As Loretta Lynch Takes Over Justice, Will a Reset With Republicans Ensue? – By Joseph P. Williams April 24, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EDT


Incoming Attorney General Loretta Lynch has the opportunity to rekindle the damaged relationship between the Justice Department and congressional Republicans.

Incoming Attorney General Loretta Lynch has the opportunity to rekindle the damaged relationship between the Justice Department and congressional Republicans.

After a grueling confirmation hearing that highlighted five likely uncomfortable months as a lightning rod for some nasty partisan fights – and as a litmus test for race and politics – Loretta Lynch’s interminable wait is over: The Senate has confirmed her as President Barack Obama’s next attorney general, releasing Eric Holder from an ugly shotgun marriage that turned toxic almost as soon as it began.

Now comes the hard part – for Lynch, the first African-American woman to hold the job, and congressional Republicans who, just barely, voted her in.

As Holder, Obama’s self-described “wingman,” heads into the sunset (and, presumably, rakes in piles of cash as a private sector rainmaker and memoirist), Lynch and the GOP probably want to recalibrate the highly damaged relationship between the Justice Department and conservative lawmakers on House and Senate oversight committees.

Yet having put Holder in the congressional hot seat so often he could have had blisters on his backside, Republicans have an incentive to play it cool, at least initially, with Lynch – if only to fan away the nasty whiff of racism that surrounded her nomination.

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Two Ferguson police officers resign over racist emails uncovered in federal report – Jon Swaine in New York Friday 6 March 2015 18.26 EST


The second-highest ranking commander in the beleaguered police department of Ferguson, Missouri, was one of two veteran officers to resign on Friday over racist emails uncovered by federal investigators.

 Cornel West (second from right) speaks to Ferguson police captain Rick Henke as clergy confront officers in front of the Ferguson police department in October. Photograph: Robert Cohen/Post-Dispatch/Polaris

Cornel West (second from right) speaks to Ferguson police captain Rick Henke as clergy confront officers in front of the Ferguson police department in October. Photograph: Robert Cohen/Post-Dispatch/Polaris

Captain Rick Henke stepped down from his job together with Sergeant William Mudd, a fellow long-serving officer who was awarded the Medal of Valor more than 20 years ago, a spokesperson for the city confirmed on Friday.

Their departures came as Eric Holder, the US attorney general, said he was prepared to demand the dismantling of Ferguson’s entire police department if required for reforms ordered by his department this week in a scathing report on the city’s criminal justice system.

Speaking to a pool reporter at Andrews air force base in Maryland on Friday, Holder said an “entirely new structure” was needed in Ferguson. Asked whether that included closing the police force, he said: “If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.”

The police resignations also followed Wednesday’s firing of Mary Ann Twitty, Ferguson’s municipal court clerk, after she, too, was ensnared in the racist email scandal. Justice Department investigators detailed seven examples of offensive messages they found during searches of tens of thousands of official documents.

Both police officers were involved in policing the months of protests that erupted following the fatal shooting by a white officer of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in August last year.

That unrest prompted Holder to open the inquiry into the in the St Louis suburb’s police and courts system. A second Justice Department inquiry that concluded simultaneously this week decided to bring no federal civil-rights charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.

Mudd, 64, was linked to an email sent in November 2008 which suggested Barack Obama “would not be president for very long because ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years?’,” according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, which first reported the officers’ names.

Henke, 59, was said to have been associated with an email sent in May 2011 that stated: “An African American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers’.”

A woman reached by telephone at Mudd’s home address on Friday evening said: “We have no comment about anything.” Henke could not be reached for comment.

Figures released by Ferguson under open records laws last year stated that Henke, who joined the police force in July 1978, was paid $87,555 a year. This was more than any other officer except Chief Thomas Jackson. Henke was also listed as second in line to Jackson on the police department’s website.

Mudd, who was hired in July 1976, was paid $70,741 a year. He is listed as a 1993 recipient of the Medal of Valor, Missouri’s most prestigious honour for police officers. The medal is awarded for officers showing “exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life”.

Holder said in his remarks on Friday that he had been “surprised by what I found” in the inquiry. “I was shocked towards the end by the numbers that we saw, and the breadth of the practices that we uncovered,” he said.

The attorney general described the impact of the city’s practices as “just appalling”.

Article continues:

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/06/ferguson-police-officers-resign-racist-emails

Justice Department May Sue Ferguson Police Over Racial Bias – By Margaret Hartmann February 19, 2015 5:05 a.m. 


Eric Holder talks with Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol on August 20, 2014 in Florrissant, Missouri. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images

Eric Holder talks with Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol on August 20, 2014 in Florrissant, Missouri. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images

While the protests over the shooting of Michael Brown have mostly died down, the Justice Department is still conducting two investigations related to the case, and it looks like we’ll hear the results shortly. In the fall the department launched probes into both the shooting and police department operations. On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s “satisfied with the progress” that’s been made, and “comfortable” saying he’ll be able to announce the findings before he steps down in several weeks. Now sources tell CNN that as expected, charges will not be brought against former Officer Darren Wilson, but the Justice Department did find a pattern of racial discrimination in the department’s tactics, and is prepared to sue if the force does not implement changes.

