Posts Tagged ‘John Conyers’
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Glenn Ivey, who served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under then-D.C. U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, has joined Venable LLP as a partner in its white collar and government-investigations practices, Compliance Week reported.

Glenn Ivey (Center for American Progress)

Most recently, Ivey served two terms as the state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, Md.

From 1990 to 1994, Ivey was a federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia. Under Holder’s supervision, Ivey prosecuted jury trials and handled numerous appeals and grand jury investigations.

He also has worked on Capitol Hill, as a senior legislative assistant to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chief counsel to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee for Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) when Sarbanes was ranking minority member of the panel that investigated business dealings of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

In the private sector, Ivey worked as a partner at Preston, Gates, Ellis (now K&L Gates LLP), handling legislative, regulatory and criminal matters.

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Two Democratic members of Congress introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the use of racial profiling and authorize the Justice Department to provide grants to state and local law enforcement to discourage the practice.

The measure, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), seeks to eliminate law enforcement practices that single out individuals for heightened scrutiny based on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Similar legislation was introduced in 2007.

Nadler said that focusing on such characteristics distracts and diverts the attention of law enforcement in ways that can prove disastrous to public safety.

“Racial profiling not only unfairly targets people for different treatment by law enforcement based on traits such as race, nationality, or religion, but it is bad policing,” Nadler said. “It simply is not an effective way to identify and apprehend criminals.”

Conyers said the recent passage of Arizona’s new immigration law, which the Justice Department is challenging, “crystallized the terms of the profiling debate.”

“The debate over racial profiling has become a central element in a much larger history of adversarial relationships between the police and communities of color,” Conyers said. “Over the past two decades, the tensions between police and minority communities have grown as allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement agents, sometimes supported by data collection efforts, have increased in number and frequency.”

Under the legislation, the Justice Department would provide grants to state and local governments to develop and implement practices, such as early warning systems, technology integration or other management protocols that discourage profiling. The bill also would require the Attorney General to issue periodic reports on any ongoing discriminatory profiling practices.

Last fall, Attorney General Eric Holder initiated an internal review of the Justice Department’s Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, which was issued in 2003 and has been the subject of criticism.

“I’m committed to ensuring that department policy allows us to perform our core law enforcement and national security responsibilities with legitimacy, accountability and transparency,” Holder told the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee last month.

A Justice Department spokeswoman could not immediately comment on the progress of that review.

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Monica Conyers (U.S. Marshals)

The wife of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) cannot afford an attorney and will get a public defender to handle her appeal of a 37-month prison sentence stemming from a bribery charge, The Associated Press reported.

Last week, former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers was sentenced to three years and one month in prison for her part in the bribery scandal. She pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy for accepting at least $6,000 in exchange for her support of a $1.2 billion waste disposal contract for Houston-based Synagro Technologies. The ex-council member tried to withdraw her guilty plea last week saying she was “badgered” into making the deal. But U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said her plea was made voluntarily.

Monica Conyers, who signed an affidavit declaring she can’t afford a lawyer, has no money, according to Steve Fishman, the attorney who negotiated her guilty plea, according to AP. A federal judge on Tuesday declared Monica Conyers indigent based on “a detailed description of her financial resources in the presentence investigation report and [the information] that Mrs. Conyers was on her own — so to speak — as to such resources.”

John Conyers (gov)

That means her husband — the second-longest serving current member of the House who earns an annual salary of $174,000 — will not help pay for a private attorney, according to The National Law Journal. A spokeswoman for Conyers did not have an immediate response as to whether the Judiciary Committee chairman was unwilling to pay for an attorney, Politico reported.

According to federal guidelines, a family member’s wealth, in this case the congressman, cannot be considered when determining a defendant’s ability to pay, “unless the family indicates willingness and financial ability to retain counsel promptly.”

Douglas Mullkoff of Ann Arbor has been assigned to represent Monica Conyers.

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Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers, the wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), was sentenced to three years and one month in prison Wednesday for her part in a bribery scandal.

Monica Conyers (U.S. Marshals)

She pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy for accepting at least $6,000 in exchange for her support of a $1.2 billion waste disposal contract for Synagro Technologies. The ex-council member tried to withdraw her plea Wednesday saying she was “badgered” into making the deal, according to the Associated Press. But, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said her plea was made voluntarily, according to the AP.

