DOJ Racks Up 90% Failure Rate In Inauguration Protest Prosecutions, Dismisses Final Defendants

from the win-some,-lose-a-whole-lot-more dept

The DOJ, after flailing wildly for most of the last 18 months, has dismissed the remaining defendants in its disastrous inauguration day protest prosecutions.

The US attorney's office in Washington, DC, announced Friday that it is dismissing charges against the remaining defendants charged in connection with anti-Trump demonstrations on Inauguration Day.

Police arrested 234 people on Jan. 20, 2017. Twenty-one people pleaded guilty. The final dismissal notice on Friday came after several trials in which prosecutors were unable to secure any convictions — defendants were either acquitted or jurors failed to reach a verdict.

The government still managed to land 21 convictions, even though its statement suggests it feels this isn't nearly enough, what with "$100,000 in damage to public and private property" occurring during the protests. It certainly isn't much considering the DOJ's original (human) dragnet held more than 200 arrestees.

But that wasn't the only dragnet the DOJ deployed. On its way to dismissing charges against 90% of the defendants, the DOJ also:

This is how it ends for the DOJ, which has largely lost its bids to install a chilling effect via over-broad "rioting" prosecutions. While it's true property was damaged during the protests, rounding up a couple hundred protesters is the opposite of targeted prosecution. If the DOJ hadn't been shutdown in its attempt to amass personal information on more than a million website visitors and Facebook members, the number of defendants would have been even bigger. The eventual dismissals would also have skyrocketed, so the government probably should be happy it walked away with anything at all.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 1:40am

    Sure about that?

    This is how it ends for the DOJ, which has largely lost its bids to install a chilling effect via over-broad "rioting" prosecutions.

    Whether they won or, as is the case, fell flat on their faces matters less for instilling a chilling effect than the fact that they were willing to do so in the first place.

    'You've got good odds of having the charges dropped or a jury finding you not guilty over a year later' isn't exactly the most comforting thought for someone who might be thinking about joining a protest. Throughout the process they made clear what they were willing to do, and the fact that they were gently chided for parts of it doesn't stop them in any way from doing any of it again should they decide to crack down in the future for whatever reason.

    Much like copyright trolling winning the case is just an extra, nice to have but not actually needed. The goal is to make it clear that fighting back at all is going to cost, and cost dearly, and that message they've made crystal clear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Zgaidin (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 4:29am

      Re: Sure about that?

      Sadly true on all counts, and they learn from their mistakes. So, now they know which judges aren't going to give them access to Facebook accounts or other website PII, so next time they file elsewhere and try different judges. They figure out ways to tell the 90% who will be dismissed vs. the 10% early on, and don't have to waste any more time and effort on the 90% than it takes to string them along and keep the charges alive long enough to deter people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    surveilance state, 9 Jul 2018 @ 5:19am

    more surveilance statehood

    overreach, overbroad, stupid dictatorship regime, America.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:15am

    Of course this becomes an article on Techdirt

    Because Techdirt is part of the #resist movement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:05am

      Re:

      If the political roles were reversed—if this were a Democrat-controlled DOJ going after Republican/right-wing protesters—how dismissive of this issue would you be?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re:

        Why pretend there would be a #resist movement if the politics were reversed? There's only one side constantly virtue signalling and whining.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Will B., 9 Jul 2018 @ 11:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...is that why you're here whining?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 1:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Shouldn't you be gathering your brown-shirt brothers?
            There's a protest to get to.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Baron von Robber, 9 Jul 2018 @ 2:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'm sure there is a list of Trump rallies someplace.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Will B., 9 Jul 2018 @ 2:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              No, but seriously, you do realize you are currently, right here, doing exactly what you complain about the left doing, right? Whining about pushback, virtue-signalling how right-wing you are and how the right is sooo much netter than the left because they'd never push back against a president just because they don't like them (let's jusr forget about Kenyan Obama and his Obamacare), and responding to criticism with flippant put-downs?

              I dunno if pointing this out is going to be of any help, but seriously... you are the very thing you claim to hate.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 5:07pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Commenting here is equivalent to rioting in the streets? I better be more careful.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 5:39pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Like many RWNJs you have a massive victim complex and a hugely warped sense of both your own self importance in the world and reality itself.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Will B., 9 Jul 2018 @ 5:43pm

                  Round and round we go...

                  ...hmm. So, if I may interpret: "Whining and virtue-signaling" = "rioting in the streets" and the entire Left is *constantly* doing so?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 3:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why pretend there would be a #resist movement if the politics were reversed?

