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CHRONOLOGY OF THE LEONARD PELTIER CASE


 

 


 

LEONARD PELTIER CASE CHRONOLOGY - Part 4
2004 - 2005

LP case chronology part 1 (1944 - 1969)
LP case chronology part 2 (1970s & 1980s)
LP case chronology part 3 (1990s - 2003)

 

  • February 2004: A American university professor, and a Member of the European Parliament officially nominate Leonard Peltier for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

  • 6 February 2004: Leonard Peltier starts his 28th year in prison...

  • 19 April 2004: In yet another outrageous decision by the courts, the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to grant certiorari to review the 10th Circuit's denial of Peltier's request to be considered for parole. The U.S. Supreme court does so in the face of the 10th Circuit's recognition that the government indisputably engaged in misconduct in the prosecution of Leonard. This is another pitiful failure of the U.S. justice system to correct undisputed government wrongs.

  • 1 August 2004: The California Peace and Freedom Party announces they will not be supporting Ralph Nader for president. The group of 80,000 instead nominates Leonard Peltier at its convention.

  • 2 September 2004: In a major law suit filed by Leonard Peltier and another federal prisoner, they claim that U.S. Department of Justice officials knowingly violated the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (and its amendments) and illegally extended their prison terms for over a decade. The defendants named in the law suit include the U.S. Parole Commission, and individuals who have served on the Commission during the past two decades; Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Attorneys General Edwin Meese, Richard Thornburgh, William Barr, and Janet Reno; and the current Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Harley Lappin, as well as former directors J. Michael Quinlan and Kathleen Hawk Sawyer. The Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) was passed to address what Congress thought were inconsistent sentences imposed by different judges on different individuals convicted of the same crimes, as well as arbitrary parole decisions. A new system - one of determinate sentences - was born and the Parole Commission was abolished. At the heart of the suit is the refusal of the government to enforce Title II, Chapter II, Section 235(b)(3) of the SRA. Effective on October 12, 1984, this part of the law ordered that parole dates "consistent with the applicable parole guideline" be issued to all "old system" prisoners within the following five-year period, at the end of which time (on October 11, 1989) the Commission would cease to exist. On December 7, 1987, Congress enacted Public Law 100-182 which amended the SRA; repealed, in Section 2, the release criteria established by the original section 235(b)(3); and restored the release criteria under 18 U.S.C. 4206. This amendment did not restore the Parole Commission or remove its obligation to establish mandatory release dates, with sufficient time for appeal, by October 11, 1989. These changes to the law also applied only to crimes committed after the law was amended on December 7, 1987. The amendment simply did not apply to the plaintiffs or to the some 6,000 other "old system" prisoners still held by the Bureau of Prisons today. After it had technically ceased to exist, the Parole Commission claimed it needed more time to complete its work. Congress inexplicably granted a number of after-the-fact extensions, the first in 1990 and the latest in 2002. The suit claims these extensions were legally invalid and therefore inapplicable because, at the time they were made, the Parole Commission had already been abolished. Had the Parole Commission followed the congressional mandate, Leonard Peltier would have been released over 12 years ago. Lacking in any statutory authority, the U.S. Parole Commission in fact illegally extended the terms of his imprisonment. The failure of the Parole Commission to give release dates to Peltier violated the ex post facto, Bill of Attainder, and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Leonard Peltier has demanded a permanent injunction preventing further misapplication of the SRA and its amendments by the government; enforcement of the rights created by the original section 235(b)(3); and, due to irreparable injuries, compensatory and punitive damages as determined by a jury.

  • 12 September 2004: Leonard Peltier turns 60 years old.

  • September 2004: During the New York fashion week, at the request of KOLA-IPF, the American designers Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui both print the slogan "Leonard Peltier is Innocent" on their respective show programs. This does not go unnoticed. Both the New York Times and the glossy fashion magazine Women's Wear Daily write about it.

  • October 2004: At the request of KOLA-IPF, during the Paris, France fashion week, the British designer Vivienne Westwood and French designer Christian Lacroix both print the slogan "Leonard Peltier is Innocent" on their respective show programs.

