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November 12, 2007

Comments

I certainly cannot speak for other jurisdictions and the opinion of DOJ Main, but in Arizona, what Paul Charlton tried to institute in the way of taping confessions and interviews in tribal cases not only made good sense, it was in keeping with the policy of law enforcement in Arizona. The policy emanated out of the case I described here. As a result of a consent decree entered in Federal District Court, the County Sheriffs, and all other agencies agreed later on, agreed to make at least audio recordings, if not video as well, of all key confessions and interviews conducted in custody. It became the practice statewide to do so for all substantive interviews and confessions in criminal cases. while the Federal authorities were not specifically bound by the consent decree, it did become the preferred practice even with them. So, Charlton did not do this on a lark, it was an established practice widely known in Arizona emanating out of one of the biggest false confession cases in history.

Got Repub relatives in Scottsdale that think Paul Charlton is/was the best thing that ever happened to AZ Fed Justice. DOJ was/is so corrupted by the WH, I guess they couldn't allow him to operate in that manner.
Not politically useful. Charlton was a burr under the horse blanket...

Hell's Bells & then some.

Marie Roget - as you undoubtedly know, I am pretty much a fire breathing progressive, and even I thought Charlton was one of the best USAs we have ever had here (including our current Democratic governor Napolitano, who was USA-AZ for a period). I cannot think of a guy LESS deserving of the treatment he received at the hands of the Bushies.

As someone who has worked on Native American issues for more than 20 years, I can tell you the problem is far bigger than this. First off, under the Major Crimes Act of 1885 (18 U.S.C. § 1153), all major felonies committed on reservations are under direct federal, not tribal jurisdiction. Subsequent federal legislation has limited tribal courts to sentences not exceeding one year and/or a $5,000 fine. The failure is not with poorly trained tribal law enforcement (though that certainly exists), but with the near total absence of effective federal law enforcement on the reservations. FBI offices in Indian country are notoriously understaffed and generally serve as punishment details (Flagstaff and Aberdeen are the FBI equivalents to Siberia). The BIA police, the second federal police agency with jurisdiction in some areas, is also notoriously underfunded, understaffed, and undertrained. The same is true for USAs and federal courts. Further, the federal government has a legal obligation (under treaty, statutory, and case law) to train and support tribal police, which they rarely do. The reality is that the federal government, not the tribes, has primary responsibility for law enforcement on the reservations (which they imposed on themselves over the objections of the tribes), but as in the Cobell case, have egregiously abrogated their self-appointed trust responsibilities. Full details can be found here: http://www.tribal-institute.org/lists/jurisdiction.htm

Yes indeed, know your posts well, bmaz. Paul Charlton, excellent in all aspects of his job as AZ USA by any accounting, was told to leave in the same Rove-instigated purge that dumped Chiara, Iglesias, McKay, Lamb (lived in her district for several yrs.), Bogden, etc.

Will Mukasey be allowed to make any real effort in investigating the firing of these USAs? I'm thinking...no. He'll be made to mind his Addington p&qs that one. Sheldon Whitehouse underscored that for us all in the SJC hearing...

DrDick

THanks for your comment--it's very informative.

I pulled out that one quote because the taping of interviews was one of the trumped up reasons to explain away the Charlton firing, not to underplay the fault of the US DOJ in this problem.

That said, I hope folks read the whole article, which puts a heartbreaking face on the problem.

Yep, I can confirm that Dr. Dick is spot on with his report of the way things are handled vis a vis law enforcement and prosecutions on the reservations. From what I have seen and heard, most, not all, but most of the tribal courts do a decent job on their jurisdiction, which is effectively misdemeanor jurisdiction similar to a municipal or justice court in Arizona. The tribal courts have a little more responsibility than pure misdemeanor jurisdiction, but not much. As to what would be considered felony crimes under state law, the Feds drop the ball on most cases. There was an old, and quite lamentable joke (and a not very funny one I might add), to the extent of "When is a rape not a rape? Answer: when its on a reservation." Sad, but very true, most rapes of Indian females were neither really investigated nor prosecuted. About the only felony level crimes that draw much zeal are homicides and fraud cases that politicians think can be used to further screw the tribes.

The brazen banners of injustice still fly high
Still stirring the consciences of those moral warriors whose hearts have not been killed

The Trail of Tears has not ended

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_tears

When you're at the low end of the totem pole, you are lucky if they even let you lick the empty bowl.

Totem pole - yes, I deliberately used this Native American cultural reference since the people who invented it are uniquely qualified to document the trail of tears that our European-descended ancestors and our Federal overseers have rendered upon this long-suffering, indomitable people.

They have endured so much, and their will to survive prevails.

So Gonzo showed up in Michigan throwing around a couple million for crimes against women just a couple weeks before he resigned -- was he trying to buy some quiet for a general reason, or a specific reason? Still curious about this one...

this bit was interesting:

...Mr. Heffelfinger said he believed he was on the list because of concerns at the Justice Department that he was spending too much time on law enforcement issues involving American Indians, who have a sizable population in Minnesota, and not because of any political differences with Washington.

But this I actually found more fascinating:

But in an interview, Mr. Heffelfinger did say he was concerned that the office now seemed to be focused on “large-volume, rapid-turnover cases,” like gun crimes, which are typically handled by state and local prosecutors, and that there were fewer prosecutions of white-collar crime and other “low-volume, high-time-commitment cases.”

“You have to do both,” he added.

Hmm. Sure wonder what kind of white-collar cases weren't being prosecuted...and at the expense of Native Americans at the same time, too. Bonus.

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