American activist and member of the American Indian Movement
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders:
Date of birth:
Victims profile: Ronald
A. Williams, and Jack R. Coler (FBI
Method of murder:
Location: Pine Ridge, South Dakota, USA
Sentenced to two
consecutive terms of life imprisonment
on June 2, 1977
Leonard Peltier Case Chronology
1948-1953: Lives mostly
with his paternal grandparents Alex & Mary Dubois-Peltier on
the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation, North Dakota.
1953-1956: Student at the BIA's
Wahpeton Indian School, ND.
1957: Finishes 9th grade at
Flandreau Indian School, South Dakota, then returns to the Turtle
1958: Attends a political meeting
at Turtle Mountain about the U.S. government's plans to "exterminate"
the reservation. This inspired him to become a warrior on behalf of his
1958: Rejected for scholarship by
the Sante Fe Art School; drops out of school.
1959: Moves to Seattle,
Washington, and lives with the family of his cousin Bob Robideau.
1961: Given medical discharge
from the U.S. Marines because of recurring problems with his jaw.
1965: Leonard Peltier and Bob
Robideau open a auto body shop in Seattle, WA.
1968: The American Indian
Movement (AIM) is established in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Leonard
Peltier plays no part in this.
1969: Occupation of Alcatraz
island, California, by Native American activists. Leonard Peltier plays
no part, but this occupation inspires his own politicam consciousness.
8 March 1970: Leonard Peltier and other NA
activists occupy the abandoned Fort Lawton, near Seattle, WA - testing
an old federal law that gives Native Americans first claim to lands
abandoned by federal agencies. The activists are beaten and briefly
jailed, but ultimately Ft. lawton becomes a NA Cultural Center.
1972: Leonard Peltier joins AIM, moves to
the Pine Ridge Reservation, SD, working with AIM co-founder Dennis
Banks. He then moves to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to work with the
local AIM office. In the fall, Leonard Peltier joins the Trail of
Broken Treaties caravan to Washington DC, to bring a list of 20
grievances to the U.S. government. When BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs,
Interior Dept.) officials "forget" to find the promised accommodations
for the elderly, the activists take over the BIA building a few blocks
from the White House - just days before the 1972 presidential
elections. The Nixon administration avoids violent
confrontation by promising to review the grievances list (they never
did), and paying the return-home expenses of the activists. Leonard
Peltier serves on security during the BIA takeover, and is thus marked
a "troublemaker" by the FBI.
1973: During 71 days, AIM occupies the
village of Wounded Knee, SD. Leonard Peltier plays no part. The siege
ends on May 9th. The infamous GOONs continue their reign of
terror against Oglala Lakota traditional people and their AIM
late 1973 - early 1975: Leonard Peltier
joins the Puyallup and Nisqually fishing rights struggle in
Washington, and takes part in AIM protests in Arizona and Wisconsin.
early 1975: Crescendoing Reign of Terror
during early 1975 prompts Pine Ridge Elders to summon AIM for
protection from attacks by the GOONs. Among those who respond: Dennis
Banks, Bob Robideau, Dino Butler, and Leonard Peltier. They set
up a small tent city on the Jumping Bull family property near
the town of Oglala, hoping to fend off further GOON attacks.
26 June 1975: FBI agents Jack Coler
and Ronald Williams, in unmarked cars, drive at full-speed into
the Jumping Bull property, ostensibly chasing a red pickup truck in
which they suspect a minor thief is riding. The FBI as never explained
why it made such a concerted effort to catch that thief - accused of
stealing a pair of used cowboy boots! - when it had failed to
investigate the recent deaths of dozens of AIM supporters in the same
area. A firefight erupts between the intruding unidentified agents and
the AIM activists. Within minutes, scores of FBI agents, U.S. marshals,
BIA police, and trigger-happy GOONs surround the Jumping Bull property.