  • 12 October 2004: The 137 new International Peltier Forum letters signed by celebrities in 2003-2004 are sent to the White House by diplomatic mail through the U.S. Embassy in Belgium. The letters include the one signed by former USSR President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachov.

  • 15 December 2004: The attorneys for Leonard Peltier file a Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence in the U.S. District Court in Fargo, ND. Peltier has been illegally imprisoned for nearly 30 years. The federal jurisdiction conferred by the statutes under which he was convicted and sentenced depended on the location of the alleged crime, not against whom the crime was allegedly committed. The statutes required that the acts in question take place "within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States". Because the acts occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is neither within the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States (the Oglala Sioux Nation of Pine Ridge is a sovereign nation!), Leonard Peltier was convicted and sentenced for crimes over which the U.S. District Court had no jurisdiction. Not only did the court not have jurisdiction in the Peltier case, but the trial judge inflicted punishment – two consecutive life terms – that the jury’s verdict alone did not allow. The jury did not find all the facts "which the law makes essential to the punishment". According to the Supreme Court, the judge exceeded his proper authority. Peltier is calling on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in effect at the time of his sentencing, that provided that the Court could correct an illegal sentence at any time. This rule applies to any offence committed before November 1, 1997. The appellate courts have recognized the undisputed misconduct in Peltier’s case – fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony – yet have refused to take corrective action for nearly three decades. This is clearly an abuse of the legal standards of American justice.

  • 30 December 2004: The FBI was ordered on August 15, 2003, to begin releasing documents by December 2004. On December 30, 2004, the FBI produces 5,112 pages of material. However, the pages released consist of Mr. Peltier's 1977 trial transcripts, as well as the Robideau-Butler trial transcripts. Incredibly, the FBI withheld 144 pages from these transcripts - documents that are already a matter of public record - on the basis that they were exempt from disclosure. Peltier's attorneys send a letter to the judge who issued the above Order, to ask her to reconsider her August 2003 decision. We know that the FBI has 142,579 pages of material that have never been made available to Leonard's legal team. The FBI's Minneapolis Field Office alone has 90,000 pages. The data maintained by this Field Office are particularly important because this was the office in which the RESMURS investigation was based. Incredibly, the judge denied the request, disagreeing that the FBI has made a bad faith response to her Order. Perhaps she believes the legal team has waited nearly 30 years only to receive Peltier's trial transcripts - which, of course, they already have?

  • 6 February 2005: Leonard Peltier starts his 29th year in prison...

  • February 2005: During the New York fashion week, at the request of KOLA-IPF, the American designers Anna Sui and Narciso Rodriguez once again print the slogan "Leonard Peltier is Innocent" on their respective show programs.

  • 16 February 2005: The Oglala Commemoration Committee and the Lakota Student Alliance introduce the Leonard Peltier Honorary Scholarship for incoming freshmen at the Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. This scholarship will be awarded to one student each year who has finished his/her General Equivalency Diploma (GED) in good standing and plans to attend Oglala Lakota College (OLC) to further his/her education. The Award, in the amount of $250, is created in the name of Leonard Peltier. Only GED Graduates at Oglala Lakota College shall be eligible to receive this scholarship. The applicant (GED Graduate) must submit an application and essay to be considered by the Oglala Lakota College Scholarship Committee. The Oglala Lakota College Scholarship Committee is authorized to select the award recipient each year. The Oglala Commemoration Committee will announce the Leonard Peltier Honorary Scholarship recipient following the annual Oglala Commemoration Event held each year in Oglala on June 26th. The Lakota Student Alliance and Oglala Commemoration Committee jointly sponsor the Scholarship to honor and remember the lives lost during the 1970's civil conflict on the reservation and to also raise awareness toward the unjust imprisonment of AIM member Leonard Peltier. Lakota Student Alliance members hope this scholarship will encourage GED graduates to further their education and gain powerful knowledge for the common good of the Lakota Nation. The LSA realizes the tremendous barriers that often lead to painful choices by many Lakota tribal students. The GED graduates of the Oglala Lakota Nation are mostly Single Parents with little income. These parents took the initiative to better themselves for their homes, and their communities.
    For more information on the Oglala Commemoration event you can visit the website at http://www.oglalacommemoration.com or http://www.geocities.com/lakotastudentalliance/lsapr_081104.html

  • 25 February 2005: the FBI releases an additional 5,167 pages of withheld records from its Minneapolis field office. Peltier's legal team is presently reviewing this information.

