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CHRONOLOGY OF THE LEONARD PELTIER CASE


 

 


 

CASE CHRONOLOGY - Part 3
the 1990s - 2003

LP case chronology part 1 (1944 - 1969)
LP case chronology part 2 (1970s & 1980s)

 

  • 18 April 1991: Senior Judge Gerald Heaney of the 8th Circuit Court panel that denied Peltier's 1986 appeal, now - having left the Court - writes to the U.S. President that evidence of unlawful misconduct by the FBI and other governmental agencies before, during, and after the Fargo trial persuades him that Leonard Peltier deserves executive clemency.

  • October 1991: Evidentiary hearing for a new trial in Bismark, ND.

  • 30 December 1991: Petition for a new trial denied again by the original judge (Benson) at 1977 Fargo trial.

  • 23 March 1992: Peltier's attorneys file a new appeal with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • 9 November 1992: Original prosecutor at Fargo trial, Lynn Crooks, admits again before the 8th Circuit Court that the government does NOT know who killed the two agents nor what role Peltier may have had in the firefight.

  • 7 July 1993: Despite overwhelming exculpatory evidence, the 8th Circuit Court again denies Peltier's appeal and reaffirms his conviction.

  • 21 November 1993: After the U.S. Parole Commission denies appeal for parole, Peltier's appeal attorney and former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsey Clark formally petitions for executive clemency from the U.S. president; application is sent to the U.S. Attorney General for review and recommendation, a process normally taking from 3 to 9 months.

  • 15 December 1994: The European Parliament passes a unanimous resolution supporting executive clemency for Peltier.

  • December 1995: Peltier is temporarily transferred to U.S. Medical Center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, for surgery on his ailing jaw; requires six blood transfusions, and nearly dies.

  • 19 March 1996: The U.S. Parole Commission again denies parole, tells Peltier to reapply in the year 2008!

  • April 1997: The Belgian Parliament passes a unanimous resolution in support of Peltier; asking the U.S. Congress to start hearings into the FBI misconduct in this particular case.

  • 4 May 1998: At an interim parole hearing, the U.S. Parole Commission reaffirms its denial of parole; again tells Peltier to reapply in 2008.

  • 21 November 1998: Five years after the petition was made, Peltier's request for executive clemency remains mired in the U.S. Attorney General's office.

  • 11 February 1999: The European Parliament passes a second unanimous resolution in favour of executive clemency.

  • 20 January 2000: Canada's largest native group joined its American counterpart in Leavenworth prison to visit Leonard Peltier. The Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of American Indians hope their combined weight - more than three million people - will increase pressure for Peltier's release.

  • 18 February 2000: Nobel Peace Prize laureate and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Rigoberta Menchu Tm, along with Amnesty International meet Leonard Peltier in prison.

  • 20 March 2000: Peltier is suddenly transferred to the Rochester Medical Center, Minnesota, for another jaw surgery.

  • 22 March 2000: Dr. Keller at the Mayo Clinic, MN, reports that x-rays of Peltier's jaw were taken. The x-rays showed that Leonard has ankylosis on both sides of his jaw, meaning that his jaw is totally frozen. Dr. Keller performs a 5-hour surgery on Peltier, and returns his jaw to a complete working condition. Peltier receives proper medical treatment at long last. On the other hand, he has been tortured for four years from a condition that could have been fixed in five hours. Prison officials had been saying for over a year that his condition did not warrant x-rays, a second opinion, or any treatment at all. Proof, once again, that vindictiveness has replaced Leonard Peltier's human and constitutional rights by government officials and they feel completely comfortable lying to the public, Congress, and even the United Nations. However, it also shows that enough pressure from concerned individuals and human rights groups can have a positive effect.

  • 12 June 2000: Another parole review hearing is scheduled at USP Leavenworth, KS. Again, parole is denied. His next parole hearing is in 2008, but officials must review the case every two years to determine whether a change in the sentence is warranted.

  • July 2000: The Belgian Parliament passes its second unanimous resolution in support of Peltier and again asks the U.S. Congress to start hearings into the FBI misconduct in this particular case.

  • 10 July 2000: The Democratic Party of Washington passes a unanimous resolution in support of executive clemency for Peltier.

  • 19 July 2000: One of Peltier attorneys, Jennifer Harbury files an Ethics Complaint withe the U.S. Justice Department asking for an official investigation of FBI misconduct starting with the Pine Ridge Reign of Terror and finishing with the FBI's current campaign of disinformation against Peltier.

  • 1 August 2000: The Democratic Party of California passes a unanimous resolution in support of executive clemency for Peltier. The resolution, introduced by the Marin Progressive Democrats, passes with overwhelming support, including the entire 550 California Democratic delegates to the National Democratic Convention.

  • November 2000: The FBI Agents Association and the Society of Former FBI Agents organize a telephone campaign to the White House in an attempt to discourage a grant of executive clemency for Peltier. Combined, the two organizations have membership in the tens of thousands. They purchase a toll free number for their membership to utilize when calling the White House.