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http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/02/feds-may-sue-ferguson-police-over-racial-bias.html

Cops Can No Longer Just Seize Your Money – By Katie Zavadski January 16, 2015 4:23 p.m.


Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Sorry, local law enforcement: Eric Holder just reined you in big time. The outgoing attorney general (he will step down whenever his successor is confirmed) prohibitedEquitable Sharing, a program that allowed local police departments to use federal law to seize cash and other assets in the name of justice. Now they will be forced to produce actual evidence that a crime has occurred before taking your stuff, further highlighting just how absurd it is that they were able to take it willy-nilly just yesterday.

This practice of seizing items they think could be used in law-breaking activity, called civil forfeiture, has really resulted in wide-ranging seizure of questionable morality. For starters, the practice raises alarms not only because you don’t actually get due process (oh hey, 5th and 14th amendments, thanks for stopping by), but because police departments often then get to keep whatever they confiscated. Yes, including money, which they sometimes ask about while pulling someone over. John Oliver explained it best:

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http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/cops-can-no-longer-just-seize-your-money.html

Federal investigation finds reckless use of force by Cleveland police – December 4, 2014 1:34PM ET


Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at Dec 5, 2014 3.57

A week after surveillance footage was released showing Cleveland police officers shooting a black 12-year-old, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday said that the city’s police officers use excessive and unnecessary force far too often, are poorly trained in using firearms and endanger the public and their fellow officers with their recklessness.

The findings, the result of a 20-month investigation into the city’s policing standards, were presented at a press conference by Attorney General Eric Holder. As a result of the investigation, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson signed an agreement with the Justice Department to have a court-appointed monitor oversee reform.

The DOJ investigation found a systemic pattern of reckless and inappropriate use of force by officers and concerns about their search-and-seizure practices. It also said officers frequently violate people’s civil rights, blaming faulty tactics, inadequate training and a lack of supervision and accountability. The result is a deep mistrust of the city’s law enforcement authorities, especially in the black community, the report concluded.

The report found that Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) officers “engage in excessive force far too often, and that the use of excessive force by CDP officers is neither isolated, nor sporadic.”

The federal investigation was prompted by several highly publicized police encounters, beginning with the deaths in November 2012 of two unarmed men who were fatally wounded when police officers fired 137 shots into a car at the end of a high-speed pursuit. Jackson was among those who asked the Justice Department to step in.

The report comes amid inflamed tensions between police and residents in several cities where white officers have killed young blacks, including New York City and Ferguson, Missouri.

“The tragic losses of these and far too many other Americans – including, just last month, the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice here in Cleveland – have raised urgent, national questions,” said Holder in a statement announcing the DOJ findings.

Holder added that these cases have “sparked an important conversation about the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect.”

Articles continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/4/cleveland-justicepolice.html

Eric Garner death: US orders civil rights inquiry – 4 December 2014 Last updated at 05:05 ET


In Staten Island, neighbours and friends of Eric Garner told the BBC about their anger after the grand jury ruling came through

In Staten Island, neighbours and friends of Eric Garner told the BBC about their anger after the grand jury ruling came through

The US justice department is to launch a civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, a black man who was placed in an apparent chokehold by a white New York police officer.

The inquiry was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder after a grand jury decided against charging the officer.

That decision prompted street protests in New York. Activists have called for a march in Washington next week.

President Barack Obama said the case spoke to “larger issues”.

Mr Garner, 43, was stopped on a street in New York on 17 July on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

After a confrontation with police he was wrestled to the ground and restrained by force. He became unresponsive and later died.

America saw a wave of race-related unrest only last week over the decision not to indict another white police officer who had shot dead a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri.

Announcing “an independent, thorough, fair and expeditious” investigation into potential civil rights violations in the chokehold case, Mr Holder said he was continuing a review of how to heal a “breakdown in trust” between police and communities.

The justice department, he said, would conduct a “complete review” of material gathered in the local investigation. “All lives must be valued – all lives,” he added.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30323750

Washington Week | U.S. Sending More Troops to Iraq & A New Attorney General Nominee – PBS Published on Nov 7, 2014


On the Webcast Extra, our panelists discuss the “Friday news dump” as the White House announced plans to send 1,500 troops to Iraq to train the Iraqi Army and word that Loretta Lynch will be President Obama’s choice to replace Eric Holder at the Department of Justice. Plus, the Supreme Court has decided to take on a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act. And days after Election 2014, there are still races left to be decided.

Obama to nominate Loretta Lynch as attorney general – 7 November 2014 Last updated at 20:09 ET


US President Barack Obama has chosen New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as US attorney general, the White House says.

