It is just outrageous and disgraceful that the nation’s top law enforcement official lies, misleads, and obfuscates to protect our criminal president! His duty is to the law, not to tRump! He thinks he is clever, but history will label him a scoundrel.
Excerpts from the Article:
Before the special counsel’s report on Russia and President Trump was released to the public, Attorney General William P. Barr made several statements about what was in its 448 pages.
Barr received special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report last month and outlined its principal conclusions in a letter dated March 24. Barr then held a news conference on Thursday, shortly before releasing a redacted version of Mueller’s report.
As it turns out, in some cases, Barr’s characterizations were incomplete or misleading. The Mueller report is more damning of Trump than the attorney general indicated.
The New York Times and The Washington Post reported April 3 — after Barr’s letter was released — that some of Mueller’s investigators were frustrated by the attorney general’s limited disclosures about their work. The Post reported that “members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant,” and more acute than Barr had indicated.
… the plain language of the report in several respects does not match Barr’s claims.
On the question of ‘collusion’
Barr in his March 24 letter: “As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’ ”
Barr quoted directly from the Mueller report, highlighting its conclusion that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Left out was a key statement from Mueller that came right before what Barr quoted in his letter: “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Expecting to benefit may not be the same as actively cooperating, but the omission in Barr’s letter is significant nonetheless. The full sentence from Mueller casts a different, less flattering light on the Trump campaign than Barr’s letter indicated.
In short, Russia wanted Trump to win, and Trump campaign members were aware that they would reap an advantage from the “information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Barr during his Thursday news conference: “There was no evidence of Trump campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government’s hacking.” Barr at some points in his news conference used the word “collusion,” which is not a legal term for a crime. (The word “collusion” does not appear in the attorney general’s March 24 letter.)
Mueller’s report says: “In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of ‘collusion.’ … [C]ollusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law.”
A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said “collusion” and “conspiracy” show up together in the thesaurus. According to Merriam-Webster, collusion means a “secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.” But the issue here is not Barr’s choice of synonyms. It’s that his statements about collusion, coordination and conspiracy gloss over all the known ties between Trump campaign members and Russians. Mueller documented those ties exhaustively in the report.
Questions of legality aside, was there secret cooperation between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government?
As we’ve noted, the Mueller report says the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” As The Post’s Matt Zapotosky writes, the Mueller report “detailed a damning timeline of contacts between the Trump campaign and those with Russian ties — much of it already known, but some of it new.”
For example, the report says that in August 2016, Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the FBI has assessed as having ties to Russia, met with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a ‘backdoor’ way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine.” The report says Kilimnik and Manafort believed the plan would “require candidate Trump’s assent to succeed (were he elected President).”
“They also discussed the status of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states,” the report says. “Months before that meeting, Manafort had caused internal polling data to be shared with Kilimnik, and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting.”
Examples abound of Trump campaign officials being in contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign.
On June 3, 2016, a music publicist named Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr. offering “very high level and sensitive information” that could “incriminate Hillary [Clinton].” Goldstone described this as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. responded, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” Goldstone set up a meeting with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
On June 9, 2016, the meeting at Trump Tower with Veselnitskaya included Trump Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; Manafort; and others. It was fruitless as far as turning up dirt on Clinton, but attendees did discuss easing sanctions on Russia, Mueller’s investigation found. Veselnitskaya “claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats,” the report says. “Trump Jr. requested evidence to support those claims, but Veselnitskaya did not provide such information. She and her associates then turned to a critique of the origins of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 statute that imposed financial and travel sanctions on Russian officials and that resulted in a retaliatory ban on adoptions of Russian children. Trump Jr. suggested that the issue could be revisited when and if candidate Trump was elected. After the election, Veselnitskaya made additional efforts to follow up on the meeting, but the Trump Transition Team did not engage.” This meeting posed “difficult statutory and constitutional questions,” Mueller said in the report, but his office “ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law.” (Emphasis on “willfully.”)
Mueller also documented an instance in which Trump’s public comments closely coincided with a Russian intelligence agency’s moves to hack Clinton’s emails.
“On July 27, 2016, Unit 26165 [of Russia’s GRU, an intelligence agency] targeted email accounts connected to candidate Clinton’s personal office … Earlier that day, candidate Trump made public statements that included the following: ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’ The ’30,000 emails’ were apparently a reference to emails described in media accounts as having been stored on a personal server that candidate Clinton had used while serving as Secretary of State.