“If I have to, I’ll go to jail for what I’ve done, but I won’t go for what I didn’t do,” Conyers told the judge, according to Detroit’s WXYZ-TV.

Monica Conyers is slated to begin her prison sentence on July 1 but has 10 days to appeal her sentence. She will also serve two years of probation.

According to Roll Call, it is unclear whether John Conyers attended the sentencing, but he was not present for any of the  House roll call votes Wednesday afternoon. A representative for John Conyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Main Justice.

John and Monica Conyers have been married for 20 years.

John Conyers, who sits on the House panel that conducts Justice Department oversight, was not involved the bribery scandal, Roll Call said.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Three Democratic House members at an event Wednesday evening read selections from the so-called “torture memos” and accounts by some of the prisoners and witnesses who alleged that torture took place in the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) read documents related to the alleged torture of prisoners at Guantanamo (photo by Ryan J. Reilly).

Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D.-Minn.)  all took turns in the dramatic reading of government documents related to the alleged torture of detainees.

Wednesday night’s event, “Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the ‘War on Terror’,” took place at Georgetown University Law Center and was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, PEN American Center and Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute and the Center on National Security and the Law.

Other participants included The Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi, author Matthew Alexander, former CIA special agent Jack Rice and several ACLU lawyers.

Video shot by Main Justice is embedded below, followed by several photos from the event.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.)

Matthew Alexander

Author Matthew Alexander

Aasif Mandvi

Daily Show Correspondent Aasif Mandvi

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Reps. Robert C. Scott (D-Va.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

Monday, February 15th, 2010

The new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan is getting ready to crack the whip in her Detroit-based office, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who was sworn into office early last month, told the newspaper that improving the efficiency of her 108-employee office is one of her top priorities.

“We have a number of seasoned, experienced lawyers in the office, but many of them have been around for a very long time, and we get into sort of complacent habits,” McQuade told the Free Press. The “we” applies to her as well: She has worked in the office since 1998.

Barbara McQuade (DOJ)

The Detroit-based U.S. Attorney said she is considering dividing up office divisions that have “grown too big” and giving more staffers managerial responsibilities, according to the newspaper. Last week, she shook up the office by making several changes to her office’s leadership.

“We’ve sort of promoted people for life, and then they sort of sit there, and although they have a lot to offer, we haven’t tried new ideas because people have been occupying the same places for a long time,” McQuade told the Free Press. “I think giving people different opportunities to lead and share their ideas is very important.”

McQuade told the newspaper that she made up her mind that she wanted to be U.S. Attorney when she wasn’t promoted to criminal division chief for the Eastern District office in 2008. She then met with local lawyers, judges and politicians to gather their opinions on the office, according to the newspaper. They told her that Eastern District of Michigan U.S. Attorney’s Office was having a productivity problem, the Free Press said.

Then-U.S. Attorney candidate McQuade presented a plan to address office output to a U.S. Attorney screening panel, according to the newspaper. A member of the committee told the Free Press that’s McQuade’s decision to make a plan was “virtually unheard of.”

Although addressing office productivity is important, McQuade also told the newspaper that fighting violent crime, terrorism and public corruption are priorities.

Her office is handling the case against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly hid explosives in his underwear in a failed attempt to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. The office also is prosecuting a public corruption case involving former Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers, who is married to Democratic House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Lawmakers sparred with National Football League officials and player representatives today at a hearing in the House Judiciary panel’s Courts and Competition Policy Subcommittee about the implications of a Supreme Court case that will assess how antitrust laws apply to the NFL.

The Supreme Court heard arguments last week in American Needle v. NFL, a case that poses the question of whether the NFL is a collection of 32 teams or is a single entity for the purposes of antitrust regulation.

Clothing manufacturer American Needle sued the NFL after the league signed an exclusive deal with Reebok  to produce hats and other merchandise with team logos. The company argued that the NFL violated antitrust laws, and that each team needed to independently negotiate such a contract.

Players have been concerned that a broad ruling in favor of the NFL could lead teams to restrict players’ salaries and reverse gains they’ve made as free agents since the 1990s.

