Justice department won’t charge white officers in killing of Alton Sterling – Oliver Laughland Tuesday 2 May 2017 19.30 EDT


Fatal shooting of the 37-year-old black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was caught on video and led to widespread protests

Alton Sterling’s family give emotional statement after police killing

The US justice department has declined to bring charges against the white police officers involved in the 2016 fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to multiple reports.

The 37-year-old was killed last July after two officers wrestled him to the ground and opened fire from close range in an incident that caught on video by eyewitnesses. The case was referred quickly to federal civil rights investigators after calls from Sterling’s family and unrest on the streets of Baton Rouge.

Sterling’s death came the day before the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, a black man in Minnesota, and the same week that five officers in Dallas, Texas were gunned down in a targeted killing carried out during a protest to mark the deaths of the two men. The officer who shot dead Castile has since been charged with manslaughter.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post quoted anonymous justice department officials confirming that no charges would brought in the Sterling case. The justice department did not respond to a request for confirmation.

L Chris Stewart and Justin Bamberg, attorneys for the Sterling family said they had not been informed by the department of “any decision or announcement”.

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Justice Department Fires Salvo at Consumer Watchdog – By  Brent Kendall Updated March 17, 2017 7:10 p.m. ET


POTUS’ administration backs legal effort to have structure of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau declared unconstitutional

The Justice Department, above, says the CFPB’s structure creates separation-of-powers problems under the Constitution because the bureau director isn’t sufficiently answerable to the president.

The Justice Department, above, says the CFPB’s structure creates separation-of-powers problems under the Constitution because the bureau director isn’t sufficiently answerable to the president. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration took aim at a consumer finance regulator created after the 2008 financial crisis, backing a legal effort to have the structure of the Obama-era agency declared unconstitutional.

The Justice Department, now under Trump administration leadership, filed court papers on Friday opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent regulator, asking a federal appeals court to order the restructuring of the agency.

The CFPB is fighting to keep its current setup, which gives its director protection from political interference from the White House. The administration in February said that President Donald Trump believes the bureau as currently organized is unaccountable to the public.

The dispute stems from a case in which the CFPB alleged PHH Corp., a New Jersey mortgage lender, violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act by accepting kickbacks from mortgage insurers.

The Democratic-controlled Congress that created the CFPB after the 2008 financial crisis gave the agency power over the markets for consumer-finance products and an unusual amount of independence. It is headed by a single director who can be removed by the president only for cause, such as negligence or malfeasance.

The six-year-old bureau has been criticized by Republicans since its inception for what they see as heavy-handed and unnecessary regulation of firms that sell loans, credit cards and other financial products.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray has defended the bureau’s independent structure and mandate as an enforcement agency, saying it has helped consumers across the country.

The Justice Department said the CFPB’s structure creates separation-of-powers problems under the Constitution because the bureau director isn’t sufficiently answerable to the president.

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Justice Department Watchdog Launches Internal Probe Into Handling of Clinton Email Case – By  Devlin Barrett Updated Jan. 12, 2017 2:22 p.m. ET


Inquiry follows public debate over FBI director’s pre-election statements

FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: jim lo scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

The Justice Department’s inspector general announced Thursday he would investigate how the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s top two leaders handled a probe into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, to see if the FBI or the Justice Department failed to follow their own policies and procedures.

The announcement comes amid continuing public debate over whether FBI Director James Comey, by alerting Congress to new investigative work on the Clinton case 11 days before the election, violated the longstanding Justice Department practice of avoiding overt actions that could influence, or seem to influence, an election’s outcome.

Mrs. Clinton has said Mr. Comey’s actions contributed to her defeat in the 2016 presidential election.

The inspector general’s announcement ensures that one of the most bitterly contested questions of the recent election—whether Mrs. Clinton’s chances were irreparably damaged by the unusual FBI moves—will live on for at least several more months.

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Justice Department: New Texas Voter ID Rules Are Misleading To Voters – ASHLEY LOPEZ September 10, 2016


Ann Moss checks a voter’s ID before signing her in to vote at Hunters Creek Elementary School in Houston during the Texas primaries on March 1.

Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The legal battle over the Texas voter ID law is a fight that just won’t end.

The law was passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature in 2011. It immediately became one of the strictest photo ID laws in the country. And the law has been in and out of courts ever since.

According to civil rights attorney Chad Dunn, the courts ruled that the law is discriminatory.

“There is some considerable evidence that it was adopted with the purpose to prevent certain voters from voting,” Dunn says.

He says judges ruled the Texas law made it harder for minorities to vote. That’s why the state was forced to change the law before the presidential election. As a result, voters without one of the seven photo IDs required by the state now have some wiggle room. They can present alternative forms of ID — like a voter registration card. And Dunn says they just have to sign a document saying they had trouble getting a Texas photo ID.

“And if they have an impediment to getting an ID — a reasonable impediment to getting an ID — they shouldn’t fear at all coming into a polling location and filling out a declaration and casting that full ballot they are entitled to,” Dunn says.

A federal judge ordered the the state to communicate these changes to voters. And that’s where things have hit a snag: The state is accused of using language that doesn’t stress that people without a photo ID can now vote.

From the state’s website: “Voters who cannot obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID have additional options at the polls when casting their ballots.”

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Justice Department Plans to Stop Using Private Prisons – PEMA LEVY AUG. 18, 2016 12:06 PM


The announcement comes after a Mother Jones investigation found serious deficiencies at a private prison in Louisiana.

