Trying to do a job with broken tools
Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:47 AM
Posted 29 May 2010 - 09:48 AM
Posted 28 May 2010 - 06:29 PM
Posted 09 March 2010 - 08:33 PM
Posted 09 March 2010 - 04:18 PM
The US v. Friesen case became outrageous in many ways. The chief motivation was ATF Chief Counsels Office to continue the prosecution after the first trial ended in a mistrial. The PDF below shows just how outrageous things became just before the second trial was to begin.
Just to make it easy, I'll quote some of it. Judge for yourself if ATF Chief Counsel was playing things fast and loose with this prosecution;
Page 2, line 11:
11 THE COURT: It's my understanding that you've had this
12 document in your possession since before the last trial.
13 MR. KUMIEGA: Which -- which document, your Honor?
14 THE COURT: From Birmingham Arms.
15 MR. KUMIEGA: We did not -- we had -- we had it in a
16 corrupt file.
Page 6, Line 17 (Friesen's attorney):
17 .....There is a file in there that has --
18 not the one they got these materials out of, there's a file in
19 there called Gun Query that has over 509,000 entries in it that
20 is what I would call chocked full of exculpatory evidence.
Page 12, line 16:
16 THE COURT: Were you told to send it to Kendall? (Friesen's other attorney)
17 MR. KUMIEGA: Yes.
18 THE COURT: So why didn't you?
19 MR. KUMIEGA: I don't remember. It just fell through
20 the cracks.
21 THE COURT: The only crack is from you to the
Page 31,line 23:
23 THE COURT: I just find all of this very troubling,
24 that it's all last-minute, there is no effort to expedite it.
25 And it's kind of almost, it looks deliberate to me, Mr. Kumiega.
Page 32, line 22 [THE HONORABLE TIM LEONARD, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE]: "If I could sanction the government I would, but it would just be money out of the government's pocket for paying the government, but I don't want this to happen again."
In short ATF dumped 750,000 discovery documents in the defense's lap on a Friday before Monday's trial was supposed to begin...ATF Chief Counsel, James P. Vann, refusing to turn over the ATF procedure for an industry compliance inspection, claiming it's secret?
How much time, money and effort was wasted on this? How much of that waste of resources took away from going after the real bad guys who who are violent and harm society.
Draw your own comparison's on how Chief Counsels Office deals with you Field Agents and how they deal with us in the industry. I find it "hauntingly familiar". I also know that the situation with unethical behavior has spilled into the Federal Justice System and effects far more than ATF Field Agents...
Historic Arms LLC
Posted 24 February 2010 - 11:30 PM
Posted 24 February 2010 - 09:38 PM
Posted 24 February 2010 - 05:04 PM
Please rein in Counsel. Stop blaming the industry for our shortcomings.
Amen Doc. FFL's are the type of folks who don't hold a lot of love or trust for the government anyway, and the vast majority just want to make sure they sell legally and stay on the right side of the law. So, they hear that the ATF as an institution covers up errors with the NFRTR, and they jump to the conclusion that ATF is sloppy with other data, including NICS data (never mind that's an FBI database). Talk about concerns when compliance inspection time comes around...
Posted 23 February 2010 - 08:38 PM
Posted 22 February 2010 - 03:45 PM
ATF management has known for years that the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) is filled with errors and omissions. Then-NFA Branch Chief stated it during a videotaped "Roll Call" training session in 1995. The attached documents --- released in 2010 under a FOIA --- prove it.
ATF agents are tasked with enforcing the NFA; that does have serious consequences for violations ($250K fine and 10 years prison time). The ATF street agents' only tools are the Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) to tell them if an item is NFA, and the NFRTR in the event that FTB determines that an item is NFA and is either lawfully registered or not.
The "LucyGotMoreSplaininToDo.pdf" documents show that ATF's version of the NFRTR had no record of three lawfully registered silencers from 2001 to 2003. The "smokingNFRTRgun.pdf" document shows that ATF tries to use FFL records to correct its version of the NFRTR. But what about transactions between unlicensed individuals in the same state, who don't have to keep records? Suppose a citizen buys a machine gun with ATF's approval, loses his Form 4 in a house fire, ATF's version of the NFRTR shows only that the gun is still registered to the guy he bought it from --- who died 15 years ago? What happens?
Agents are tasked with enforcement, not being the experts on both of the "tools" provided. (otherwise there would be no need for an ATF branch for each "tool"). Sending out ATF agents with "broken tools" is like sending out a highway patrolman with a broken radar gun and expecting him to enforce the speed limit...He can do it though not very efficiently, and a lot of folks who did nothing wrong get wrongfully accused of speeding....It's unfair to both the highway patrolman and the citizen.
The management decision to send out ATF agents with "broken tools" is unfair to the ATF agents and citizens. It also has the consequence of breeding a strong resentment that the ATF agent is stuck dealing with, not the managers and lawyers who pushed the idea.
Take a look at a document that was filed in a 2009 federal court case in Oklahoma to bar use of NFRTR data. It is based on information created by ATF:
ATF Counsel knows about this document, which documents a pattern of ATF management covering up errors in the NFRTR, and about the FOIA documents referenced above. But ATF Counsel has never shared this information with NFA Branch employees. Neither has ATF management. How many ATF Special Agents, who use NFRTR data, know about it?
"Old hands" --- that is, agents with experience know not to trust the NFRTR, but the new guys "drink the kool-aid" of it being bulletproof in court. That's not good for professional law enforcement, or for the citizens who get victimized by crummy records.
Defense had requested a bunch of documents from ATF, including manuals for evaluating firearms. At the original Friesen trial, ATF exhibited a pattern of withholding documents until the last minute, and continued that practice leading up to a second trial that never happened, because James P. Vann bailed and the U.S. Attorney was left with a flawed case which the evidence didn't support, hence the plea bargain. Among the documents ATF withheld was a Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) procedures manual, probably because it discusses "Classification requests that are determined to be politically sensitive" (see page 4). These are just the first 4 pages; defense had the entire manual anyway, at the time, but ATF didn't know that. Federal District Judge Tim Leonard gave Assistant United States Attorney Edward Kumiga and James P. Vann a royal chewing, and said the only reason he wasn't bringing sanctions against Assistant United States Attorney Kumiga was because the taxpayers would wind up paying for his defense.
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