When laughing during a congressional hearing is a crime – but a police shooting is not

4 May 2017 – Last month U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.

As we noted in a post, one of our DOJ sources said the release of the memo was specifically timed a few days before DOJ civil rights lawyers asked a federal judge to postpone until at least the end of June a hearing on a sweeping police reform agreement, known as a consent decree, with the Baltimore police department that was announced just days before Donald Trump took office.

The Baltimore agreement, put in place after the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray after an injury in police custody, calls for changes including training officers on how to resolve conflicts without force. Since 2009, the Justice Department opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies and has been enforcing 14 consent decrees, along with some other agreements. Civil rights advocates fear that Sessions’s memo will particularly imperil the status of agreements that have yet to be finalized, such as a pending agreement with the Chicago Police Department.

There are no surprises here. When he was a Senator, Sessions often criticized the effectiveness of consent decrees and had vowed … even in his most recent speeches … that “we must more strongly support law enforcement”. His knee-jerk, Pavlovian support of law enforcement, whether it’s right or wrong, speaks volumes.



Another DOJ source tells us that the DOJ is already moving staff off the 25 police department investigations noted above. Trump’s March budget proposal would cut more than $1 billion from the department’s resources. Funding for the department’s Civil Rights Division – which handles police reform work – is not addressed explicitly in the budget outline, but a blueprint drafted by the Heritage Foundation, from which many parts of Trump’s budget have been lifted, would cut $58 million from the Civil Rights Division, or 33 percent of its current budget.

So bottom line: the Department of Justice is walking away from its obligation to ensure that law enforcement across the country is following the Constitution. A Constitution that has been continually shredded these past years. Run down to the National Archives when you get a chance and take pics while it is still on display.
And to really drive the boot in? Announce the criminal conviction against Desiree Fairooz for laughing during the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Session the same day you announce you don’t have enough evidence to bring charges against the Louisiana police officers involved in the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
The Sterling shooting.  Yes, maybe a difficult case. But a “laugher” faces jail. On the other, the death of a black man who was pinned to the ground and shot by police officers outside a convenience store – and recorded by onlookers, the store’s surveillance system and police body cameras – gets nothing.
As American “justice” continues to slide off a cliff into oblivion, here is some well needed perspective from Jenna Greene of The Litigation Daily:

click here



About the Author Gregory P. Bufithis, Esq.

Gregory P. Bufithis is the Founder & Chairman of The Posse List. He has over 25 years of experience in intellectual property law and digital media in the U.S. and Europe.

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