Justice Department plan – ensure prosecutors play by rules with evidence

This interesting bit of well-duh news comes from the National Law Journal via How Appealing – a blog linked by Will Bardwell on the all-grown-up version of his blog (gosh I miss Elvis).

Under fire for its handling of the criminal case against former Sen. Ted Stevens, the Justice Department last week outlined a plan to ensure prosecutors play by the rules when dealing with evidence. But some criminal defense lawyers and judges say the reforms don’t go far enough.

On Oct. 13, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer traveled to Seattle to address of panel of lawyers and judges who are considering a change to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would place more stringent requirements on prosecutors to disclose case information to defense lawyers.

Breuer pitched what he called a “comprehensive approach” to reform — a plan that includes mandatory annual discovery training for all prosecutors and the creation of a new position at Main Justice that will focus on discovery issues. Breuer also said the Justice Department would agree to put existing case law and federal statutes involving information sharing into one rule in the criminal procedure books — making the rule a one-stop shop for disclosure obligations.

But Breuer said the department would fight any effort to require prosecutors to turn over all favorable information to the defense.

The idea of having federal prosecutors throw you a surprise party in court has absolutely no relationship to the concept of justice.  Mr. Breuer doesn’t seem to get that point or several others.

He also played down criticism that prosecutor misconduct is widespread, saying there’s no evidence of that. Continue reading “Justice Department plan – ensure prosecutors play by rules with evidence”

Breaking news from the Sun Herald! Warr pleads, charges against wife dropped

The Sun Herald has the breaking news!

Former Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr pleaded guilty Friday morning to one count of defrauding FEMA, and all other charges against him have been dropped. He was sentenced to three years probation and will have to pay $9,558 restitution.

Charges against his wife, Laura Warr, have been dropped by prosecutors.

About two dozens Warr supporters were in a federal courtroom this morning as Warr entered his plea.

A statement from the Warrs is expected shortly.

The Warrs had been accused of lying about their losses to receive relief funds from FEMA, a $150,000 homeowner’s grant and insurance proceeds. Prosecutors contended they did not live in a beachfront home they claimed as their primary residence when Katrina hit.

The Warrs were also accused of falsifying their income on bank loans…

Hopefully, Sop can add local color.

 

New Developments in USA v Warr: Watch that tongue young lady…..

From the sound of things yesterday at the Federal Courthouse in Gulfport, Team Warr is churning while the good ol Team USA was burning. Based on what we know to this point my general feeling remains the FEMA charges will prove problematic for the Warrs rather than the others. One thing is for certain, this is NOT “a run-of-the-mill Katrina fraud case” despite Ms Williams protestations to the contrary. From the sound of things she evidently had started her day with a big bowl of Wheaties.  Anita Lee filed the Sun Herald story:

Prosecutors must reveal the types of false statements they have accused Mayor Brent Warr and his wife, Laura, of making to secure FEMA relief after Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Roper ruled during a hearing Tuesday.

Roper decided the Warrs are entitled to know the “categories” of information they allegedly falsified for their beachfront house, such as repairs, living expenses or personal property destruction. Roper ordered the information turned over within 10 days.

Roper also said prosecutors must give the Warrs the names of “co-conspirators” and “aiders and abetters” mentioned throughout a 16-count indictment that charges them with Katrina and insurance fraud. The names are due 30 days before trial. Continue reading “New Developments in USA v Warr: Watch that tongue young lady…..”

Anyone else notice…..

That our fonts have turned blue? Normally I’m the quiet behind the scenes guy who trouble shoots such things here at slabbed but frankly this one has me stumped.

In other news Brent Warr announced he won’t be running for re-elction due to the fight to clear his name in USA v Warr. The FEMA charges will prove problematic for he and Mrs Warr IMHO.
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The city must move on and with George Schloegel qualifying for the mayor’s race in Gulfport the City will be getting a great man with a lifetime of wisdom running Mississippi’s largest publicly traded company. George comes equipped with mucho business sense to hit the ground running and continue the task of rebuilding Gulfport’s beachfront and downtown. Uncle Leo would no doubt be very proud.

Wait a second Sop are you coronating George Mayor in advance of the election? The short answer is yep, sure am.

Finally the Grinch that stole Christmas is suing his former company AIG for imploding from the subprime Continue reading “Anyone else notice…..”

While I’ve been out. Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds.