  • November/December 2000: The White House declines comment on all questions about possible presidential pardons. In late November, President Bill Clinton announces he will review pending requests for executive clemency before he leaves office in January 2001; including that of Peltier. FBI Director Louis Freeh recommends that President Clinton denies the request for clemeny. Freeh tells Clinton such an act would "signal disrespect" for law enforcement.

  • 15 December 2000: Nearly 500 current and retired FBI agents march to the White House in an unprecedented protest, opposing any presidential clemency for Leonard Peltier. Carrying a "Never Forget" banner lettered in red, a line of women stand 2-by-2 for the march to the White House gate with a petition to President Clinton signed by 8,000 current and former agents. This FBI protest is totally inappropriate, and it is a sad day for democracy when armed forces march through the streets to influence a decision for mercy and justice by a civilian president.

  • 20 January 2001: The last gesture of Bill Clinton as U.S. president is to pardon something like 176 people who had been convicted, were under indictment, or otherwise in trouble with the law. Many are friends or people Clinton is beholden to: his brother, Susan McDougal (who served 18 months for contempt after refusing to answer before a Whitewater Grand Jury whether Clinton had told the truth in his testimony); billionaire financier Marc Rich, exiled in Switzerland, afraid to travel for fear of extradition to the U.S. for record tax fraud and whose citizenship he has renounced, and whose wife Denise was a lavish giver to the Democratic Party and Clinton Library. Nowhere in the gaggle of pardonees is Leonard Peltier...

  • 2 November 2001: Peltier's Attorney Eric Seitz files a motion which seeks the reduction of Peltier's life sentences from consecutive to concurrent. A reduction would obligate the Parole Commission to grant Leonard's release.

  • 5 December 2001: Almost 26 years after his false extradition from Canada to the United States, Leonard Peltier is honoured with the 2001 OFL Human Rights Award from the Ontario Federation of Labour. The province's federation of trade unions represents about 600,000 of the estimated 2.2 million unionized workers in Canada.

  • 6 February 2002: Peltier begins his 27th year in prison - measured from his arrest in Canada in 1976.

  • 22 March 2002: U.S District Court Judge Magnison, ND, denies Peltier's motion to reduce his sentence without a hearing based upon issues of timeliness. Such a motion is supposed to be filed within a year following a conviction. However, Peltier's attorneys argue that filing at this late date is justified because of significant developments that occurred since trial, citing cases in which exceptions had been made due to extraordinary circumstances. The court says that the significant developments in question (government admission it can't prove who shot the FBI agents; ballistics) have already been litigated. Judge Magnison refuses to consider these issues despite the clearly different character of the case, which seeks a review of sentence and not a new trial like before. Attorney Eric Seitz promises to appeal the decision to the 8th Circuit Court.

  • late March 2002: The LPDC (Leonard Peltier Defense Committee) tries to obtain new evidence and demands a new trial for Peltier. Key evidence exists in the thousands of documents that are still being withheld by the FBI. Attorney Michael Kuzma pursues the documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process. He is also working with law students involved in the Innocence Project of Osgoode Hall and the LPDC of Canada to obtain documents generated around the extradition.

  • 4 April 2002: Former FBI director Louis Freeh is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Peltier's attorneys. Freeh, along with the FBI Agents Association and a long list of active FBI agents, are accused of violating Peltier's constitutional rights by making false and unsupported statements to the public, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Parole Commission, and former President Clinton. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington DC, alleges that the FBI "engaged in a systematic, and officially sanctioned campaign of mis-information and dis-information" designed to prevent Peltier from receiving fair clemency and parole reviews.

  • May 2002: For over a year now, Leonard has been quietly enduring a bone spur in his heel. He has sought treatment for this painful condition, yet none of the remedies offered by the federal Bureau of Prisons have worked. His condition is worsened by poor-quality footwear and by stressing the foot. He received two cortisone shots which had no effect. He is forced to work at the Unicor furniture factory, the federal prison labor operation, where he must stand on his feet all day, which causes severe pain. When he asked for transfer to a position that did not cause him pain, he was told that he would stay where he was for six more years. The prison clinician has recommended a simple surgical procedure to correct the bone spur, but the Bureau of Prisons' medical facility in Springfield, Missouri has denied the request, and the Leavenworth warden has denied a request for treatment at a Kansas City hospital.

  • June 2002: The FBI releases eleven boxes of documents from their headquarters in Washington DC. The +30,000 documents are first released to the office of U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (Democrats-MA), who wrote to the FBI regarding the documents after he received hundreds of letters from constituents on the issue. In the coming months, these documents will be digitized with a high-tech scanner which will allow thorough searching, indexing and cross-referencing. The documents will be analyzed by a team of experts including attorneys Bruce Ellison, Jennifer Harbury, among others. While these documents represent the extent of what the FBI claims it had in their headquarters, there are still many more documents in the 56 field offices. The Minneapolis field office reports 42,000 pages in Peltier's file, and an FBI agent assigned to FOIA issues in Washington DC says the volume may near 100,000 pages. The goal is to vigorously pursue full declassification of all the remaining FBI documents.