Many of them had been in place nearby at least 20 minutes before,
according to FBI documents that were released years later. The FBI
agents Coler and Williams, and one AIM activist, Joe Stuntz
Killsright, die during the fierce hours-long firefight. By late
afternoon, Leonard Peltier and more than two dozen others manage to
flee the property and escape, despite being surrounded by a
thightening cordon of lawmen. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Pine
Ridge tribal council, Dick Wilson signs a secret agreement
transferring one-eighth of the Pine Ridge Reservation to the federal
government - lands rich in uranium and other minerals. Many people
around the world believe the FBI's June 26th attack was a planned
diversion to conceal the land transfer - a diversion that went
terribly wrong when their agents were killed.
July 1975: Following the escape of the AIM
acivists from the Jumping Bull property, the FBI stages a massive
manhunt for the escapees, terrorizing the Pine Ridge traditional
August 1975: Leonard Peltier secretly
attends the Crow Dog Sun Dance ceremony on the Rosebud Reservation,
SD; then heads north and west, escaping across the Canadian border and
winning refuge with a remote group of First Nation people in the Rocky
5 September 1975: In the midst of a new
flurry of unexplained murders of AIM members and supporters, the FBI
raids the home of medicine man Leonard Crow Dog, spiritual
leader of the Wounded Knee takeover, and arrests Darrel "Dino" Butler
- another escapee from the Oglala firefight - along with Crow Dog
himself and Micmac AIM activist Anna Mae Aquash. neither of the
latter were at the Oglala firefight. The FBI threatens Anna Mae with
death unless she gives false testimony against Peltier and others from
AIM. She refuses.
10 September 1975: A station wagon driven by
Bob Robideau, another fleeing escapee, explodes near Wichita, Kansas.
From the wreck the FBI discovers a badly burned AR-15 rifle - claiming
without any proof whatsoever: 1) that it was the weapon that killed
the agents; and 2) that it was Peltier's own rifle. This weapon and
the shell casings supposedly from it were among the key evidence later
used against Peltier in his trial.
October 1975: FBI lab reports - not revealed
until they wee obtained years later through the Freedom of
Information Act - state that the Wichita AR-15 rifle "contains
a different pin than the rifle used at the jumping Bull scene",
thus flatly disproving that the Wichita rifle was the murder weapon.
This and other pieces of exculpatory evidence were hidden away by the
prosecution and withheld from the defense at Peltier's later trial in
25 November 1975: Four men are indicted by a
federal grand jury for their alleged role in the deaths of the two FBI
agents. The four are: Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau, Dino Butler, and
Jimmy Eagle (the young man suspected of stealing the pair of
cowboy boots whose theft allegedly brought the two FBI agents to the
Jumping Bull property the day of the firefight).
6 February 1976: Peltier is arrested by the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police in western canada. He is held under
maximum security at Oakalla Prison in vancouver, British Columbia,
while lengthy extradition hearings are held.
10 February 1976: the FBI releases a report
stating that it had found a match between the Wichita AR-15 rifle and
a .223 rifle shell casing found, belatedly, in the trunk of one of the
FBI agents' cars. This totally contradicts their own earlier lab
reports, which they kept hidden.
24 February 1976: The ecomposed body of
"Jane Doe" is found in a gulley on Pine Ridge. The BIA coroner
reports the victim died of exposure to cold. Her hands are cut off and
sent to the FBI headquarters in Wasington DC for "positive
indentification", while they could easily have taken her
fingerprints on the scene.
5 March 1976: "Jane Doe" is identified by
the FBI as Anna Mae Aquash, the AIM activist who had refused, despite
FBI death threats, to give false testimony against AIM.
11 March 1976: Anna Mae Aquash's family from
the Micmac Reservation in Nova Scotia, Canada, has her body exhumed
from Pine Ridge burial. A new coroner discovers a "detail" the BIA
coroner had unaccountably missed: she had been shot in the back of the
head at close range. Her death, shortly before her expected appearance
at upcoming trials of Peltier and the others, leaves a mystery being
actively explored to this very day.
