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
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
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
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 Túm, along with Amnesty International meet Leonard Peltier in
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,
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
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
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
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.