Loretta Lynch, US attorney for the eastern district of New York. 28 April 2014
Loretta Lynch has overseen bank fraud and other public corruption cases

If the Senate confirms her appointment, Ms Lynch will be the first African-American woman to head the US Justice Department.

Mr Holder, who resigned from the post six weeks ago, was the first African-American to serve as attorney general.

The White House said Ms Lynch would be formally nominated on Saturday.

Correspondents say Ms Lynch, 55, is known for her low-key personality and has stirred little controversy during her two tenures as US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Attorney General Eric Holder announces his resignation, as US President Barack Obama looks on, 25 September 2014
Eric Holder announced his resignation in September

“Ms Lynch is a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important US Attorney’s Offices in the country,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

Her nomination comes after Republicans won control of the Senate in Tuesday’s mid-term elections.

Ms Lynch – a North Carolina native and Harvard-trained lawyer – was one of several candidates Mr Holder had recommended to succeed him.

She has experience in both civil rights and corporate fraud cases.

Mr Holder led the justice department for six years, earning praise from President Obama who called him “the people’s lawyer”.

However, Mr Holder frequently clashed with Republicans in Congress over issues including gun control and same-sex marriage.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-29964071

Eric Holder: ‘I take personally as a failure’ the inability to pass gun control – By Cheryl K. Chumley – The Washington Times – Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at Oct 21, 2014 11.58

`If there’s one thing that Eric Holder regrets during his time as attorney general for the United States, it’s his failure to press through a Second Amendment crackdown on the heels of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, he said.

“I think the inability to pass reasonable gun safety laws after the Newtown massacre is something that weighs heavily on my mind,” Mr. Holder said during an interview with CNN.

He was speaking of the White House push to pass a federal background check mandate for all commercial gun sales, as well as an outright ban on so-called assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, in the wake of the December 2012 school tragedy.

The last of the legislative efforts to fail was a universal background check law that couldn’t make it out of the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Obama then announced a slew of executive actions to curb gun rights.

But Mr. Holder still reflected over the stronger legislation that never did pass.

“And the thought that we could not translate that horror into reasonable — I mean, really reasonable gun safety measures that were supported by the vast majority of the American people is for me something that I take personally as a failure,” he said, The Hill reported. “And something that I think we as a society should take as a failure — a glaring failure that I hope will ultimately be rectified.”
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/21/eric-holder-sad-i-take-personally-as-a-failure-the/#ixzz3Gr27ymW0
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Holder’s civil rights agenda at a crossroads as departure nears – By Benjamin Goad – 10/05/14 02:00 PM EDT


Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office with his signature civil rights agenda still a work in progress, and whether his unfinished business remains a top priority for the Justice Department depends largely on his yet-unnamed successor.

Holder has championed a broad array of initiatives to promote civil rights, from the administration’s support for same-sex marriage to changes in federal prosecutorial policies meant to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

He has signaled an aggressive agenda in his remaining time on the job, with plans to roll out new regulations against racial profiling and complete a national death penalty review that includes an examination of potential racial bias in executions.

But his fight for expanded voting rights is still being waged, and a series of initiatives launched in response to this summer’s fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Missouri are in their early stages.

What will become of them depends largely on the person who steps in to replace Holder, and President Obama’s selection to succeed him will speak volumes about his vision for the direction of the agency.

Advocates are pressing Obama to choose a high-profile leader who understands the agenda of civil rights groups and is willing to take bold action over the final years of the administration.

“We would like to see someone of that caliber,” NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said, adding that he is confident Holder’s replacement would fit the bill. “I don’t have any anxieties.”

While there is no clear frontrunner, likely candidates for the position include Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, former White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler, former Associate Attorney General Tony West and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Verrilli and Ruemmler are each thought to be well liked by President Obama, though neither has a high-profile record on civil rights issues.

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office with his signature civil rights agenda still a work in progress, and whether his unfinished business remains a top priority for the Justice Department depends largely on his yet-unnamed successor.

Holder has championed a broad array of initiatives to promote civil rights, from the administration’s support for same-sex marriage to changes in federal prosecutorial policies meant to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

He has signaled an aggressive agenda in his remaining time on the job, with plans to roll out new regulations against racial profiling and complete a national death penalty review that includes an examination of potential racial bias in executions.

But his fight for expanded voting rights is still being waged, and a series of initiatives launched in response to this summer’s fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Missouri are in their early stages.

What will become of them depends largely on the person who steps in to replace Holder, and President Obama’s selection to succeed him will speak volumes about his vision for the direction of the agency.

Advocates are pressing Obama to choose a high-profile leader who understands the agenda of civil rights groups and is willing to take bold action over the final years of the administration.

“We would like to see someone of that caliber,” NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said, adding that he is confident Holder’s replacement would fit the bill. “I don’t have any anxieties.”

While there is no clear frontrunner, likely candidates for the position include Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, former White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler, former Associate Attorney General Tony West and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Article continues:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/219764-holders-civil-rights-agenda-at-a-crossroads