Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Fitzgerald’
Monday, January 17th, 2011

Patrick Fitzgerald (DOJ)

Student activists delivered a mock subpoena to Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on Friday, FightBack!News reported.

Students from Students for Justice in Palestine, the Wright College and University of Illinois-Chicago chapters of Students for a Democratic Society and Columbia Art Activists organized the event.The protesters took the giant “subpoena” inside the federal building in Chicago to deliver it personally to Fitzgerald.

The “subpoena” referred to the FBI raids on seven homes and an anti-war office and the subpoenas handed out to fourteen activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan to testify before a federal grand jury last September. Fitzgerald was involved in handing out the subpoenas in Illinois. The Committee to Stop FBI Repression was formed in response to the bureau’s actions.

The paper read, “You have been summoned to appear in front of the People’s Court. You have been subpoenaed to testify on your attempts to silence and criminalize the anti-war and international solidarity movements. The raids and subpoenas you ordered on activists across the Midwest are an attack on our freedom to speak out and organize when the actions and policies of the government are wrong.”

The prominent prosecutor who heads the U.S. Attorneys office for the Northern District of Illinois and has handled a number of high-profile cases. Among the more notable include the conviction of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on charges of making false statements to federal agents. He also won a conviction of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., former Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, for lying to federal investigators looking into the disclosure that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent. He handled the prosecution of two Chicago men who allegedly helped plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

U.S. Marshals stopped the protesters when they entered the building and told them they could not go past the lobby without Fitzgerald’s permission. Fitzgerald was not in his office according to the marshals, who later put the mock subpoena on Fitzgerald’s desk.

The activists are involved in groups including the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Fitzgerald’s press spokesman, Randall Samborn declined to comment on the incident.

This post has been updated from a previous version.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

The prosecutor and the judge: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (left) and Chief District Judge James Holderman. (Getty; Illinois State Bar)

An appeals court removed a Chicago federal judge from a criminal drug trial Wednesday after disagreements between the judge and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald delayed the case.

In a brief order, the U.S.Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit removed Chief Judge James Holderman of the Northern District of Illinois and instructed the district court to appoint a new judge to oversee the trial.

Fitzgerald did not ask for Holderman’s dismissal. In a petition, the prosecutor asked the appeals court to reverse Holderman’s decision to exclude fingerprint evidence. In the petition, Fitzgerald accused Holderman of “unfortunate hostility toward the government.”

The three-judge panel agreed to reverse the ruling, saying the evidence should not be excluded.

But in an unusual twist, Judges Richard Posner, Diane Sykes and Ilana Rovner went one step further, removing Holderman from the case entirely. The panel did not give a reasoning for the removal.

“This is an extraordinary situation; it really is,” DePaul University law professor Len Cavise told the Chicago Tribune. “Posner is one of those judges that if something happens procedurally that he doesn’t like, he will take action immediately.”

Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, declined to comment when reached Thursday by Main Justice.

Before the trial, Holderman took issue with evidence of two fingerprints on drug packaging because prosecutors missed a court-imposed deadline for evidence gathering. He excluded them, but the appeals court ruled the evidence should be allowed.

Holderman objected to the evidence again during the trial, prompting prosecutors to file a second appeal and stopping the trial.

In his petition, Fitzgerald said Holderman accused prosecutors of misrepresenting facts and threatening to hold misconduct hearings. In response, Holderman filed court papers Tuesday saying the petition contained “deficiencies” and “false factual statements.”

Holderman and Fitzgerald have a history of heated clashes in court.

Holderman, a judge in Chicago since 1985, was named Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2006. He previously worked as a federal litigator at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Before his time in private practice, Holderman prosecuted white-collar crimes as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago from 1972 to 1978.

Holderman’s temper has earned him a reputation. A 2006 study by the Chicago Council of Lawyers gave him the lowest score of any judge on the court primarily because of his alleged anger issues, according to 2006 article in the Chicago Sun-Times. Critics sometimes refer to him as “Holdermaniac,” and the study found he commonly “yells, screams and intimidates,” the Sun-Times said.

