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Monday :: January 26, 2015

Monday Open Thread

Busy work day. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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How to Get a Gold Star From the DEA

The infamous Flores twins of Chicago will finally be sentenced Tuesday. Some background on twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, is in this Chicago Reader article. The Government filed its sentencing memorandum a few weeks ago, which I have uploaded here. Their sentencing guidelines (level 47, Category I) call for a sentence of life in prison (there is no parole in the federal system and good time doesn't apply to a life sentence.)

Due to the Flores Twins' “extraordinary cooperation”, which the Government maintains resulted in more than 50 people being charged (list here), most of whom are their workers and customers, the Government is asking for a sentence at the low end of a reduced range of 10 to 16 years. The Government writes:

Absent their cooperation, the government would argue life imprisonment is the appropriate sentence for these defendants. However, they are not being sentenced absent cooperation.

How big were the Flores twins? [More....]

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"El Chapo" Guzman: U.S. Makes New Push for Extradition

Mexico's Attorney General last week said he believed the U.S. was hours away from filing a new extradition request for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. His lawyers immediately filed a new request a writ of Amparo seeking protection from extradition.

It's all very confusing, since the news and the court filings are in Spanish and Google translate does not do a good job of translating legal terms. I'm reprinting the summary of the court's order below from the court's website, and hoping someone can respond in comments as to whether I'm reporting this correctly. [More...]

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Friday :: January 23, 2015

Colo. Wannabe Terror Teen Sentenced to Four Years

Shannon Conley, a 19 year old from Arvada, CO was sentenced to four years in federal prison today.

She actually caught a big break. Had she not agreed to cooperate and plead guilty, for which the feds agreed to let her plead to the catch-all conspiracy charge under 18 USC Section 371, which carries a five year maximum sentence, she would have been facing a lot more time. Her sentencing guidelines, according to her plea agreement, were 25 to 30 years.

What did she do? From her plea agreement (in which she admits the following): She met a guy online named Yousr Mouelhi who said he was with ISIS. They agreed on the need for violent jihad. They decided to get married and made plans for her to travel to Turkey. But first, to improve her jihadist skills, she enrolled in in the volunteer US Army Explorers (USAE)program and received training in military tactics and firearms.[More...]

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Friday Open Thread

Joseph Sledge of North Carolina has been released from prison after serving 37 years for murder. DNA proved he didn't do it, according to the three judge panel that heard the evidence.

Sledge is the eighth person exonerated after the state set up the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only state-run investigative agency of its kind.

The ISIS deadline for the Japanese hostages has passed. There is no statement yet from ISIS, but one is expected.

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a challenge to lethal injection drugs filed by Oklahoma death row inmates. One of them has already been executed.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tsarnaev Trial Start Delayed, New Battle Over Venue

Dzhokhar Tsarnav's defense team filed a third motion to change venue yesterday. They provided a lot of statistics and quotes from the voir dire process so far to show Tsarnaev cannot get a fair trial in Boston.

In the filing Thursday, the lawyers said questionnaires filled out by 1,373 prospective jurors from Eastern Massachusetts show that 85 percent of them either believe Tsarnaev is guilty, have some self-identified connection to the case, or both.

“There is now no doubt that these emotions are deep, that they linger, and they are peculiar to and permeate the entire Eastern Division,” of Massachusetts, the lawyers argued, adding that 68 percent of the jury pool believes Tsarnaev is guilty “before hearing a single witness or examining a shred of evidence at trial.”

[More...]

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Thursday :: January 22, 2015

Jane Doe #3 Strikes Back at Dershowitz

Virginia Roberts, aka Jane Doe #3 and Jane Doe #102, has filed an Affidavit in support of her allegations that she had sex with Alan Dershowitz while she was under the age of 18. The article contains a link to the Affidavit. [More...]

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Thursday Open Thread

So you can discuss the appropriate punishment for the Patriots and/or Sheldon Silver.

Open Thread.

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2016: Hillary Leads Potential GOP Opponents by Double Digits

The latest (PDF) in a string of polls showing Hillary Clinton would defeat all GOP challengers in 2016:

The national survey finds 53 to 56 percent support for Clinton among registered voters against each of these potential Republican candidates, while they get 39 to 41 percent.

One of the most interesting findings is Clinton's performance among white voters:

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Wednesday :: January 21, 2015

Wednesday Open Thread

It's a jail day for me, which means an open thread for you.

Anyone see the start of the new season of Justified? Looks like this season will be the final showdown between Raylan and Boyd.

I wonder if Japan will pay ISIS its ransom. I'm thinking it will not. India is hosting President Obama next week, and Britain just told India it's received intel ISIS may be planning an attack there soon.

Again, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: January 20, 2015

State of the Union

How is Obama doing? I'm just tuning in to the State of the Union. (Added: the full text of his speech is here.)

Update: Obama seems re-energized, confident and relaxed. Other points:

Lots of red states, blue states, United States stuff.

Criminal Justice: The crime rate and numbers of prisoners has declined at the same time. We need to keep reforming our criminal justice system. He uses the example of a father whose son is harassed by police, and a woman waiting for her police officer to come home after his shift. It seemed like there was louder applause for the police officer's wife.

It's time to close Gitmo." (He actually says Gitmo rather than Guantanamo.)[More...]

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Shami Witness: Police Identify Potentially Criminal Tweet

The Indian press reports today on the evidence that will be used against Shami Witness. A key piece will be a tweet by Shami in response to repeated requests by a would-be militant recruit using the handle @TalabAlHaqq for information on how to make the crossing from Turkey to Syria. He had been waiting for months in Turkey. [More....]

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"Jihadi John" Threatens Japan

The black clad executioner known only as "Jihadi John" is back. Today ISIS released a video with a Message to Japan. The video is in English. Jihadi John says as a result of Japan pledging $200 million in non-military aid to assist in the fight against ISIS, it is demanding a ransom of $200 million, one for each of the two Japanese hostages.

One of the hostages, Haruna Yukawa, was shown being interrogated in a video last August. The second, Kenji Goto, is a journalist.

At the end of the video, Jihadi John addresses the Japanese people. He tells them they have 72 hours to convince their government to pay. "Otherwise, this knife will become your nightmare." [More...]

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The Fine Print in AG Holder's Forfeiture Directive

I was among those touting Attorney General Eric Holder's press release last week which appeared to be a sea change in federal civil asset forfeiture policy. Next time I'll wait to see the fine print before endorsing a prosecutorial "reform", rather than rely on a press release.

A signed copy of the actual directive to U.S. Attorneys is now available here. It has some major ambiguities and exceptions that weren't apparent in the press release. [More...]

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Monday :: January 19, 2015

The Not-So-New Sinaloa Indictments

Amidst much fanfare and back-patting at a press conference last week, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego Friday announced recently unsealed drug and money laundering indictments of various leaders and members of the Sinaloa cartel. The Government's press release is here, and the list of charged defendants is here.

"Recently unsealed" does not mean "new." [More...]

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