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  US -v- Peltier

U.S. v Leonard Peltier (CR NO. C77-3003)

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 years.

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.

Click here 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 Ethics Complaint 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.  Click here 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. Most notably, 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 conducted.  Leonard received his second full parole hearing on July 28, 2009.  Parole was again denied. The decision of the Parole Commission was appealed.  The administrative appeal was denied by the Parole Commission on February 24, 2010.

Click here to see more information on parole actions.


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Last Updated on Wednesday April 15, 2015