Archive for the ‘U.S. District Court’ Category

Monica Conyers Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison

March 11, 2010

Well, yesterday the city of Detroit finally received some well-deserved justice.  Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers (wife of the Congressman John Conyers), was sentenced to serve 37 months in a federal prison after she plead guilty to accepting bribes.

Her plea was for taking bribes to support a contract with Synagro, a sludge processing company; however, the trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, also exposed a series of other payoffs.  Because of that,  U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn was going to increase Conyers’ sentence.  He had originally planned on 3 years, then wanted to move up to 4-5 years, but Conyers protested and claimed she was a victim of an overzealous media out to get her.  She wanted to take back her guilty plea, but the judge wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, he backed down on the sentencing and went back to 3 years (37 months).

Here is a video, courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

And when reporters went to talk to Conyers, again courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

Conyers absolutely deserved this (in fact, she probably deserved the full 5 years).  She plead guilty to the charge, and then when she saw that she as going to get a REAL punishment, she tried to back out of it.  If she wasn’t guilty, she never should have plead guilty the first time.  Detroit deserved some justice yesterday, and I am happy to see Monica Conyers going to jail.  Her crooked ways and the ways of those like her (Kwame Kilpatrick, for one) are purely disgusting, and not what Detroit needs.  Hopefully, this, along with the sentencing of Kwame Kilpatrick, mark the road to recovery for Detroit politics and an end to corruption in Detroit.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Federal Judge Orders Ohio Secretary of State to Purge Voter Rolls

October 10, 2008

Today, U.S. District Judge George C. Smith ruled in a suit filed by the Ohio Republican Party filed in September.  He ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (Dem) must adhere to the Help America Vote Act by matching newly registered voters’ information against the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and/or Social Security Administration databases.  She must alo tell the Board of Elections which voters’s registration info doesn’t match the databases.  Brunner was also ordered to establish a process by which county election boards could do the sameSmith wrote in his ruling (unfortunately I can’t get the whole thing), “Plaintiffs assert, and the court agrees, that it is hard to imagine a public interest more compelling than safeguarding the legitimacy of the election of the president of the United States.”

Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine told reporters, “For some reason, Jennifer Brunner does not want these new registrations checked.  Her refusal to comply with federal law raises serious concerns about her ability to objectively oversee this election.”

Meanwhile, Brunner is appealing the ruling (the appeal was filed by Ohio Attorney General Nancy Rogers (Dem) on Brunner’s behalf), saying that this ruling will inhibit voters from casting absentee ballots at the Board of Elections, since parties could get lists of voters who don’t match up with the databases and challenge the validity of those votes.  Brunner told reporters, “My office will do everything within its power to ensure that the state’s 88 county boards of elections can continue to allow early voting to proceed and to assist them with their preparation to ensure a smooth election for the voters of Ohio.”

With all of the stuff that’s going on with ACORN, I say that this is a great ruling.  I want everybody to be able to vote, but people should only be voting once (that’s not what the NAACP will say about voters in Detroit – they want all African Americans to be able to vote, even the dead ones!).  There’s no reason that this should keep any LEGAL voters from voting.  It’s a good ruling, and I hope it’s upheld by the next court.  Unfortunately, the deadline to challenge absentee ballots is coming up soon, so there fraudulent votes may make it through, and that’s a shame.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Federal Judge Rules Bush’s Aides (Like Karl Rove) Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

So, as I said, before, a case looking into executive privilege in regards to subpoenas from Congress was in a federal court, and the federal judge, U.S. District Judge John Bates (a Bush-nominated Judge), ruled that Bush’s aides are NOT exempt from Congressional subpoenas.

The full Memorandum Opinion can be read here (it’s 93 pages long, otherwise I’d stick the whole quote in here).  Since it’s so long, I’ll give two key quotes that pretty much summarize the opinion:

  • “Harriet Miers [and Josh Bolten] is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena.”
  • Regarding the lack of case law for White House aides being immune from Congressional subpoena: “That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law.”

