Posts by Holly Bailey
Holly Bailey at Yahoo News 5 days ago
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is asking a federal judge to clamp down on “self-appointed supporters” protesting on his behalf outside a Boston courthouse, arguing that their “inflammatory accusations” could hurt his right to a fair trial.
In a court filing Monday, Tsarnaev’s defense team sought to distance themselves from the demonstrators, arguing they could have a “deleterious and prejudicial impact” on his trial, which is set to begin Jan. 5. The supporters, his attorneys wrote, “advocate various conspiracy theories concerning the marathon bombing, including that the resulting deaths and injuries have somehow been faked as part of a government plot.”
Tsarnaev’s lawyers asked federal Judge George O’Toole, who is overseeing the case, to direct the U.S. Marshals Service to move the demonstrators away from the courthouse, because their presence implies that Tsarnaev agrees with them.
“The defendant and his attorneys are powerless to protect the fairness of his trial from the destructive activities of these demonstrators, ” the accused bomber's attorneys wrote.
Holly Bailey at Yahoo News 9 days ago
He wore baggy gray khakis and a black zip-up sweater, with a white button-down shirt that peeked out from underneath — an outfit that seemed to overwhelm his slight frame. He rubbed his beard and the left side of his face, and his left eye appeared to be a little droopy.
There was little in his appearance that seemed out of the ordinary. Yet with every slight move he made, people behind him sat up straight in their seats and stared at him — some tilting their heads to get a better look. Even when the action shifted to the other side of the room, they kept their eyes locked on him.
The scene that unfolded in a federal courtroom in Boston was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s first public appearance in 17 months. The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings said only five words in the final hearing before his trial begins in January, on charges that he, along with his older brother, set off two deadly bombs near the marathon finish line in April 2013.
Tsarnaev occasionally offered brief hints of a smile to his team of defense attorneys, but not once did he look at the spectators behind him, perhaps aware of the microscope he was under.
Holly Bailey at Yahoo News 13 days ago
He spends most of his days in "nearly total isolation," according to his attorneys, locked behind a heavy steel door in a tiny cell in the most restricted wing at Fort Devens medical prison 40 miles outside Boston.
His only visitors have been members of his legal team and his two older sisters — though the sisters have come to see him only a handful of times and always under the observation of an FBI agent. He has not been allowed to mingle with or talk to any other inmates — either verbally or through notes. His only other regular contact has been with prison personnel, who slide meals through a slot within a thick glass observation window in a corner of his cell door.
The closest Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has come to experiencing the world beyond his cell in more than 500 days has been through "very limited access to a small outdoor enclosure," according to court records. And that's only "on weekdays, weather permitting." But that will soon change.
Holly Bailey at Yahoo News 26 days ago
Vanita Gupta was only weeks out of law school in 2001 when she began looking into a strange series of drug busts in a tiny West Texas ranch town named Tulia.
In 1999, a third of the town’s black population had been ensnared in the biggest drug bust the Texas Panhandle had ever seen. Forty-six people, almost all of them poor African-Americans who had prior run-ins with the law, were convicted on charges of cocaine dealing and sentenced to years in prison based solely on the testimony of a former rodeo clown turned undercover cop who had little experience investigating narcotics.
Gupta, then 26, had just joined the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, and she began assembling a team of attorneys and civil rights groups to look into the drug arrests, which didn’t smell right to her. It was her first case as an attorney. Two years later, a Texas judge overturned many of the convictions, calling the cop’s testimony not credible. After the officer was found guilty of perjury, Gov. Rick Perry pardoned most of the defendants whose convictions had not been previously overturned.
“Civil rights work is what gets me up in the morning and makes me feel like I can live a meaningful life,” she said.
In the wake of Monday's grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., the investigation of the volatile case is far from over.
Under the lead of Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department is still pursuing two investigations related to the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
"While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department's investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing," Holder said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors are still looking into whether the officer, Darren Wilson, should face civil rights charges in the controversial case. At the same time, the Justice Department is continuing a broader inquiry into the widely criticized policing practices of the police department in Ferguson, a mostly black suburb of St. Louis that has had tensions for years with police and community officials who are mostly white.
According to Holder, the Justice Department "continues to investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department."
It was the day before New Year’s Eve two years ago, and Mitch McConnell was suddenly in search of, as he put it, someone to dance with.
