Special Litigation Counsel Kristy Parker, a senior attorney in the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, has been selected to receive the 2009 Top Prosecutor Award from the Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE).
Parker was selected for her role as the lead prosecutor in the successful 2008 case of United States v. Sydnor, et al.,which resulted in the federal conviction of three Kentucky jailers who retaliated against an 18-year-old traffic offender by arranging to have him locked in a jail cell with violent inmates, who in turn brutally assaulted and raped the teenaged victim.
"Kristy Parker represents the tenacious spirit and extraordinary commitment of the many fine career attorneys who serve the public interest at the Justice Department. Her tireless and extraordinary litigative ability vindicated the civil rights of the victim," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Civil Rights Division. "We thank the Women in Federal Law Enforcement for recognizing her for this distinguished honor."
"I congratulate Ms. Parker for receiving this high honor. Her unwavering dedication made certain that the officers who trampled on the dignity and rights of a powerless teenager were brought to justice," said Mark Kappelhoff, Chief of the Division’s Criminal Section.
The victim was arrested on Valentine’s Day, 2003, and taken to the Grant County, Ky., Detention Center. A sergeant and several officers teased the teenager at the jail and after announcing he needed to be "taught a lesson," visited a jail cell filled with hardened criminals and told them that they would be bringing down a young man who needed to be "messed" with. The officers then escorted him down a hallway lined with cells filled with hardcore criminals, as inmates yelled, "Fresh Meat!"; "Give him to me!" and "Happy Valentine’s Day!" The officers pushed the boy into the cell, slammed the door shut and left him without looking back. In the next hours the boy was viciously raped by an inmate and abused by others.
During the investigation and trial, Parker and another lawyer under her supervision won over reluctant law enforcement witnesses and made a powerful presentation of the evidence. Parker delivered arguments that educated and moved a jury initially reluctant to convict law enforcement officers. The jury convicted the defendants on all counts. They received lengthy prison sentences.
This is the third consecutive year in which WIFLE selected an attorney from the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section as its top prosecutor. Last year, Deputy Chief Paige Fitzgerald received the award for her successful cold case prosecution of James Ford Seale, a former Ku Klux Klansman, for the racially-motivated murders of two young black men killed in Mississippi more than 40 years earlier. Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein was named WIFLE’s top prosecutor in 2007 for her role in the case of United States v. Saldana, et al., a prosecution marking the first – and to date, the only – use of federal criminal civil rights statutes to prosecute violent hate crimes carried out by members of a traditional street gang.
Parker has served the Justice Department for a decade and has been a trial attorney in the Criminal Section for six years. She will be presented the Top Prosecutor Award at a banquet ceremony honoring WIFLE award recipients on June 17, 2009, in Tucson, Ariz.