“Within approximately five hours of Trump’s statement, GRU officers targeted for the first time Clinton’s personal office. After candidate Trump’s remarks, Unit 26165 created and sent malicious links targeting 15 email accounts … including an email account belonging to Clinton aide [name redacted]. The investigation did not find evidence of earlier GRU attempts to compromise accounts hosted on this domain. It is unclear how the GRU was able to identify these email accounts, which were not public.”
The Mueller report shows that the Russian hacking and cyber-propaganda push coincided with a series of contacts between Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government. However, the report also says: “We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests.”
The Justice Department official we spoke to emphasized Mueller’s bottom-line decision not to bring charges of illegal coordination or conspiracy and said it was not reasonable to consider the contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians as collusion in any sense.
On the question of obstruction of justice
Barr in his March 24 letter: “The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
Barr during the Thursday news conference: “After finding no underlying collusion with Russia, the Special Counsel’s report goes on to consider whether certain actions of the President could amount to obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation. As I addressed in my March 24th letter, the Special Counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. Instead, the report recounts 10 episodes involving the President and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.”
Mueller declined to reach a decision on whether to bring charges against Trump for obstructing justice. The special counsel also did not make an explicit recommendation to Congress on impeachment.
But Mueller spent nearly half of the report laying out a sustained effort by Trump to derail the investigation, including an effort by the president to have him removed. “The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” the report says. “These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony. Viewing the acts collectively can help to illuminate their significance.”
Mueller concluded that Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey because Comey wouldn’t clear the president publicly. “Substantial evidence indicates that the catalyst for the President’s decision to fire Comey was Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that the President was not personally under investigation, despite the President’s repeated requests that Comey make such an announcement,” the report says.
Barr in his March 24 letter: “The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.” Barr during the news conference: “Special Counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress; I hope that was not his view, since we don’t convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose. He did not — I didn’t talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision. But I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my — my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision.”
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein reviewed Mueller’s evidence on obstruction and found that Trump did not break the law. These comments from Barr also indicate that he and Rosenstein have the last word on this question. The attorney general is Mueller’s boss, but the report does not say Mueller intended to leave obstruction-related decisions to Barr.
Trump’s attorneys argued that the president could not obstruct justice by exercising his constitutional authority to fire Comey. Mueller rejected that argument, and his report uses suggestive language about Congress’s role in this debate. It says: “With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. …
“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
In those passages, Mueller was saying that Congress, as a general matter, has the power to subject the president to obstruction laws. Mueller also said he declined to reach a decision on obstruction charges in part because he did not want to “potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.” That’s a reference to impeachment, as a footnote at the end of the sentence makes clear. The special counsel also noted that he was following a Justice Department policy not to indict a sitting president.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Mueller’s report also says (also suggestively): “In addition, the President had a motive to put the FBI’s Russia investigation behind him. The evidence does not establish that the termination of Comey was designed to cover up a conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and Russia: As described in Volume I, the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official. But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns.”
On the report’s early release to the White House
Barr during the news conference: “Following my March 29th letter, the Office of the White House Counsel requested the opportunity to review the redacted version of the report in order to advise the president on the potential invocation of privilege, which is consistent with long-standing practice. “In addition, earlier this week, the President’s personal counsel requested and were given the opportunity to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released. That request was consistent with the practice followed under the Ethics in Government Act, which permitted individuals named in a report prepared by an Independent Counsel the opportunity to read the report before publication. The President’s personal lawyers were not permitted to make, and did not request, any redactions.”
Barr’s decision to share an advance copy of the Mueller report with White House lawyers and Trump’s personal attorneys departs from the precedent set by independent counsel Kenneth Starr in 1998, as The Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman writes.
AG Barr cited post-Watergate law, relevant parts of which expired in 1999, as reason why he let Pres Trump’s personal lawyers come to DOJ to read the Mueller Report before it was released.
On Sept. 7, 1998, Clinton attorney David Kendall wrote a letter to Starr to ask for a “brief opportunity” to review Starr’s report before it was transmitted to Congress. Two days later, Starr said no. The independent counsel law under which he operated required him to send the report directly to Congress, Starr said. That law has expired, and regulations governing Mueller’s work are different.
However, Barr said he shared an advance copy of the report with Trump’s lawyers consistent with “long-standing practice.” The last time an independent or special counsel was appointed to investigate a sitting president, the opposite happened: Starr said no. Asked about this, the DOJ official said Barr “was addressing how the process of executive privilege generally works” when he referred to “long-standing practice.” That means his statement, in what were prepared remarks, was unclear and suggestive. It easily could have been taken to mean that it’s typical to share the report with the president before its public release.