Talks had collapsed between McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, and his Democratic colleagues over a deal to ward off major tax increases and automatic spending cuts that threatened to send the nation’s economy off what officials apocalyptically described as a “fiscal cliff.” With the clock ticking, the staid Kentuckian and consummate behind-the-scenes legislator known for rarely showing his cards in public went to the Senate floor and made an unusually vivid appeal. “I am willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner,” McConnell declared.
A few hours later, he found one in Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat with whom he’d sparred for nearly three decades. They were fierce political rivals who were polar opposites on every front, save one: Biden, like McConnell, was a creature of the Senate. He’d represented Delaware for nearly 36 years before relocating down Pennsylvania Avenue as Barack Obama’s No. 2, and, like his GOP colleague, he appreciated the fine art of dealmaking.
On Election Day 2010, Sam Brownback, a two-term, hard-line conservative U.S. senator and a 2008 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, won the governorship in a landslide. It was part of a historic GOP sweep in the state in which Democrats lost every statewide office, every race for Congress and more than a dozen seats in the state Legislature. Out of the 125 state House districts, Democrats went from 49 seats to just 33, a historic low.
Around the state, Democrats were stunned and demoralized. While Kansas was considered among the reddest of red states, a place where the GOP had long ago claimed a clear advantage in voter registration, many elected Democrats had survived the political shift because of crossover support from moderate Republicans who voted their gut instead of the party line. With that support seemingly gone, many people wrote off the Democratic Party for dead.
The 2008 campaign of Barack Obama famously rode Big Data all the way to the White House. But Wagnon didn't become a convert till a few years later, when she stumbled on a book about the science of targeting and turning out voters.
Federal prosecutors have identified a witness prepared to testify that Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew his older brother and alleged accomplice Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in a 2011 triple murder outside Boston.
The disclosure was made by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team in a federal court filinglate Friday, as part of a larger push by his attorneys to gain access to “discovery” evidence compiled by the federal government in its case against Tsarnaev for the April 2013 bombings that killed three and injured several hundred near the marathon’s finish line.
The Sept. 11, 2011, murders — which occurred in Waltham, Mass., a suburb of Boston — remain officially unsolved. But the murders, which were initially written off by local police as a drug deal gone bad, have become a plot point in the Boston bombings case amid evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was involved. This is the first time there’s been a suggestion that his younger brother might have been aware of his alleged participation in the murders — which some have said, if solved, might have prevented the marathon attacks.
Just after 4 p.m. on Sept. 25, Colleen Hufford, a 54-year-old grandmother and worker at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Okla., was standing in the doorway of the front office in the food processing facility's main building when Alton Nolen, a co-worker who had just been suspended over an argument with another colleague, violently grabbed her from behind.
As horrified employees watched, Nolen, a 30-year-old production line worker with a criminal history, savagely sawed at Hufford's throat with a large kitchen knife he had gone home to retrieve, severing her head.
Nolen then went after Traci Johnson, a 43-year-old co-worker, viciously slashing her face and her throat in an attempt to decapitate her, too. But his bloody rampage came to an abrupt end when he was shot and wounded by the company's top executive, who also happens to be a reserve deputy sheriff. Johnson, while severely wounded, survived.
But as residents of Moore grapple with the shock of what happened in their town, the gruesome nature of the crime has also sparked a politically charged question: Was it an act of Islamist terrorism or an extreme case of workplace violence?
On Aug. 25, a New York City woman caught up in a messy child custody battle with her ex-boyfriend got into a fight on the phone with her former flame’s new girlfriend. According to the police, heated words were exchanged, and the girlfriend, who also has a child with the man, was subsequently arrested and charged with harassment after she allegedly threatened the other woman’s life.
It was an altercation that likely would have been buried in the reams of other ugly domestic disputes in New York. Except the accused was Ailina Tsarnaeva, the 24-year-old sister of alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And, according to police, she allegedly threatened the other woman by telling her, “I have people. I know people that can put a bomb where you live.”
Tsarnaeva appeared in New York Criminal Court on Tuesday. She entered a not guilty plea to two charges of aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor, for allegedly threatening her boyfriend’s 23-year-old former girlfriend, who has not been named in the dispute. (Tsarnaeva's friends have said the man is her husband, but police have referred to him as her boyfriend.)