camp, but their insistence on placing the best interpretation on the motives of opponents seems more than a little naive in a world in which the democrat party left endeavors to criminalize policy differences as frequently as possible.

There is the difference between Republicans and democrats, between the American right and the American left in a nutshell. Mukasey and Olson are found hastening to defend Neal Katyal’s efforts to utilize American law for the benefit of those making war against it and the Geneva Convention to protect illegal combatants who routinely flout it, while the left is enthusiastically trying to claim that Bush Administration attorneys deserve prosecution for violations of international law as well as sanctions for professional misconduct.

What we have here is the successful application by the left of Saul Alinsky’s radical technique of “making your opponent obey his own rules” on two levels. Leftwing attorneys have successfully compelled the United States government to accord constitutional protections and the privileges of domestic legal process to armed enemies captured overseas and effectively contrived to have the Supreme Court enforce Article 75 of Protocol I (1977) of the Geneva Convention which the United States never signed. Meanwhile, the left accuses and makes strong efforts to punish Republican attorneys for legal and ethical violations on the basis of ultra-partisan and highly strained interpretations. Yet, prominent Republican legal figures shrink from criticizing, even from accurately identifying, enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of the enemy in time of war as what it really is.

04 Mar 2010

How Many Attorneys Formerly Representing Detainees Are Now Employed By the Justice Department?

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Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made a particular effort to find out how many of the Obama Administration’s new hires in the Justice Department had previously been involved in representing terrorist detainees in court battles with the Bush Administration. Senator Grassley noted the possibility of a “conflict of interest in putting the same people in charge of prosecution who had recently been defending these kinds of people.

In response to a letter from Grassley, last month, Holder admitted that there were nine such attorneys, but refused to identify seven not already publicly known.

Attorney General Eric Holder says nine Obama appointees in the Justice Department have represented or advocated for terrorist detainees before joining the Justice Department. But he does not reveal any names beyond the two officials whose work has already been publicly reported. And all the lawyers, according to Holder, are eligible to work on general detainee matters, even if there are specific parts of some cases they cannot be involved in.

Holder’s admission comes in the form of an answer to a question posed last November by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. Noting that one Obama appointee, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, formerly represented Osama bin Laden’s driver, and another appointee, Jennifer Daskal, previously advocated for detainees at Human Rights Watch.

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And there may have been more than nine:

It is possible that there are more than nine political appointees who worked for detainees. Holder tells Grassley that he did not survey the Justice Department as a whole but instead canvassed several large offices within the organization.

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Liz Cheney’s group Keep America Safe made some trouble for Eric Holder by demanding in a recent video that he identify an additional seven attorneys

0:48 video

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Prompted by the Keep America Safe video, Fox News investigated and uncovered the identities of the other seven.

Before joining the Justice Department, Jonathan Cedarbaum, now an official with the Office of Legal Counsel, was part of a “firm-wide effort” to represent six Bosnian-Algerian detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, according to the web site of the firm WilmerHale.

That effort brought the case Boumediene v. Bush to the Supreme Court, which reaffirmed the right of detainees to challenge their detention.

But, according to a review by Fox News, Cedarbaum’s name appears only once in court records of detainee-related cases. Specifically, he’s named as part of the WilmerHale legal team in a 2007 filing with the Supreme Court, and he was joined in that filing by Eric Columbus, a former WilmerHale attorney who is now senior counsel in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Alongside Cedarbaum in the Office of Legal Counsel now is Karl Thompson, who while working for the firm O’Melveny & Myers became one of seven attorneys to represent Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

But, according to court documents, Thompson was only part of Khadr’s defense team for seven months, from October 2008 to May 2009.

More than five years before that, Joseph Guerra, now Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department, was one of five lawyers from the firm Sidley Austin to help three civil liberties groups, including the self-described “conservative” Rutherford Institute, file a detainee-related brief with the Supreme Court.

The brief urged the justices to hear the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was held as an “enemy combatant” before the Bush Administration decided in 2006 to prosecute him in a civilian court..

Similarly, in November 2006, Tali Farhadian, now an official in the Office of the Attorney General, was an attorney with the firm Debevoise & Plimpton when she helped file a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, urging the federal appeals court to hear the case of Ali al-Marri, the only “enemy combatant” at the time being held on U.S. soil.