On whether the White House ‘fully cooperated’ with Mueller
Barr during the news conference: “The White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation.” This is an astonishing claim. Trump has been attacking Mueller’s investigation for two years. Trump declined interview requests from the special counsel and his written answers to questions were deemed “inadequate” by Mueller’s team. Asked about this, the Justice Department official emphasized that the president chose not to assert executive privilege, turned over reams of documents and directed aides to testify. That’s significant, indeed. But to call this full cooperation is highly misleading.
An entire volume of Mueller’s report — 182 pages long — is dedicated to 10 episodes of potential obstruction, including efforts by Trump to oust Mueller and curtail his investigation, Trump’s moves to conceal the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya when reporters started asking about it, and actions taken by the president that could have influenced witness testimony (such as his frequent talk of presidential pardons and “rats”). According to the report, Trump stated more than 30 times in his written answers that he “does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘independent recollection’” of information sought by Mueller’s investigators.
The report says Mueller chose not to pursue a subpoena to compel Trump’s testimony because of the “substantial delay” that would have caused. The special counsel’s team added that they had “sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony.”
One of the blanks Trump left unfilled concerned the Trump Tower Moscow project, according to the report.
“On November 20, 2018, the President submitted written responses that did not answer those questions about Trump Tower Moscow directly and did not provide any information about the timing of the candidate’s discussions with [former Trump lawyer Michael] Cohen about the project or whether he participated in any discussions about the project being abandoned or no longer pursued,” the Mueller report says.
“In light of the President‘s public statements following Cohen’s guilty plea that he ‘decided not to do the project,’ this Office again sought information from the President about whether he participated in any discussions about the project being abandoned or no longer pursued, including when he ‘decided not to do the project,’ who he spoke to about that decision, and what motivated the decision. The Office also again asked for the timing of the President’s discussions with Cohen about Trump Tower Moscow and asked him to specify ‘what period of the campaign’ he was involved in discussions concerning the project. In response, the President’s personal counsel declined to provide additional information from the President and stated that ‘the President has fully answered the questions at issue.’”
In some cases (regarding obstruction and collusion), the attorney general’s claims are accurate in a narrow, legalistic sense — but they are stripped of important context that casts Trump and his campaign in a damning light.
In other cases, Barr’s claims are not accurate. We fail to see how Trump’s long campaign to attack, stymie and remove Mueller can be reconciled with Barr’s statement about full cooperation. Trump’s decision not to sit for an interview is, in fact, a lack of cooperation. So is the decision not to furnish requested information about the Moscow project.
We also don’t see how it can be considered “long-standing practice” for independent or special counsels to give a sneak preview of their findings to the White House. The one appointed before Mueller explicitly declined to give Clinton an advance copy of his report. We’re told that Barr, a seasoned lawyer, was talking about the process of invoking executive privilege. In that case, his remarks were woefully imprecise and easily gave the impression he was talking about the report’s early release.
In their totality, these statements gave a warped view of the Mueller report. The attorney general strayed far enough from the facts to merit Three Pinocchios.
The ‘Black Market’ in Prison Health Care – I say, Unfair ans Stupid, because inmates scam the system! – kra
More bad news about prison “health care”. As care declines, and costs spiral out of control, states are charging inmates more fees, whether or not they use the health care provided. That is not fair. inmates and their families are already financially exploited in many ways. See related articles on costs of commissary items (FAR above outside retail prices), “free” tablets, video visits, phone calls, … and the list goes on.
As inmates always will be “innovative”, they are scamming the co-pay system, as this article describes.
Excerpts from the Article:
In 2011, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) came up with a way to reduce the costs of covering health care for the incarcerated. All prisoners, unless they were indigent, were required to provide a $100 co-payment that would cover all visits to prison health services during a year. Emergency care and certain other services were excluded from the co-payment requirement.
Did it work? Here’s one answer: In 2017, TDCJ requested $247 million from the state just to maintain the costs of meeting the medical expenses of individuals incarcerated in the system at current existing levels.
Texas isn’t the only state that uses prisoner copayments and related fees to address the rising costs of correctional health care. Some 42 states have adopted some form of co-pay for non-emergency, patient-initiated visits with jail or prison medical staff, according to a report by the Prison Policy Initiative. And their experiences have mostly been just as disappointing as Texas.
Michigan, for example, collected less than $200,000 on such fees in 2014—making hardly a dent in the state’s $300 million prison health care budget.
