Crime & Legal

I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out

by Lavette Mayes and Matthew McLoughlin, Truthout | Op-Ed – This story is the eighth piece in the Truthout series, Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons. This series dives deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones and communities, demonstrating how the United States’ incarceration of more than 2 million people also harms many millions more — including 2.7 million children. On any given day, more than 7,000 people are incarcerated at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. Stretching over 11 city blocks, Cook County Jail is the largest single-site jail in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the people locked up in Cook County Jail have not been convicted of a crime. They are incarcerated pretrial — and 62 percent of them are there only because they cannot afford to pay a monetary bond. In Cook County, bond court hearings last a mere 37 seconds on average. In that time, a judge makes bail...

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Mueller v. Trump: The Ultimate Lawsuit

by STEVEN HARPER – Odds are that Trump will eventually fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Lawyer Steven Harper games out what would happen next. Eventually, Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s repeated statements about the Russia “hoax” — along with his apparent attempts to influence the FBI’s investigation — warrant a close look at the process by which he could do so. Equally important are the limited ways to stop him. Whether by design, inadvertence or a combination of both, Trump and his minions — including Newt Gingrich and Trump’s lawyers — have been laying the groundwork for what could become America’s defining moment.   The Rules and the Players To stop the investigation, Trump’s cleanest path requires that one of his loyalists occupy a Senate-confirmed position in the Justice Department’s chain of command. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, the power to end the inquiry has now landed in Deputy Attorney General...

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ACLU Sues DC Police for Attempts to ‘Chill’ Dissent on Inauguration Day

by Jake Johnson – The suit claims D.C. police unlawfully arrested peaceful demonstrators and indiscriminately deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades against journalists, legal observers, and crowds of protesters. Amid a nationwide crackdown on dissent by President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit (pdf) against the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department alleging officers violated the rights of protestors and journalists attending Trump’s inauguration in January. “It is clear to me that the Metropolitan police came out on Inauguration Day intent on teaching demonstrators a lesson and chilling political speech in the nation’s capital.” —Scott Michelman, ACLU senior attorney The suit claims D.C. police unlawfully arrested peaceful demonstrators and indiscriminately deployed tear gas and flash-bang grenades against journalists, legal observers, and crowds of protesters. “In the course of the roundup and subsequent processing of demonstrators,” the organization claims, “police held detainees for hours without...

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Reporters Face 70 Years in Prison over Anti-Trump March

by Patrick Strickland – Two journalists are among more than 200 people facing felony charges after mass arrests at Inauguration Day rally. Even when heavily armed riot police closed off a square block and surrounded protesters, media workers and legal observers alike, independent journalist Alexei Wood did not realise he was about to be arrested. “It didn’t even cross my mind that was what was happening,” the 37-year-old photographer and videographer told Al Jazeera. “I was waiting for an order of dispersal and the mass of people showed no sign of resistance when the police completely surrounded them.” FAULT LINES: The Rise of Trump (24:59) Yet on that day, January 20, protesters and observers say the order to disperse never came, and more than 230 people were arrested during protests against the inauguration of right-wing US President Donald Trump. Like other media workers who travelled to the capital from across the country for Trump’s inauguration,...

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Civil Rights Commission Launches New Investigation Into Trump Admin Practices

by Frank Vyan Walton – Following the news that under AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III administration of the Department of Justice quietly rolling back civil rights protections for Americans… Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight. The move is just one part of a move by the Trump administration to limit federal civil rights enforcement. Other departments have scaled back the power of their internal divisions that monitor such abuses. In a previously unreported development, the Education Department last week reversed an Obama-era reform that broadened the agency’s approach to protecting rights of students. The Labor Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have also announced sweeping cuts to their enforcement. “At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut. At worst, it really is...

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NY Attorney General Joins 16 States Taking Legal Action Against Trump and the GOP on Healthcare

by Leslie Salzillo – So many important pieces of news are missed due to the bombastic and disgusting outbursts of Donald Trump who continues to suck up the media with outrageous lies, executive orders and tweets—along with a  Republican-led Congress that delivers odious self-serving bills like they were firing pellets from a BB gun. One press release last month by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman slipped through traditional and social media cracks after he posted a statement on his website. It slipped through, but we can be sure he will follow through with this legal action. Schneiderman is a predator of crime chasing justice with a vengeance. You only need to take a glance at one page of his past month’s legal motions and convictions to see the man is a beast. Schneiderman is not a fan of Trump or the AHCA so-called “healthcare” bill and he has joined forces to protect the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Here are excerpts from the press release posted on May 18,...

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Grenfell Fire: Residents Demand Justice

by Shafik Mandhai – Pressure grows on local council and PM Theresa May to hold those responsible for safety failings to account. A member of Al Manaar mosque in West London opens up the doors to its prayer area in a vain attempt to cool the community hall where hundreds of people, including survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, have gathered. The temperature is 30C outside, but the inside of the hall offers little relief to those dabbing away sweat and trying to fan themselves cool with leaflets. Nevertheless, an unrelenting stream of locals, Muslim and not, continues to flow through the mosque’s entrance further cramming the room. They have come to listen to a group of local lawyers and social housing experts who have taken it upon themselves to advise those who have lost their homes on the best course of action. Those addressing the crowd urge a united front and...

