Boston bombing suspect Dzhokahar Tsarnev will be fighting for his life in the courtroom if attorneys cannot reach some kind of plea deal. According to Boston.com, “Attorney General Eric Holder has authorized federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty” for Tsarnev. The dual bombings during the Boston Marathon April 15, 2013 killed three people and injured between 260-290 people. During the manhunt, either Tsarnev or his brother Tamerlan who was later killed himself, shot and killed MIT police officer Sean Collier.
Of the 30 federal charges Tsarnev faces, federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for 17 of them. The statement from the U.S. Attorney General cites the large scope of the crime as their rationale for seeking the ultimate punishment. Also, a charge that “death occurred during the commission of another crime” (evading police) is thought to be a direct reference to the murder of the Officer Collier.
U.S. District Judge George O’Toole, Jr. assigned four public defenders to represent Tsarnev during the trial, such as Judy Clarke who has defended death penalty cases in the past. According to the Boston Globe, “Tsarnev’s defense team may also consider whether to ask the judge to relocate the trial to a different district either in state or out of state.” While their logic makes sense, one wonders if there is any district in the U.S. that wouldn’t have a preconceived bias against the suspect of the first successful terrorist attack in the homeland since 9/11.
An in-depth feature from Rolling Stone—that was almost totally ignored by the media in favor of a phony controversy about their cover photo—examined through interviews with associates how Tsarnev went from a relatively popular immigrant kid in America to a radical extremist hell-bent on destruction, shines a light on what the FBI investigators may have found and what may come up in the trial.
Only the American Civil Liberties Union has made a statement condemning the decision to seek the death penalty, and only because the organization is against it across the board. For most others, the decision to seek the death penalty does not come as a surprise.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers today that he would decide by Friday whether prosecutors will pursue the death penalty for suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev. Holder made the announcement during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Tsarnaev is facing 30 federal charges for his involvement in planning and executing the Boston Marathon Bombing on April 15, 2013. The detonation of two homemade pressure cooker bombs on that day killed three marathon spectators and injured an additional 250. Tsarnaev has formally pleaded not guilty to all 30 of the charges.
Tsarnaev is the only living suspect in the Marathon bombing. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed by police during the highly televised manhunt that followed the bombing.
Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984, but Tsarnaev is being prosecuted in a federal court. Since the federal government reinstated the death penalty in 1988, only three people have been executed. One of these people is Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Aitan D. Goelman was part of the legal team that prosecuted McVeigh in 1997. He recently weighed on what he thinks the federal government should do regarding Tsarnaev.
"If you have the death penalty and don't use it in this kind of case where someone puts bombs down in crowds of civilians, then in what kind of case do you use it?” he said.
Even if prosecutors pursue the death pentalty and Tsarnaev is convicted of his crimes, an execution is far from certain. In accordance with federal law, all jurors ruling on the case must not only find him guilty but must also be in favor of an execution. If even one juror opposes an execution, Tsarnaev will likely be punished with a life sentence in prison.
We’ll update you on Holder’s decision on Friday.
House Republicans officially drafted articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, arguing that he has lied to Congress and failed to uphold federal law.
Texas Rep. Pete Olson said drafting the articles was not a decision he made on a whim, and takes the action seriously.
“The American people deserve answers and accountability,” Olson said. “If the attorney general refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”
The first of many articles, co-sponsored by 10 Republicans, is based on “Operation Fast and Furios”. The operation attempted to build a case against major gun traffickers who supplied the Mexican drug cartel, though no attempt was made to actually prosecute suppliers.
When two of those firearms were found at the site of a shooting that killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the operation was revealed to the public.
Holder refused to reveal documents about the operation to the House, and House Republicans have since sued for them.
The remaining issues of impeachment include Holder’s decision not to enforce laws of same-sex marriage, not to enforce prison sentences for certain drug crimes, and not to prosecute an Internal Revenue Service official for targeting conservative politicians.
The Justice Department has yet to respond to the House’s request for an impeachment.
Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated on Monday that the Justice Department has still not ruled out the possibility of filing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, of course, famously shot and killed Trayvon Martin in February of 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges related to the incident on July 13, 2013.
Holder told reporters that the Justice Department’s investigation of the event is on-going.
“I’m not sure exactly how much longer that will take, but we will get to a point where we are able to make a determination,” Holder said.