          Because that was precisely what happened to Obama after his first two years in office, thanks to Republican voters. Or did you forget all about birtherism, the Tea Party, the opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the stolen Supreme Court nomination, and Donald Trump?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:06pm

      Re: Of course this becomes an article on Techdirt

      As if we didn't write about President Obama's attacks on free speech? We did. This site is not for or against any President. We are in favor of the 1st Amendment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:20am

    out_of_the_blue's heroes, ladies and gentlemen! He sure likes supporting things with a success rate roughly between "jack shit" and "fuck all"...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 7:00am

      Re: lol, anti-blue-dude, why don't you make an account?

      we need somoene to stick up for us dopers and
      rioters, you could like get an icon from genghis
      khan like drinking blood out a skull, cool

      dude, it's you

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 1:00pm

        I too remember middle school...dude.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Dave P., 10 Jul 2018 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re: lol, anti-blue-dude, why don't you make an account?

        Hmm. That makes about as much sense as this clip from a recent Trumpy speech:
        “I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.”
        I rest my case.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:30am

    Question for lawyer in the crowd

    Are there any opportunities for false arrest lawsuits here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:37am

      Re: Question for lawyer in the crowd

      Why? Looking to get reimbursed for your missing P hat they confiscated?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:57am

        Re: Re: Question for lawyer in the crowd

        Not me (I wasn't there), but those that have had a year plus of their lives put into turmoil, and cost for lawyers and possibly lost jobs, as well as other impacts; for egregious, ineffective, Constitution busting behavior by the government.

        If I had been there, and arrested, I would already have a lawyer, and would ask him/her. For the rest of us non lawyers, seeing into the density that is 'the Law' might be helpful.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          alternatives(), 9 Jul 2018 @ 10:35am

          Re: Re: Re: Question for lawyer in the crowd

          The chance of recovery for the disruption is very small. The legal system via Judges sees the DA as part of itself and won't take kindly to support an attack on itself.

          In theory - "the law" is publicly out there so anyone can see into such density. Any given court case is rather dependent on the judge(s) along the way and is dependent on the 'sharpness' of the attorneys involved and what should be a slam-dunk becomes a loss unless you are willing to go to appeal and had the sharpness at the 1st level. Heck, the laziness level of attorneys involved can sink a case, if the Judge allows it.

          Lets say you gain this sight into density. Now, do you have the $50-$150K for a fight on the State level? How about the $300K+ at the fed level or the $1M+ for a fed appeal?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 1:04pm

        Re: Re: Question for lawyer in the crowd

        Better wearing one than jerking off into one like you do...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 7:19am

    At last and at least Techdirt admits was actual property damage.

    Should the DOJ not make some effort to prosecute that? That's the only alternative barbarian-friendly Techdirt has to offer.

    Prosecutions of actions in riot are ALWAYS difficult to pin on persons. Sometimes different laws apply. In the past (and likely future, way you kids keep going crazy), shoot-to-kill orders have been legal. Civil society MUST stop rioting at some point. -- You should look up the "Riot Act" in English law, if you want to see how seriously rioting is dealt with.

    Anyhoo, I'm NOT dismayed at results except by Techdirt's ongoing glee that property was damaged by barbarians and at least some got away with it. Techdirt always sides with those breaking the laws of civil society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 7:40am

      Re: At last law upheld

      So are you gleeful that prosecutors broke the laws they are allegedly supporting by withholding evidence, arresting journalists, and disrespecting due process?
      It *seems* that way, but I don't want to assume.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      Prosecutions of actions in riot are ALWAYS difficult to pin on persons.

      If the DOJ could not pin actions within a riot on specific people, it should have said so instead of trying to prosecute 200 people for a crime that the majority of that group may have only witnessed.

      I'm NOT dismayed at results except by Techdirt's ongoing glee that property was damaged by barbarians and at least some got away with it.

      I doubt Techdirt writers were happy to see the property damage. (If you can cite any instance of their celebrating said property damage, please do so.) They were much happier to see people arrested on overblown charges that the DOJ could not make stick finally free from their legal nightmare. Did some of those people “get away with” breaking the law? Maybe. Can you prove it? The DOJ certainly couldn’t; if it could have made the charges stick in more than the relative handful of cases where it secured guilty pleas, we would have seen more guilty pleas.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 6:02pm

        Re: Re:

        On the subject of prosecuting witnesses, it's worth noting that if a journalist covering the protest is a 'rioter' then the police who were present are arguably part of the conspiracy to riot too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:20am

      Re: At last and at least Techdirt admits was actual property damage.

      Anyhoo, I'm NOT dismayed at results except by Techdirt's ongoing glee that property was damaged by barbarians and at least some got away with it.