In addition, Beth Brinkmann, now Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Civil Division, was a partner with the firm Morrison & Foerster when she helped compile at least two Supreme Court briefs dealing with Guantanamo Bay detainees.

In 2007, she and others co-signed a Supreme Court brief by 20 former federal judges calling for further protection of detainees’ rights, and the next year she co-signed a brief by two advocacy groups, including The Rutherford Institite, urging the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from al-Marri.

The most extensive detainee-related work by a current Justice Department official, though, may have been done by Tony West, the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

For several years, while working in Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office, West represented “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh, a move that was hotly debated after West was nominated to the Justice Department in January 2009. West wasn’t confirmed until April 2009.

But Holder’s search was obviously less than exhaustive and he was hardly motivated to inquire closely. Chances are good that even more examples of such potential conflicts will turn up.

20 Oct 2009

Another Fascinating Decision By Obama’s Justice Department

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“Of course he wants to vote the Democratic ticket!” (Harpers, 1876)

Party labels are essential in elections in order to assure black democrats win. If black democrats don’t win, and black Republicans should accidentally be elected, black voters are being deprived of their electoral will, according to Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.

Welcome to the post-racial America we were assured would come into being upon the election of America’s first black president.

Washington Times:

Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department’s ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their “candidates of choice” – identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters’ right to elect the candidates they want.

Several federal and local politicians would like the city to challenge the decision in court. They say voter apathy is the largest barrier to black voters’ election of candidates they prefer and that the Justice Department has gone too far in trying to influence election results here.

Stephen LaRoque, a former Republican state lawmaker who led the drive to end partisan local elections, called the Justice Department’s decision “racial as well as partisan.”

“On top of that, you have an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., overturning a valid election,” he said. “That is un-American.”

The decision, made by the same Justice official who ordered the dismissal of a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, has irritated other locals as well. They bristle at federal interference in this city of nearly 23,000 people, two-thirds of whom are black.

30 May 2009

Justice Obama-Style: No Prosecution For Voter Intimidation By Black Panthers

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Billy-club wielding Black Panthers outside Philadelphia polling station

The 2008 Presidential election featured brazen acts of voting fraud and voter intimidation in favor of the democrat party candidates. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice just sent a message to its supporters assuring them crimes committed in support of democrats will not be punished.

Washington Times:

Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.

The incident – which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube – had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms.

Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as “the most blatant form of voter intimidation” that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.

The lawyers also had ascertained that one of the three men had gained access to the polling place by securing a credential as a Democratic poll watcher, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Washington Times.

The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.

A Justice Department spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the agency had dropped the case, dismissing two of the men from the lawsuit with no penalty and winning an order against the third man that simply prohibits him from bringing a weapon to a polling place in future elections.

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Original 1:21 video

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The same Washington Times ran the following editorial.

Imagine if Ku Klux Klan members had stood menacingly in military uniforms, with nightsticks, in front of a polling place. Add to it that they had hurled racial threats and insults at voters who tried to enter.

Now suppose that the government, backed by a nationally televised video of the event, had won a court case against the Klansmen except for the perfunctory filing of a single, simple document – but that an incoming Republican administration had moved to voluntarily dismiss the already-won case.

Surely that would have been front-page news, with a number of firings at the Justice Department.

The flip side of this scenario is occurring right now. The culprits weren’t Klansmen; they belonged to the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. One of the defendants, Jerry Jackson, is an elected member of Philadelphia’s 14th Ward Democratic Committee and was a credentialed poll watcher for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party when the violations occurred. Rather conveniently, the Obama administration has asked that the cases against Mr. Jackson, two other defendants and the party be dropped.

The Voting Rights Act is very clear. It prohibits any “attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce” any voter or those aiding voters.

The explanation for moving to dismiss the case is shocking. According to the Department of Justice: “These same Defendants have made no appearance and have filed no pleadings with the Court. Nor have they otherwise raised any other defenses to this action. Therefore, the United States has the right … to dismiss voluntarily this action against the Defendants.” In other words, because the defendants haven’t tried to defend themselves, the Justice Department won’t punish them.

By that logic, if a murderer doesn’t respond to the charges, he should be let free. That’s crazy.


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