  • 1 March 2005: At the request of KOLA-IPF, during the Paris, France fashion week, British designer Vivienne Westwood once again prints the slogan "Leonard Peltier is Innocent" on her show program; as well as on her advertising campaigns in glossy fashion magazines.

  • 3 March 2005: Peltier's attorneys file a Motion to Summarily Proceed on Leonard's Petition for Habeas Corpus and to establish bail. On August 6, 2002, a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was submitted to the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. This pending appeal concerns the unconstitutional misapplication of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (under which prisoners sentenced "under the old system" were to be issued release dates no later than October 1989) by the U.S. Parole Commission. On February 20, 2004, a Reply Brief on the government's Motion to Transfer (to the U.S. District Court in the District of Kansas) was filed. In March, the D.C. District Court granted the government's Motion to Transfer. There has been no movement on this appeal for over a year.

  • 9 March 2005: a Motion for Expedited Hearing is filed concerning the December 15, 2004, Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of North Dakota. Peltier's attorneys demand a permanent injunction preventing further misapplication of the SRA and its amendments by the government; enforcement of the rights created by the original section 235(b)(3); and due to irreparable injuries suffered by Peltier, compensatory and punitive damages as determined by a jury. On September 17, stating the claim appeared to be a habeas corpus petition, the court issued an Order to Show Cause why the case shouldn't be transferred to the U.S. District Court of Kansas On October 12, the legal team submitted its response and filed the final complaint. Nevertheless, the court recently ordered the claim transferred to the U.S. District Court of Kansas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the District Court's decision.

  • 15 March 2005: the Peltier legal team files a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus from the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court's ruling. In a related action, an Emergency Grievance was submitted to the Bureau of Prisons in early March 2005 to address claims of illegal detention resulting in personal injuries and/or irreparable harm. No response from prison authorities within a 48-hour period will result in court action.

  • 21 March 2005: Judge Donovan W. Frank issues an Order & Memorandum regarding the appeal the legal team filed concerning the Magistrate Judge Decision in their Minneapolis FOIA action. The Court set the matter for oral argument.

  • 27 March 2005: The hearing concerning the FOIA action against the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office has been set for April 15, 2005, at 2:00 p.m. CT, at the St. Paul Federal Court House, 316 N. Roberts, St. Paul, Minnesota.

  • 5 April 2005: Leonard's lawyers fail to persuade a federal judge in Buffalo, NY, to release a key document that could lead to a new trial for Peltier. Citing legal provisions that protect identities of FBI personnel and confidential sources, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny refuses to provide the full text of a 1975 teletype message from the FBI's Buffalo office to then-FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley. A version with parts blacked out had been released last year. Peltier's attorneys contend the message suggests that a New York FBI informant might have been trying to infiltrate Peltier's defense team. The judge didn't deal with the legal team's arguments about COINTELPRO and the FBI's war on the American Indian Movement. He sidestepped that issue, and it is key because Freedom of Information Act exemptions cannot be used to shield illegal or unauthorized investigative tactics. Skretny deferred a final decision on releasing seven of the 15 requested pages; all had been withheld on national security grounds. Michael Kuzma, Peltier's FOIA lawyer, says he will appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City.

  • 15 April 2005: Peltier's lawyers ask U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank for immediate and unfettered access to 90,000 pages of documents that were wrongly withheld during Peltier's 1977 trial. The thousands of pages compiled by the FBI's Minneapolis field office could contain information about informants, and evidence Peltier could use to win his release or a new trial.

