Court and Judicial Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Court and Judicial Corruption News Articles in Media
When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died 12 days ago at a West Texas ranch, he was among high-ranking members of an exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s. The names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort [remain] largely unknown. Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross. Some hold titles, such as Grand Master, Prior and Knight Grand Officer. Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John Poindexter and C. Allen Foster, a prominent Washington lawyer who traveled to the ranch with Scalia by private plane, hold leadership positions within the Order. In 1695, Count Franz Anton von Sporck founded the society in Bohemia, which is in modern-day Czech Republic. The society’s U.S. chapter launched in 1966 at the famous Bohemian Club in San Francisco, which is associated with the all-male Bohemian Grove - one of the most well-known secret societies in the country. In 2010, Poindexter hosted a group of 53 members of the Houston chapter of the International Order of St. Hubertus at the Cibolo Creek Ranch. In a statement after Scalia died, the U.S. Marshals Service said that Scalia had declined a security detail while at the ranch.
Pope Francis will meet more than 100 men and women from a dangerously overcrowded prison population. Some 80% of those inmates at that prison, [Philadelphia's] Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), have not yet been convicted of the crime with which they were charged. Most of them are behind bars because they have not paid or cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial. Francis has visited prisons in multiple countries. This particular prison ... presents an extreme microcosm of two of the most pressing national prison problems: pretrial detention and overcrowding. The prison system – particularly in holding those who cannot afford to pay bail – targets the very people Pope Francis has shown the most concern for: the poor. With 2.2 million people incarcerated mostly in state prisons and jails like Philadelphia’s, the US now ... spends about $80bn on prisons. At any given time, between 400,000 to 500,000 of those people [are] held in pretrial or midtrial detention, sometimes for weeks, months and even years, usually because they cannot afford to pay bail. The Justice Department estimates that two-thirds of those inmates are non-dangerous defendants.
The Obama administration has ruled that inspectors general have to get permission from the agency they’re monitoring for access to wiretaps, grand jury and credit information, a decision that immediately was denounced by watchdogs and lawmakers. The Justice Department’s inspector general said the 58-page ruling ... will undermine his ability to do his job rooting out fraud and corruption. “Without such access, our office’s ability to conduct its work will be significantly impaired,” Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in a statement. His disapproval was followed by a bipartisan condemnation from four congressional leaders whose committees have oversight over DOJ. [In] 2010 ... the FBI started restricting the DOJ inspector general’s access to documents whose confidentiality is protected by law, including grand jury testimony and wiretaps. The IG’s review of the controversial Fast and Furious case, the failed sting operation that lost track of more than 1,000 government-issued guns, one of which was used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent, was delayed. Other investigations have lagged, Horowitz testified before Congress last February, complaining that the FBI has failed to turn over key records in several whistleblower cases. “Imagine if we had a DOJ (inspector general) during Watergate looking at the FBI’s conduct and the Attorney General had this opinion to deny or delay access to this kind of information,” said Brian Miller, the former inspector general at the General Services Administration.
Note: Last year, President Obama invoked executive privilege in an attempt to cover up the Fast and Furious scandal. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
(senior federal district judge) Jed A. Rakoff’s essay in The New York Review of Books ... tries to explain why innocent people so often plead guilty. At least 20,000 people have pled guilty to and gone to jail for felonies they did not commit — if you very conservatively take criminologists’ lowest estimates, and cut them in half. Rakoff identifies three ways the criminal justice system obstructs its own “truth seeking mechanism,” a trial by jury: 1. By embracing the increasingly popular plea bargain. 97 percent of federal trials were resolved last year through plea bargain. Plea bargains ... are weighted largely in favor of the prosecutor. The notion that a plea bargain is a contractual mediation between two relatively equal parties, Rakoff argues, “is a total myth”. 2. Through mandatory minimum sentences. The combination of mandatory sentences and prosecutorial discretion forces the defendant [to] run the risk of losing the case and serve the maximum sentence or take a reduced charge, at a reduced sentence, even when innocent. 3. Via the unfettered rise of prosecutorial power. Prosecutors have far more power ... than any other party involved in the criminal justice system. The one mechanism that could check their power is the jury trial, which is becoming “virtually extinct” in federal court, Rakoff writes. One possible solution to all these problems — aside from repealing mandatory minimum sentences and generally reducing the severity of sentences — is greater judicial oversight.