31 March 1976: Still trying to find
convincing evidence of Peltier's guilt so as to gain his extradition
from Canada, FBI agents show photographs of Anna Mae's severed hands
to a confused Native American woman, Myrtle Poor Bear, telling
her both she and her daughter face a similar fate unless she co-operates.
Under duress, she signs an affadavit the FBI wrote for her stating
that she is peltier's girlfriend - though she had never met him - and
also claims she saw him shoot the agents - though, as the FBI knew,
she was never there. This affadavit and other fabricated information
convince the Canadian courts there is enough evidence to extradite
Peltier. He is ordered extradited but his appeals keep him in Canada
7 June - 16 July 1976: Trial of Dino Butler
and Bob Robideau in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Allowed to plead innocent by
reason of self-defense in firing at the intruding FBI agents, Butler &
Robideau win full aqcuittal on murder charges after a tumultuous trial.
Dismayed by the results of the Cedar Rapid trial, the FBI and
prosecutors drop all charges against Jimmy Eagle so that, as FOIA
documents would later reveal, "the full prosecutive weight of the
federal government could be directed against Leonard Peltier".
16 December 1976: Peltier is extradited from
Canada to the USA on the basis of false testimont fabricate by the
FBI. Under massive security, he is flown from Vancouver to Rapid City,
16 March 1977: Trial of Leonard Peltier on
double murder charges begins in Fargo, North Dakota. Government
panipulations transfer the trial from Cedar Rapids, IA, where Robideau
and Butler were acquitted, to a site renowned for anti-Indian
sentiment. Juge Benson rules all evidence must be thightly
limited to events of the day of the shootout: June 26, 1975. No
mention is allowed of the Reign of Terror preceding the
shootout at Pine Ridge, nor of Myrtle Poor Bear's false affadavits;
nor of the FBI intimidation and coercion of witnesses, nor of most of
the evidence that had led to the acquittal by reason of self-defense
of Robideau & Butler. The judge declares: "The FBI is not on trial
here". Peltier is not permitted to claim "self-defense". In a
shocking and flagrant display of American INjustice, virtually all
exculpatory evidence is hidde from the defense or ruled inadmissable.
18 April 1977: Under an extraordinary
kangaroo-court atmosphere of intimidation by the government, an all-white
jury, after 8 hours of deliberation, convicts Leonard Peltier of the
direct murder of the two FBI agents.
2 June 1977: Peltier is sentenced to two
consecutive life terms in federal prison. After a stint at Leavenworth,
Kansas, he is sent to Marion Maximum Security Penitentiary in
4 July 1978: Peltier is warned by a fellow
NA inmate that he will soon be transferred from Marion to Lompoc
prison near Santa Barbara, California, where, he is told, he will be
the target of an assassination.
5 March 1979: The U.S. Supreme Court refuses
to review Peltier's case.
10 April 1979: Peltier is transferred to
Lompoc prison, as he had been warned.
20 July 1979: Fearing an imminent
assassination attempt, peltier - with fellow NA prisoners Dallas
Thundershield and Bobby Garcia - climbs over a perimeter
fence and escapes from Lompoc prison. Dallas Thundershield is shot in
the back and killed by prison guards. Bobby Garcia is quickly captured,
but Peltier escapes and eludes a huge manhunt until he is finally
recaptured in a farmer's field five days later. At the subsequent
trial for the escape, he is not allowed to use fear of assassination
as a defense. Seven years are added to the original double-life
4 February 1980: Peltier is transferred back
to Marion, IL. He now believes the whole Lompoc "assassination" story
was a setup to get him to attempt an escape, giving guards an excuse
to kill him.
13 December 1980: Bobby Garcia is found dead
in a prison facility at Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary, Indiana.
