SILVER SPRING, Md., April 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- When something goes wrong in the criminal justice system, there are other courts to appeal to in order to rectify any mistakes made by the individuals originally hearing the case. Anyone can make a mistake, and sometimes even the most open-minded people have prejudices they have never acknowledged. That is why it is vital when someone believes himself to be a victim of mistreatment or unfairness in the criminal justice system, there are other avenues where the individual can seek to redress those issues and ensure that the proceedings were, indeed, fair.
In the case of Cary Lee Peterson, he has consistently proclaimed his innocence and asked for openness regarding his case. Instead of openness, he has met with obstruction, delay, and deliberate malfeasance. Even those who admit they made errors or provided inadequate services refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes. Peterson has been fighting for a chance to clear his name for several years now, yet cannot even get a hearing in front of a court to address the issues in his case.
United States vs Cary Lee Peterson
Peterson is a registered civil rights lobbyist who raised funds for Bernie Pac from campaign donors. Bernie Sanders had another Pac which also raised funds for his campaign, and there was eventually a clash between Peterson's Pac and the other one over large celebrity donors' contributions. Peterson was charged with criminal violations and convicted, even though there were discrepancies in the accusations and even Bernie Sanders himself, through his attorney, said he had no intention of filing a complaint or legal action against Peterson regarding his pro-Sanders Pac.
There is evidence by way of a leaked email that the entire reason for the prosecution and mistreatment of Cary Lee Peterson was the belief by one of the instigators that Peterson was a "crook," based on information that the source never verified. In fact, the information revealed during the investigation proved that Peterson did not profit at all from what he was accused of doing. The U.S. Attorney accused Peterson of being in charge of a shell company, even though there was ample evidence that the Pac was legitimate.
The Evidence against Peterson -- and the Freedom of Information Act
Every defendant in a criminal proceeding in the United States can take advantage of several Constitutional protections, all of which trump anything the government may try to do to any person. One of the basic rights of the accused is the right to confront the accuser, yet Peterson was originally denied his right to view the FBI reports that made up the evidence in his criminal case. Peterson requested the reports, and the Trial Judge denied his request, so Peterson filed a request under FOIA (the Freedom of Information Act). FOIA was enacted to make government agencies more transparent, so that citizens would have an idea what the government is doing. The original complaint filed in 2016 did not provide enough information to even reach a probable cause standard, leaving Peterson with no way to defend himself against unknown evidence and allegations.
Peterson Fighting Back
Because of the methods used to convict him and the abuse of process, Peterson filed Biven claims, or allegations that a government employee was acting in an official capacity while violating his Constitutional rights. Peterson alleged entrapment, property injury, and tort, with the U.S. District Court for the Nevada District, February 4, 2020, while incarcerated at Nevada Southern Detention Center. Thereafter, he followed up with a civil complaint in May, upon him being transferred to FDC SeaTac (Seattle, WA). His attempts to clear his name have resulted in a multitude of errors.
Passing the Buck -- or the Envelope
Unsurprisingly, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy failed to take responsibility for the injury caused by his organization's incompetence. While admitting that the post office had major failures during the 2020 holiday season, exacerbated by the problems due to the COVID-19 crisis, DeJoy says that the post office was "operationally faulty" long before he became the head. Fewer people use the post office for regular mail anymore, and problems like this will only cause consumers to find other ways to deliver correspondence and packages. Tens of millions of customers were actively affected, including citizens like Peterson and others involved with active litigation in the courts.
The Postmaster General was just the latest in a string of individuals who failed to admit their own part in the affair. Peterson's sentencing judge in December 2018 denied Peterson the right to fire his attorney, an affront to his right to counsel. The same judge later gave the attorney the benefit though of stepping back from the case, though, noting that the attorney-client relationship was no longer viable. This happened a mere week after the judge sentenced Peterson to 52 months of imprisonment, 3 years of parole/probation, and $206,000 in restitution for a non-violent white-collar crime the judge admitted Peterson received no profit from.