But the real issue about co-payments has mostly been ignored. The fact is, the $100 co-payment is one of the reasons why the Texas prison health system is in such deep trouble. It created a “black market” in health services that ended up inflating prison health costs while doing little to improve a system that provides at best only perfunctory medical care.
As a long-serving resident of the largest prison system of the country, I’ve had a front-row seat on the problem—and I’ve watched it develop into a massive scam. Here’s how it works with two offenders I’ll call “James Doe” and “John Doe.”
James Doe refuses to pay the $100 copayment and avoids visiting the prison doctor. John Doe is indigent so he can see the doctor without charge. The actual cost of medical care for each inmate ranges between $30,000 and $35,000 annually. But James and John agree to conspire together. John makes bogus medical appointments to obtain the medication or equipment that James needs, in return for cookies, coffee or other low-price commissary items. But John also sees a business opportunity, and he begins making bogus trips to hospitals utilized by the system, just to obtain the additional medications or material that he can sell clandestinely to other “James Does” who similarly resist the co-payment.
The system ends up underwriting this black-market activity while its costs skyrocket.
How widespread is the practice? Do the math. Out of over 140,000 offenders in TDCJ, nearly 50 percent are indigent. Out of that 50 percent, I estimate that more than 50,000 are actively participating in the thriving black market that the $100 co-payment has created.
When you combine this with prison health care issues that have already been raised by the media, such as the aging prison population, it’s easy to see why Texas’ prison health care costs are a financial nightmare.
Is it happening elsewhere? I can’t answer that.
But while state prison authorities struggle with legislatures to figure out how to pay their rising health bills, perhaps it’s time to rethink the principle of co-pay.
Florida teenager obsessed with Columbine takes her own life – Great Job by Law Enforcement Officials – Letter to the Editor – kra
I just sent this out to my Press List of about 300 contacts.
Letter to the Editor – Job Well Done! 4/17/19
It is to the great credit of law enforcement officials that they identified this threat, tracked her, took the very difficult but wise step of closing schools attended by half a million kids (keeping them safe), and found the suspect, dead.
Job well done!
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS!
The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!…………Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses).
Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 weeks, some every 30 days, some every 90 days.
They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
Alabama DOC Stonewalling Federal Investigation; Eight Prisoners go on -They stonewall or cover up, or both! – kra
What’s new!? Prison officials obfuscate, stonewall, or just lie like hell about America’s biggest dirty little secret: prison abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
On October 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition to enforce a subpoena naming Jefferson S. Dunn, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), as the respondent. The petition seeks an order to show cause why Dunn should not be ordered to comply with the DOJ’s subpoena seeking prison records.
The department began investigating the ADOC in October 2016. The investigation into 13 state prisons housing male prisoners is being conducted pursuant to Section 3A(b)(2) of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997a-1. CRIPA “authorizes the Attorney General to investigate conditions of confinement in correctional facilities and initiate civil actions … where the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that any State … or person acting on behalf of a State is subjecting persons residing in or confined to an institution … to egregious or flagrant conditions which deprive such persons of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution….”
Specifically, the DOJ is seeking “to determine whether there is a pattern or practice of failing to protect prisoners from: (1) physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; (2) the use of excessive force and sexual abuse by correctional officers or staff; and (3) the lack of sanitary, secure, and safe living conditions.”
Relentless violence, including an extraordinarily high rate of murders, assaults and suicides, continues unabated in ADOC facilities. [See: PLN, Aug. 2018, p.30]. The DOJ has set up a toll-free hotline that prisoners can use to contact investigators.
“On an almost daily basis, the Department receives calls from prisoners and family members recounting allegations of violence, sexual abuse, and death in Alabama prisons,” attorneys for the DOJ wrote in a court filing.
Most recently, two prisoners were murdered at the Bibb County Correctional Facility within three days. Ray Anthony Little, 56, was stabbed to death on March 15, 2019, while Quinton A. Few was killed by another prisoner on March 12. Several days earlier, on March 8, Bibb County prisoner Rashaud Dederic Morrissett, 24, committed suicide.
To investigate deaths and incidents of violence in state prisons, the DOJ requested various documents from the ADOC – including investigative files, autopsy reports, medical records, prison duty logs and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) reports. When state prison officials failed or refused to comply with the request, the DOJ issued a subpoena in May 2017. Even after being subpoenaed, the ADOC failed to produce the documents. Prison officials claimed the scope of the requested records was “too cumbersome,” and that they lacked the staff and resources to comply with the subpoena because the ADOC was “currently in the remedy phase of a system-wide class action lawsuit over prison mental healthcare and in the midst of two settlement agreements at Tutwiler Prison for Women and St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville.” [See: PLN, Jan. 2019, p.16].
