Before today's anticipated announcement by the Justice Department, more details are already leaking out about who they're after: “two Russian spies, and two criminal hackers.”
President Obama commuted whistleblower Chelsea Manning's remaining prison sentence. She will go free on May 17 of this year as opposed to 2045, the duration of her full sentence. From the New York Times:
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The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.
In recent days, the White House had signaled that Mr. Obama was seriously considering granting Ms. Manning’s commutation application, in contrast to a pardon application submitted on behalf of the other large-scale leaker of the era, Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who disclosed archives of top secret surveillance files and is living as a fugitive in Russia.
Asked about the two clemency applications on Friday, the White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, discussed the “pretty stark difference” between Ms. Manning’s case for mercy with Mr. Snowden’s. While their offenses were similar, he said, there were “some important differences.”
“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”
A Maryland judge today granted a retrial to Adnan Syed, whose conviction for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend was the subject of the first season of the popular podcast “Serial.”
Syed’s lawyer C. Justin Brown announced the news Thursday afternoon via Twitter, and confirmed to reporters later that the motion for a new trial was granted by Judge Martin Welch.
Freedom of the Press Foundation recently filed a huge brief in the organization's case demanding that the Justice Department release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters. And in related news, a coalition of 37 news organizations - including the New York Times, The Associated Press, USA Today, Buzzfeed, and tons more - filed an amicus brief in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation case, demanding that the Department of Justice do the same.
Former Stanford University athlete Brock Allen Turner, 20, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Prosecutors wanted him put away for 6 years, but the judge, Aaron Persky, gave him 6 months to avoid being unnecessarily harsh on the boy. He'll be out in a few weeks.
After a jury convicted Turner of sexually penetrating an intoxicated and unconscious person with a foreign object, prosecutors asked a judge to sentence him to six years in California prison. Probation officials had recommended the significantly lighter penalty of six months in county jail, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The judge, Aaron Perksy, cited Turner’s age and lack of criminal history as factors in his decision, saying, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”
This was described as a "brazen" attack: he was physically forced off of his victim, then chased down and detained by passers-by until police arrived. Yet this column, by Scott Herhold, was the sort of coverage he enjoyed in the press:
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Turner was rightfully convicted. I wrote a column earlier this year praising the two Stanford students, both from Sweden, who interrupted the assault and chased the drunken athlete down.
But probation officials, who see hundreds of less remorseful defendants, had it right. Turner should be given six months in county jail. He is not, as the prosecution has it, "a continued threat to the community." Why do I say that? The probation people cite his lack of a criminal record and what they see as genuine remorse.
On Wednesday, former Reuters.com social media editor Matthew Keys received a two year prison sentence for computer hacking. That's a sentence of 24 months, for a website defacement that lasted only 40 minutes, which Keys himself didn't even execute.
Earlier today in an unrelated high-profile case, the "affluenza teen" who actually murdered people also got two years in jail.
Today, President Obama met with Americans who have received commutations on prison sentences during his presidency, and under previous administrations. Today, Obama commuted the sentences of 61 more people who were convicted of federal drug and firearm crimes. More than than a third of them were serving life in prison.
New York City's Robin Hood Labs at Blue Ridge Laboratories have opening for paid fellowships to develop apps and technologies to give low-income people legal assistance in civil proceedings, like evictions, debt collection, and immigration procedures. Read the rest
Apple said no to the government, and the government is pissed.
Last year, Pittsburgh Police officer Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was captured on camera beating up a 19-year-old outside Heinz Field. After lying about the circumstances, he was charged with assault—only to find the charges dismissed last week by a judge.
When video of the attack found its way to the media, however, the story changed: police chief Cameron McLay has now suspended Matakovich and says he will fire him, while prosecutors are planning to refile charges against the officer.
WPXI 11 reports that it'll be hard to make it stick: Matakovich can appeal the decision to city executives who can overrule McLay, then take it to an arbitration panel, where he can select one of the three people tasked with the final decision.
Deja vu: in 2003, Matakovich was recorded threatening to assault a superior officer, but was let off the hook over his own supervisor's objections. Read the rest