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How New Orleans’ Mayor Balances Welcoming Immigrants with Following Federal Policies

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – ‘If Congress would do its job and actually have comprehensive immigration reform, we wouldn’t have to have these patchwork guesses on who’s doing what.’ What are mayors to do with their immigrant constituents when they want to strike a balance being both a welcoming city to everyone and a city of law and order pressured to follow federal policies as harsh as the ones that President Donald Trump has put forth in his executive orders on immigration? That’s the burning question for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu — the incoming president of the United States Conference of Mayors — who met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April with other U.S. mayors to discuss policies aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants. The meeting came in response after the Trump administration publicly shamed New Orleans and eight other jurisdictions for being “sanctuary cities” to undocumented residents, allowing officials the ability to ignore a federal request to...

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With Attack on Deputy AG, Trump Legal Team Must Be ‘Going a Little Nuts’

by Jon Queally – For the first time, Trump acknowledges he is under federal investigation while simultaneously taking aim at his own Justice Department. In a message that journalists and political observers say looks like a shocking attack by a sitting president on his own Justice Department, President Donald Trump appeared to take aim at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a Friday morning tweet. Trump also acknowledged, for the first time publicly, that he is under federal investigation. Donald J. Trump   ✔@realDonaldTrump I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt 9:07 AM – 16 Jun 2017 When Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey last month, he initially cited a memo written by Rosenstein as the basis for the dismissal. However, Trump later told NBC News‘ Lester Holt that he had already decided to fire Comey before that memo...

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Judge Declares Mistrial in Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Case

by Jessica Goldstein – The hung jury deliberated for over 50 hours. The prosecution presented its case in four-and-a-half days. The defense took all of six minutes. The criminal trial of Bill Cosby, a once universally-beloved pop cultural icon now accused by nearly 60 women of sexual misconduct, came to a close on Monday afternoon. Then the jury began to deliberate. Fifty-two hours later, the jury could not reach a verdict. Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial. Andrea Constandt alleges Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home in 2004. Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault; if convicted, he could face up to ten years in prison. But after days of deliberations, during which the jury asked O’Neill a dozen questions and had several lengthy police interviews, depositions, and witness testimonies reread back to them — including the entirety of Constandt’s testimony regarding the alleged assault, which was 300...

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Gender Equality Justice for Unwed American Mothers and Fathers Abroad

by Diana Fletcher – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a backward, gender discriminating federal law based on shocking stereotypes — one being that most men hardly care about their children born out-of-wedlock. Under this law, a child born abroad to an unwed American mother automatically becomes a U.S. citizen if the mother previously lived in the U.S. for a minimum of one year. Under the very same law, a child of an unwed father can’t become a U.S. citizen unless the father has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years, two of them when he was over the age of 14. How could this law have such requirements? Who would think this? How did that even pass originally? It’s sad and disgusting. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees. They have ruled that these horrid gender lines drawn by Congress violate the Constitution’s guarantee to equal...

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Zero Tolerance Policies don’t Prevent Violence at Schools

by Casey Quinlan – There is no reason for schools to abandon behavioral interventions and rely on suspension as a deterrent. In Upstate New York’s Syracuse School District, the stabbing of a teacher has sparked debate over the district’s approach toward student discipline. The district changed its policy shortly before the incident in an effort to keep students engaged at school and reduce racial disparities in student discipline, after an investigation from the New York attorney general’s office. But the stabbing of a teacher by a student in May has reinvigorated opposition to the school’s discipline approach — even though there isn’t any evidence to suggest that the school’s former policy would have prevented a serious incident such as this one. There were already many critics of Syracuse’s plan, part of a four-year agreement with the attorney general, to change its approach to focus on using restorative practices to resolve conflicts, teaching staff about cultural competency and implicit...

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Mike Pence Lawyers Up. Good Idea Considering There’s a Mountain of Evidence Against Him

by ursulafaw – Watching Mike Pence fall is going to be like watching an ice skater who is totally out of his league attempt a triple axle and then fall to the ice in extreme slow motion. Pence is sticking to his guns, apparently, that he “don’t know nothin’ bout colludin’ wid no Rushins,”  presumably in an attempt to save his political future. Maybe his new lawyer, Richard Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, can defend that position, despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary. Let’s see where the Washington Post says that Pence stands right now: “I can confirm that the Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel,” said Jarrod Agen, a Pence spokesman, in an emailed statement. “The Vice President is focused entirely...