Unfortunately, the DOJ’s investigation was put on hold on December 21, 2018 due to the federal government shutdown, leading to a delay in the case. See: United States v. Dunn, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Ala.), Case No. 2:18-mc-03837-WKW-GMB.
Additionally, in March 2019, eight prisoners who had been transferred from the St. Clair Correctional Facility to the Holman Correctional Facility went on a hunger strike to protest their “preventive” placement in solitary confinement. The prisoners, Mario Avila, Antonio Jackson, Jr., Corey Burroughs, Earl Manassa, Kotoni Tellis, Tyree Cochran, Marcus Lee and Earl Taylor, were part of a group moved to the Holman prison following a contraband sweep; according to the ADOC, their placement in solitary was not a disciplinary action.
So you tell me, how is our “war on drugs” going? Withe record overdose deaths each year, the answer is clear: It is the disaster it always has been. READ How the War on Drugs has Destroyed Justice
These doctors should be prosecuted vigorously and incarcerated if convicted!
Excerpts from the Article:
Dozens of medical professionals in five states were charged Wednesday with participating in the illegal prescribing of more than 32 million pain pills, including doctors who prosecutors said traded sex for prescriptions and a dentist who unnecessarily pulled teeth from patients to justify giving them opioids.
The 60 people indicted include 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners and seven other licensed medical professionals. The charges involve more than 350,000 illegal prescriptions written in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia, according to indictments unsealed in federal court in Cincinnati.
The charges include unlawful distribution or dispensing of controlled substances by a medical professional and health-care fraud. Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, and many of the defendants face multiple counts. At least one doctor is charged in connection with a death caused by the opioids, officials said.
The indictments are part of a broader effort by the Justice Department to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic, which claimed the lives of 47,600 people in 2017 alone, the latest year that federal overdose data is available.
Over the past two years, Justice Department officials said they have targeted doctors, health-care companies and drug manufacturers and distributors for their roles in the epidemic. Last year, the department charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics.
Once they had the data indicating suspicious prescriptions, investigators used confidential informants and undercover agents to infiltrate medical offices across the region. Cameras and tape recorders were rolling as they documented how medical professionals used their licenses to peddle highly addictive opioids in exchange for cash and sex, officials said.
In a number of cases, according to the indictments, doctors across the region traded prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone for sexual favors. Some physicians instructed their patients to fill multiple prescriptions at different pharmacies. Prosecutors also documented how patients traveled to multiple states to see different doctors so they could collect and then fill numerous prescriptions.
The opioid indictments come as more than 1,500 cities, counties, Native American tribes and unions are suing drug companies in one of the largest and most complicated civil cases in American history. A federal judge in Cleveland is overseeing the cases, which accuse some of the biggest names in the industry of fueling the opioid epidemic. The companies have blamed the epidemic on corrupt doctors and pain management clinics and say the epidemic is too complicated to attribute to their actions.
Death and the Shadow Docket The Supreme Court’s efforts to shift procedures in death penalty litigation.
Here we see more muddled and non transparent procedures used by the Supreme Court in handling death penalty cases. They should admit that the death penalty is racist, arbitrary, useless, and unconstitutional! READ what I wrote in 2013: Death Penalty Letter to the Editor
Excerpts from the Article:
A couple months ago, the Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution in Dunn v. Ray, allowing Alabama to execute a man despite the prison’s refusal to let his imam attend to him in the execution chamber. While much of the controversy about the case was about the religious discrimination angle, the Court’s opinion stressed an issue of timing—the Court claimed that he had raised the issue too late in the day, and that this was an independent reason to deny his claim for relief. Four Justices joined a very powerful dissent written by Justice Kagan. (I wrote about this here.)
Then in late March, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution in Murphy v. Collier, a similar case out of Texas (this one involving a Buddhist). Two Justices, Thomas and Gorsuch, announced their dissent. Justice Kavanaugh, who had necessarily joined the majority in Dunn v. Ray, wrote an opinion explaining why he ruled in favor of the prisoner on the religious discrimination issue. He also included a footnote announcing that the case was different from Dunn v. Ray on the timing issue because “Murphy made his request to the state in a sufficiently timely manner, one month before his scheduled execution.”