Authorities claim he hanged himself. Many are convinced he was
1 October 1984: Hearing for a new trial
beyins in Bismark, ND, before Judge Benson, the same judge who
presided at Peltier's Fargo trial.
22 May 1985: Even though the original
prosecutor, Lynn Crooks admits the government does NOT
know who killed the FBI agents, Judge Benson denies Peltier's appeal
for a new trial.
June 1985: Peltier is transferred to USP
Leavenworth in Kansas.
11 September 1986: Peltier's conviction is
affirmed by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, despite
acknowledgement of clear FBI misconduct.
18 April 1991: Senior Judge Gerald Heaney of the 8th
Circuit panel that denied Peltier's 1986 appeal, now - having left the
Court - writes to the U.S. President that evidence of unlawful
misconduct by the FBI and other governmental agencies before, during,
and after the Fargo trial persuades him that Leonard Peltier deserves
October 1991: Evidentiary hearing for a new trial in
30 December 1991: Petition for a new trial denied again by
the original judge (Benson) at 1977 Fargo trial.
23 March 1992: Peltier's attorneys file a new appeal with
the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
9 November 1992: Original prosecutor at Fargo trial, Lynn
Crooks, admits again before the 8th Circuit Court that the government
does NOT know who killed the two agents nor what role Peltier
mau have had in the firefight.
7 July 1993: Despite overwhelming exculpatory evidence, the
8th Circuit Court again denies Peltier's appeal and reaffirms his
21 November 1993: After the U.S. Parole Commission denies
appeal for parole, Peltier's appeal attorney and former U.S. Attorney
General, Ramsey Clark formally petitions for executive clemenxy
from the U.S. president; application is sent to the U.S. Attorney
General for review and recommendation, a process normally taking from
3 to 9 months.
15 December 1994: The European Parliament passes a
unanimous resolution supporting executive clemency for Peltier.
December 1995: Peltier is temporarily transferred to U.S.
Medical Center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, for
surgery on his ailing jaw; requires six blood transfusions, nearly
19 March 1996: The U.S. Parole Commission again denies
parole, tells Peltier to reapply in the year 2008!
April 1997: The Belgian Parliament passes a
unanimous resolution in support of Peltier; asking the U.S. Congress
to start hearings into the FBI misconduct in this particular case.
4 May 1998: At an interim parole hearng the U.S. Parole
Commission reaffirms its denial of parole; again tells Peltier to
reapply in 2008.
21 November 1998: Five years after the petition was made,
Peltier's request for executive clemency remains mired in the U.S.
Attorney General's office.
11 February 1999: The European Parliament passes a
second inanimous resolution in favor of executive clemency.
20 January 2000: Canada's largest native group joined its
American counterpart in Leavenworth prison to visit Leonard Peltier.
The Assembly of First Nations and the National Congress of
American Indians hope their combined weight - more than three
million people ) will increase pressure for Peltier's release.
18 February 2000: Nobel Peace Prize laureate and UNESCO
Goodwill Ambassador, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, along with
Amnesty International meet Leonard Peltier in prison.
20 March 2000: Peltier is suddenly transferred to the
Rochester Medical Center, Minnesota, for another jaw surgery.
22 March 2000: Dr. Keller at the Mayo Clinic, MN,
reports that x-rays of Peltier's jaw wee taken. The x-rays showed that
Leonard has ankylosis on both sides of hiw jaw, meaning that his jaw
is totally frozen. Dr. Keller performs a five-hour surgery on Peltier,
and returns his jaw to a complete working condition. Peltier receives
proper medical treatment at long last. On the other hand, he has been
tortured for four years from a condition that could have been fixed in
five hours. Prison officials had been saying for over a year that his
condition did not warrant x-rays, a second opinion, or any treatment
at all. Proof, once again, that vindictiveness has replaced Leonard
Peltier's human and constitutiona rights by government officials and
they feel completely comfortable lying to the public, Congress, and
even the United Nations. However, it also shows that enough pressure
from concerned individuals and human rights groups can have a positive
12 June 2000: Another parole review hearing is scheduled at
USP Leavenworth. Again, parole is denied. His next parole hearing is
in 2008, but officials must review the case every two years to
determine whether a change in the sentence is warranted.