A dozen current and former NFL players, including Nolan Harrison, who retired after a 10-year career, and Deshea Townsend, who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, attended the hearing today, and others were on the Hill to lobby Congress on antitrust and other issues.

“Why else would the NFL seek to review a case it won not once but twice?” NFL Players’ Union president, Kevin Mawae, asked at the hearing. The NFL won in the lower courts but joined American Needle in urging the Supreme Court to hear the case. Mawae described the NFL’s strategy as the latest attempt for the league to obtain “the whole grail” of antitrust immunity.

Democrats on the committee echoed the players’ concerns. The case “could affect the free agency concept,” said Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) who chairs the full Judiciary Committee. “The only option would be a players strike.”

The league tried to downplay any impact the case might have on the players. “This case is not about labor relations,” said Gary Gertzog, a senior VP at the NFL, in his opening statement.

The league also argued that the teams could act as a single entity because they competed with other sports and other forms of entertainment for fans.

“The consumer has the ultimate vote,” Gertzog said, arguing that a fan might switch to a different sport if an NFL cap was too expensive.

Other sports leagues backed him up. “It defies economic reality,” said William Daly, a National Hockey League deputy commissioner. ”Sports leagues can’t willy-nilly make decisions that aren’t responsive to the marketplace,” he said.

Republicans on the committee followed the league’s line of reasoning. The subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), said that manufacturers would be harmed if they had to spend time negotiating license agreements with each team separately.

“This is a case of manufacturer’s remorse: American Needle tried to obtain through litigation what it could not get through negotiation,” Coble said, in a reverse echo of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s comments during the arguments at the high court.

“You are seeking through this ruling what you haven’t gotten from Congress,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said to the NFL’s lawyer during oral arguments. “An absolute bar to an antitrust claim.”

Even if the Supreme Court grants the league partial immunity that shields it from players’ antitrust suits, it  might not hurt the players all that much, said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member. Given that “professional sports unions are the wealthiest labor unions around; one wonders whether they need any extra leverage,” he said.

Smith suggested the committee had already given the NFL a lot of attention  — three hearings in three months — and said the panel should instead hold hearings on the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against the New Black Panther Party, and on the question of whether to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, popularly known as ACORN, has not violated the terms under which it has received federal funding in the last five years, according to a government report released on Tuesday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.).

The report, which was requested by Conyers and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The 82-page report details the research organization’s survey of 46 federal, state, and local investigations concerning ACORN  — 11 of which are still pending — and of several congressional probes.

Conyers pointed out that CRS found “no instances of individuals who were allegedly registered to vote improperly by ACORN or its employees and who were reported “attempting to vote at the polls. And, the report says that  ACORN has received federal funds, mostly from the departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development, 48 times in the last five years. In none of those cases did  Acorn violate the terms of the funding.

The CRS report does not include findings from a just-announced Government Accountability Office investigation of ACORN’s use of federal funds. House GOP Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said they were informed of the investigation in a Dec. 7 letter from GAO. Smith and Issa were not immediately available for comment on the CRS report.

ACORN, a controversial community organizing group that focuses largely on voter registration and housing,  received unfavorable publicity when documentary filmmakers earlier this year released undercover videos that they described as showing ACORN workers giving them advice on how to buy property to use as a brothel.  ACORN was already under attack from conservatives and many Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The videos spurred Congress to action. The House passed legislation in September known as the Defund ACORN Act of 2009, and several appropriations bills contained a prohibition on any funds in the bill going to ACORN.

Those actions, in turn, prompted some members of Congress to question whether the legislation respresented unconstitutional bills of attainder. The CRS report raises those questions as well, noting that “courts ‘may have a sufficient basis’ to conclude that the legislation ‘violates the prohibition against bills of attainder.’” However, according to the report, the limited term of the defunding mandated in the appropriations bills “could arguably be justified as an expedience necessary to address an issue of immediate congressional concern, while allowing Congress sufficient time to consider a longer term solution.”

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines today to adversely report a Republican resolution that would require the Attorney General to provide the House with information about Guantanamo Bay detainees who are moved into the United States.