Many observers were not convinced that the timing was that different, since Ray had made his request to the state two weeks before his execution, and the difference between two weeks and a month seems somewhat arbitrary. Indeed, Ray actually filed his lawsuit sooner than Dunn. Ray sued ten days before his execution; Murphy sued in state court eight days before his execution and in federal court two days before his execution. But Ray died and Murphy lived.
Because both of these decisions were dealt with on the orders list (or the “shadow docket”) rather than the merits docket, the Court provided only very brief explanations of its decision. Justices Gorsuch and Thomas did not explain their dissent in the Murphy case. We also do not know how Justice Alito or Chief Justice Roberts voted in Murphy. Unlike with merits opinions, it is possible for a Justice to dissent from an order without publicly noting it, so the decision might have been 7-2, 6-3, or 5-4. And if those justices voted with the majority in Murphy, we don’t know whether they agreed with Justice Kavanaugh about how to distinguish Dunn. But the combination of the cases prompted various explanations, such as the possibility that different lawyering or different amicus participation made the difference, or that the Court had felt the blowback from its Dunn decision and was quietly beating a retreat.
Then the plot thickened. In Bucklew v. Precythe, a merits case about an Eighth Amendment challenge to an execution protocol, Justice Gorsuch’s opinion for the Court included a 2-page section at the end of the opinion raising general concerns about litigation that delayed the death penalty. The Court reiterated that “federal courts can and should protect settled state jugments from undue interference by invoking their equitable powers to dismiss or curtail suits that are pursued in a dilatory fashion or based on speculative theories.” And it doubled down on Dunn v. Ray, including a long footnote reiterating Ray’s claim had involved undue delay. So it doesn’t seem like there is a retreat.
Finally, last night in Dunn v. Price, the Supreme Court divided 5-4 over another request to lift a stay. The Court lifted a stay imposed by the Eleventh Circuit because Price’s complaint was too late—but he had challenged his April execution in February (though he had also “submitted additional evidence … a few hours before his scheduled execution time”) rather than electing that method of execution last June. Justice Breyer wrote a dissent joined by four Justices that began “Should anyone doubt that death sentences in the United States can be carried out in an arbitrary way, let that person review the following circumstances as they have been presented to our Court this evening.” He emphasized that he had just wanted to delay discussion until today, when the Justices could discuss the case in person, rather than dealing with it in the middle of the night. Ironically, the Court’s own decision that Price’s litigation came too late itself came too late. Apparently because the Court’s decision didn’t come out until after 1 am EDT, Alabama’s death warrant expired and will have to be renewed in a month.
It seems clear to me that the Court is attempting to signal a significant shift in how it handles death-penalty litigation, but it is struggling over how to carry it out, and also likely divided over whether that shift is a good idea in any event. This problem is significantly exacerbated by two procedural features of the death penalty shadow docket. One is that these decisions are made with a modest amount of briefing, no oral argument, and without the Justices meeting in person to talk about them. The other is that these issues come up on a tight time frame, often in the middle of the night. Both the majority and the dissent are trying to respond to these features, but in different ways that each presuppose the correctness of their proposed solutions.
I say this as somebody with a great deal of sympathy for the Court, who thinks that the death penalty is justifiable and constitutional, but: this is no way to run a railroad. If the Court wants to regularize its death penalty procedures or stop the last-minute filings, it might be time to consider any of the following: promulgating a new Supreme Court rule setting out some deadlines or timeliness rules; adopting a general presumption of deference to the lower court in last-minute filings; adopting a general presumption of deference to the district court in last-minute filings; granting certiorari and oral argument in one of these shadow-docket cases so that some specific timeliness principles could be discussed, adjudicated, and adhered to; keeping all of the Justices in the building on execution night so that they can discuss controversial orders in the conference room. I’m sure somebody else can think of better ideas.
But I fear that muddling through these cases on the shadow docket will not produce the procedural regularity or early filing that the majority claims to want, and if it goes on much longer, it may also give Justice Breyer’s accusations of arbitrariness the unfortunate appearance of truth.
5 Cuyahoga County corrections officers indicted on charges that include assaulting restrained inmates, falsifying records
Pray for convictions and prison terms!
Idris-Farid Clark and Robert P. Marsh face assault and civil rights charges for a July 2018 incident where an inmate was restrained and pepper sprayed. Clark is accused of pepper spraying an inmate who was restrained in a chair. This is what guards did to me, except they sprayed me and then lifted me over the back of the chair, threw me to the cement, and kicked me around for a while.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Cuyahoga County Jail is once again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Five corrections officers are facing charges. This comes less than four months after a lawsuit was brought against officials who run the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center.
