Thursday, June 04, 2015

Thursday News & Notes

1.  N.D.Fla Judge John Richard Smoak Jr. has reassigned all of his cases.  Anyone know what's going on?

2.  Should DOJ be prosecuting Hastert and FIFA?  Here's an editorial from the Washington Post:
Not every bad act is a crime. Not every bad act that can technically be categorized as a crime should be pursued by prosecutors. And not every bad act that clearly amounts to a crime should be pursued by prosecutors in the United States.
Those thoughts are sparked by the recent indictments of international soccer officials on bribery and corruption charges and of former House speaker Dennis Hastert on charges of structuring hush money payments to avoid bank reporting laws and then lying to the FBI about his conduct.
Ruth Marcus is a columnist and editorial writer for The Post, specializing in American politics and domestic policy. 
For different reasons, I find both indictments unsettling — not necessarily wrong, but worth thinking through whether they ought to have been brought.
The indictment of FIFA officials raises questions about the exercise of U.S. authority to pursue international corruption whose chief harm does not seem to be to U.S. interests or citizens.
The Hastert indictment raises questions even more gut-wrenching: about the proper use of the criminal law; the degree to which technical statutes should be employed to punish alleged conduct that is offensive but uncharged; and the role that celebrity and prominence should play in making prosecutorial decisions.

3.  The 11th Circuit sides with jail officials in a lawsuit involving a suicide of an inmate.  From the Ocala Star Banner:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday found that seven Marion County jail officers cannot be held liable in the 2007 suicide of an inmate who hanged himself with a bed sheet.
Vivian Jackson, the mother of inmate Darius Johnell James, filed a lawsuit alleging that 10 officers violated James’ constitutional due process rights by failing to prevent his death. A U.S. district judge said three of the officers were shielded by what is known as “qualified immunity” but allowed the lawsuit to proceed against the other seven.
James, 22, was arrested in 2007 on robbery and home-invasion robbery charges and was initially assigned to a suicide-prevention section before being moved to another area of the jail, according to Wednesday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 24-page ruling detailed a series of incidents involving James at the jail but found that the lawsuit failed to prove that the seven remaining officers showed “deliberate indifference” to the risk that he would commit suicide.
“This case is troubling,” said the ruling, written by appeals court Judge Beverly Martin and joined by judges Robin Rosenbaum and L. Scott Coogler.
“The Marion County Jail tragically failed to keep Mr. James safe while he was incarcerated. Under our precedent, however, an officer is liable … for the suicide of an inmate only if he had subjective knowledge of a serious risk that the inmate would commit suicide and he disregarded that known risk.”

4.  And we have this piece by Paula McMahon about a swallower.  I like the intro:
A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, but it takes honey to swallow 54 pellets filled with nearly 1.5 pounds of cocaine, according to a Broward County drug mule suspect.
Regis Walker, 28, of Pembroke Pines, spent five days in a hospital "passing" the drug pellets after she was arrested last week at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
"Walker said she used honey to swallow the pellets, an idea she learned by watching the movie 'The Mule' on Netflix," Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Jeanne Neill wrote in court records.
Walker, a U.S. citizen, arrived last Thursday on a flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials took her aside for a baggage search and interview.
She told them she had spent four days in Jamaica visiting her husband. She was taken to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale after agreeing to be X-rayed.
"The X-ray revealed that Walker appeared to be a drug mule carrying drug pellets within her body," investigators wrote.



Bob Becerra said...

The Indictments bring up the issue of proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion. What is the U.S. interest in FIFA and corruption regarding choosing sites in foreign countries? Hastert was being extorted, yet that is not being prosecuted, even though Hastert committed his violation due to being victimized. So it becomes a financial reporting case?

Not every wrong is a federal criminal case.

Anonymous said...

I would rather have the DOJ using its resources prosecuting FIFA and Hastert than prosecuting street dealers and felon-in-possession cases in federal court. We just had a case go through the federal system all the way to the Supreme Court because a fisherman allegedly caught fish that were slightly undersized.

As the late, great, Honorable Judge Wilkie Ferguson used to say, "What's the matter, is the state court closed?"

Anonymous said...

speaking of Ocala, Inmate dies in custody after letter telling of threats by guard; lawyers seek DOJ probe

...[Latandra] Ellington died in solitary confinement on Oct. 1, a day after a family member called the prison in Ocala, Florida, to express concerns raised by Ellington’s letter. Prison officials said Ellington was moved to solitary to help protect her.

Ellington told her aunt in the Sept. 21 letter that the sergeant had threatened to “beat the hell” out of her when she asked why she was being moved to a new dorm, and threatened her a second time when she asked to speak to a prison supervisor.

“He told me to shut the f— up he was gone (sic) beat me to death and mess me like a dog,” Ellington wrote. She was serving a 22-month sentence for tax fraud relating to the filing of fake tax returns...

...A private autopsy conducted for her family found Ellington died from blunt trauma to the stomach consistent with being kicked or beaten. Her family is represented by civil rights lawyer Daryl Parks, whose firm represented the family of Trayvon Martin.

The request for a federal investigation is the second made this year for a Florida inmate’s death. In June, several groups sought an investigation into the death of Darren Rainey, who died in a scalding hot shower in 2012.