News Roundup


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Supreme Court official portrait.

Former Long Island DA is convicted of obstruction

Former Suffolk County, New York, District Attorney Thomas Spota was convicted of obstruction of justice Tuesday for conspiring to cover up the beating of a suspect by James Burke, who was then the police chief. The officer thought the suspect had stolen a duffel bag containing sex toys, pornographic DVDs and Viagra from his car. Spota’s top anticorruption prosecutor, Christopher McPartland, was also convicted. Burke pleaded guilty to the assault and cover-up in 2016. (The New York Times)

Ginsburg reacts to Trump impeachment tweet

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that President Donald Trump is not a lawyer when a BBC News interviewer asked her about Trump’s tweet questioning whether the Supreme Court could stop the impeachment. “The president is not a lawyer. He’s not law-trained. But the truth is, the judiciary is a reactive institution. We don’t have a program, we don’t have an agenda. We react to what’s out there,” Ginsburg said. (The BBC, the Associated Press)

Fair Chance Act heads to Trump’s desk

A bill intended to give former prisoners a better chance of finding a federal job is awaiting the signature of President Donald Trump after Senate passage Tuesday. The Fair Chance Act bars the federal government and federal contractors from asking job applicants about criminal history before making a conditional offer of employment. (Sen. Cory Booker press release, Reuters)

Judge cites double jeopardy and tosses Manafort charges

A Manhattan judge has tossed state mortgage fraud charges against Paul Manafort, a former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump. The judge, Maxwell Wiley, said the charges violated New York’s ban on double jeopardy. Manafort is currently serving a 7½ year sentence for his federal convictions on charges of conspiracy and bank and tax fraud. He was recently hospitalized after having a cardiac ailment. (The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wiley’s Dec. 18 decision)

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates sentenced to weekends in jail

Rick Gates, former deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump, was sentenced to 45 days of weekend jail for lying to investigators and a conspiracy based on failure to disclose offshore accounts and consulting work for a former Ukrainian president. Gates had done the work with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is in federal prison for conspiracy and bank and tax fraud. Gates had testified against Manafort and aided the investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. (Politico)