The indictments come after a lengthy investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The problems all started after a scathing report from the U.S. Marshal’s Service about conditions in the jail, which called the facility “inhumane.”
Idris-Farid Clark and Robert P. Marsh face assault and civil rights charges for a July 2018 incident where an inmate was restrained and pepper sprayed. Clark is accused of pepper spraying an inmate who was restrained in a chair.
Marsh also assaulted the inmate, according to the indictment. Martin Devring is charged with tampering with records, dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights for an August case involving an inmate in medical distress.
Nicholas D. Evans and Timothy M. Dugan face felonious assault, unlawful restraint and civil rights charges, for an incident last month.
They’re accused of using excessive force against an inmate in a restraint chair. Evans is also charged with tampering with evidence. The indictment says Evans turned his vest camera off so it would not capture any of the beating he’s accused of.
These incidents just scratch the surface of the problems at this corrections center. Seven inmates died there last year alone. In January, 19 News reported that an inmate overdosed, which led to an extensive search.
According to a source who works at the jail, enough heroin and fentanyl were found to kill everyone there. That same night, a female nurse was grabbed from behind by an inmate in the jail’s medical unit.
The future of the corrections center is still uncertain based on all those incidents. At the start of 2019, City Council approved an $800,000 contract to bring in a consultant to assess whether the facility should be refurbished or replaced.
I have read scores of articles about these deaths caused by prisons failing to treat addicts in withdrawal, and in many of them, the cover up is as criminal as the medical neglect.
There is NO reason this 18-year-old girl should have died!
Excerpts from the Article:
The death of a teenager is a sad event. But when it was entirely preventable, it becomes tragic.
The death of Victoria Jeanette Herr, 18, just four days after being booked into Pennsylvania’s Lebanon County Correctional Facility (LCCF), is yet another example of poor healthcare and deliberate indifference to prisoners’ medical needs.
Herr had recently graduated from high school and was described as a successful student and “an exceptionally talented artist.” Like many teens, she suffered from anxiety and turned to experimenting with drugs. Like many trapped in the current opioid epidemic, she tried prescription medications and became addicted; she then turned to a cheaper and more readily available drug: heroin.
Herr was taken into custody on March 27, 2015 when police went to the apartment she shared with her boyfriend to serve an outstanding arrest warrant against the boyfriend. The officers observed drug paraphernalia and heroin, which resulted in Herr’s arrest on controlled substance charges.
Upon her arrival at LCCC, Herr informed guard Michael Gerstner that she was addicted to heroin and using up to 10 doses daily. He ordered her placed on 30-minute “withdrawal” cell checks. By the next day, Herr was experiencing repeated bouts of vomiting and near-constant diarrhea, which resulted in guards forcing her to wear adult diapers. She reported that she was experiencing hallucinations, and exhibited symptoms of dehydration. Yet nurses who saw her failed to conduct an examination or render care.
During a phone call to her mother on March 30, Herr said she was thirsty and felt like she was dying. Her parents visited the jail but were not allowed to see their daughter; guards and a nurse informed them that she was “fine.” By the next afternoon, however, Herr was “barely conscious.” A nurse gave her Ensure and a glass of water, and sent her back to her cell.
Later in the evening of March 31, 2015, Herr could barely stand and fell in the medical unit. Guards insisted she was faking. After being ordered back to her cell by the nursing staff, Herr fell unconscious and quit breathing. Guards did not render CPR; Herr was revived in an ambulance but never recovered consciousness. She died on April 5, 2015.
A cover-up was already in process. Nurse Heather Phipps entered a note into Herr’s medical file on April 1, saying Herr was able to take pills and drink Ensure without difficulty, which was not possible given her condition at the time. A mortality review was not conducted, and guards and medical staff refused to respond to an inquiry by a coroner’s investigative team. During a deposition a nurse said she took Herr’s vital signs, but a guard refuted that claim.
As PLN has chronicled, many people die in jails due to not receiving treatment for drug and alcohol withdrawal. [See: PLN, Jan. 2018, p.38]. It is well-known that without proper medical care, withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. While LCCC denied culpability, it agreed in October 2018 to pay $4.75 million to settle a wrongful death suit filed by Herr’s family.
“It’s certainly one of the largest settlements in at least the last ten years involving the death of a prisoner in civil rights litigation,” said Jonathan Feinberg, one of the attorneys who represented Herr’s estate.
More settlements of this size may cause corrections officials to reconsider how they treat prisoners suffering from withdrawal, and to provide them the medical care they need. See: Moyer v. Lebanon County, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Penn.), Case No. 3:16-cv-01424-RDM.
