Justice Department Seeks to Empower Judges to Detain People Indefinitely

CNN reported over the weekend that the Justice Department is seeking new powers in the wake of the COVID19 plague and Politico added some valuable detail

New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Utah Republican Michael Lee have criticized the proposal. One provision is scary, according to civil liberties lawyers.

The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress.

The proposal has implications for habeas corpus — the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release.

“Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest,’” said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

Reimer said the possibility of chief judges suspending all court rules during an emergency without a clear end in sight was deeply disturbing.

“That is something that should not happen in a democracy,” he said.

Source: DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic – POLITICO


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