Jim Risen is gruff. Attorney General Eric Holder wants to force Risen to testify and reveal the identity of his confidential source on a story he had in his 2006 book concerning a bungled C.I.A. operation during the Clinton administration in which agents might have inadvertently helped Iran develop its nuclear weapon program. The tale made the C.I.A. look silly, which may have been more of a sore point than a threat to national security. But Bush officials, no doubt still smarting from Risen’s revelation of their illegal wiretapping, zeroed in on a disillusioned former C.I.A. agent named Jeffrey Sterling as the source of the Iran story. The subpoena forcing Risen’s testimony expired in 2009, and to the surprise of just about everybody, the constitutional law professor’s administration renewed it — kicking off its strange and awful aggression against reporters and whistle-blowers. Why don’t they back off Risen? How can [Obama] use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who “tortured some folks,” and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it? “It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.” Risen points to recent stories about the administration pressing an unprecedented initiative known as the Insider Threat Program.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government secrecy news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Supreme Court has been quietly revising its decisions years after they were issued, altering the law of the land without public notice. The revisions include “truly substantive changes in factual statements and legal reasoning,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard and the author of a new study examining the phenomenon. The court’s secretive editing process has led judges and law professors astray, causing them to rely on passages that were later scrubbed from the official record. The widening public access to online versions of the court’s decisions, some of which do not reflect the final wording, has made the longstanding problem more pronounced. Unannounced changes have not reversed decisions outright, but they have withdrawn conclusions on significant points of law. The larger point, said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford, is that Supreme Court decisions are parsed by judges and scholars with exceptional care. “In Supreme Court opinions, every word matters,” he said. “When they’re changing the wording of opinions, they’re basically rewriting the law.” The court does warn readers that early versions of its decisions, available at the courthouse and on the court’s website, are works in progress. A small-print notice says that “this opinion is subject to formal revision before publication,” and it asks readers to notify the court of “any typographical or other formal errors.” But ... the court almost never notes when a change has been made, much less specifies what it was. And many changes do not seem merely typographical or formal.
The [New York] Times published an article [on April 17] about an Arab citizen of Israel – a 23-year-old journalist and Palestinian rights advocate – who was detained by Israeli authorities last weekend. The man, Majd Kayyal, was not allowed a lawyer until Wednesday night, and he was interrogated for five days on suspicion that he was being recruited by a “hostile organization” after he visited Lebanon. He was released on Thursday but ordered to be kept under house arrest. The Times article mentions a court-imposed gag order that was lifted on [April 17]. What it doesn’t mention is that The Times, too, is subject to such gag orders. According to its bureau chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, that is true. The Times is “indeed, bound by gag orders,” Ms. Rudoren said. She said that the situation is analogous to abiding by traffic rules or any other laws of the land, and that two of her predecessors in the bureau chief position affirmed to her this week that The Times has been subject to gag orders in the past. The Times’s newsroom lawyer, David McCraw, [said] that he was consulted by Times journalists this week as they considered publishing an article about Mr. Kayyal’s arrest. Although the situation is somewhat murky, he said, “the general understanding among legal counsel in other countries is that local law would apply to foreign media.” “I’ve never seen us actually challenge it,” Mr. McCraw said. Meanwhile, an online publication called The Electronic Intifada published a number of articles about Mr. Kayyal’s detention over the past several days. The author of those articles, Ali Abunimah, said in an email that “readers have a right to know when [the New York Times] is complying with government-imposed censorship.”
Note: For more on mainstream media cover-ups, see the deeply revealing reports available here.
In 2009, when Robert H Richard IV, an unemployed heir to the DuPont family fortune, pled guilty to fourth-degree rape of his three-year-old daughter, a judge spared him a justifiable sentence – indeed, only put Richard on probation – because she figured this 1-percenter would "not fare well" in a prison setting. Richard’s ex-wife filed a new lawsuit accusing him of also sexually abusing their son. Since then, the original verdict has been fueling some angry speculation ... that the defendant's wealth and status may have played a role in his lenient sentencing. Inequality defines our criminal justice system just as it defines our society. It always has and it always will until we do something about it. America incarcerates more people than any other country on the planet, with over 2m currently in prison and more than 7m under some form of correctional supervision. More than 60% are racial and ethnic minorities, and the vast majority are poor. There is an abundance of evidence ... that both conscious and unconscious bias permeate every aspect of the criminal justice system, from arrests to sentencing and beyond. Unsurprisingly, this bias works in favor of wealthy (and white) defendants, while poor minorities routinely suffer. In August of last year the Sentencing Project, a non-profit devoted to criminal justice reform, released a comprehensive report on bias in the system. This is the sentence you need to remember: "The United States in effect operates two distinct criminal justice systems: one for wealthy people and another for poor people and minorities."
