How do we fix policing in America? Can it be fixed? Donald Trump has made “law and order” a central message of his campaign, portraying anti–police brutality protesters as dangerous. Joe Biden has emphatically rejected protesters’ calls to defund the police and insists that less drastic reform can make a difference. Whoever wins the election will help shape the future of criminal justice. But while the effects of the pandemic and police violence are magnified for people behind bars, the vast majority of them will not be able to press for solutions by voting.
Criminal Justice System
In 2014, St. Louis County experienced periods of heightened social protests following the highly publicized shooting of Michael Brown by then-police officer Darren Wilson. According to the New York Times, Wilson noticed Brown fit the description of a suspect who had stolen cigarillos and pulled up near Brown in his police SUV. A struggle ensued and Wilson fired his pistol at close range. Brown moved away from Wilson initially but turned towards him after a short pursuit.
St. Louis, MO - The first black woman elected as circuit attorney in the city of St. Louis is taking long-standing racial tensions, specifically between her office and the police department, to federal court. On Monday, Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging a racist conspiracy to stop her from doing her job. Gardner is suing the city of St. Louis; the St. Louis Police Officers Association and its longtime business manager Jeff Roorda; a former police officer named Charles Lane who sued Gardner’s office; and Gerard Carmody and his children, who are the private attorneys appointed as special prosecutors to investigate her office’s handling of the investigation of former Gov. Eric Greitens. “Gardner was elected in 2016 on a promise to redress the scourge of historical inequality and rebuild trust in the criminal justice system among communities of color,” says the lawsuit, filed on Gardner’s behalf by three outside law firms from St. Louis, Washington and New York.
The US drug trial against the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández brought the nexus between organized crime and political power to the forefront, undermining the country’s purported role as an ally in the fight against corruption and powerful drug trafficking groups. Over the course of the two-week trial that ended with the conviction of former Honduran congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández — the president’s brother — on drug and weapons charges, little doubt remained about the importance his connections to political power and dirty members of the country’s security forces played in facilitating his network. Still, it’s unclear if this conviction alone — especially in the wake of past convictions that in hindsight only temporarily shook up Honduras’ elite — will knock down the criminal structures firmly in place.
A federal court in San Francisco took the unusual step of using the word “torture” to describe the treatment of a Palestinian man while he was in CIA custody following the Sept. 11 attacks. “It’s the first time an appellate court, to my knowledge, has come right out and said that the enhanced interrogation techniques were torture. We’re no longer going to equivocate.” — Joseph Margulies, a Cornell University law professor The Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco used the word in a 2-1 ruling to describe the harsh interrogation methods used against a prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah while he was held in clandestine CIA detention facilities overseas. “To use colloquial terms,” said the court wrote, “Abu Zubaydah was tortured.”
Manistee, Michigan - A national campaign to raise awareness and build momentum for meaningful federal legislation to impact the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) tragedy arrived in the Great Lakes this past Thursday. Backed by members of the US House and Senate as diverse as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), the region’s first MMIW billboard was placed in Manistee, Michigan, territory of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. “The Native Justice Coalition (NJC) has just launched our MMIWG2S (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirits) Project. There has been a growing movement across Canada for several years and now the Global Indigenous Council has started this national MMIW billboard campaign...
Since 2016, civil disobedience actions in several swiss cities have targeted banks (Crédit Suisse and UBS) investing heavily in the expansion of fossil fuel extraction, particularly "extreme" fossil fuels, such as canadian tar sands and fracking. The Swiss financial sector causes 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions than Switzerland itself. Between 2016 and 2018, investments of UBS and Credit Suisse totalled 83.3 billion USD. These are climate crimes, considering that according to the IPCC only a quarter of conventional fossil fuel reserves can be exploited if we are to avoid warming of over 2 degrees and the resultant climate chaos. Until lately, the banks and authorities had tolerated repeated occupations, hoping to avoid negative publicity, but are now reacting more and more violently as the movement grows in size and determination.
