Ferguson juror sues prosecutor
A Ferguson grand juror has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the prosecutor alleging he manipulated the proceedings and misrepresented the grand jury’s conclusions. The juror is asking a federal judge to enjoin a Missouri statute prohibiting the grand jurors from talking about the case, arguing the law interferes with his free speech rights. His lawsuit alleges, “the current information available about the grand jurors’ views is not entirely accurate — especially the implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges.” The juror is represented by the ACLU.
Comment: It doesn’t matter whether this lawsuit succeeds. What’s important here is that simply filing it lets the cat out of the bag. Thanks to this juror, the world now knows at least some of the grand jurors wanted to indict Officer Wilson, and feel the prosecutor sabotaged the proceedings. He can’t say come right out and say so without getting in trouble under the Missouri law, but by reframing his contentions as allegations in a lawsuit, he effectively gets immunity from that law, because a person can’t be prosecuted for filing a lawsuit.
Time to bring the law to the lawless with the same law they show contempt for; especially those charged with enforcement and administration of justice of the same laws and due process they will demand and get for themselves as they serially and psychopathically deny others who get in their way the same.
Lying cops sent innocent black teens to prison for 39 years
In 1975, a white man was murdered on a Cleveland street corner by black robbers. Ricky Jackson, 18, and two friends, brothers Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman, were convicted and sentenced to death. Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman ended up serving 39 years in prison; Ronnie Bridgeman was paroled in 2003.
There was no real evidence against them. They were convicted by the testimony of a 13-year-old boy who was told what to say by the police. The boy was riding in a school bus several blocks away, and didn’t see the shooting. “All the information was fed to me,” he now says. “I don’t have any knowledge about what happened at the scene of the crime. Everything was a lie.” But he did as the police told him, because they threatened to send his sick mother to prison if he didn’t cooperate.
Despite this egregious police misconduct, someone — the prosecutor, the judge, the jurors — should have seen through the lies, because the boy repeatedly changed his story, and there were numerous inconsistencies. But somehow the system convicted these youths and sent them away to rot in prison for decades, for a crime they didn’t commit.
This story has many facets: Racism. Cops eager to “solve” a crime. The well-known unreliability of eyewitnesses. Coerced testimony. The credibility of child witnesses. All of these factors detract from the legal system’s ability to separate the guilty from the innocent. Here, you have a perfect storm of them. But such a deeply flawed conviction wasn’t necessarily rare or unusual; it’s more or less what you expected of Cleveland’s inner city police and courts in the 1970s.
I want to zero in on two particular issues.
Issue #1: Lying cops. Why do cops tamper with witnesses and suborn perjury? Because the police incentive system is screwed up. Detectives are paid to resolve cases, not prevent wrongful convictions. Given fallible human nature, you can’t expect people to do the right thing when they’re pressured into doing the wrong thing. This doesn’t exonerate cops who coerce witnesses and concoct false testimony; but you can’t fix this problem unless you change the incentive system. So far, most of America’s police jurisdictions haven’t done that.
Issue #2: Weaknesses of the criminal justice system. Prosecutors, judges, and jurors are supposed to act as checks and balances against overzealous police. They didn’t in this case. The entire system failed miserably. Every component of it failed, and each failure reinforced the other components’ weaknesses. Not just in this case, but many cases. Our criminal justice system can be analogized to a structurally weak airplane design. You can’t solve the problem with better pilots alone; you also need a better airplane.
We need a criminal justice system that’s effective at removing dangerous criminals from society. But it also needs to be effective at protecting innocents from police and prosecutor mistakes and wrongdoing.
Preventing wrongful convictions isn’t a simple or easy task. Smart and knowledgeable people are working on it. One of their significant conclusions is that various factors leading to wrongful convictions often are “connected and exacerbated by tunnel vision, which prevents the system from self-correcting once an error is made. In fact, tunnel vision provides a useful framework for understanding the larger system-wide failure.”
I agree that tunnel vision is the unifying force that pulls together the legal system’s weaknesses and allows it to commit, and then refuse to correct, grievous errors. The only way to fix the problem, like fixing a too-weak wing structure, is by overcoming the legal system’s adhesion to tradition with a determined effort to improve the system using the lessons learned from experience.