Fitzgerald’s strife-ridden relationship with Holderman began as early as 2005.

Holderman accused Fitzgerald and four of his assistants of improperly disclosing secret grand jury trial material to attorneys involved in a civil case at the firm Winston & Strawn LLP . The judge ordered the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility to open an investigation into the conduct of the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In response, Fitzgerald reproached Holderman for “petty harassment” of prosecutors and “a disturbing lack of objectivity.” He claimed the probe was retaliation; Fitzgerald had previously requested that Holderman recuse himself from the case based on a conflict of interest with Winston & Strawn.

An appeals court ultimately halted the judge’s inquiry.

But Holderman and Fitzgerald haven’t always disagreed. In 2008, Holderman was the judge who approved Fitzgerald’s request for surveillance of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The current drug case against Clacy Watson Herrera, however, shows a lingering tension between the zealous prosecutor and temperamental judge.

Herrera is represented by Gabriel Fuentes and Katherine Welsh of Jenner & Block LLP.

Joe Palazzolo contributed to this story. This post has been updated since it was originally published.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Candidates the White House is considering for FBI Director: (from left to right) James Comey; Raymond Kelly; William Bratton; Ronald Noble; Frances Townsend; and Patrick Fitzgerald.

The White House has quietly begun thinking about potential candidates to succeed FBI Director Robert Mueller, whose 10-year term expires next year. The considerations have reached across party lines, according to people briefed on the process – a potential move to pick someone who could preempt a Republican effort to turn a confirmation hearing into a referendum on President Barack Obama’s national security policies.

At the FBI, Mueller’s inner circle is acutely aware that his tenure is drawing to a close, though Mueller himself is said to have not made plans for his life after the FBI.

The search is also said to include people with a range of backgrounds and managerial experience, an indication the administration may not select a candidate from the federal bench like Mueller’s three predecessors, Louis Freeh, William Sessions and William Webster.

Robert Mueller (file photo by Stephanie Woodrow / Main Justice).

While it is not known for certain who is under consideration, the list of potential candidates discussed in law enforcement circles is growing. Among them: Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol who was a top law enforcement official at Treasury during the Clinton years; Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago and DOJ special counsel who successfully prosecuted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney; and James Comey, the general counsel at Lockheed Martin and a former Deputy Attorney General who in 2004 bucked the White House by refusing to reauthorize the Bush administration’s warrantless domestic eavesdropping program.

Others include two well-known police officials — Raymond Kelly, the New York police commissioner whose department has sometimes clashed with the FBI; and William Bratton, the former chief of police in Los Angeles. Another possibility: Frances Fragos Townsend, President George W. Bush’s respected chief counterterrorism adviser, who would be the first female FBI Director.

Mueller, 65, was confirmed in August 2001 and began his term on Sept. 4, 2001, just a week before the Sept. 11 attacks. He previously served as a federal prosecutor in U.S. Attorneys’ offices in the Northern District of California and in Massachusetts. At the Justice Department, he headed the Criminal Division during the first Bush administration and served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California from 1998 until 2001.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter noted that Mueller’s term does not expire until 2011 and said he has not seen indications of a White House search for a new director this time.

Additional reporting by David Johnston.

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to clarify that the White House hasn’t formally begun to interview potential candidates for FBI director.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Rod Blagojevich (gov)

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel on Wednesday warned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is facing criminal charges in a public corruption case, to stay within the rules as his corruption case heads toward trial, The Associated Press reported. Zagel said he couldn’t allow the legal equivalent of head butts — a dirty tactic — to take place at the trial, which is slated to begin in June in the Northern District of Illinois.

The hearing came a day after the impeached governor taunted Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing, if he is “man enough.” Fitzgerald wasn’t in court on Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is facing criminal charges in a public corruption case, taunted U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in court Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing, if he is “man enough.”