This policy report provides an overview of current issues in climate change litigation, focusing on selected cases and developments from May 2018 to May 2019. The report draws on the Climate Change Laws of the World database and the U.S. Climate Change Litigation database. Climate change litigation is increasingly viewed as a tool to influence policy outcomes and corporate behaviour. Strategic cases are designed to press national governments to be more ambitious on climate or to enforce existing legislation, while cases against major emitters seek compensation for loss and damage. Routine planning and regulatory cases are increasingly including climate change arguments, exposing courts to climate science and climate-related arguments even where incidental to the main claim.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell is rolling out a new Conviction and Incident Review Unit with two mandates that will, he said, “safeguard the integrity of convictions” won by the office. The Conviction and Incident Review Unit (CIRU) – which will stand as its own unit, independent from the rest of the office and answer solely to Bell, will employ a director who will be hired through a national search. Its mandates will be to review two sets of things: cases involving substantiated claims of wrongful prosecution or conviction, and all matters relating to police officer-involved shootings and alleged police misconduct. “The obligation of every prosecutor is to pursue justice, an obligation that cannot be met if the public lacks confidence in the integrity of criminal convictions,” Bell said in a statement.
Julian Assange was not at Westminster Magistrates Court today for the US extradition request hearing, because of his poor state of health. As his lawyer Gareth Peirce explained, he was too ill to appear via video link from Belmarsh prison. The Wikileaks founder has actually been moved to the hospital wing of the high-security prison, where he has been jailed since April. Judge Emma Arbuthnot acknowledged Julian Assange’s ill-health and suggested to hold the next hearing right at Belmarsh.
Sheriff’s deputies in Alexandria, Va., refused to allow supporters of Chelsea Manning, the government whistleblower who spent seven years in prison, to visit her in jail on Saturday, a day after she was taken into custody for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury purportedly investigating news publisher WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. At the visitor’s entrance to the detention center, the supporters were told they would not be allowed in and that Manning was still being held in a cell by herself in the jail’s intake area and had not been sent into the jail’s general population.
The case of Mumia Abu Jamal, who was framed with the murder of a police officer, has had some important breakthroughs in the last month including allowing him appeal rights and the finding of six previously undisclosed boxes of evidence in his case. This could result in the dismissal of his case and release from prison after 37 years. We talk with Rachel Wolkenstein, who has served as an attorney and advocate for Mumia since 1990. Wolkenstein explains the significance of his case in the context of racist police enforcement, mass incarceration, the myths of US justice and legal lynching and describes evidence showing Mumia was framed because of his political activism. She argues that Mumia will only get justice if a mass movement demands it.
For the past 33 Christmas holidays, Cooper has inhabited an 11-by-4 ½-foot cell in California’s San Quentin State Prison, the last eight waiting for Brown to grant him a new hearing and advanced DNA testing that would support what federal Appellate Judge William Fletcher has said: “Kevin Cooper is on death row because the San Bernardino sheriff’s department framed him.” Cooper, at the top of the list to be killed when the state resumes executions, talks to Robert Scheer in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence” about the unfairness of the justice system and the difficulty of proving one’s innocence once convicted.
Everything from finding a job to renting an apartment can be challenging when a criminal record is disclosed. As a result, formerly incarcerated people often struggle to get back on their feet when they leave prison and many end up committing crimes that land them back in a cell. To make matters worse, they’re often hit with thousands of dollars in administrative and other fees for their time spent in court and prison. San Francisco is trying to reduce this financial burden by waiving criminal justice fees for 21,000 people, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The city had previously stopped issuing fees to formerly incarcerated people and this new announcement is an attempt to retroactively address the matter of financial hardship.
San Francisco - Violent crimes and other hate incidents against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are consistently not reported and prosecuted because of chronic distrust between the LGBTQ community and police. Nearly 300,000 crimes may have been committed against people across the United States because of their sexual orientation from 2012 to 2016, according to a News21 analysis of data from the federal National Crime Victimization Survey, which tens of thousands of American households fill out each year. “There are people that are hurting right now who don't trust the police and also don't feel comfortable coming forward or speaking up”...