Note: For more on systemic injustice within the US prison/industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A top judge campaigned to support a paedophile group that tried to legalise sex with children, a newspaper claims. The Mail on Sunday said Lord Justice Fulford was a founder member of a campaign to defend the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). The judge told the BBC he had "no memory" of this, but had in the 1970s been involved with a civil liberties group to which PIE was affiliated. He said he had never supported PIE and child abuse was "wholly wrong". The Daily Mail has run a series of articles questioning the links between PIE and civil liberties group the National Council for Civil Liberties during the 1970s and early 1980s. PIE had called for greater tolerance and paedophile "rights" and campaigned for a lowering of the age of consent to 10. Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, her husband and fellow Labour MP Jack Dromey and former Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt were all prominent figures in the NCCL, which granted PIE affiliate status in 1975. Ms Hewitt has apologised for having "got it wrong", while Mr Dromey has accused the Daily Mail of "dirty, gutter journalism". Ms Harman has said she "regrets" the links between the two groups but she has "nothing to apologise for". The Mail on Sunday said its investigation had found that Lord Justice Fulford, a member of the Privy Council, was a founder member of a campaign set up to defend PIE against criminal charges.
Note: If you are ready to see how investigations into a massive child sex abuse ring have led to the highest levels of government, watch the suppressed Discovery Channel documentary "Conspiracy of Silence," available here. For more on sexual abuse scandals, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Should wealthy litigants be able to rent state judges and courthouses to decide cases in private and keep the results secret? The answer should be an easy no, but if the judges of Delaware’s Chancery Court persuade the United States Supreme Court to take their case and reverse lower federal court rulings outlawing that practice, corporations will, in Delaware, be able to do just that. The state has long been a magnet for corporate litigation because of its welcoming tax structures and the court’s business expertise. Yet the State Legislature became concerned that Delaware was losing its “pre-eminence” in corporate litigation to a growing market in private dispute resolution. To compete, Delaware passed a law in 2009 offering new privileges to well-heeled businesses. If litigants had at least $1 million at stake and were willing to pay $12,000 in filing fees and $6,000 a day thereafter, they could use Delaware’s chancery judges and courtrooms for what was called an “arbitration” that produced enforceable legal judgments. Instead of open proceedings, filings would not be docketed, the courtroom would be closed to the public and the outcome would be secret. The Delaware Supreme Court could review judgments, but that court has not indicated whether appeals would also be confidential. A group called the Coalition for Open Government, including news and civic organizations, objected that Delaware’s legislation was unconstitutional. In 2012, a federal judge agreed that the law violated the public’s right of access to civil proceedings under the First Amendment.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A federal judge in Newark has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for spying on New Jersey Muslims, saying if anyone was at fault, it was the Associated Press for telling people about it. In his ruling ... U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini simultaneously demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to give law enforcement alarming latitude in the name of fighting terror, greenlighted the targeting of Muslims based solely on their religious beliefs, and blamed the media for upsetting people by telling them what their government was doing. The NYPD’s clandestine spying on daily life in Muslim communities in the region — with no probable cause, and nothing to show for it — was exposed in a Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories by the AP. The stories described infiltration and surveillance of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey alone. In a cursory, 10-page ruling issued before even hearing oral arguments, Martini essentially said that what the targets didn’t know didn’t hurt them: "None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance."
