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Legal news from Saturday, August 14, 2010




Blogger convicted for death threats against federal judges upholding gun control laws
Zach Zagger on August 14, 2010 1:25 PM ET

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[JURIST] A right-wing blogger from New Jersey was convicted by a federal jury Friday for death threats made on his blog against federal judges who upheld a gun control law. Harold "Hal" Turner [advocacy website], a one-time FBI informant on white-supremacist groups, was convicted [NJ Record report] in Brooklyn of a single count of threatening to assault and murder federal judges. Prosecutors alleged that Turner wrote on his blog that federal judges should die and posted the courthouse address and a map which prosecutors claimed showed his intent to intimidate and impede the judges from doing their job. Turner faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal prosecutors had tried twice before to convict Turner but both efforts ended with mistrials. The charges stem from comments Turner made on his blog against three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] who ruled [JURIST report] in June in favor of two municipal gun control laws in Illinois: William Bauer, Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner.

Threats against judges, US attorneys, and assistant US attorneys have more than doubled over the last six years, according to a report [text, PDF] released [JURIST report] in January by the US Department of Justice. The report found that judges, US attorneys, and assistant US attorneys received 1,278 threats in 2008, compared to 592 in 2003. Additionally, the report found that threats are not always consistently and promptly reported. In December 2008, Brian Nichols was sentenced to seven life terms to be served consecutively in addition to other punishment for shooting and killing a superior court judge [JURIST reports] and other personnel in an Atlanta courthouse in an attempted escape. In April 2008, Ohio resident David Tuason was indicted for allegedly threatening to blow up the US Supreme Court building [JURIST report] and attack black men, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Other death threats [JURIST report] have been reported in recent years against Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now-retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.




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Obama signs bill to increase US southern border security
Andrea Bottorff on August 14, 2010 11:00 AM ET

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[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official website] Friday signed legislation designed to increase security along the US-Mexico border. The Act [HR 6080 materials] allocates an additional $600 million toward hiring 1,000 new Border Patrol [CPB officlal website] agents and 200 special agents, building two new border control stations and buying more surveillance tools, including unmanned aircraft drones. The House of Representatives [official website] approved the bill Tuesday; it was originally introduced August 5. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] praised the bipartisan effort [press briefing, text] in passing the bill and explained the long-term goals of the Act:
The legislation adds permanent resources that will continue to bolster security along the Southwest border, supporting our efforts to crack down on transnational criminal organizations, and reduce the trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons.
Napolitano added that the Act was the first step in a large-scale immigration reform project that would continue over the next few years. Obama has already called for sweeping immigration reform [JURIST report] in light of the growing nationwide debate on immigration policy.

Last week, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli (R) [official website] issued an opinion [JURIST report] finding that state law enforcement officials have the authority to investigate the immigration status of those they stop or arrest. Cuccinelli's opinion mirrors the tough Arizona immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive], which has been widely criticized as unconstitutional for allegedly legalizing racial profiling. Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against the most controversial aspects of the law.




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