Archive for the 'Federal Courts' Category
Federal Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, who read the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect his rights at his hospital bedside, is catching fire from some Republican members of Congress for her role.
The judge advised Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of his Miranda rights three days after he was taken into custody, and after he had answered questions from investigators who had elected not to advise him of those rights under a public safety exception to the law.
“I totally disagree with what she did,” GOP Representative Pete King of New York told Bloomberg. “From talking to a number of FBI agents, this appears to be unprecedented for a judge to walk in and in effect stop the interrogation and provide Miranda rights.”
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of the House Intelligence Committee called the judge’s action “highly unusual” and possibly damaging to the FBI probe of the bombings. “The problem in this case is you have a judge who hastily intervened” in an exercise of the public-safety exception, he said.
The Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and defense lawyers said these criticisms were misguided, and the judge was carrying out her job. She became involved in the case after a criminal complaint was filed by prosecutors. Rules of criminal procedure mandate that at a defendant’s initial appearance, a judge advise him of his rights, and she did that at the hospital, the lawyers said.
The findings of an investigation into the conduct of then-Judge Richard Cebull, who forwarded a racist and sexist email about President Obama from his courthouse computer (see Gavel Grab) and who retired this month, remain secret.
An Associated Press article said a Judicial Council order issued in the investigation on March 15 is moot, given the U.S. District judge’s retirement on May 3, according to a new order by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Judicial Council has released neither the order nor the findings of its investigation. When the the Judicial Council meets June 28, it will consider revisions to the order and the memorandum, and it was uncertain whether they would ultimately be made public, the AP said.
Judge Cebull sat in Montana. He apologized to the president after the email was made public.
Another critic of a controversial ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is taking aim at both the highly influential court and Sen. Charles Grassley’s proposal to reduce it from 11 authorized judges to eight. There are seven judges sitting on the court now.
Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, contends in a Reuters commentary that conservative judges control the D.C. Circuit bench and that Grassley, a Republican, wants to keep it that way. Kendall disagrees with a recent court ruling that struck down a National Labor Relations Board rule mandating that employers display signs telling workers of their right to unionize under federal law.
“The Constitution gives the Senate the duty of providing ‘advice and consent’ on the president’s judicial nominees,” Kendall writes. “It doesn’t give Grassley – or any other senator – the right to play political games that hurt the judiciary and the country.” Read more
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders, Justice at Stake opposed on Thursday a proposed amendment to limit judicial review of immigration legislation and supported another, to create new federal judgeships.
The first amendment, by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, would allow judicial review of the underlying immigration measure only in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and would only permit review regarding constitutional challenges to the law or its implementing regulations, Bert Brandenburg, JAS executive director, said in the letter.
“JAS has long opposed political interference with the judiciary and thus, we oppose this attempt to constrain the venue and scope of judicial review,” Brandenburg wrote.
In San Diego, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the offices for the Federal Defenders are only a few blocks apart, yet they have been affected quite differently by across-the-board federal budget cuts, says the U-T San Diego News.
Federal Defenders of San Diego is a private nonprofit funded by the government. Under the recent budget cuts, known as sequestration, all staff will have to take six unpaid furlough days.
It’s the opposite story at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since Attorney General Eric Holder announced in an April 25th memo that department employees will not be furloughed this fiscal year.
Besides San Diego, federal public defenders offices across the country are reducing hours and public services (see Gavel Grab). This has led to criticism that budget cuts are affecting public defenders and prosecutors differently, the article says. Read more
GOP lawmakers continue to play politics with federal judicial nominees, bringing the confirmation process to a grinding halt, reports MSNBC. On Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday, the host and her guests discussed the problems that have led to a rise in judicial vacancies across the country.
According to the program, 40 percent of federal courts are now considered “judicial emergencies” because they have fallen so far behind in their workload without a full bench of judges.
A Longmont Times-Call editorial states that one vacancy in a Texas federal district court has been empty for more than 1,700 days. Another in Arizona has not been filled for more than 1,200 days.
The editorial, entitled “Get Federal Judges into Open Slots,” argues that ”lawmakers are playing politics with federal judicial nominees, which means important cases get delayed, courts are overloaded, nominees endure months of waiting in limbo, judicial integrity is compromised, and the American people get poor service from one the country’s three branches of government.” Read more
Sequester used to refer to what judges did to juries to keep their knowledge of the case restricted to what happened in court, writes Walt Nett in a Lubbock Online blog, but now the word has an entirely new meaning for the courts.
Under federal budget cuts known as sequestration, hearings in federal court are more likely to be delayed, Net says. Federal public defenders are facing furloughs, and are more limited now in their time to meet with defendants.
We are guaranteed to a fair and speedy trial under the Constitution, Nett writes, but that right is undermined when lawmakers can’t agree on a federal budget.
Last week, members of Congress took up a discussion on sequestration’s impact on commercial air travel. If Congress is willing to prevent delays to air travel, then why not also step in to help the federal public defenders uphold a constitutional right to a speedy trial, Nett asks.
Across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, are causing delays in court cases and depleting the resources of federal public defenders.
The Boston Marathon bombing suspect’s trial may be delayed due to staff furloughs at the federal public defender’s office that has agreed to represent him, reports the Associated Press.
On Thursday, members of the Federal Bar Association met with members of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill to appeal for adequate funding of federal public defenders’ offices. Read more
In unusual litigation brought by a group of federal judges, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower-court ruling that mandated cost-of-living adjustments for the judges. The Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in October that Congress cannot withhold cost-of-living adjustments that were promised for federal judges (see Gavel Grab). On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that ruling, according to a Reuters article.
When the appeals court handed down its decision, Chief Judge Randall Rader said the judiciary, as the “weakest of the three branches of government, must protect its independence and not place its will within the reach of the political whim.”
Reuters reported that the judges who sued will get some back pay, but the amount was uncertain.
Federal judiciary leaders are planning to send a request to the Office of Management and Budget later this month to ask Congress for more than $51 million in extra funding for 2013 due to the impact of across-the-board budget cuts.
According to the Federal Times, the federal public defender program has lost $51 million already to the budget cuts, known as sequestration. Criminal prosecutions are being delayed without public defenders available to represent clients who can’t afford legal costs, said Chief Judge William Traxler in a statement. He is chairman of the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
The courts are losing almost $350 million under sequestration, the article says. In his statement, Traxler said the cuts were “unsustainable,” and threatened the courts’ “responsibilities under the Constitution,” according to Courthouse News Service. Read more