July 2000: The Belgian Parliament passes its second
unanimous resolution in support of Peltier and again asks the U.S.
Congress to start hearings into the FBI misconduct in this particular
10 July 2000: The Democratic Party of Washington
passes a unanimous resolution in support of executive clemency for
19 July 2000: One of Peltier attorneys, Jennifer Harbury
files an Ethics Complaint withe the U.S. Justice Department
asking for an officia investigation of FBI misconduct starting to the
Pine Ridge Reign of Terror and finishing with the FBI's current
campaign of disinformation against Peltier.
1 August 2000: The Democratic Party of California
passes a unanimous resolution in support of executive clemency for
Peltier. The resolution, introduced by the Marin Progressive Democrats,
passes with overwhelming support, including the entire 550 California
Democratic delegates to the National Democratic Convention.
November 2000: The FBI Agents Association and the
Society of Former FBI Agents organize a telephone campaign to the
White House in an attempt to discourage a grant of executive clemency
for Peltier. Combined, the two organizations have membership in the
tens of thousands. They purchase a toll free number for their
membership to utilize when calling the White House.
November/December 2000: The White House declines comment on
all questions about possible presidential pardons. In late November,
President Bill Clinton announces he will review pending
requests for executive clemency before he leaves office in January
2001; including that of Peltier. FBI Director Louis Freeh
recommends that President Clinton denies the request for clemency.
Freeh tells Clinton such an act would "signal disrespect" for law
15 December 2000: Nearly 500 current and retired FBI agents
march to the White House in an unprecedented protest, opposing any
presidential clemency for Leonard Peltier. Carryng a "Never Forget"
banner lettered in red, a line of women stand 2-by-2 for the march to
the White House gate with a petition to President Clinton signed by
8,000 current and former agents. This FBI protest is totally
inappropriate, and it is a sad day for democracy when armed forces
march through the streets to influence a decision for mercy and
justice by a civilian president.
20 January 2001: The last gesture of Bill Clinton as
president is to pardon something like 176 people who had been
convicted, were under indictment, or otherwise in trouble with the law.
Many are friends or people Clinton is beholden to: his brother,
Susan McDougal (who served 18 months for contemt after refusing to
answer before a Whitewater Grand Jury whether Clinton had told the
truth in his testimony); billionaire financier Marc Rich,
exiled in Switzerland, afraid to travel for fear of extradition to the
U.S. for record tax fraud and whose citizenship he has renounced, and
whose wife Denise was a lavish giver to the Democratic party and
Clinton library. Nowhere in the gaggle of pardonees is Leonard Peltier...
2 November 2001: Peltier's Attorney Eric Seitz files
a motion which seeks the reduction of Peltier's life sentences from
consecutive to concurrent. A reductio would obligate the Parole
Commission to grat Leonard's release.
5 December 2001: Almost 26 years after his false
extradition from Canada to the United States, Leonard Peltier is
honored with the 2001 OFL Human Rights Award from the
Ontario Federation of Labour. The province's federatio of trade unions
represents about 600,000 of the estimated 2.2 million unionized
workers in Canada.
6 February 2002: Peltier begins his 27th year in prison -
measured from his arrest in Canada in 1976.