In what the Associated Press described as “an extraordinary outburst timed to go live on evening news shows,” the impeached former governor held a news conference Tuesday in front of his lawyers’ Chicago offices. Blagojevich assailed prosecutors in the Northern District of Illinois as “cowards” and “liars,” and challenged them to release full copies of FBI wiretaps of his phone conversations.

“They know when all those tapes will be played they will show I’ve done nothing wrong and will prove my innocence,” said Blagojevich, who is charged with fraud and racketeering in a political “pay to play” case.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel will consider motions Wednesday for a trial slated for June. ”I’ll be in court tomorrow and I hope you are man enough to be there, too,” Blagojevich told the cameras, addressing Fitzgerald.

A spokesman for the Chicago-based U.S. Attorney’s office, Randall Samborn, offered no comment, the AP reported.

Here’s a video of the news conference:

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Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Northern District of Illinois U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been given another sensitive assignment — to determine whether defense lawyers at Guantanamo Bay jeopardized the identities of clandestine CIA agents — Newsweek reported Friday.

Patrick Fitzgerald (DOJ)

Fitzgerald, one of the Justice Department’s most respected prosecutors, will probe the events surrounding almost two dozen photographs of CIA officials found in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, who allegedly helped fund the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Newsweek.

In 2007, the Chicago-based U.S. Attorney successfully prosecuted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, for lying to federal investigators looking into the disclosure that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.

Among the photos were “paparazzi style” pictures of the agents in public places, a sign that they may have been taken by private investigators to identify CIA interrogators, said Newsweek. Although the photos didn’t have the names of the agents, a former government official told the magazine that “there was real concern” the photos could be used by al Qaeda for revenge.

“These guys are killers — and KSM has made it clear they’re going to look for retribution,” the official said, referring to alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The Justice Department has already cleared al-Hawsawi’s lawyers of the producing the photos. They are now focusing some attention on the civilian lawyers from the John Adams Project, an American Civil Liberties Union effort to give high-profile Guantanamo detainees high quality counsel. Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, told Newsweek the project used private investigators to find CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques.

“It would be an essential part of any defense to cross-examine the perpetrators of torture,” Romero told Newsweek. “To our knowledge, the 9/11 defendants were not told the identities of the CIA officers.”

The DOJ National Security Division, which is prosecuting Sept. 11 defendants, was handling the investigation at first, but Attorney General Eric Holder decided to hand over the reins to Fitzgerald to avoid any conflict.

Fitzgerald is also personally handling another high-profile national security case: the prosecution against two Chicago men who allegedly helped plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. One of the defendants, David Headley, pleaded guilty last week to charges that he provided surveillance to a Pakistani militant group involved in the attacks. He faces up to life in prison.

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Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Northern District of Illinois U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is on the prosecution team for a case against two Chicago men who allegedly helped plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the Chicago Sun-Times reported today.

Patrick Fitzgerald (DOJ)

This is the second time that Fitzgerald has personally prosecuted a case since he became U.S. Attorney in 2001, the Sun-Times said. In 2003, he successfully prosecuted Muslim charity leader Enaam Arnaout, who prosecutors said had ties to al Qaeda. Fitzgerald, a noted terrorism expert, first received accolades as an assistant U.S. attorney for his successful prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center terror attack case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Collins and Vicki Peters will assist Fitzgerald in prosecuting Tahawwur Rana and David Headley, who are charged with conspiracy, murder and providing material support for terrorism in relation to the Mumbai bombing that killed about 170 people, the Sun-Times said. The men also allegedly planned to attack a Danish newspaper that published a controversial illustration of the prophet Muhammad.

Fitzgerald appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday, according to the Sun-Times. He said at a hearing that some of the evidence in the terror case would receive special treatment since it is classified, the newspaper said.

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Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Rod Blagojevich (gov)

Former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich today  pleaded “innocent ” on charges following his re-indictment earlier this month, Bloomberg reports. On Feb. 4, a federal grand jury on Thursday issued a new 113-page, 24-count indictment against Blagojevich.

Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois, headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, announced plans to bring a revised indictment against Blagojevich, who was arrested in December 2008 on federal corruption charges that involved conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. He was later impeached and removed from office.