I’ve spent a few minutes catching up with the news this morning. Except for some confusing email exchanges with Nowdy I’ve largely been blissfully ignorant of nonfinancial currrent events in favor of work and the opportunity to spend most of yesterday outside in the freezing wind at the soccer complex.

First off the time stamps don’t work but I’ll invoke the work/blissful ignorance thing and lay claim to being Karnac the Magnificent with this comment I left last Thursday. For some reason this reminds me of the time MDOC screwed with Scott Favre back when. I’ll add there appears be to a very large segment of the populace in Oxford that seriously needs to be get laid or something. Thank Gawd I live on the coast.

Next up is the results of me searching “Anita Lee” at the Sun Herald website. We start with this story mainly because the lady who spearheaded this is an old neighbor of mine. Though not mentioned in the story, the story behind the story is it would not have happened unless an ordinary mother of two kids hadn’t gotten involved.

Looking up that story resulted in this find which was priceless as coast policyholder advocate Kevin Buckel has sued the Commish over a records request. I had to chuckle when I saw the story – we have no bad feelings for Mike Chaney here at slabbed though we give the Commish a good ribbing from time to time.  😉 I think more coasties need to let our Commish know what they are thinking just like Mr Buckel.

As for the lawsuit we wish Mr Buckel well but I noted he appears to be representing himself, the legal term for which is pro se. As Mr Gar once remarked the latin translation means “already lost” but you never know. (H/T Sun Herald for the pdfs). Continue reading “While I’ve been out. Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds.”

Warr and Peace – of mind (just a little)

Catching up here after the weekend with this story from the Sun Herald reporting attorney Joe Sam Owen plans to request a delay in the trial of Gulfport mayor Brent Warr.

Mayor Brent Warr and his wife, Laura, will ask a federal judge to delay their trial on Katrina-fraud charges, Brent Warr’s attorney, Joe Sam Owen, said during a hearing Friday.

The Warrs are preparing for trial the first week in April. Brent Warr has said he will run for re-election this spring, although he has not filed papers to qualify.

Owen and Laura Warr’s attorney, Frank Trapp of Jackson, both said they expect to have mountains of paperwork to review before trial.

The expected mountains of paperwork will provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what it is the government is claiming – and until the hearing last week, the Warrs and their attorneys were uncertain of the exact claims and if they’d have the information before they went to court.

Owen and Trapp had filed a Motion for Bill of Particulars,  discussed here in Like a game of 20 questions, in an effort to find out the details of the charges related to the Warr’s homeowner’s coverage with Lexington Insurance.

The hearing was about four additional mail-fraud charges — “the Lexington charges,” the defense calls them — involving Lexington Insurance money paid to the Warrs…

Owen said the insurance company would not release any information to the defense. Continue reading “Warr and Peace – of mind (just a little)”

Like a game of 20 questions – the Warr Indictment

The popular guessing game, Twenty Questions, encourages creativity and deductive reasoning – and so does the indictment of Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and his wife, Laura.

Under the circumstances, playing a guessing game with the USA doesn’t sound like a barrel of fun – nor does the need to guess exactly what the governments claims you’ve done qualify as any known form of justice.

Consequently, attorney Joe Sam Owen, counsel for Brent Warr, filed a Motion for Bill of Particulars.

Under Rule 7(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Court may direct the filling of a Bill of Particulars when necessary to prevent unfair surprise at trial. The Defendant joins herein his argument of law in accordance with U. S. v. Linn, 889 F.2d 1369 (5th Cir. 1988 ) which supports this Motion that the Bill of Particulars is necessary to aid in the preparation of the defense to Counts 13 – 16.

Owen understands games.  In fact, he played one rather well, as did Jackson attorney Frank Trapp, newly enrolled counsel for Mrs. Warr; but, that was 40 years and a hotty-toddy ago for these two former Ole Miss Rebels.  Trapp set the 1968 season record for tackles with more assists than than Patrick Willis (2005); and, true to form, he filed a Joinder to Gregory Brent Warr’s Motion for Bill of Particulars today.