His comments are consistent with a message delivered to the National Action Network in April in which he said his department would “take appropriate action” if sufficient evidence of a civil rights violation was found in the case. He reminded members of the network that the Justice Department maintains a “very high barrier” for pursuing federal criminal charges.
Holder also said on Monday that the court’s ruling in Zimmerman’s trial would carry significant weight in the Justice Department’s decision.
“The case of George Zimmerman — and what happens there — I think a substantial part was resolved in the case that was tried,” he said.
The Supreme Court may have opened the floodgates for unfair voting laws when they dismantled the 1965 Voting Rights Act this June, but the federal government is fighting back — most recently, in North Carolina.
Weeks after the Supreme Court decision, the state passed a law that requires voters to have a photo ID and also shortens the early-voting period. Both restrictions were presumably designed to block poor citizens from voting, potentially helping Republicans win more elections.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department’s decision to sue in a conference Monday.
"The Justice Department expects to show that the clear and intended effects of these changes would contract the electorate and result in unequal access to the participation in the political process on account of race," said Holder.
Prior to the lawsuit, Holder had already announced intentions to help curb damage from the Supreme Court decision.
"We will not allow the court's action to be interpreted as 'open season' for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights," he said. "We will not hesitate to take appropriately aggressive action against any jurisdiction that attempts to hinder access to the franchise."
North Carolina, like other Southern states enacting similar laws, claims that they are trying to fight voter fraud, and are not discriminating against the poor.
However, voter fraud is extremely rare, and impoverished citizens, many of whom are African-American or Hispanic, are hit hardest by such regulations. These groups are less likely to have photo identification, and may not have reliable transportation to get to the polls on election day — hence the need for early voting.
Said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, “North Carolina is engaging in a blatant attempt to make it harder for hundreds of thousands of eligible voters to cast a ballot. The Justice Department is right to take action against North Carolina's efforts to suppress the vote, particularly among people of color, poor people and students.''
The federal government may no longer bust marijuana users and sellers who follow state laws, but that won’t affect decisions on the local level, according to David Gilbert, prosecutor for Calhoun County, Mich.
Gilbert paid little stock to Attorney General Eric Holder’s Friday announcement that federal law enforcement agents would not challenge individual states’ decisions to legalize marijuana. Holder referred specifically to Colorado and Washington, who both recently voted to allow the drug for recreational use.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, Gilbert stated, “All I do is follow the law. Marijuana is a controlled substance with the exception of medical marijuana. And I really have no idea what [Holder’s announcement] means.”
“I don’t think there will be much effect,” responded Gilbert. “He is not really saying anything. And we are going to enforce the law.”
He added, “They can if they want to step in. And whoever the attorney general is can change their minds.”
Although medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, officials are still actively fighting distribution. In June, the Southwest Michigan Enforcement Team (SWET) raided three suspected marijuana dispensaries in Springfield, a city in Calhoun County. Gilbert is still waiting on warrant requests from these raids.
While local prosecutors like Gilbert may see few changes following Holder’s announcement, other law enforcement agents have protested the decision to stop cracking down on marijuana.
A coalition of narcotics officers, sheriffs and police chiefs issued a joint statement to the attorney general, stating, “It is unacceptable that the Department of Justice did not consult our organizations — whose members will be directly impacted — for meaningful input ahead of this important decision ... Simply ‘checking the box’ by alerting law enforcement officials right before a decision is announced is not enough and certainly does not show an understanding of the value the federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partnerships bring to the Department of Justice and the public safety discussion.”
Federal Judge Mark Bennett and a federal appeals panel issued separate opinions this week that drug sentencing in the United States is not only too long, but completely inconsistent.
Federal drug laws allow prosecutors to determine a sentence instead of the judge. Bennett called the federal system allowing prosecutors to lengthen the sentence of a drug offender “whimsical and arbitrary,” according to ThinkProgress. Offenders are given longer sentences for arbitrary factors like the jurisdiction where the prosecution took place or the type of drug involved.
Bennett said in his Iowa district a drug defendant is 2,532 percent more likely to receive a sentence enhancement if they have a previous drug felony conviction than in the neighboring Nebraska district.
