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Border Patrol agent charged in STATE court???

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  • Border Patrol agent charged in STATE court???

    This question is in reference to the US Border Patrol agent being charged in Arizona state court for murder (http://www.officer.com/article/artic...ion=8&id=35836)

    The way I understand it, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution protects federal officers from prosecution in state courts for acts committed within the scope of their duties. That said, isn't it up to the U.S. Attorney to initiate a prosecution if he feels the need, as opposed to the Cochise County Attorney?

    That's what happened with Lon Houruchi (the FBI sniper) after Ruby Ridge ended . . . (http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/web/newo...b?OpenDocument)
    Last edited by equinox137; 04-26-2007, 05:08 AM. Reason: added Houruchi reference....
    "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

  • #2
    Border Patrol Agent.

    With some notable exceptions, Murder is not a Federal crime. I'm not passing judgement on the Officer's actions, but if murder is indicated as a charge, it would be appropriate to charge it in state court. Other Federal charges are certainly possible.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
      With some notable exceptions, Murder is not a Federal crime. I'm not passing judgement on the Officer's actions, but if murder is indicated as a charge, it would be appropriate to charge it in state court. Other Federal charges are certainly possible.
      Actually murder is certainly a federal crime, but what it really comes down to is who's jurisdiction it is (also some other factors). Most of the time it is the states, which is why i'm sure it is being handled in the state court.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by equinox137 View Post
        This question is in reference to the US Border Patrol agent being charged in Arizona state court for murder (http://www.officer.com/article/artic...ion=8&id=35836)

        The way I understand it, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution protects federal officers from prosecution in state courts for acts committed within the scope of their duties. That said, isn't it up to the U.S. Attorney to initiate a prosecution if he feels the need, as opposed to the Cochise County Attorney?

        That's what happened with Lon Houruchi (the FBI sniper) after Ruby Ridge ended . . . (http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/web/newo...b?OpenDocument)
        I believe that clause has to be invoked, it's not automatic.
        Talk sense to a fool, and he will call you foolish - Euripides

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        • #5
          Thx delta, I believe that answers it. I'm not passing any judgement on the agent's actions either, I'm just curious how that worked.

          If it's not automatic, I wonder why the agent has already asserted that claim. Maybe he doesn't believe he'd get a fair shake in federal court either . . .
          "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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          • #6
            Originally posted by CGIS1 View Post
            Actually murder is certainly a federal crime, but what it really comes down to is who's jurisdiction it is (also some other factors). Most of the time it is the states, which is why i'm sure it is being handled in the state court.
            Yes - that was among the federal charges for Timothy McVeigh, wasn't it?
            "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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            • #7
              Border Patrol Agent

              Read my post again. You'll note that I said "with some notable exceptions. Murder is not a Federal crime". If the murder ocurs on a Federal Reservation, such as a military installation, it most certainly is a Federal crime. In other instances, there may be concurrent jurisdiction with state/local authorities. That's why I qualified my post . In Timothy McViegh's case, a Federal Bldg would qualify as a venue where murder would be a Federal crime. Note too, that in Mc Veigh's case, the State of Oklahoma was fully prepared to go forward with a prosecution for murder.

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              • #8
                Yup....fully noted. I wasn't discounting what you were saying, Philip.

                I was a little confused as to how Houruchi could be immune to state charges via the Supremacy Cluase yet the Border Patrol agent isn't - at least to this point. Idaho probably had a good case for prosecuting Hourchi, but as another posted noted it the Supremacy Clause hasn't been invoked in this case, at least not yet.
                "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

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                • #9
                  Yah, I wondered about that too. Take care.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
                    Read my post again. You'll note that I said "with some notable exceptions. Murder is not a Federal crime". If the murder ocurs on a Federal Reservation, such as a military installation, it most certainly is a Federal crime. In other instances, there may be concurrent jurisdiction with state/local authorities. That's why I qualified my post . In Timothy McViegh's case, a Federal Bldg would qualify as a venue where murder would be a Federal crime. Note too, that in Mc Veigh's case, the State of Oklahoma was fully prepared to go forward with a prosecution for murder.
                    Hey, i'm sorry. As soon as I came back to this thread I caught it. And yes, your absolutly correct. There are some other "for instances", but for the most part murder is a state crime.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CGIS1 View Post
                      Actually murder is certainly a federal crime . . .
                      While there is a fed murder statute, it's very narrowly defined based on the status of the victim AND the intent of the suspect. Basically if you can't prove the murder was committed because the victim was an employee or agent of the federal government the fed statute doesn't apply, even if the victim was a fed agent or employee.

                      For example if your neighbor kills you because he thinks you slept with his wife, it's not a fed case. If he killed you because you're a CGIS agent and he's ****ed that the Coast Guard seized his latest shipment of dope, then it's a fed case if the government can prove his intent to kill you based on you being a CGIS agent.

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                      • #12
                        Qualified Immunity and Sovereign Immunity can offer federal agents protection if they acted within the scope of their employment. So a federal agent being prosecuted on state charges, or sued in state court, can seek relief from the federal courts. HOWEVER, it's possible the court will determine they were not acting within the scope of their employment and therefore can be prosecuted or sued in state, or federal court.

                        My guess would be the BPA will claim he was justified in his actions, and acting within the scope of his employment and therefore seek protection in fed court. What or not he will get that protection is up to the judges.

                        If you closely examine the case of Lon Horiuchi, he originally sought relief in District Court, and eventually the case was appealed to the 9th Circuit. Getting qualified or sovereign immunity is not automatic, and if a fed agent is seeking that protection it can be a tough fight.

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