News and Press Releases

The U.S. Attorney�s Office Announces The Fearless Justice Initiativ

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fearless Justice is an initiative by the United States Attorney's Office, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tribal authorities, designed to strengthen public safety efforts in Montana's Indian communities through the suppression of intimidation and coercion of victims and witnesses to crime.

Based upon the collective experience of Indian Country investigators and prosecutors, and the concerns expressed by tribal leaders, it is clear that victims and witnesses to crime are often the subject of intimidation, pressure from family or friends, threats, shunning, and other types of corrupt coercion, in an effort to get those witnesses to change their stories, lie, refuse to cooperate with law enforcement, or not show up to court. If the pursuit of justice is obstructed by these efforts then no amount of resources, diligence, or effort on the part of the law enforcement community will be sufficient to fight crime or create a safe environment in tribal communities. No amount of assurance will instill confidence in victims and witnesses that the legal system can protect them, vindicate their willingness to come forward, or provide them with the justice they have a right to expect from the system.

Law enforcement has always advised witnesses that their cooperation is right, important, and necessary to a safe community. Too often, however, those witnesses have then been intimidated, pressured, bribed, or shunned, either to corrupt the system to a particular outcome, or in retaliation for their role in a process that led to prosecution, conviction, and incarceration.

Fearless Justice seeks to give victims and witnesses a safe haven; an environment where doing the right thing does not expose them to danger, fear, guilt, remorse, or retribution of any kind.

Beginning in November 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI will focus their attention on preserving the integrity of the justice system by prioritizing cases involving obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and witness retaliation. Working together, with other local law enforcement and with federal probation officers, all allegations of intimidation or coercion will be thoroughly reviewed and investigated, and, where sufficient proof exists, prosecuted.

� INCREASED TECHNICAL SUPPORT: The FBI has committed to providing all resident agencies in Indian Country with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment to gather evidence against those that seek to interfere with investigations and prosecutions.

� FOCUSED TRAINING: Both the United States Attorney's Office and the FBI will provide particularized training to law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys in the investigation and prosecution of federal statutes relating to the obstruction of justice.

� CONSULTATION WITH WITNESSES: Victims and witnesses will be counseled on what to do if they are approached by anyone seeking to get them to lie or fail to appear. Emergency contact information for law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney's Office will be provided to every witness to violent crime.

� RAPID RESPONSE CONTACTS: Victims and witnesses will be given 24-hour contact numbers for agents and victim-witness specialists so that a rapid response can be made in the event anyone is threatened or intimidated.

� LEGAL RESPONSE COMMITMENT: Investigators and prosecutors will react quickly and decisively where witness tampering can be established. If a defendant released from pre-trial custody engages in the conduct, the United States will immediately petition to have him arrested. If a friend or family member engages in the conduct, the United States will file a complaint and seek an immediate arrest.

� COORDINATION WITH COURTS AND PROBATION: The United States Attorneys Office will request "no contact" provisions in all release orders, and work closely with the United States Probation Office to monitor the activities of a charged defendant while on pre-trial release.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and its law enforcement partners are convinced that if victims and witnesses can come forward without fear of intimidation or retribution, more criminal cases can be successfully prosecuted. With successful prosecutions will come increased confidence in the justice system and a safer tribal community. Fearless Justice is a recognition that where citizens can work - freely and securely - in cooperation with law enforcement to hold criminals accountable, they hold the future of their community in their own hands. The system CAN work with them and for them. Those that seek to pervert the criminal justice system can be deterred if there are meaningful consequences to those efforts. Despair and cynicism can give way to confidence and trust that justice will be done.



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