This is what goes on all too often in our prisons, and YOU should give a damn, if for no other reason than it is costing YOU, the taxpayer, millions of dollars per year in every state! YOU pay for the medical costs, the litigation costs …
Excerpts from the Article:
Dozens of inmates were involved in a fight at Lawton Correctional Facility Friday night, Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials reported.
The fight, involving 46 inmates, broke out about 8:30 p.m. on Unit 2 of the C Pod. At least nine inmates were injured, with six taken to local hospitals to be treated for their injuries. Officials said their injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.
None of the prison’s staff were injured in the brawl. The prison remains under lockdown after the fight and all weekend visitation is canceled.
The medium-security private prison is operated by GEO Group and houses more than 2,600 inmates.
I’ll keep an eye on this case. For decades I have realized that our most important right is freedom of speech. It is our guarantee of a free press, it allows me to call tRump all sorts of appropriate, though insulting, names, and it keeps democracy alive through wide-ranging discourse.
I think the Patent Office will lose on this one, but nothing our current Supreme Court does will surprise me.
Excerpts from the Article:
Erik Brunetti’s four-letter fashion brand starts with an “F″ and rhymes with “duct.” The federal government calls it “scandalous” and “immoral” and has refused to register the trademark. Brunetti has a different word for his brand and designs: “thought-provoking.”
“We wanted the viewer to question it: Like, is that pronounced the way I think it’s pronounced?” he said of his streetwear brand “FUCT,” which began selling clothing in 1991.
On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear Brunetti’s challenge to a part of federal law that says officials should refuse to register trademarks that are “scandalous” or “immoral.” Brunetti says it should be struck down as an unconstitutional restriction on speech.
The government is defending the century-old provision. The Trump administration says in court papers that the law encourages trademarks that are appropriate for all audiences. It argues it isn’t restricting speech but rather declining to promote it.
Brunetti and others like him who are denied trademark registration under the “scandalous” provision can still use the words they wanted to register for their business, nonprofit or brand. They just don’t get the benefits that come with registering a trademark. For Brunetti, that would largely mean a better ability to go after counterfeiters who knock off his designs.
Brunetti would seem to have a strong argument. Two years ago, the justices unanimously invalidated a related provision of federal law that told officials not to register disparaging trademarks. In that case, an Asian-American rock band sued after the government refused to register its band name, “The Slants,” because it was seen as offensive to Asians.
In court, the justices had no trouble saying the band’s name, but Brunetti’s brand may be different. His lawyer, John R. Sommer, says he plans to say the individual letters of the name, “F-U-C-T,” which Brunetti sometimes does too. Another possible workaround: explaining the brand is something of an acronym for “Friends U Can’t Trust.”
Part of Sommer’s argument is what he sees as the arbitrary nature of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s decisions about what gets tagged as scandalous or immoral. A lawyer working for the office who is from the South might find something “not nice” that wouldn’t faze a lawyer from the Bronx, Sommer said. That means “you can register profanity if you’re lucky” and you get assigned a lawyer who allows it, Sommer said.
Two New York University professors gave that argument substantial support in a brief they filed in the case. They showed that the office routinely refuses to register trademarks both by saying something is scandalous and, ironically, too confusingly similar to something that is already registered. For example, the office refused to register “FUK!T” for being scandalous and immoral but also confusingly similar to the already-registered “PHUKIT.” ″MIDDLEFINGER” was denied after “JONNY MIDDLEFINGER” was registered, and “Ko Kane” was rejected after “Kokanee” was registered. And those are just some printable examples.
Brunetti said the trademark office has registered trademarks “far more offensive than my mark.” If Brunetti wins, the public is unlikely to notice a whole lot of change, his lawyer said. Retailers will decide what products are appropriate for their customers, and Target and Walmart aren’t going to carry Brunetti’s brand, Sommer said.
Brunetti hopes a victory at the high court will help him pursue counterfeiters. In the nearly 30 years since he began his company from his bedroom in Venice, California, he’s produced thousands of clothing designs. Some of the best known are parodies involving the Ford logo and “Planet of the Apes.”
These days, he directs a staff of four from a downtown Los Angeles office. They release new clothing on their website about once a month. Some items have sold out in less than a minute, and new collections are always sold out in under three days, Brunetti said. Because of the items’ scarcity, some are resold on eBay for a profit, with a T-shirt that cost $40 sometimes fetching more than $100.
Brunetti said he’s never met anyone truly offended by his brand. “Most people find it clever,” he said.