“These enhancements, at a minimum, double a drug defendant’s mandatory minimum sentence and may also raise the maximum possible sentence, for example, from 40 years to life,” Bennett said. “They are possible any time a drug defendant, facing a mandatory minimum sentence in federal court, has a prior qualifying drug conviction in state or federal court [even some state court misdemeanor convictions count], no matter how old that conviction is.”
An editorial for the Sacramento Bee on Thursday discussed the disorganized sentencing laws for felony drug possession in California. There are more than 1,000 felony sentencing laws and more than 100 felony sentence enhancements in 21 sections of the California penal code.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that too many drug offenders are being sentenced to jail for too long.
“We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate, not merely to warehouse and forget,” Holder said.
On Aug. 12, Holder's office announced a new drug law policy instructing prosecutors to avert mandatory minimum sentencing and set up a specific, factor-based standards for seeking a sentence higher than the minimum.
One quarter of the prisoners in the world are held in the United States, despite the fact that the country makes up only one-twentieth of planet’s population.
Ted Nugent called himself the “antithesis” of a racist in his regular column on Rare recently, writing instead that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are the real racists.
Nugent wrote that by denying the findings of the FBI, Department of Justice and an entire Florida state investigation regarding the Zimmerman trial, both the Attorney General and President made a judgment based on race and not content of character.
In past writings, however, Nugent called Trayvon Martin a “dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe” and an “enraged black man-child.” His accusations against the President and Attorney General are considerably hypocritical considering the epithets he gave Martin based on race.
The Inquisitir pointed out Nugent’s comments were exceptionally offensive, given they were directed at a dead underage boy.
Nugent continued to comment on Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and other black panthers calling them “racist scam masters” and their followers “stupid.”
Nugent has been under fire since the Zimmerman case for making a handful of racist comments about the African-American community, and some have called for his resignation from the NRA Board of Directors.
The singer’s article went on to describe the many disappointing qualities America is now associated with, like the food stamp “scam” and gun-free “slaughter zones."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire from pro-gun advocates and Republicans for denouncing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
"There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the 'if' is important – no safe retreat is available," said Holder. "But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat."
Holder was clearly playing to his audience. He was speaking at an annual NAACP conference in Orlando, Florida.
Pro-gun advocates have unleashed a flood of criticism against Holder. John Gibson of Fox News Radio wrote, “What Eric Holder proposing is the worst possible outcome of the George Zimmerman verdict.”
Robert Farago of thetruthaboutguns added, “The attorney general of the United States must be really busy these days. Too busy, apparently, to have noted that Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law played absolutely no role in the murder trial, much less the exoneration, of George Zimmerman.”
A user from the Indiana Gun Owner forum wrote, "We should retreat even if from our own houses... So a burglar breaks into my house and endangers my family and it is MY duty to retreat? What the heck kind of pretzel logic is that?"
That is almost certainly not the case. The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that there is no duty to retreat when a person is assaulted in a place where he has a right to be. It is quite likely that other courts would make a similar ruling.
Additionally, other gun rights supporters have argued that Zimmerman had no way of retreating because Trayvon Martin had allegedly pinned Zimmerman against the pavement. That means that Holder was wrong in three different ways: Zimmerman couldn’t have retreated, SYG wasn’t even relevant during the trial, and legal precedent supports the idea that a duty to retreat is not necessary in some situations.
Considering all of those details, do you agree with Holder’s assessment of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law?
Source: USA News
FOX News loves drama, arguably more than it loves reporting the news.
When conservative commentator and lawyer Bill Cunningham appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to engage FOX News contributor Tamara Holder in a discussion about embattled US Attorney General Eric Holder, you didn’t have to wait long for the personal attacks to begin.
Cunningham beat her to the punch immediately. He started out by accusing her of suffering from "Beckel-itis" and repeatedly calling her a "stooge." He said, near the end, "You're a liberal stooge and an excuse monger for the Obama administration." Later, as Holder muttered, "Never mind," and looked down, Cunningham attacked, "What, are you going to cry?"
The fingers were flying in concert with some serious name calling. Cunningham, was ready to go from minute one and let Holder have it, at one point telling Holder to “know your role and shut your mouth.”
The verbal assault visibly overwhelmed Holder.
As NewsHounds aptly put it, “Sadly, the real loser is anyone looking for information out of this segment.”
While watching the segment, I forgot they were even discussing Eric Holder, which is just how FOX News likes it.