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196 Members of Congress Sue Trump

by Laurel Raymond – If Trump won’t abide by the Constitution’s emoluments clause, lawmakers want the courts to make him. Nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers will file suit against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, alleging that he is violating the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause by accepting payments from foreign governments through his businesses while president. The plaintiffs include 30 Senators and 166 members of the House of Representatives — but a source familiar with the lawsuit said more lawmakers could join an amended complaint later if they wished. The case will be lead by the nonprofit Constitutional Accountability Center. The lawsuit — and the sheer number of members of Congress participating — reflects the deep frustration of Democratic lawmakers with the leeway the White House has been given by the Republican majority in Congress. Traditionally, Congress is taxed with oversight and accountability of the executive branch, which they carry out through hearings and other means. But the way Congress...

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Republicans Set a Standard For Impeachment — and Trump Has Met It

by Tom Steyer – Former FBI Director James Comey’s explosive testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee began with an unambiguous declaration that the president of the United States lied about his firing. He went on to raise serious questions about Trump’s efforts to impede an FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump or his associates and the Russian government. These questions require immediate investigation by an independent commission free of Trump’s interference. While there is much that requires further investigation, we cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand in avoidance of what is already known. Impeachment of an elected president is an act of enormous magnitude that must not be undertaken lightly or in response to routine political disagreements or policy differences. But the seriousness of the remedy speaks not only to the danger of its misuse, but to the importance of using it when appropriate. Our system depends...

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Senate Approves New Russian Sanctions 97-2

by Mark Sumner – In a vote that was as close to unanimous as the current Congress is likely to produce on anything more substantial than naming a post office, the Senate passed sanctions designed to punish Russia for interference in the 2016 election. Jamie Dupree   ✔@jamiedupree Senate votes 97-2 to approve new round of Russia sanctions in response to 2016 election interference 2:48 PM – 14 Jun 2017 This bill would put the force of legislation behind the sanctions that President Barack Obama already imposed following the election, making it more difficult for Donald Trump to remove those sactions—which is something Trump planned from his first days in the White House. Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve...

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House GOP-led Hearing on Deregulation of Gun Silencers Cancelled After Shooting

by Kira Lerner – Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), who was at the baseball game, introduced a measure to make it easier to purchase gun silencers. After the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning, the House cancelled a scheduled hearing in which a National Rifle Association leader was to push for the deregulation of gun silencers. The GOP-sponsored bill up for debate in the House Natural Resources Committee, the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), would have removed gun silencers from the list of items regulated by the 1934 National Firearms Act. Silencers — also referred to as suppressors by the gun lobby — reduce the noise emitted from firearms. Under current law, they are regulated as strictly as machine guns and short-barreled rifles, but the gun lobby claims that these regulations are costly and unnecessary. They argue it’s more important to protect law-abiding gun owners against potential hearing loss. Opponents, meanwhile, claim that...

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Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Top State Health Official for Role in Flint Water Crisis

by Andrea Germanos – Advocacy group says new charges boost call for governor to resign. Michigan’s attorney general announced Wednesday that the head of the state’s health department and four others have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the years-long Flint water crisis. Nick Lyon, director of Michigan Health and Human Services, “failed in his responsibilities to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” state AG Bill Schuette said at a press conference Wednesday. A press statement from Schuette’s office alleges that Lyon waited a year before alerting the public about the outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease as a result of the crisis, an act that led to the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore. He also thwarted an independent researcher from investigating the cause of the outbreak, the statement says. Lyon was also charged with misconduct in office. The others now slapped with involuntary manslaughter charges are former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell...

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Congressional Baseball Practice Shooting: Four Wounded, Including Rep. Scalise

by Mark Sumner – As a team composed of Republican Congressmen and staffers were practicing baseball at a field near Alexandria, VA, a shooter fired into the field, wounding Congressman Steve Scalise, along with a Congressional staffer and two Capitol Police officers. The shooter was apparently a white male. According to Congressman Jeff Flake, the shooter was “in his 40s, maybe 50,” white, with dark hair. Several observers noted that he was wearing a blue shirt. At least two Congressman have reported that they spoke with the man they believed to be the shooter before the incident, with Congressman Jeff Duncan reporting that the man asked if the team practicing was Democrats or Republicans. However, Democrats practice at another field. Multiple Republicans had this morning’s practice, which is preparation for a charity game, noted on their calendars. So it’s likely the shooter would not have arrived on the field, armed, without...

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Court is in Session(s). Takeaways from the Sessions hearing

by Murfster35 – Well, another day, another hearing meant to “educate” the citizens of this country with all of the serious content of a car dealership ad. Little wonder this hearing wasn’t hyped with anywhere near the urgency that the Comey hearing was, because there was no urgency to this hearing. Comey came out with a serious and important story to tell, Sessions came out as the Trump branded, farm sized fertilizer spreader. But there were still a few takeaways. Republicans love wives as distractions —  Funny how that works. When James Comey showed up to testify, the Republicans on the dais suddenly developed tunnel vision, Preet Bharara in the 2nd row wasn’t even a hand print on the wall. But when Session’s wife sits down in the 1st row, the GOP Senators did everything but send out a cute little girl in a fluffy pink dress to give her a dozen roses. I...

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