An inmate at Winn Correctional Center, in Louisiana, which until recently was run by the Corrections Corporation of America. Mother Jones

The Department of Justice will stop contracting with private prisons, the department announced Thursday morning. The decision comes a week after the DOJ inspector general released a damning report on the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons, which incarcerate 12 percent of federal inmates.

The announcement comes on the heels of a Mother Jones investigation of a private prison in Louisiana that found serious deficiencies in staffing and security. It also documented a higher rate of violence than the prison reported. Last week’s DOJ report found that private prisons are more violent than federal prisons.

As of December 2015, private prisons incarcerated about 22,600 federal inmates. The news of the DOJ’s decision prompted a quick downturn in stock prices for the two largest private prison companies.

The decision was announced in a memo by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to the Washington Post. The memo directs department officials not to renew existing contracts or to “substantially reduce” their scope, with the goal of “reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons.”

Read Mother Jones‘ editor-in-chief and CEO on what it took to pull off our investigation.

Justice department investigating fatal police shooting of Loreal Tsingine – Jamiles Lartey Saturday 30 July 2016 15.02 EDT


Tsingine, a Native American, was killed by officer Austin Shipley in late March as fatal shootings of Native Americans by police have increased in 2016

In body-camera footage, Loreal Tsingine is seen getting up and walking toward an officer with a small pair of scissors in her left hand, and another officer quickly approaches her from behind.

The Justice Department will investigate the police shooting of a Native American woman in Arizona, a spokesman said on Friday, a day after footage released by the Winslow police department raised concerns about racial bias in the fatal shooting.

The department’s civil rights division will review the local investigation into the March 27 shooting death of Loreal Tsingine, spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.

Tsingine, 27, was shot and killed by the Winslow police officer Austin Shipley in late March after officers suspected her of shoplifting in a local store and confronted her. Silent body-camera footage, first obtained by the Arizona Daily Sun, shows a police officer trying to restrain Tsingine then shoving her to the ground and finally drawing a gun on her as she approaches him.

In the video, Tsingine gets up and walks toward Shipley with a small pair of medical scissors in her left hand, and another officer quickly approaches her from behind. Shipley draws his gun and directs it at Tsingine, and the footage is cut off before he fires the fatal shot.

The shooting was ruled justified by the Maricopa County attorney’s office last Friday.

Tsingine’s aunt, Floranda Dempsey, said her niece was 5ft tall and weighed 95lbs. “They should have been able to subdue her with their huge size and weight,” she said. “It wasn’t like she came at them first. I’m sure anyone would be mad if they were thrown around.” She added a question: “Where were the tasers, pepper sprays, batons?”

The family filed a $10.5m wrongful death lawsuit against the city at the beginning of the month, claiming that “the city of Winslow was negligent in hiring, training, retaining, controlling and supervising” the officer who killed Tsingine.

Shipley’s training records show two of his fellow officers had serious concerns that he was too quick to go for his service weapon, that he ignored directives from superiors, and that he was liable to falsify reports and not control his emotions.

A day before Shipley’s training ended, nearly three years ago, a police corporal recommended that the Winslow police department not retain him.

“They were warned he was likely to hurt someone back in 2013 or so, by another commanding officer,” Floranda said. “It’s unbelievable as to why he was still allowed to wear a badge.”

Floranda said watching the video shocked her and made her angry, and that all she saw was “a bully who got angry for getting his ego squashed” by a small Native American woman.

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Judge Sides With Technology Firms in Case Over Justice Department’s Gag Orders – By Joe Palazzolo and Devlin Barrett May 13, 2016 5:46 p.m. ET


Judge denies 15 government applications for gag orders against service providers, ruling they lacked enough information

A U.S. magistrate judge denied the Justice Department’s applications for gag orders against service providers, writing in a ruling Thursday that they lacked enough information for him to judge whether the secrecy was warranted.

A U.S. magistrate judge denied the Justice Department’s applications for gag orders against service providers, writing in a ruling Thursday that they lacked enough information for him to judge whether the secrecy was warranted.– PHOTO: ANDREW HARNIK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Brooklyn magistrate judge has rejected the Justice Department’s practice of getting gag orders against technology companies, saying federal agents should have to give a specific reason why customers of Facebook and other firms shouldn’t be told when the government searches their data.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein denied 15 separate government applications for gag orders against service providers, writing in a ruling Thursday that they lacked enough information for him to judge whether the secrecy was warranted.

Of the 15 applications, at least two sought orders against Facebook to prevent it from disclosing grand jury subpoenas. While Judge Orenstein referenced the case titles in his ruling, the nature of investigations and applications themselves remain under seal.

“The government cannot…obtain an order that constrains the freedom of service providers to disclose information to their customers without making a particularized showing of need,” he wrote. “The boilerplate assertions set forth in the government’s applications do not make such a showing.”

Facebook’s policy is to tell customers about law-enforcement searches of their data unless the company is legally obligated not to do so. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the new ruling, as did a spokesman for Facebook.

Because the court hadn’t yet approved the orders at issue, the company wasn’t aware of the specific cases until the ruling was publicly filed.

The 12-page ruling took aim at secrecy that technology companies have bridled under in recent years.

Judge Orenstein has challenged the Justice Department in other contexts, including frustrating the agency’s efforts to compel Apple Inc. to help investigators unlock an iPhone.

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