Lamar Smith (gov)

Lamar Smith (gov)

The panel voted 20 to 13 to send to the House calendar the resolution of inquiry sponsored by the committee’s ranking minority member, Lamar Smith (R-Texas). But the panel’s vote to report the resolution with a recommendation that it not be approved, coupled with the House Democratic leadership’s opposition to the measure, means that it is highly unlikely that the resolution will ever come to the floor.

Smith said at the panel’s markup today that the resolution would allow members of Congress to learn more about the rights of 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other suspected terrorists who will be tried in a New York City federal court. Republicans have been critical of the decision, saying the move gives alleged terrorists more rights and poses a threat to national security.

“By trying the terrorists in civilian court, the administration is granting the 9/11 conspirators rights far beyond those provided under the Geneva Conventions, namely the full rights of domestic criminal defendants,” Smith said.

Panel Democrats said the resolution is redundant and would only unnecessarily burden the Justice Department. Appropriations legislation signed into law this summer includes provisions that require the president to provide a classified report on Guantanamo Bay detainees who are slated for transfer to the United States.

Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said at the markup that Obama administration officials have already testified before Congress on numerous occasions about Guantanamo Bay detainees.

“Because the administration has already been responsive in providing the relevant information, the proposed resolution is inappropriate,” Conyers said.

But because the resolution carried a “privileged” status — because it pertained to the rights of the House to obtain information — the committee had to take an action. Otherwise, any member could have sought to bring it to the floor, and afforded Republicans an opportunity to air their grievances before the C-SPAN cameras.

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The House Judiciary Committee endorsed legislation today that would reauthorize two of three expiring Patriot Act provisions that expanded the government’s powers in counter-terrorism investigations.

The panel voted 16 to 10 along party lines to allow the “lone wolf” provision to sunset at the end of the year and reauthorize the records and “roving wiretap” powers. The panel also voted to put more restrictions on so-called national security letters, which are used by the FBI to obtain evidence without a court order.

Here’s what The USA Patriot Amendment Act of 2009 as reported out of committee would do to the expiring Patriot Act provisions:

  • Lone wolf: The bill would not extend authority allowing the government to track a target who has no discernible affiliation to a foreign power, such as an international terrorist group. The provision only applies to non-U.S. persons. It has never been used by the government.
  • Records: The legislation would continue to allow the government to compel third parties — including financial, travel and telephone companies — to provide access to a suspect’s records. But the bill would place some new restrictions on this authority. Republicans have been especially critical of language in the bill that would make it much more difficult for the government to obtain periodical or book records from libraries or bookstores if the documents would identify patrons. The panel failed to adopt an amendment yesterday from Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) that would have eliminated the language on obtaining book records from periodical or book records from libraries or bookstores.
  • Roving wiretaps: The bill would continue to allow the government to monitor phone lines or Internet accounts that a terrorism suspect may be using. But the legislation would add more controls. The bill would restrict the roving wiretap to a specific individual, foreign agent or foreign power. Civil liberties groups have expressed concern that this authority doesn’t hold the government accountable if it monitors unintended targets.

Panel Republicans sharply criticized the legislation as harmful to national security. Republicans also expressed frustration that Conyers did not hold a full committee public hearing after the bill was introduced Oct. 20.

A House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing with National Security Division Deputy Assistant Attorney General Todd Hinnen on the expiring provisions before the legislation was introduced. The full panel held a closed-door hearing with National Security Division chief David Kris on the sunsetting powers last Thursday.

“I am disappointed we did not have a public hearing on this bill,” House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said yesterday when the bill markup began. “The committee should not take up such important legislation without first fully examining the bill and receiving substantive input from the administration’s national security experts.”

The committee’s minority members held a forum on the legislation Tuesday. Bush administration officials Rachel Brand, who headed the Office of Legal Policy; and Will Moschella, who was an Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, spoke against the bill at the Capitol Hill meeting.

“The bill before us may not be perfect. Few bills are,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said said yesterday when the bill markup began. “But it greatly protects the privacy and freedom of Americans and preserves at the same time critical surveillence powers.”

The Justice Department has said it supports the reauthorization of all the expiring Patriot Act provisions, but it has declined to comment on any changes to the powers. The legislation endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee extends all the sunsetted provisions, while putting tighter controls on the powers.