The Warr’s request is not at all unreasonable.  After all, counts 13-16 of the Government’s indictment, the subject of the motion, are related to the Warr’s homeowner’s policy, a personal contractual relationship with a privately owned business – Lexington Insurance, a subsidiary of bailout beneficiary AIG. Continue reading “Like a game of 20 questions – the Warr Indictment”

Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds: Drinking ‘Shroom juice at the Wall Street Journal, Cottages, Community, Warr and Wind Pool

I must be quick so I can get on the road to Buzzard Roost and there are several items that we need to cover so let’s start with the men and women on the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial board who evidently found a local source for psyclobin mushrooms (and consumed alot of tea) before they wrote this:

Mr. Crist’s behavior stands in contrast to that of Louisiana, of all places. Baton Rouge also established a Citizens insurer after Katrina but only as a “last resort.” Louisiana has a thriving private insurance market, in part because regulators have let companies adjust their rates. By law, Louisiana Citizens cannot offer competitive prices, save in a few high-risk coastal areas. From a peak of about 170,000 policies in 2007, it now holds about 130,000 (about what it had before Katrina) and is aiming to get below 100,000.

Note how these lit and hallucinating buffoons neglected to mention how many policies Louisiana Citizen’s had in 2004 and 2005 or the fact the guy running Louisiana Citizens (now under federal indictment) that entire time was paying his daughter’s prom bill with policyholder premiums.  Maybe next time they should check with Jim Brown before they have their combo mushroom binges/editorial board meetings. Since Bob Bartley died the only thing I can add about the remaining folks in opinion at the WSJ is that you guys really suck.

Watching the cottage controversy unfold from afar I shake my head at the utter uselessness of the approach taken by certain of the affordable housing advocates. Nowdy, who happens to know a thing or two about these type issues, contends in our internal Slabbed editorial board meetings very real issues are being obscured by the yet “another Thompson/Barbour pissing contest” and I’m inclined to agree and in this case I don’t blame our Gov.  It is simple economics; throwing money putting people without means into “affordable housing” does nothing to fix the larger problem.  Good paying jobs makes housing affordable. Meantime we have renters that actually work full time who are wondering where they will live when the FEMA rental assistance program ends this month. To the extent the renters work, received no grant and have no shot at a freebie cottage they have my sympathies. And since they work they can’t spend time raising cain at local City council meetings which brings us back to the “uselessness”. Solutions to thorny issues lie in the advancement of knowledge and awareness. People of goodwill can genuinely disagree but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together trying to find workable solutions to hard issues. Sometimes the politicians don’t make it easy but I’ve found both the Bay and Waveland the city councils are listening to a variety of opinions and genuinely want to do what is best for the community. Continue reading “Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds: Drinking ‘Shroom juice at the Wall Street Journal, Cottages, Community, Warr and Wind Pool”

Cookie Cutter Justice – USA v Warr

It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.

Hang with me and, hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll see how the title, the quote and USA v Warr are connected.  Maybe.

Having never seen House Beautiful report on an indictment or the National Inquirer cover a home renovation, I can’t tell if I’ve linked to a news story (or what).

There are several central issues in the indictment against the Warrs. They include whether or not the Warr home was both their primary residence and occupied by them at the time the hurricane hit on August 29, 2005. These occupancy requirements are cited in the rules for receiving a Homeowner Grant from the Mississippi Development Agency (MDA).  A MDA Homeowner Grant provides up to $150,000 to help rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by Katrina’s storm surge that were outside the federal flood zones that existed at the time of the hurricane. The Warrs did receive the full amount.

The reference to “rules” – not law, not federal regulation but “rules” – is significant.  Federal assistance to the states has two audit trails.  One measures compliance with related fiscal requirements and the other measures compliance with program requirements. The two audit trails, however, are interdependent.  Simply stated:

Try, try, try to separate them
Its an illusion
Try, try, try, and you will only come
To this conclusion
Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage…
You can’t have one without the other.

Matt Jadack was Deputy Inspector General for Disaster Assistance Oversight when he submitted testimony to Congress on the challenge the FEMA faced in that regard: Continue reading “Cookie Cutter Justice – USA v Warr”

Breaking: Brent Warr Indicted (Updated)

What a sad day for the Mississippi Coast. The investigation has been lengthy and no doubt very thorough. This case boils down to Warr’s place of residence when Katrina hit. The feds evidently are not buying into the story he lived on the beach when the storm hit.  Here is the indictment courtesy of Yallpolitics. Now the mayors of the two largest cities in the State are under federal indictment.

The Sun Herald coverage is here. “Uncle Walter” will be the judge.  😉

Update:

Insurance fraud is part of the mix per counts 13-16. According to the indictment he and the Mrs defrauded Lexington Insurance.

We have a new post examining a civil case released today by the 5h Circuit Court of Appeals that deals with a Katrina residency issue. It can be found here.