22 March 2002: U.S District Court Judge Magnison,
North Dakota, denies Peltier's motion to reduce his sentence without a
hearing based upon issues of timeliness. Such a motion is supposed to
be filed within a year following a conviction. However, Peltier's
attorneys argue that filing at this late date is justified because of
significant developments that occurred since trial, citing cases in
which exceptions had been made due to extraordinary circumstances. The
court says that the significant developments in question (government
admission ot can't prove who shot the FBI agents; ballistics) have
already been litigated. Judge Magnison refuses to consider these
issues depite the clearly different character of the case, which seeks
a review of sentence and not a new trial like before. Attorney Eric
Seitz promises to appeal the decision to the 8th Circuit Court.
late March 2002: The LPDC (Leonard Peltier Defense
Committee) tries to obtain new evidence and demands a new trial for
Peltier. key evidence exists in the thousands of documents that are
still being withheld by the FBI. Attorney Mike Kuzma pursues
the documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
process. He is also working with law students involved in the
Innocence Project of Osgoode Hall and the LPDC of Canada to obtain
documents generated around the extradition.
4 April 2002: Former FBI director Louis Freeh is
named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Peltier's attorneys. Freeh,
along with the FBI Agents Association and a long list of active FBI
agents, are accused of violating Peltier's constitutional rights by
making false and sunsupported statement to the public, the Department
of Justice, the U.S. Parole Commission, and former President Clinton.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington DC, alleges
that the FBI " engaged in a systematic, and officially sanctioned
campaign of mis-information and dis-information" designed to
prevent Peltier from receiving fair clemency and parole reviews.
May 2002: For over a year now, Leonard has been quietly
enduring a bone spur in his heel. He has sought treatment for this
painful condition, yet none of the remedies offered by the federal US
Bureau of Prisons have worked. His condition is worsened by poor-quality
footwear and by stressing the foot. He received two cortisone shots
which had no effect. He is forced to work at the Unicor furniture
factory, the federal prison labor operation, where he must stand on
his feet all day, which causes severe pain. When he asked for transfer
to a position that did not cause him pain, he was told that he would
stay where he was for six more years. The prison clinician has
recommended a simple surgical procedure to correct the bone spur, but
the Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Springfield, Missouri has
denied the request, and the Leavenworth warden has denied a request
for treatment at a Kansas City hospital.
June 2002: The FBI releases eleven boxes of documents from
their headquarters in Washington, DC. The +30,000 documents are first
released to the office of US Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA),
who wrote to the FBI regarding the documents after he received
hundreds of letters from constituents on the issue. In the coming
months, these documents will be digitized with a high- tech scanner
which will allow thorough searching, indexing and cross-referencing.
The documents will be analyzed by a team of experts including
attorneys Bruce Ellison, Jennifer Harbury, among others.
While these documents represent the extent of what the FBI claims it
had in their headquarters, there are still many more documents in the
56 field offices. The Minneapolis field office reports 42,000 pages in
Peltier's file, and an FBI agent assigned to FOIA issues in Washington
says the volume may near 100,000 pages. The goal is to vigorously
pursue full declassification of all the remaining FBI documents.
9 July 2002: Leonard Peltier has an interim parole hearing.
An interim parole hearing is different from a regular parole hearing.
Its purpose is to review the Parole Commission's original decision to
deny parole to see if any new developments warrant a change. The
Commission can do one of three things: affirm the original decision to
deny parole and leave the next full hearing date (2008) in place (the
most common scenario); accelerate or postpone the next full hearing
date; or grant parole (the rarest scenario). And as was feared: again
parole is denied. The next full hearing is in six years from now.
9 September 2002: Alvina Showers - Leonard's mother
- passes away in the early morning in Oregon. Leonard Peltier is not
allowed to attend the funeral.
10 September 2002: Attorneys Michael Kuzma and
Barry Bachrach file FOIA requests with several FBI field offices.
The FBI's lead FOIA agent says the documents may number close to
100,000 pages, and their release may take years. FBI field offices
have said that the scope of the inquiries outstrips their capacity to
process the documents, referring the requests to FBI headquarters. A
FOIA lawsuit challenging this stalling tactic and demanding that the
FBI follow the law is prepared.