  • 26 April 2005: While admonishing the FBI for withholding "some" documents, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul, MN, denies the request by Peltier's lawyers for quicker access to information used to convict him of killing two federal agents three decades ago. The Judge says a previously arranged schedule for the release of documents assembled by the Minneapolis FBI office should continue and be completed by December 1st, 2005. But he took issue with the FBI's earlier decision to withhold 144 pages of public trial transcripts in the case of Peltier. "Whether this sequestration of pages was the result of the FBI's lack of resources or ineptitude, it is inexcusable and will not be tolerated again by this court," Frank writes. He writes that he is "fully prepared to order an expedited release schedule if it is demonstrated, again, that the FBI has not acted in good faith." At the hearing, FBI attorney Preeya Noranha says the agency is working as quickly as possible and plans to turn over a new batch of documents every 60 days.

  • 6 June 2005: Peltier's defense team is granted a hearing to correct his illegal sentencing. The basis for this motion is that the U.S. District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the statutes upon which Mr. Peltier was convicted and sentenced. The statutes in question require that the crime take place "within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States". Since the deaths of the agents occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is neither "within the special maritime [or] territorial jurisdiction of the United States", Peltier's defense team is asking the Court to grant Mr. Peltier's motion and vacate the illegal sentences imposed upon him. This hearing is important because Peltier was never charged with crimes over which the United States had jurisdiction. The history of the constitution, and the statutes implicated, unequivocally establish that Leonard Peltier was not convicted under the Indian Crimes Act, which is the only possible authority under which the government could have tried and convicted Peltier. Whereas here, the court had no jurisdiction to convict Peltier under the crimes for which he was convicted, those convictions must be set aside as a matter of law.

  • 15 June 2005: At 2:00 p.m., the hearing takes place at the Quentin N. Burdick U.S. Courthouse in Fargo, North Dakota. Peltier's defense team argues for his release, saying the federal government did not have the right to try him for crimes that occurred on a South Dakota reservation. "The court had no federal offense before it and it had no federal jurisdiction," attorney Barry Bachrach tells U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson. Leonard Peltier, who has a history of diabetes and recently suffered a stroke, listens by speaker-phone from federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. He talks briefly after lawyers have finished, complaining that the government continues to change its story about his role in the killings. Bachrach also tells the judge that a recent court ruling on sentencing guidelines shows the court exceeded its authority in handing down two consecutive life terms. A ruling is expected within two months. About 30 people attend a protest rally outside the courthouse before the hearing.

  • 1 July 2005: Leonard Peltier is suddenly moved to USP Terre Haute, in Indiana. The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently decided to convert the maximum-security prison of USP Leavenworth, Kansas, to a medium-security prison. The 1,511 prisoners will all be moved to maximum-security prisons such as Terre Haute, or Florence, Colorado. At Terre Haute, Leonard Peltier is immediately placed in "the hole". It is basic procedure to keep transferred inmates in solitary confinement while processing takes place, however we do not know how long that will take. While the Terre Haute facility is comparable to Leavenworth – with 7.5-hour work assignments (all prisoners must work); recreation; and other programs – there are some significant differences between the two institutions. Terre Haute has a death row and its prison industry includes work in support of the United States' "War on Terrorism", i.e., production of ammunition for the U.S. military.

  • 22 July 2005: The federal judge in North Dakota rejects the appeal filed by Leonard Peltier. Peltier's lawyer,Barry Bachrach, said federal laws did not apply to Peltier because the FBI agents Williams and Coler were killed in Indian Country. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson denies the appeal, saying the government has the right to prosecute people who kill federal agents, no matter where the crimes occur. The appeal was one of several in the 30-year-old case.

  • 15 August 2005: Only one and half month after the transfer from USP Leavenworth, KS, to USP Terre Haure, IN, once again Leonard Peltier is transferred to USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. Health problems continue to plague Leonard and the conditions he was subjected to in Indiana, exacerbated.

  • 23 September 2005: The legal defense team for Leonard Peltier files an appeal to the July 2005 U.S. District Court decision which wrongly endorsed federal jurisdiction over Indian Territory. The appeal seeks to overturn the denial of Peltier's Motion to correct the illegal sentence imposed upon him by the federal courts.


     

 





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