RE: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Actions (1977-Present)
Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Peltier's attorneys continue to press the government to produce the
approximately 140,000 documents which it has withheld for over 30
FOIA complaints have been filed against
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota,
and Washington, DC, respectively.
Further, FOIA requests have been issued to 35 FBI field offices which had
not previously been served with FOIA requests. Due to these
complaints, the Peltier attorneys determined that the government
was still withholding over 140,000 documents concerning Leonard's case.
to learn more about FOIA actions.
RE: Official Misconduct and
Interference in Regard to Fair Consideration For Executive Clemency
and Parole (2000-2003)
On June 26, 2000, an
was filed with the U.S. Department of Justice (PDF Format).
Relying on the universal principles of
ethics and professional responsibility applicable to United States
officials, the Department of Justice was asked to initiate and carry out a
thorough investigation of the actions and statements of various FBI
agents and supervisors, United States Attorneys and related government agents,
officials, and personnel involved in Leonard Peltier's case. The
conduct in question raised (and continue to raise) grave
concerns regarding the validity of Leonard Peltier's original conviction, as
well as the possibility of any full and fair consideration of his requests
for parole and/or clemency.
In addition to misconduct present during
the RESMURS investigation and throughout Peltier's trial and appeals,
a number of public statements and actions by various FBI officers
during the year 2000 were at the root of the complaint. These
officials publicly announced that their goal was to block the release
of Leonard Peltier, whether through parole or clemency. The Peltier
attorneys questioned the propriety of members of the Justice
Department engaging in such a public campaign. Parole and clemency
decisions are largely determined at various branches of the Justice
Department and neutrality and fairness in the handling of such matters
must be above reproach. Having members of one branch of the Department
engaged in vigorous lobbying on these matters certainly raises serious
questions. Far more important is the fact that many of the statements
made were false, intentionally misleading, or omitted highly relevant
information with the intent of deceiving the public. Still other
statements were highly emotional and dramatic, if not near hysterical,
in nature. These constant declarations were clearly intended to misinform
the public and create an atmosphere of fear and confusion, all with
the goal of depriving Leonard Peltier of a fair and reasoned consideration
of his legal requests for parole and clemency.
In 2003, the Department of Justice dismissed the complaint saying the allegations had been
investigated and that, contrary to the decisions written by appellate
judges throughout the past 30 years, there had been no misconduct on the part of FBI
agents, their supervisors, and other Department officials.
In 2005, as regards Peltier's bid for an award of
Executive Clemency, a FBI memo was discovered that clearly demonstrates
the tactics used to manipulate the media against Leonard Peltier.
to see the government document.
RE: Parole (1993-Present)
Leonard Peltier received two consecutive
life sentences. In the federal system, "life" is generally
defined as 30 years. A subsequent escape conviction (and of related
charges) resulted in 7 years being added to Leonard's sentence, also
to be served consecutively. Therefore, according to the government, he
is expected to serve a minimum of 67 years.
The U.S. Parole Commission has
established parole guidelines that indicate the range of time to be
served prior to release for various combinations of offense (severity)
and offender (parole prognosis) characteristics. Consideration of
mitigating circumstances as regards the offense is allowed and the
time ranges specified by the guidelines are established specifically
for cases with good institutional adjustment and program progress.
These are only guidelines, however, and parole decisions are made at
the discretion of the Commission, i.e., decisions outside of the
guidelines may be rendered and have been in the Peltier case.
According to the severity of the offense
(the killings of two law enforcement officers), Leonard Peltier was
designated as a Category 8 offender, the highest rating possible.
Mitigating circumstances have not been considered and the Commission
has rated his parole prognosis as poor thereby requiring that Peltier
serve 188+ months on his aggregate sentences. There is no upper limit
for Category 8 offenders. Therefore, the time Peltier will serve is
entirely up to the discretion of the parole authorities.
Leonard Peltier first became eligible for
parole in 1993. However, Leonard has repeatedly been denied parole.
a ruling of a 15-year reconsideration was made in response to
Peltier's 1993 application for parole, making him eligible for a
hearing in 2008, at which time a full reassessment of the case was to be
Leonard received his second full parole hearing on July 28,
again denied. The decision of the Parole Commission was appealed.
The administrative appeal was denied by the Parole Commission on
February 24, 2010.
here to see more information on parole actions.