We have better forensic science now; and we know most witnesses have weak powers of observation and bad memories, so why do we continue to place so much reliance on witnesses? Should anyone ever be convicted of a serious crime without corroborating physical evidence? I don’t think so.
Wiley Bridgeman, left, and Ricky Jackson, right, were released from prison on Nov. 21, 2014, after serving nearly 40 years for a murder they didn’t commit. ABC News photo.
18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; orIf two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
18 U.S. Code § 242 – Deprivation of rights under color of law
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
18 U.S. Code § 4 – Misprision of felony
Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both
18 U.S. Code § 1621 – Perjury generally
Whoever—(1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 773; Pub. L. 88–619, § 1,Oct. 3, 1964, 78 Stat. 995; Pub. L. 94–550, § 2,Oct. 18, 1976, 90 Stat. 2534; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(I),Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)Historical and Revision NotesBased on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §§ 231, 629 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, § 125,35 Stat. 1111; June 15, 1917, ch. 30, title XI, § 19,40 Stat. 230).Words “except as otherwise expressly provided by law” were inserted to avoid conflict with perjury provisions in other titles where the punishment and application vary.More than 25 additional provisions are in the code. For construction and application of several such sections, see Behrle v. United States (App. D.C. 1938, 100 F. 2d 714), United States v. Hammer (D.C.N.Y., 1924, 299 F. 1011, affirmed, 6 F. 2d 786), Rosenthal v. United States (1918, 248 F. 684, 160 C.C.A. 584), cf. Epstein v. United States (1912, 196 F. 354, 116 C.C.A. 174, certiorari denied 32 S. Ct. 527, 223 U.S. 731, 56 L. ed. 634).Mandatory punishment provisions were rephrased in the alternative.Minor verbal changes were made.Amendments1994—Pub. L. 103–322substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $2,000” in concluding provisions.1976—Pub. L. 94–550divided existing provisions into a single introductory word “Whoever”, par. (1), and closing provisions following par. (2), and added par. (2).1964—Pub. L. 88–619inserted at end “This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.”
18 U.S. Code § 1622 – Subornation of perjury
Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
18 U.S. Code § 1623 – False declarations before grand jury or court
(a) Whoever under oath (or in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code) in any proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury of the United States knowingly makes any false material declaration or makes or uses any other information, including any book, paper, document, record, recording, or other material, knowing the same to contain any false material declaration, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
(c) An indictment or information for violation of this section alleging that, in any proceedings before or ancillary to any court or grand jury of the United States, the defendant under oath has knowingly made two or more declarations, which are inconsistent to the degree that one of them is necessarily false, need not specify which declaration is false if—(2) each declaration was made within the period of the statute of limitations for the offense charged under this section.In any prosecution under this section, the falsity of a declaration set forth in the indictment or information shall be established sufficient for conviction by proof that the defendant while under oath made irreconcilably contradictory declarations material to the point in question in any proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury. It shall be a defense to an indictment or information made pursuant to the first sentence of this subsection that the defendant at the time he made each declaration believed the declaration was true.(d) Where, in the same continuous court or grand jury proceeding in which a declaration is made, the person making the declaration admits such declaration to be false, such admission shall bar prosecution under this section if, at the time the admission is made, the declaration has not substantially affected the proceeding, or it has not become manifest that such falsity has been or will be exposed.Source
(Added Pub. L. 91–452, title IV, § 401(a),Oct. 15, 1970, 84 Stat. 932; amended Pub. L. 94–550, § 6,Oct. 18, 1976, 90 Stat. 2535; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L),Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)Amendments1994—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 103–322substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $10,000”.
