If Ferguson Accepts Agreement With DOJ, How Would City Pay For It?

The proposed agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and Ferguson, Mo., has been noted for its scope and specificity, but for all its detail, it does not answer two critical questions: How much will reforms to the city's police department and municipal court cost, and how will Ferguson, already burdened by multimillion-dollar deficits, pay for them? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the City Council wants to hear from residents. A council vote on the proposal is set for Feb. 9.

COPS To Review San Francisco Police Department After Controversial Shooting

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Policing Services (COPS) will conduct a “comprehensive review” of the San Francisco Police Department after the Dec. 2 killing of Mario Woods by officers, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. COPS, headed by former East Palo Alto, Ca., Police Chief Ronald Davis, collaborates with local police forces to build stronger relationships with communities, and Police Chief Greg Suhr had requested such a review. Woods' family and the American Civil Liberties Union had asked for an additional federal intervention, one by the DOJ Civil Rights Division, which enforces federal antidiscrimination laws and can force reforms. The Obama administration opened such civil rights probes in cities including Chicago, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo., in many cases finding patterns of excessive force and racial bias. Suhr said Woods was allegedly still armed with a knife he had used in an earlier stabbing, and that the five officers who fired on him had no choice but to use lethal force after attempts to disarm him with beanbag rounds and pepper spray were unsuccessful.

Ferguson Asks Citizens To Comment On Proposed Settlement With DOJ

A proposed agreement between Ferguson, Mo., and the U.S. Justice Department provides broad principles under which police officers should operate: Build community trust. Increase transparency. Strengthen accountability. The agreement, negotiated for months behind closed doors, focuses on the details of daily police functions: Wear working body cameras at all times. Don't stop people only to check for warrants.

San Francisco Mayor Seeks Federal Probe Of Police Shooting, Department

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is seeking a federal investigation of the police shooting of a young black man, along with a broader look into the city’s police department, the Associated Press reports. Lee asked for the probe of the Mario Woods shooting in a letter to U.S. Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch. The letter said Lee is “inviting transparency and accountability” in the department. “We seek answers, not just to the facts of Mr. Woods’s case,” Lee said, “but also answers about how as a Police Department and a City we can build deeper, stronger trust between law enforcement and the communities they’re sworn to protect.” Many, including Woods’ family, had urged the mayor to ask for the probe, and Lee was joined in the request by city supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen.

How Did Petraeus Avoid Prison In Case Of Leaking Government Secrets?

How did David Petraeus, the ­storied wartime general and former CIA director, avoid prison for lying to the FBI and violating the Espionage Act? The Washington Post tells the inside story. Not everyone at the U.S. Justice Department shared the prosecutors' confidence in the case, and lawyers for Petraeus and his mistress, Paula Broadwell, separately pushed back hard, saying they would fight and beat the charges being considered. With its mix of sex and government secrets, a trial promised to be an uncomfortably tawdry affair, one some in the government as well as defense lawyers preferred to avoid. The Justice Department has never discussed how it reached its decision to accept a plea on a lesser charge.

Departing U.S. Pardon Attorney Was “Very Frustrated” Over Lack Of Staff

Departing U.S. Justice Department's pardon attorney Deborah Leff is leaving her job because she is frustrated by a lack of resources for one of the president's centerpiece criminal-justice initiatives, people close to her tell the Washington Post. Leff’s resignation was previously reported by Politico. Leff ls leaving as the Obama administration struggles to process a backlog of more than 9,000 pending clemency petitions. As the president approaches the end of his second term, time is running out for his high-profile effort to offer clemency to certain nonviolent federal drug offenders harshly sentenced in the nation's war on drugs. Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the department is asking Congress to more than double the number of lawyers assigned to the pardon office, from 22 to 46.

Koch Backing For Justice Reform Rooted In Environmental Case

The conservative Koch brothers’ financial investment in criminal justice reform is reviewed by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who has just published a book on the Kochs. Mark Holden of Koch Industries, who has overseen Koch Industries' criminal-justice-reform work, acknowledges that the brothers were motivated to give money to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2004 after being prosecuted for environmental crimes. A federal case against the company, says Holden, “was a huge overreach, a grave injustice,” adding, “We were very skeptical, going forward, of criminal prosecutors having too much power. So we got involved in criminal-justice reform.” Skeptics who see the Kochs' sentencing-reform effort as a publicity stunt say that they have continued to give money to groups and candidates that have run scurrilous tough-on-crime campaigns, like that of Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who made a failed bid for governor last fall.

Journalists, Local Observers Seem To Outnumber Oregon “Occupiers”

As the situation at the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon entered its third day, the occupiers appeared to be outnumbered by a few curious locals and a huge gaggle of journalists who swarmed this vast tract of sage-studded grassland, the Washington Post reports. Though an armed occupation was in progress, the snow around much of the headquarters in this remote federal wildlife refuge was untrampled and pristine. A refrigerator contained a handful of condiments and a single muffin. Two lonely sleeping bags were tucked in an out-of-the-way corner. “Thank you for being here,” said Ammon Bundy, the Idaho rancher leading the occupation, at his regular 11 a.m. news conference.

U.S. Charged A Record 60 With Terrorism Crimes This Year

The U.S. Justice Department has charged 60 people this year with terrorism-related crimes, an unprecedented number that officials attribute to a heightened threat from the Islamic State and the influence of social media on potential recruits, the Washington Post reports. In the last two weeks, prosecutors charged three people and convicted two others on terrorism-linked charges. Charged was Enrique Marquez, a friend of Syed Farook, the gunman who was killed in a firefight with police after the San Bernardino shooting rampage. Also charged was Mohamed Elshinawy, a Maryland man accused of receiving $8,700 from the Islamic State overseas and planning to use it to carry out attacks in the U.S. He told prosecutors a childhood friend connected him through social media with an Islamic State operative. Jalil Aziz, a Pennsylvania man, was charged with providing support to the Islamic State by spreading its propaganda on social media and for helping the group's supporters travel to Syria to fight.