Ashcroft has first dibs on anyone who gets fired
Name, rank, and serial number is only for the military, bunky. You civilian guys better spill the beans:
A federal judge in Manhattan criticized police officials yesterday for the way demonstrators against the war in Iraq were interrogated earlier this year, and he made clear that civil liberties lawyers could seek to hold the city in contempt of court in the future if the police violate people’s rights.
The judge, Charles S. Haight Jr. of Federal District Court, who recently eased court-ordered rules on police surveillance of political groups, made his comments after hearing evidence that the police had asked the protesters their views on the war, whether they hated President Bush, if they had traveled to Africa or the Middle East, and what might be different if Al Gore were president.
“These recent events reveal an N.Y.P.D. in some need of discipline,” Judge Haight wrote, citing what he called a “display of operational ignorance on the part of the N.Y.P.D.’s highest officials.”
Well, first thing, if Al Gore was President we wouldn’t be having these anti-war rallies. But that should be pretty obvious.
In other news…Big John is watching:
The Justice Department told a federal court administrator today that it would begin compiling data on judges who give lighter sentences than federal guidelines prescribe, a move that critics see as an effort to limit judicial independence by creating a “blacklist” of judges.
The new policy will require prosecutors to notify Justice Department officials in Washington whenever a federal judge issues a sentence that falls below sentencing guidelines. The notification will set in motion a review of whether an appeal of the judge’s sentence should be filed.
“The public in general and crime victims in particular rightly expect that the penalties established by law for specific crimes will be sought and imposed by those who serve in the criminal justice system,” Attorney General John Ashcroft wrote in a July 28 memorandum to federal prosecutors outlining the protocol.
John S. Martin, a federal district judge in Manhattan who announced in June that he would retire in part because he saw the judiciary’s independence as threatened, said the Justice Department policy was “based on the erroneous premise that a lot of judges around the county are just going off the reservation.”
He added: “The problem is that a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington looking at the statistics won’t know the facts of these cases. They’re taking a very mechanistic approach to the whole process.”
…and people wonder why the folks in Missouri prefered a dead man to Ashcroft. Years from now people will look back on the Ashcroft era and wonder why all of America was in a coma.