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A secret court order that authorised a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on [November 18], among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program. Another later court order found that what it called "systemic overcollection" had taken place. In a heavily redacted opinion Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former presiding judge of the FISA court, placed legal weight on the methods of surveillance employed by the NSA, which had never before collected the internet data of “an enormous volume of communications”. The methods, known as pen registers and trap-and-trace devices, record the incoming and outgoing routing information of communications. Kollar-Kotelly ruled that acquiring the metadata, and not the content, of email and internet usage in bulk was harmonious with the “purpose” of Congress and prior court rulings – even though no surveillance statute ever authorized it and top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI threatened to resign in 2004 over what they considered its dubious legality. The type of data collected under the program included information on the "to", "from" and "bcc" lines of an email rather than the content. Metadata, wrote Kollar-Kotelly, enjoyed no protection under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, a precedent established by the Supreme Court in 1979 in a single case on which the NSA relies currently.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
[The] military criminal justice system ... frequently grants impunity to [sex] offenders and punishes victims -- the outcome of a fiercely guarded power of commanders who wield broad discretion over the handling of sex crimes in their ranks. From the accounts of sexual assault survivors in every branch of the military, a stark panorama emerges: Many victims were drugged or forced to drink and were raped, attacked as they slept, beaten unconscious and coerced into sex by their superiors. They were strongly discouraged from disclosing the crimes, or forced to report assaults to commanders who are closely connected to the accused. Few suspects face criminal punishment. Of 3,374 reports of sexual assault last year involving 2,900 accused offenders, only 302 went to courts-martial and 238 were convicted, the Defense Department says. Meanwhile, 286 offenders received nonjudicial or administrative punishment or discharges, allowing them to dodge a criminal mark on their record. In 70 cases, suspects slated for possible courts-martial were allowed to quit their jobs to avoid charges. Prison sentences are rare. Only 177 perpetrators were sentenced to confinement. But the most jarring statistic: about half of all convicted sex offenders were not automatically expelled from the armed services. For all the public outrage sparked by sexual abuses at the Navy Tailhook convention in 1991, the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996 and the Air Force Academy in 2003, the military criminal justice system has failed to stem an epidemic of sexual assaults, reaching an estimated 26,000 last year.
The Supreme Court usually isn't friendly toward questionable patents, but it came down overwhelmingly on the side of agribusiness giant Monsanto [on April 22] in a case that's bound to resonate throughout the biotechnology industry. The court ruled unanimously that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto's patent on genetically modified soybeans when he culled some from a grain elevator and used them to replant his own crop in future years. "If simple copying were a protected use, a patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item containing the invention," Justice Elena Kagan ruled in a short 10-page opinion. Who it helps: Inventors and entrepreneurs who have patents on products that can be self-replicated, from computer software to cell lines. Who it hurts: Consumers paying high prices. The Center for Food Safety released a report in February that showed three corporations control much of the global commercial seed market. It found that from 1995-2011, the average cost to plant 1 acre of soybeans rose 325%. Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell called the ruling a setback for farmers. "The court chose to protect Monsanto over farmers," he said. "The court's ruling is contrary to logic and to agronomics, because it improperly attributes seeds' reproduction to farmers, rather than nature."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Even people used to the closeness of the US administration and food giants like Monsanto have been shocked by the latest demonstration of the GM industry's political muscle. Little-noticed in Europe or outside the US, President Barack Obama last week signed off what has become widely known as "the Monsanto Protection Act", technically the Farmer Assurance Provision rider in HR 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2013. According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, this hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems. The backlash has been furious. A Food Democracy Now petition has attracted 250,000 names. The only good news, say the opponents, is that because the "Monsanto Protection Act" was part of the much wider spending bill, it will formally expire in September. The bad news however is that the precedent has been set and it is unlikely that the world's largest seed company and the main driver of the divisive GM technology will ever agree to give up its new legal protection. The company, in effect, now rules.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the harm caused by GMOs, click here.
Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life? The journey of a 75-year-old Indiana farmer to the [Supreme Court] began rather uneventfully. Vernon Hugh Bowman purchased an undifferentiated mix of soybean seeds from a grain elevator, planted the seeds and then saved seed from the resulting harvest to replant another crop. Finding that Bowman's crops were largely the progeny of its genetically engineered proprietary soybean seed, Monsanto sued the farmer for patent infringement. The case [Bowman vs. Monsanto Co.] is a remarkable reflection on recent fundamental changes in farming. In the 200-plus years since the founding of this country, and for millenniums before that, seeds have been part of the public domain — available for farmers to exchange, save, modify through plant breeding and replant. Through this process, farmers developed a diverse array of plants that could thrive in various geographies, soils, climates and ecosystems. But today this history of seeds is seemingly forgotten in light of a patent system that, since the mid-1980s, has allowed corporations to own products of life. Although Monsanto and other agrochemical companies assert that they need the current patent system to invent better seeds, the counterargument is that splicing an already existing gene or other DNA into a plant and thereby transferring a new trait to that plant is not a novel invention. A soybean, for example, has more than 46,000 genes. Properties of these genes are the product of centuries of plant breeding and should not, many argue, become the product of a corporation. Instead, these genes should remain in the public domain.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the destructive impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), click here.
