Friday, November 21, 2014

Sorry for the slow blogging

It's been a crazy week, but we've had some great guest posts.  Thanks for those!

We'll end the week with a post about judges starting to question these fake stings.  From the NY Times:

“Stash-house stings” like this one in 2013 have sent more than 1,000 of the country’s most “violent, hardened criminals” to prison, sometimes for terms of decades, according to the bureau, which has made a specialty of the ruses. The agency says it has conducted about 365 of these stings over the last decade, removing from the streets career criminals who are “willing to kill and be killed,” with less risk to agents and neighbors than raids on real stash houses.
But this year, the judge in this Los Angeles case dismissed the charges against two of the defendants on the rarely invoked grounds of “outrageous government conduct.” Judge Otis D. Wright II of Federal District Court described the bureau in his March decision as “trawling for crooks in seedy, poverty-ridden areas — all without an iota of suspicion that any particular person has committed similar conduct in the past.”
Similar prosecutions have nearly always held up in court, and the agency strongly defends its methods and choice of targets. But over the last year, a growing number of federal judges have questioned the tactic.
A second judge in Los Angeles dismissed similar charges in May. The federal appeals court in Chicago last week mandated a new trial to allow evidence of possible entrapment. Other judges have demanded data from the bureau to help them explore whether the stings, which nearly always land black or Hispanic defendants, involve illegal racial targeting.
The stash-house stings are a prime example of thespreading federal use of undercover agents in many fields, a trend that law enforcement officials say is efficient and safe but that raises unease among civil liberties advocates.
On Thursday, a federal appeals court in California heard the government’s motion to reinstate criminal charges in the case that Judge Wright criticized, and itscall that the judge be removed from the case for bias.
“The conspiracy was real; the guns were real; the defendants’ intent to use them to violently rob a cocaine stash house was real; and the defendants’ criminal histories were real,” the federal prosecutors argued in their brief. The supposed stock of cocaine had to be set high, they said, to make the proposal credible.
In May, also in Los Angeles, Judge Manuel L. Real of Federal District Court dismissed charges against three other men, saying the government “steers too close to tyranny.” He said that the agents initially knew little about the defendants except that “they were from a poor neighborhood and minorities.” The government has appealed.
And last week, in another setback for federal agents, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuitmandated a new trial for a defendant in a Chicago suburb who said he had been pressured into planning the robbery for which he was sentenced to nearly 27 years. The trial judge had erred, the circuit court ruled, by not allowing an entrapment defense.
In a separate line of attack on the drug stings, defendants in Chicago and elsewhere have filed motions to require the bureau to provide data on the racial makeup of sting targets, and information on how the agency selects its targets.
In one case, the agency asked the court to dismiss charges rather than be required to comply. In several others, after judges found at least suggestive evidence of racial targeting and approved the data request, the agency has complied, though the information remains under seal.


Anonymous said...

What about the newest en banc? Seems like every time a criminal defendant wins a panel decision, the case goes en banc.

Anonymous said...

And the problem is?