Peterson attempted to rectify the situation by continuing to proceed through Nevada's federal district court system, where his mail was obstructed, altered, and tampered with by prison officials, leading Peterson to file a lawsuit against then Attorney General William Barr. By April 2020, the claims were adding up, and the parties Peterson was suing included DOJ officials, a member of the Senate, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. One of the newer claims alleged gross negligence regarding a COVID-19 prison lockdown and a disease outbreak within the federal prison system itself. Like a snowball attracting detritus as it rolls downhill, the wrongs continued to add up, with hindrances coming from unexpected corners.
Judges Jumping to Conclusions
Even though they were themselves disqualified by statute because of their own financial conflicts related to the Bernie Sanders campaign, two federal judges at the U.S. District Court for the Nevada District summarily denied Peterson his day in court by dismissing a case regarding cruel and unusual punishment, on their own motion. Among other issues, the lawsuit involved a prisoner who was not told that he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Because of the summary dismissal, the judgment was rendered as final with no input from either the plaintiff or the respondent, which is a very unusual situation in the court system. Normally, courts move forward based on actions and filings by the parties, but in this case, the judges rendered a verdict with no input from either side.
Because of the unusual circumstances, the lawsuit became a bigger news story, leading to days of news stories, scandalous information such as proof of a leak of government records by an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and evidence of a coverup by the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice. According to the evidence, the BOP and DOJ worked together to suppress evidence of a COVID-19 outbreak in the system, which endangered not just Peterson but the other inmates as well. This was an ironic outcome, because Peterson was not suing for monetary damages in his original claim.
Cary Lee Peterson vs Rufus Seth Williams
Rufus Seth Williams is a former District Attorney who was given a lot of trust and responsibility, but threw it away and was convicted of a federal bribery charge. Sentenced to 60 months in prison, Williams accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes for performing official business, defrauded nursing homes, and used official Pac funds and government vehicles for his personal benefit. Simply comparing what he did to Peterson's case points out the fundamental unfairness of the way Peterson is being treated.
Similarities Between the Two Men
Both men are African American, and approximately middle age. Both worked as campaign advisors for PACs, and both held responsible positions.
Peterson never profited from his alleged crimes, while Williams gained at least tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Peterson voluntarily worked in civil rights awareness and as a chief officer in an anti- trafficking unit. Williams committed very deliberate crimes, while Peterson is allegedly a criminal because of his involvement with his presidential campaign fundraising. Most importantly, Peterson is still trying to be heard from prison, and suffering the indignities of disease and deprivation, while Williams served half his time and was released.
At this time, over $200,000 has been raised in a crowdfunding campaign to be offered as a bounty to the first person who can get the court transcript for the sentencing hearing on 5/10/2019 in the U.S. v Cary Lee Peterson case. The goal of the GoGetFunding is $170,000, and the person who comes up with the transcript can keep all the money. Several individuals have made requests to get the information, including Peterson himself, his publicist, relatives of Peterson, and even news representatives. Criminal proceedings are traditionally, and notoriously open, and criminal courts are expected to be transparent in order to protect the rights of the accused from any dishonest practices. After nine months of all these people trying unsuccessfully to get the minutes from that hearing, the Court has offered no excuses, no answers, and most importantly, no transcripts. Legally, a transcript from a criminal proceeding in an adult court should be available for view by anyone, yet there has not been the slightest response to requests for production.
Call to Action
Peterson can hardly be expected to be responsible for the incompetence of others. He has evidence that he filed his legal paperwork timely, but the DOJ and other government agencies are working together to make it look as though he is an incompetent litigant. Cary Lee Peterson filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on December 5, 2020. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, without setting a hearing or asking for evidence, denied the petition on February 22, 2021. There are few rights more precious than due process rights, as those are the ones which make it possible for individuals to be heard fairly in an open court. Indeed, there seems to be a problem of fundamental unfairness, and many are identifying Peterson as a political prisoner, treated unfairly because of the color of his skin. There is currently a stalemate in the proceedings, with the government refusing to accept any argument in law or equity. It is possible that if the right person becomes involved, then at least the information will be made available so that Peterson can prove his assertions.
Amanda Liu (publicist)
Robert Peterson & Fields Associates
[T:] +1 (213) 986-4414; or
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