12 September 2002: Leonard Peltier "celebrates" his 58th
birthday; he's in prison since age 31.
12 December 2002: the United States Court of Appeals for
the Eighth Circuit denies Leonard's appeal to reduce the unjust
sentences imposed upon him. In doing so, the court avoided addressing
the merits of the case, to which it would have had no answer, and
rested its decision on jurisdictional grounds, ruling that Leonard's
motion to reduce his unjust sentence was too late. In the meantime,
there is still an appeal pending before the Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals which addresses the Parole Commission's refusal to consider
Leonard for parole until 2008.
December 2002: The Cambridge Democratic City Committee,
Massachusetts, passes a resolution in support of freedom for Peltier.
9 January 2003: KOLA presents the International Forum of
VIPs for Peltier to U.S. President George W. Bush and
Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary
Committee via U.S. embassies in Brussels, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam
11 January 2003: KOLA presents the International Forum of
VIPs for Peltier to the international media during a press conference
6 February 2003: Leonard will start his 28th year in prison...
February 2003: The Green-Rainbow Party of
Massachusettes passes a resolution in support of freedom for Peltier,
and calls for the release of up to 100,000 related documents held in
FBI field offices, as well as for congressional investigations into
FBI misconduct in this case.
7 May, 2003: the U.S. Justice Department, Office of the
Pardon Attorney acknowledges receipt of the +220 letters signed by
KOLA's International Forum of VIPs. The Justice Dept. writes Peltier's
clemency request is still pending and that the VIP letters are added
to his file as "supporting evidence".
14 July 2003: Leonard's Denver appeal has finally been
scheduled. Peltier attorneys are pursuing an appeal to the United
States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals of the recent denial of Leonard
Peltier's 1999 Habeas Corpus petition. Leonard seeks to overturn the
U.S. Parole Commission's refusal to even consider him for parole until
December 2008. The normal Parole Commission guideline for prisoners
convicted of homicide offenses is 200+ months served. This means that
Leonard should have been released from prison over one decade ago. The
Commission, however, has repeatedly refused to consider setting a
parole date until 2008 - when Leonard will have served almost double
the normal time. Oral arguments will be heard on September 19, 2003,
in the 10th Circuit of Appeals, Denver, Colorado.
15 August 2003: The FBI is ordered to begin releasing all
remaining withheld documents from its field offices by December 2004.
12 September 2003: Leonard Peltier's 59th birthday; for the
28th time behind prison walls...
19 September 2003: Peltier's attorneys tell the 10th
Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado that the government is
denying him a parole hearing on the unproven claim that he ambushed
two FBI agents before allegedly gunning them down 28 years ago.
Peltier, now 59 years old, has been in prison twice as long as
required by federal guidelines if no hearing is held until 2008 as
decreed by the U.S. Parole Commission. The three-judge panel is taking
the case under advisement. Judge Stephen Anderson questioned
the reasons for delaying a parole hearing. "Isn't it troubling that
the [parole] commission relied on unestablished facts?" Anderson asked.
However, Anderson also asked Peltier's attorney Barry Bachrach
what he would do if a hearing is held and parole is denied. The judge
speculated the attorneys might then use other strategies to win parole
for Peltier. After the hearing, more than 200 supporters rallied
outside the courthouse, singing and beating drums. Many carried
American Indian Movement banners and "Free Peltier" signs.
4 November 2003: The federal appeals court in Denver
anounces its decision and refuses to grant a parole hearing to Leonard
Peltier. Peltier's attorney Barry Bachrach says their options in
responding to this ruling include asking the full appeals court to
consider the issue or taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Leonard Peltier has now done more than 10 years over the time that he
was eligible for parole.