A former judge has been sentenced to more than 26 years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to gain power and control politics in an eastern Kentucky county. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves said 67-year-old former Clay County Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle headed the conspiracy and therefore got the longest sentence so far. Maricle and seven others were convicted in March 2010 of multiple charges, including racketeering, money laundering and voter fraud. Prosecutors say more than 8,000 people were paid $50 each for their votes in one election and 150 votes were stolen by changing voting machines.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on electoral fraud, click here.
A federal appeals court ... dismissed a lawsuit [on September 8] accusing a Bay Area aviation-planning company of arranging CIA flights of [captives] to overseas dungeons. The ruling is a victory for both President George W. Bush's administration, which directed the rendition program and acknowledged its existence, and the Obama administration, which ... argued that it was too sensitive to be litigated in court. The American Civil Liberties Union said it would appeal to the Supreme Court. The high court has refused to review two rulings by other appeals courts dismissing suits against the government by men who said they were abducted by the CIA and flown to foreign torture chambers. "Not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture program has had his day in court," ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said. Jeppesen, a Boeing Co. subsidiary, was described in a 2007 Council of Europe report as the CIA's aviation services provider. In a court declaration in the current suit, a company employee quoted a director as telling staff members in 2006 that Jeppesen handled the CIA's "torture flights." Dissenting Judge Michael Hawkins said the courts should decide legal disputes rather than "permitting the executive to police its own errors." He also said the court should have kept the case alive and required the government to show why specific evidence should remain secret.
Bush administration officials came up with all kinds of ridiculously offensive rationalizations for torturing prisoners. Itâ€™s not torture if you donâ€™t mean it to be. Itâ€™s not torture if you donâ€™t nearly kill the victim. Itâ€™s not torture if the president says itâ€™s not torture. It was deeply distressing to watch the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sink to that standard in April when it dismissed a civil case brought by four former GuantĂˇnamo detainees never charged with any offense. The court said former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the senior military officers charged in the complaint could not be held responsible for violating the plaintiffsâ€™ rights because at the time of their detention ... it was not â€śclearly establishedâ€ť that torture was illegal. The Supreme Court could have corrected that outlandish reading of the Constitution, legal precedent, and domestic and international statutes and treaties. Instead, last month, the justices abdicated their legal and moral duty and declined to review the case. The justices surely understood that their failure to accept the case would further undermine the rule of law. In effect, the Supreme Court has granted the government immunity for subjecting people in its custody to terrible mistreatment. It has deprived victims of a remedy and Americans of government accountability, while further damaging the countryâ€™s standing in the world.
Note: For many reliable reports on the torture used by governments pursuing the "war on terror", click here.
The last time the government embarked on a major vaccine campaign against a new swine flu, thousands filed claims contending they suffered side effects from the shots. This time, the government has already taken steps to head that off. Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, government health officials said Friday. Since the 1980s, the government has protected vaccine makers against lawsuits over the use of childhood vaccines. The document signed by Sebelius last month grants immunity to those making a swine flu vaccine, under the provisions of a 2006 law for public health emergencies. It allows for a compensation fund, if needed. The government takes such steps to encourage drug companies to make vaccines, and it's worked. Federal officials have contracted with five manufacturers to make a swine flu vaccine. The last time the government faced a new swine flu virus was in 1976. Federal officials vaccinated 40 million Americans during a national campaign. A pandemic never materialized, but thousands who got the shots filed injury claims, saying they suffered a paralyzing condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome or other side effects.
Note: Note for a powerfully revealing CBS report on blatant fear mongering and profiteering from the 1976 swine flue scare, click here. For many revealing reports on corruption in the medical/governmental complex, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.