And that’s really the problem here.  Executive orders have been used since  1789, and that gives the Executive Branch some limited power to influence and shape laws without actually making new laws.  The Supreme Court RARELY overturns these, and although Bush didn’t issue an executive order here, the same principle applies.  The difference is that Bush has VASTLY overstepped the bounds of the executive branch, and is now completely reshaping things and taking us into unknown territory.

I agree with Bates’s opinion, and have previously said (here and here) that Rove should testify to Congress (although Rove isn’t mentioned in this case, his predicament came after Miers’s and Bolten’s, but he’s essentially in the same place as Bolten and Miers, so this will apply to him as well).

Now, let’s get to the reactions:

  • “We disagree with the district court’s decision.”  White House press secretary Dana  Perino
  • “I have not yet talked with anyone at the White House … and don’t expect that this matter will be finally resolved in the very near future.”  Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s attorney
  • “It certainly strengthens our hand.  This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress.”  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • “We look forward to the White House complying withthis ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims.  We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”  Representative John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • “I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances.”  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • “I’m sure it will be appealed and it will go on into next year, and it will become a moot issue.”  House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), in regards to the fact that the subpoena will expire at the end of the 110thCongress in January.  Several Democrats have siad that they expect that the subpoenas will be reissued if and when they keep the Congress in this upcoming election.
  • “Unfortunately, today’s victory may be short-lived.  If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.” Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Republican in the House Judiciary Committee.

I could not agree MORE with Lamar Smith (and the fact that a major Republican is siding with the Democrats and the Judge shows that Bush is in the wrong).  Smith, unlike some Republicans is not making this a partisan issue, but wants to keep the power that has been given to Congress in Congress’s hands (and thus, partly in his hands).  These cases simply don’t happen – Congress and the White House normally simply compromise.  The fact that this was taken to court means that there is now a LEGAL precedent set.  But before those who are happy with this precedent start celebrating, we must remember that precedents and rulings can be overturned by higher courts.  If a higher Court, and ultimately the Supreme Court rules to overturn this ruling, Congress will be hating themselves for not simply COMPROMISING with Bush.  Congress will lose a power that they’ve taken for granted, possibly forever.

I DO hope that the Bush administration doesn’t appeal this, but I think that they will.  I hope Congress prevails.  The executive branch has overstepped it’s power, and needs to be stopped.  Miers, Bolten, and Rove should ALL testify.  And the Bush administration needs to remember that if this ruling gets overturned, this precedent will remain in effect when the Republicans control the Congress and are trying to subpoena Democratic aides.

I have faith in the system, and I really don’t see how Bush can win any case here, but weirder things HAVE happened.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Bipartisan Lawyers Agree: McCain is a Natural Born Citizen

March 28, 2008

The debate began when a complaint was filed on March 6th to the U.S. District Court in Riverside, CA, by Riverside lawyer Andrew Aames, a registered Republican who was formerly a Democrat.  He claimed that a judge needed to step in and decide whether or not John McCain is a “natural born” citizen, because if he is not, he cannot serve as President under the Constitution.  The problem is that the Constitution never defined a natural born citizen.

McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone (a U.S. territory when McCain was born [August 29th, 1936]) while his father was stationed there in the Navy.  His mother was also an American citizen.

The 2 lawyers, former Solicitor General Ted Olson (R-McCain) and Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Trive (D-Obama), issued a statement saying, “Based on the original meaning of the Constitution, the Framers’ intentions, and subsequent legal and historical precedent, Senator McCain’s birth to parents who were U.S. citizens, serving on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, makes him a ‘natural born citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution.”

Presumably, the judge will still have to reach a decision, but I think McCain is just fine in running.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO-Obama) has introduced a bill that would define a “natural born citizen” as “anyone born to any U.S. citizen while serving in the active or reserve components of the U.S. armed forces” (Newsmax).  Obama has joined in sponsoring the bill.

Again, I think that McCain is perfectly fine and has nothing to worry about.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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