Judge Otis T. Wright (courtesy cbsla.com)

“Society does not win when the government stoops to the same level as the defendants it seeks to prosecute. Especially when the government has acted solely to achieve a conviction for a made-up crime.” – Judge Otis D. Wright II quoted in Judges question ATF stings that lure suspects into fictitious stickups [via msn.com] [h/t JM]

20 Responses to Quote of the Day: Judges Slam ATF Stash House Stings Edition

    • Its not about statutes. The case before the judge was that the ATF was targeting people with minor criminal histories that were in bad economic situations and leveraging that convincing them to break the law. The ATF was providing those people the means, motive, and opportunity to commit more severe crimes that these individuals have no history of being involved in just so the ATF could arrest them. That’s entrapment. The ATF even went further by encouraging the criminal activity when some of the defendants attempted to back out. In the absence of the ATF there is no reason to believe these people would have even considered the “crimes” the ATF arrested them for.

    • If you think this judge would even think about overturning any gun control law, I have a bridge to sell you.

      These are poor minorities, oppressed by the vicious hand of their government just before they were about to turn their lives around. Why, I heard that the ATF agent entrapped these guys on the way to choir practice! You, however, are an OFWG who illegally transferred a deadly automatic assault killer 10/22 with a high-capacity 10-round assault clip to another OFWG without a background check. IOW, a hazard to the very foundations of our democracy.

      And don’t you forget it.

  1. It isn’t just the ATF that boasts of 98% conviction rates, there is generally no expectation of a fair criminal trial in the federal court system.

    Let’s hope that the changes brewing in L.A. spread nationwide…

    “But a growing number of judges across the country, including two in Los Angeles, have turned their attention from the hapless defendants to the ATF’s tactics. Some of these judges have criticized the agency for casting a net so wide that it is likely to ensnare the poor rather than target those suspected of committing similar robberies.

    While some who take the bait are hardened criminals with robberies and other violent crimes on their rap sheets, others are petty thieves, vandals, or drunk drivers with tenuous gang affiliations.

    U.S. District Court judges in Los Angeles recently dismissed charges from so-called “stash-house stings” against six men in two cases – even though five of the defendants had already pleaded guilty. In each case, a judge made the rare ruling that the government’s conduct was “outrageous.”

    • Hardly, wake me up when it is more than a few Judges who are more likely than not just trying to get social justice for overwhelmingly black defendants. OFWG will not be given the same lenancy

    • Goes to prove how cowardly cops are. Instead of chasing down people who have actually harmed someone, they manufacture a crime in a highly controlled environment so no cops get hurt. Tax dollars at work.

  2. This is pretty interesting. I think it’s easy for us to say “they’re criminals, if they were law abiding citizens this wouldn’t have happened”, but at what point does it go too far? I wonder how people would feel if they sent agents to sell drugs outside of a high school, then arrest the ones who took the bait? I think it’s important for us to remember just how easy it is to commit a crime in this country.

    • I’d say thats the crux of the matter.
      We’ve empowered the government to pursue criminals and bring them to trial, not to go out there and round up everyone who might become a criminal with the right provocation. In hard times that could be anyone. There’s plenty of temptation to go around without the government itself casting a net.

      Especially when the net is based on laws that some might not be aware of (or laws that are willfully misinterpreted, for that matter).

    • Entrapment is entrapment is entrapment. That, and the harsh drug sentencing, has always been morally wrong, even (maybe especially) when it was so called conservatives cheering it on. Omnipotent government, and all.

  3. As far as the judges’ “new attitude” goes, I’m afraid John M and Pascal are on to something. And I would also point out for those on the “yes, this is wrong” side of the question, we aren’t talking about agents entrapping someone into shaving half an inch off a shotgun barrel, like they did to Randy Weaver. We’re talking about guys who are willing to take guns and stick them in other guy’s faces and maybe pull the trigger in order to take stuff that doesn’t belong to them. OTOH, it is kind of troubling to see ATF, or any other such agency, concentrate on plucking the low-hanging fruit to the detriment of going after more dangerous quarry. And since when was ATF doing simple robbery/drug dealing cases, anyway? Altho if it diverts them from harassing lawful gun owners, maybe it’s not all that bad.

    • I join in your comment. IT seems to me that there is enough real crime out there such that the ATF doesn’t need to go around drumming up business, especially since stuff like robberies and drugs are clearly outside the scope (or what should be the scope) of their statutory mandate. Or is it that the ATF has too many agents and not enough work to go around, so that this is a way for it to justify its existence and budget?

  4. 3 felonies a day. Of course it’s always been wrong. On the other hand I’m an OFWG who’s financially distressed at the moment. Really bad. But even so I’m NOT enticable to commit crimes. It’s called morals,ethics and knowing right from wrong. And I have close relatives(son & brother in law) who I feel were wrongly incarcerated. But both were guilty of stupidity rather than crimes. The moment the poor enticed ones carry guns they lose my sympathy. YMMV

  5. With confidence sufficient to bet money, I’m sure that if a similar DEA/ATF level budget for stings was given to the SEC for the same purpose, we could reel in a fat daily catch of finely suited metro men eager to commit insider trading. “Seek and ye shall find.”

    The use of confidential informants, working to evade hard time, to ensnare small-time cannabis buyers, is as ugly as unequal justice gets.

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