  • 9 July 2002: Leonard Peltier has an interim parole hearing. An interim parole hearing is different from a regular parole hearing. Its purpose is to review the Parole Commission's original decision to deny parole to see if any new developments warrant a change. The Commission can do one of three things: affirm the original decision to deny parole and leave the next full hearing date in 2008 in place (the most common scenario); accelerate or postpone the next full hearing date; or grant parole (the rarest scenario). And as was feared: again parole is denied. The next full hearing is in six years from now.

  • 9 September 2002: Alvina Robideau - Leonard's mother - passes away in the early morning in Oregon. Leonard Peltier is not allowed to attend the funeral.

  • 10 September 2002: Attorneys Michael Kuzma and Barry Bachrach file FOIA requests with several FBI field offices. The FBI's lead FOIA agent says the documents may number close to 100,000 pages, and their release may take years. FBI field offices have said that the scope of the inquiries outstrips their capacity to process the documents, referring the requests to FBI headquarters. A FOIA lawsuit challenging this stalling tactic and demanding that the FBI follow the law is prepared.

  • 12 September 2002: Leonard Peltier "celebrates" his 58th birthday; he's in prison since age 31.

  • 12 December 2002: the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit denies Leonard's appeal to reduce the unjust sentences imposed upon him. In doing so, the court avoided addressing the merits of the case, to which it would have had no answer, and rested its decision on jurisdictional grounds, ruling that Leonard's motion to reduce his unjust sentence was too late. In the meantime, there is still an appeal pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals which addresses the Parole Commission's refusal to consider Leonard for parole until 2008.

  • December 2002: The Cambridge Democratic City Committee, Massachusetts, passes a resolution in support of freedom for Peltier.

  • 9 January 2003: KOLA presents the International Forum of VIPs for Peltier to U.S. President George W. Bush and Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee through the American embassies in Brussels, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris.

  • 11 January 2003: KOLA presents the International Forum of VIPs for Peltier to the international media during a press conference in Brussels.

  • 6 February 2003: Leonard will start his 28th year in prison...

  • February 2003: The Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusettes passes a resolution in support of freedom for Peltier, and calls for the release of up to 100,000 related documents held in FBI field offices, as well as for congressional investigations into FBI misconduct in this case.

  • 7 May, 2003: the U.S. Justice Department, Office of the Pardon Attorney acknowledges receipt of the +220 letters signed by KOLA's International Forum of VIPs. The Justice Dept. writes Peltier's clemency request is still pending and that, as "ordered by President Bush", the VIP letters are added to his file as "supporting evidence".

  • 14 July 2003: Leonard's appeal in Denver, CO, has finally been scheduled. Peltier's attorneys are pursuing an appeal to the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals of the recent denial of his 1999 Habeas Corpus petition. Leonard seeks to overturn the U.S. Parole Commission's refusal to even consider him for parole until December 2008. The normal Parole Commission guideline for prisoners convicted of homicide offenses is 200+ months served. This means that Leonard should have been released from prison over one decade ago. The Commission, however, has repeatedly refused to consider setting a parole date until 2008 - when Leonard will have served almost double the normal time. Oral arguments will be heard on September 19, 2003, in the 10th Circuit of Appeals, Denver, Colorado.

  • 15 August 2003: The FBI is ordered to begin releasing all remaining withheld documents from its field offices by December 2004.

  • 12 September 2003: Leonard Peltier's 59th birthday; for the 28th time behind prison walls...

  • 19 September 2003: Peltier's attorneys tell the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO, that the government is denying him a parole hearing on the unproven claim that he "ambushed two FBI agents before allegedly gunning them down" 28 years ago. Peltier, now 59 years old, has been in prison twice as long as required by federal guidelines if no hearing is held until 2008 as decreed by the U.S. Parole Commission. The three-judge panel is taking the case under advisement. Judge Stephen Anderson questions the reasons for delaying a parole hearing. "Isn't it troubling that the [parole] commission relied on unestablished facts?", Anderson asks. However, Anderson also asks Peltier's attorney Barry Bachrach what he would do if a hearing is held and parole is denied. The judge speculates the attorneys might then use other strategies to win parole for Peltier. After the hearing, more than 200 supporters rally outside the courthouse, singing and beating drums. Many carry American Indian Movement banners and "Free Peltier" signs.

  • 4 November 2003: The federal appeals court in Denver announces its decision and refuses to grant a parole hearing. Peltier's attorney Barry Bachrach says their options in responding to this ruling include asking the full appeals court to consider the issue, or taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leonard Peltier has now done more than 10 years over the time that he was eligible for parole.


Chronology continued:

 





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Last update: 01/12/2014

 

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