18 U.S. Code Chapter 73 – OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
- § 1503. Influencing or injuring officer or juror generally
- § 1504. Influencing juror by writing
- § 1505. Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees
- § 1506. Theft or alteration of record or process; false bail
- § 1508. Recording, listening to, or observing proceedings of grand or petit juries while deliberating or voting
- § 1509. Obstruction of court orders
- § 1510. Obstruction of criminal investigations
- § 1511. Obstruction of State or local law enforcement
- § 1512. Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant
- § 1513. Retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant
- § 1514. Civil action to restrain harassment of a victim or witness
- § 1514A. Civil action to protect against retaliation in fraud cases
- § 1515. Definitions for certain provisions; general provision
- § 1516. Obstruction of Federal audit
- § 1517. Obstructing examination of financial institution
- § 1518. Obstruction of criminal investigations of health care offenses
- § 1519. Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy
- § 1520. Destruction of corporate audit records
- § 1521. Retaliating against a Federal judge or Federal law enforcement officer by false claim or slander of title
28 U.S. Code § 455 – Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge
(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.(1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;(2) Where in private practice he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom he previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it;(3) Where he has served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy;(4) He knows that he, individually or as a fiduciary, or his spouse or minor child residing in his household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;(iii) Is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;(c) A judge should inform himself about his personal and fiduciary financial interests, and make a reasonable effort to inform himself about the personal financial interests of his spouse and minor children residing in his household.(i) Ownership in a mutual or common investment fund that holds securities is not a “financial interest” in such securities unless the judge participates in the management of the fund;(ii) An office in an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization is not a “financial interest” in securities held by the organization;(iii) The proprietary interest of a policyholder in a mutual insurance company, of a depositor in a mutual savings association, or a similar proprietary interest, is a “financial interest” in the organization only if the outcome of the proceeding could substantially affect the value of the interest;(e) No justice, judge, or magistrate judge shall accept from the parties to the proceeding a waiver of any ground for disqualification enumerated in subsection (b). Where the ground for disqualification arises only under subsection (a), waiver may be accepted provided it is preceded by a full disclosure on the record of the basis for disqualification.(f) Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this section, if any justice, judge, magistrate judge, or bankruptcy judge to whom a matter has been assigned would be disqualified, after substantial judicial time has been devoted to the matter, because of the appearance or discovery, after the matter was assigned to him or her, that he or she individually or as a fiduciary, or his or her spouse or minor child residing in his or her household, has a financial interest in a party (other than an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome), disqualification is not required if the justice, judge, magistrate judge, bankruptcy judge, spouse or minor child, as the case may be, divests himself or herself of the interest that provides the grounds for the disqualification.Source
(June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 908; Pub. L. 93–512, § 1,Dec. 5, 1974, 88 Stat. 1609; Pub. L. 95–598, title II, § 214(a), (b),Nov. 6, 1978, 92 Stat. 2661; Pub. L. 100–702, title X, § 1007,Nov. 19, 1988, 102 Stat. 4667; Pub. L. 101–650, title III, § 321,Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat. 5117.)Historical and Revision NotesBased on title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., § 24 (Mar. 3, 1911, ch. 231, § 20,36 Stat. 1090).Section 24 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., applied only to district judges. The revised section is made applicable to all justices and judges of the United States.The phrase “in which he has a substantial interest” was substituted for “concerned in interest in any suit.”The provision of section 24 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., as to giving notice of disqualification to the “senior circuit judge,” and words “and thereupon such proceedings shall be had as are provided in sections 17 and 18 of this title,” were omitted as unnecessary and covered by section 291 et seq. of this title relating to designation and assignment of judges. Such provision is not made by statute in case of disqualification or incapacity, for other cause. See sections 140, 143, and 144 of this title. If a judge or clerk of court is remiss in failing to notify the chief judge of the district or circuit, the judicial council of the circuit has ample power under section 332 of this title to apply a remedy.Relationship to a party’s attorney is included in the revised section as a basis of disqualification in conformity with the views of judges cognizant of the grave possibility of undesirable consequences resulting from a less inclusive rule.Changes were made in phraseology.Amendments1988—Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 100–702added subsec. (f).1978—Pub. L. 95–598struck out references to referees in bankruptcy in section catchline and in subsecs. (a) and (e).1974—Pub. L. 93–512substituted “Disqualification of justice, judge, magistrate, or referee in bankruptcy” for “Interest of justice or judge” in section catchline, reorganized structure of provisions, and expanded applicability to include magistrates and referees in bankruptcy and grounds for which disqualification may be based, and inserted provisions relating to waiver of disqualification.Change of NameWords “magistrate judge” substituted for “magistrate” in section catchline and wherever appearing in subsecs. (a), (e), and (f) pursuant to section 321 ofPub. L. 101–650, set out as a note under section 631 of this title.Effective Date of 1978 AmendmentAmendment by Pub. L. 95–598effective Oct. 1, 1979, see section 402(c) ofPub. L. 95–598, set out as an Effective Date note preceding section 101 of Title 11, Bankruptcy. For procedures relating to Bankruptcy matters during transition period see note preceding section 151 of this title.Effective Date of 1974 AmendmentPub. L. 93–512, § 3,Dec. 5, 1974, 88 Stat. 1610, provided that: “This Act [amending this section] shall not apply to the trial of any proceeding commenced prior to the date of this Act [Dec. 5, 1974], nor to appellate review of any proceeding which was fully submitted to the reviewing court prior to the date of this Act.”