      I'm not dismayed by the results either. 21 out of 234 is not even a 10% success rate. Law enforcement did a piss poor job, made themselves look like fools, and north of 90% of those accused are free.

      Then again, what do you care? Trump lambastes the FBI on a near daily basis. Why on earth should anyone trust the DOJ? They're corrupt as all fuck, remember?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 8:51pm

        Re: Re: At last and at least Techdirt admits was actual property damage.

        out_of_the_blue has a fetish for authoritarianism, which is why he sucks off both Trump and the DOJ/FBI. Even when they disagree with each other. Corruption is just icing on the cake, or - as is known in out_of_the_blue's profession - "not using lube".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 1:02pm

      It’s amazing that you have enough cognitive dissonance

      To be as sovcit and a full blooded fascist at the same time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2018 @ 4:22am

        Re: It’s amazing that you have enough cognitive dissonance

        Well, it is the result of religious conviction that their politics are correct.They are so right that they have to convert everybody else, by force if necessary.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2018 @ 3:20pm

        Re: It’s amazing that you have enough cognitive dissonance

        Sovcits are all about selfish cognitive dissonance in the first place. They want the law to apply to other people but not them because they are oh so special. They even have a fantasy about being able to draw upon the special super secret hidden bank account.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 7:32am

    The timing of these prosecutions means that most were started by folks hired during the Obama or Bush II administrations. Especially since we are talking about folks arrested for suspicion of committing crimes during the Inauguration. Pretty much by definition, very few Trump folks could have been in place when this circus started.

    If I read TFA correctly, the DOJ never won a case in a contested court of law. Their only wins were in the pre-trial negotiating rooms where they managed to talk 21 suspects into pleading guilty. Either those were the folks that really did some of the damage or they got real poor legal advice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      As to your first point, yes, but even under Obama there was an authoritarian bent to government actions. Only the R vs D fanatics don't understand that there is a direction being assumed by the powerful, from both sides, because power doesn't discriminate between R's and D's. It still corrupts.

      As to your second point, it does seem likely, and it makes folks wonder about the process where deal making and winning rather justice is the point of negotiations between prosecutors and the accused. These 21 may be guilty, and if they are then they got a deal rather than what a court might have sentenced them to. On the other hand, what if they were just frightened, and as you point out, poorly or even not represented, then the concept of justice has been harmed once again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 8:10am

    It's a clear victory for "Black Block" tactics, having a mob of people dressed all in black with faces masked, with the few active vandals breaking free of the mob to light cars on fire, smash store windows, and whatever else, and then quickly rejoining the mob and blending in.

    It's apparently not illegal to serve as a protective screen for rioters, and because the actual rioters can't be sorted out from the screeners upon the expected mass arrests, then everyone gets to go free.

    Although it's an obvious mob victory, don't expect it to last. Police will simply revise their tactics, probably with sniper teams of some sort. Hopefully it'll be something like paintball rounds and not live bullets like Israel treats street protests, but you never know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      Please cite, with proper references, the proof that any of the protesters arrested by the DOJ planned to use “black bloc” tactics as a cover for starting a riot and damaging property before the protests ever began.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Will B., 9 Jul 2018 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      "It's apparently not illegal to serve as a protective screen for rioters, and because the actual rioters can't be sorted out from the screeners upon the expected mass arrests, then everyone gets to go free."

      That actually is illegal; that would be conspiracy. In fact, if you read the article, it even mentions them trying for conspiracy charges.

      The real issue, of course, is that your little fantasy scenario didn't actually happen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2018 @ 11:42am

    rename DOJ

    The DOJ should be renamed The Dept. of Political Revenge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 12:30pm

    Of the 21 convictions, how many were because they had shitty representation?
    How many were because the charges kept getting piled on to make them plea?
    How many did anything beyond be there & be expected to take the blame for all the bad actors?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Will B., 9 Jul 2018 @ 12:51pm

      Indeed...

      It didn't escape my notice that there were 21 guilty *pleas,* which suggests that the prosecution was actually *never successful* in the courtroom; whether those guilty pleas were from guilty people or prosecutorial intimidation is the question of the day, but I know which I'm expecting.

      Still, it means that in terms of actual adversarial courtroom battles, their success rate wasn't 10%, it was 0%.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 2:13pm

    WTF??

    It was stupid to do it in the first place..
    Unless they saw and Caught those causing the damage..

    Otherwise this is a 1 day hold in jail..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter, 9 Jul 2018 @ 2:13pm

    Only 10% guilty pleas?

    Considering the 'success' of prosecutors generally getting guilty pleas is usually over 90%, that they managed to get only about 10% in this case is a damning indictment in itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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