The new indictment includes many of the same charges as the first indictment, but downplays charges against “honest services fraud” that had been in the original indictment. That type of fraud is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Attorney’s office, headed by Patrick Fitzgerald, does not want the case to be endangered by an adverse ruling.

When asked today by U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel if he waived reading of the revised indictment, Blagojevich said, “Your honor, I waive reading and enter a plea of innocent to each and every charge.” Leaving the courtroom after entering his plea, Blagojevich told reporters he plans to testify at his June trial, Bloomberg reports.

Patrick Fitzgerald (DOJ)

In addition, Blagojevich also told reporters that he plans to waive his constitutional right to seek suppression of any of the eavesdropping and wiretap recordings collected by the government during its investigation of him, and ask federal prosecutors to agree that the recordings can be played at trial, Bloomberg reports. “Play the truth and play the whole truth,” Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich’s attorney, Sam Adam Jr., said, “We don’t have to prove Rod innocent, but the tapes will.”

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Rod Blagojevich (gov)

A federal grand jury on Thursday issued a new 113-page, 24-count indictment against former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, The Daily Herald of Chicago reports. Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois announced plans to bring a revised indictment against Blagojevich, who was arrested in December 2008 on federal corruption charges that involved conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

The new indictment includes many of the same charges as the first indictment, but downplays “honest services fraud,” according to the newspaper. That type of fraud is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Attorney’s office headed by Patrick Fitzgerald is concerned that the court’s ruling could hinder its case against the former governor. The honest services statute is under attack because, some critics argue, it fails to give fair warning of precisely what conduct violates the law

The new charges in the revised indictment include new counts of racketeering, attempted extortion, extortion conspiracy, bribery and bribery conspiracy, but “are based on the same underlying criminal conduct,” according to an accompanying filing. “Because the defendants’ illegal conduct violated multiple criminal statutes, additional statutes are charged.”

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s office, told The Daily Herald, “There is no new substance to these charges.” Blagojevich’s attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, called the re-indictment “nothing more than warmed-up old soup.” He added that his client is innocent and will be vindicated at trial, The Daily Herald reports.

The indictment also names Blagojevich’s campaign manager Alonzo Monk, chief of staff John Harris and brother Robert, chairman of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign organization, as defendants. The Blagojevich aides, along with fundraisers Antoin Rezko and Chris Kelly were accused of running the “Blagojevich Enterprise.” The plan involved using political power to fund its members through government acts and bribery and then amass the money and divide it up after he left office, according to The Daily Herald.

Blagojevich is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 10. The trial is scheduled to begin June 3.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

David Hoffman (Hoffman for Senate)

A former federal prosecutor has lost the Democratic primary to fill President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, finishing second in a five-candidate field.

David Hoffman, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago under Patrick Fitzgerald, received almost 34 percent of the Democratic Senate primary votes on Tuesday, trailing Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who captured 39 percent of the ballots.

The battle was for the right to appear on the November general election ballot to fill the seat being vacated by Democrat Roland Burris. Burris was appointed early last year to finish Obama’s Senate term but  decided not to seek election to a full term.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press called the election for Giannoulias, who earned 39 percent of the vote. He was followed by Hoffman with 33.8 percent, Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson with 19.7 percent, physician Robert Marshall with 5.7 percent and attorney Jacob Meister with 1.8 percent.

Alexi Giannoulias (Alexi Giannoulias for Illinois)

Hoffman, who was a federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Illinois from 1998 to 2005, came under fire from Giannoulias for seeking campaign donations from his former colleagues. He had received endorsements from numerous news organizations, including The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times and numerous politicians and organizations.

Giannoulias will face Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in November. Kirk won the GOP primary on Tuesday with 56.6 percent of the vote. He beat attorney Patrick Hughes who earned 19.3 percent, retired attorney Don Lowery. who got 8.9 percent, historian Kathleen Thomas,  who got 7.3 percent, writer Andy Martin, with  5.1 percent, and management consultant John Arrington who garnered just 2.8 percent of the vote.