28 U.S. Code § 1361 – Action to compel an officer of the United States to perform his duty
The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff.
Whistleblower Rights and Protection
Overview of the OIG’s Whistleblower Ombudsperson Program
Employees of DOJ and its contractors, subcontractors, and grantees perform an important service by reporting what they reasonably believe to be evidence of wrongdoing, and they should never be subject to or threatened with reprisal for doing so. The OIG’s Whistleblower Ombudsperson program carries out a number of key functions, including:
- Educating DOJ employees and managers about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures, and employees who have made or are contemplating making a protected disclosure about the rights and remedies against retaliation for protected disclosures;
- Ensuring that the OIG is promptly and thoroughly reviewing complaints that it receives, and that it is getting back to whistleblowers in a timely fashion; and
- Coordinating with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, other agencies, and non-governmental organizations on relevant matters.
The OIG Whistleblower Ombudsperson program cannot act as a legal representative, agent, or advocate for any individual whistleblower.
Reports concerning wrongdoing in DOJ employees or programs should be submitted directly to the OIG Hotline.
For more information on whistleblower rights and protections, please see the the pamphlet prepared by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, “Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs” and the following topics from the video entitled “Reporting Wrongdoing: Whistleblowers and their Rights and Protections,” prepared by the OIG Whistleblower Ombudsperson program:
For more information, you may contact the OIG Whistleblower Ombudsperson program.
How to File Whistleblower Reprisal Complaints
If an adverse personnel action has been taken or threatened against you in reprisal for making a disclosure of wrongdoing within your component, to the OIG, or elsewhere, you may submit a complaint to the OIG Hotline, or to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. If you submit your complaint to the OIG, we will review it and let you know whether it is appropriate for the OIG to investigate or whether it should be referred elsewhere. Allegations of reprisal regarding EEO matters generally should be addressed through the EEO process.
There are separate procedures for employees of the FBI who wish to make a protected disclosure, and also for making a claim of reprisal for having made a protected disclosure. Claims of reprisal may be submitted to the OIG Hotline, or to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The OIG or the OPR will review reprisal complaints made by FBI employees, conduct investigation of such complaints in appropriate cases, and, if they find reasonable grounds to believe that there has been or will be reprisal for a protected disclosure, report their findings to the DOJ Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) for disposition. More information on OARM’s procedures is available at http://www.justice.gov/oarm/usdoj-oarm-fbi-whistleblowers.
Pursuant to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, the following statement applies to non-disclosure policies, forms, or agreements of the federal government with current or former employees, including those in effect before the Act’s effective date of December 27, 2012:
“These provisions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities created by existing statute or Executive Order relating to (1) classified information, (2) communications to Congress, (3) the reporting to an Inspector General of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or (4) any other whistleblower protection. The definitions, requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions, and liabilities created by controlling Executive Orders and statutory provisions are incorporated into this agreement and are controlling.”
The controlling Executive Orders and statutory provisions in the event of any conflict with a non-disclosure policy, form, or agreement include, as of March 14, 2013:
- Executive Order No. 13526 (governing classified national security information);
- Section 7211 of Title 5, United States Code (governing disclosures to Congress);
- Section 1034 of Title 10, United States Code as amended by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (governing disclosure to Congress by members of the military);
- Section 2302(b)(8) of Title 5, United States Code, as amended by the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (governing disclosures of illegality, waste, fraud, abuse or public health or safety threats);
- Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 U.S.C. 421 et seq.) (governing disclosures that could expose confidential Government agents);
- The statutes which protect against disclosure that may compromise the national security, including Sections 641, 793, 794, 798, and 952 of Title 18, United States Code; and
- Section 4(b) of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 (50 U.S.C. 783(b)).