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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Supreme Court Says Prosecutors Overstepped With Jan. 6 Charge - The New York Times

Supreme Court Says Prosecutors Overstepped With Jan. 6 Charge

"The ruling that the Justice Department misused a 2002 law in charging a pro-Trump rioter who entered the Capitol could have an impact on hundreds of other cases, including one against Donald Trump.

People waving flags and standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The ruling may lead lower courts to dismiss charges against some Jan. 6 defendants, although most of those charged or convicted under the 2002 law also face other charges.Jason Andrew for The New York Times

By Adam Liptak

Adam Liptak has reported on the Supreme Court since 2008.

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that federal prosecutors had improperly used an obstruction law to prosecute some members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The ruling could affect the prosecutions of hundreds of rioters out of the more than 1,400 who have been charged with an array of offenses for taking part in the effort to block certification of the 2020 election results.

It could also have an effect on part of the federal case against former President Donald J. Trump accusing him of plotting to overturn his 2020 loss at the polls. But the precise impact on those cases will not become clear until trial courts review them in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Prosecutors had argued that the law applied to efforts to obstruct an “official proceeding” — the joint session of Congress that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the Electoral College results.

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, read the law narrowly, saying it applied only when the defendant’s actions impaired the integrity of physical evidence.

Lower courts will now apply that strict standard, and it may lead them to dismiss charges against some defendants, although most of those charged or convicted under the obstruction law also face other charges.

The vote was 6 to 3, but it featured unusual alliances. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a liberal, voted with the majority and filed a concurring opinion. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, wrote the dissent.

None of the opinions in the case discussed the charges against Mr. Trump, which rely only in part on the obstruction law.

Justice Jackson said the Jan. 6 attack was an assault on democracy. But that was not, she wrote, the question before the court.

“On Jan. 6, 2021, an angry mob stormed the United States Capitol seeking to prevent Congress from fulfilling its constitutional duty to certify the electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election,” she wrote. “The peaceful transfer of power is a fundamental democratic norm, and those who attempted to disrupt it in this way inflicted a deep wound on this nation.”

“But today’s case is not about the immorality of those acts,” she wrote. “Instead, the question before this court is far narrower: What is the scope of the particular crime Congress has outlined?”

A broad reading of the law, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “would criminalize a broad swath of prosaic conduct, exposing activists and lobbyists alike to decades in prison.”

Most Jan. 6 defendants have not been charged under the obstruction law, which prosecutors have reserved for the most serious cases, and most of those who have been charged under it face other counts as well.

Federal prosecutors have downplayed the significance of the obstruction charge, saying it was an important but not essential part of their overall strategy to prosecute the 1,427 people charged thus far in the attack on the Capitol. Of that number, 350 were charged under the section of the law challenged in the case, according to the Justice Department.

The biggest unknown is the fate of the 52 people who have been convicted exclusively under the law, with no other charge — 27 of whom are currently serving sentences in federal prison.

It is almost certain that those behind bars will immediately petition the court for their release. But investigators in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington have continued to accumulate a vast trove of evidence, much of it in the form of new electronic communications from people who have already stood trial.

That additional evidence might implicate some of the Jan. 6 defendants on other charges, which could lead to new trials, according to law enforcement officials.

The defendant in the case before the justices, Joseph W. Fischer, for instance, faced six other charges.

Justice Jackson stressed that reading the law narrowly did not necessarily mean that Mr. Fischer would prevail.

“It might well be that Fischer’s conduct, as alleged here, involved the impairment (or the attempted impairment) of the availability or integrity of things used during the Jan. 6 proceeding,” she wrote. That question, she wrote, is for lower courts to decide.

The effect of the ruling in Mr. Fischer’s favor on Mr. Trump’s case could also be limited. Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought the federal election interference charges against the former president, has said Mr. Trump’s conduct could be considered a crime under even a narrow reading of the obstruction law. Mr. Smith used the law in connection with Mr. Trump’s effort to create slates of electors pledged to vote for him from states won by President Biden.

A brief passage in the majority opinion may lend support to that view. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that it is possible to violate the obstruction law “by creating false evidence — rather than altering incriminating evidence.”

That statement might well encompass Mr. Trump’s efforts to create slates of fake electors.

In any event, the former president faces two other charges unrelated to the law, part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

In a separate case, the justices appear poised to rule on Monday on whether Mr. Trump is immune from prosecution for actions he took as president. The court’s ruling could render moot questions about whether the 2002 law covers his conduct.

The Supreme Court has said that the purpose of the obstruction law, prompted by accounting fraud and the destruction of documents, was “to safeguard investors in public companies and restore trust in the financial markets following the collapse of Enron Corporation.”

The question for the justices in the case, Fischer v. United States, No. 23-5572, was whether the law could be used to prosecute Mr. Fischer, a former Pennsylvania police officer.

According to the government, Mr. Fischer sent text messages to his boss, the police chief of North Cornwall Township, Pa., about his plans for Jan. 6. “It might get violent,” he said in one. In another, he wrote that “they should storm the capital and drag all the democrates into the street and have a mob trial.”

Prosecutors say that videos showed Mr. Fischer yelling “Charge!” before pushing through the crowd and entering the Capitol around 3:24 p.m. on Jan. 6. He used a vulgar term to berate police officers, prosecutors said, and crashed into a line of them. He was, the government’s brief said, “forcibly removed about four minutes after entering.”

Mr. Fischer’s lawyers, by contrast, stressed that he had attended the rally on the Ellipse but was not part of the initial assault.

“When the crowd breached the Capitol, Mr. Fischer was in Maryland, not Washington, D.C.,” his lawyers wrote in their brief. “He returned after Congress had recessed.”

“His earlier Facebook posts about violence, when read in context, refer to his belief that antifa planned to disrupt the rally,” they continued. He had yelled “Charge!” in “obvious jest,” they added.

In disrupting the certification of Mr. Biden’s electoral victory, prosecutors said, Mr. Fischer had obstructed an official proceeding in violation of the 2002 law, which was principally concerned with the destruction of evidence.

At least part of what the law meant to accomplish was to address a gap in the federal criminal code: It had been a crime to persuade others to destroy records relevant to an investigation or official proceeding but not to do so oneself. The law sought to close that gap through a two-part provision. The first part made it a crime to corruptly alter, destroy or conceal evidence to frustrate official proceedings. The second part, at issue in Mr. Fischer’s case, makes it a crime “otherwise” to corruptly obstruct, influence or impede any official proceeding.

The heart of the case is at the pivot from the first part to the second. The ordinary meaning of “otherwise,” prosecutors said, is “in a different manner.” That means, they said, that the obstruction of official proceedings need not involve the destruction of evidence. The second part, they say, is a broad catchall.

Mr. Fischer’s lawyers countered that the first part must inform and limit the second one — meaning that the obstruction of official proceedings must be linked to the destruction of evidence. They would read “otherwise” as “similarly.”

Justice Jackson largely agreed. “There is no indication whatsoever that Congress intended to create a sweeping, all-purpose obstruction statute,” she wrote.

In dissent, Justice Barrett, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, wrote that “Congress meant what it said.”

Glenn Thrush contributed reporting."

Supreme Court Says Prosecutors Overstepped With Jan. 6 Charge - The New York Times

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