February 2004: A American university professor and a Member
of the European Parliament officially nominate Leonard Peltier for the
2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
6 February 2004: Leonard Peltier starts his 28th year in
19 April 2004: In yet another outrageous decision by the
courts, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari to review
the 10th Circuit's denial of Peltier's request to be considered for
parole. The U.S. Supreme court did so in the face of the 10th
Circuit's recognition that the government indisputably engaged in
misconduct in the prosecution of Leonard. This is another pitiful
failure of the U.S. justice system to correct undisputed government
1 August 2004: The California Peace and Freedom Party
announces they will not be supporting Ralph Nader for president. The
group of 80,000 instead nominates Leonard Peltier at its convention.
2 September 2004: In a major law suit filed in Leonard
Peltier and another federal prisoner claim that United States
Department of Justice officials knowingly violated the Sentencing
Reform Act of 1984 (& its amendments) and illegally extended their
prison terms for over a decade. The defendants named in the law suit
include the U.S. Parole Commission and individuals who have served on
the Commission during the past two decades; Attorney General John
Ashcroft and former Attorneys General Edwin Meese, Richard Thornburgh,
William Barr, and Janet Reno; and the current Director of the Bureau
of Prisons, Harley Lappin, as well as former directors J. Michael
Quinlan and Kathleen Hawk Sawyer. The Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) was
passed to address what Congress thought were inconsistent sentences
imposed by different judges on different individuals convicted of the
same crimes, as well as arbitrary parole decisions. A new system - one
of determinate sentences - was born and the Parole Commission was
abolished. At the heart of the suit is the refusal of the government
to enforce Title II, Chapter II, Section 235(b)(3) of the SRA.
Effective on October 12, 1984, this part of the law ordered that
parole dates "consistent with the applicable parole guideline" be
issued to all "old system" prisoners within the following five-year
period, at the end of which time (on October 11, 1989) the commission
would cease to exist. On December 7, 1987, Congress enacted Public Law
100-182 which amended the SRA; repealed, in Section 2, the release
criteria established by the original section 235(b)(3); and restored
the release criteria under 18 U.S.C. 4206. This amendment did not
restore the Parole Commission or remove its obligation to establish
mandatory release dates, with sufficient time for appeal, by October
11, 1989. These changes to the law also applied only to crimes
committed after the law was amended on December 7, 1987. The amendment
simply did not apply to the plaintiffs or to the some 6,000 other "old
system" prisoners still held by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons today.
After it had technically ceased to exist, the Parole Commission
claimed it needed more time to complete its work. Congress
inexplicably granted a number of after-the-fact extensions, the first
in 1990 and the latest in 2002. The suit claims these extensions were
legally invalid and therefore inapplicable because, at the time they
were made, the Parole Commission had already been abolished. Had the
Parole Commission followed the congressional mandate, Leonard Peltier
would have been released over 12 years ago. Lacking in any statutory
authority, the U.S. Parole Commission in fact illegally extended the
terms of his imprisonment. The failure of the Parole Commission to
give release dates to Peltier violated the ex post facto, Bill of
Attainder, and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Leonard
Peltier has demanded a permanent injunction preventing further
misapplication of the SRA and its amendments by the government;
enforcement of the rights created by the original section 235(b)(3);
and, due to irreparable injuries, compensatory and punitive damages as
determined by a jury.
12 September 2004: Leonard Peltier turns 60 years old.
September 2004: During the New York fashion week, the
American designers Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui both print
the slogan "Leonard Peltier is Innocent" on their respective
show programs. This does not go unnoticed. Both the New York Times
and the glossy fashion magazine Women's Wear Daily write about
October 2004: During the Paris, France fashion week, the
British designer Vivienne Westwood and French designer
Christian Lacroix both print the slogan "Leonard Peltier is
Innocent" on their respective show programs.
12 October 2004: The 137 new International Peltier Forum
letters signed by celebrities in 2003-2004 are sent to the White House
by diplomatic mail through the U.S. Embassy in Belgium. The letters
include the one signed by former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachov.
15 December 2004: The attorneys for Leonard Peltier file a
Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence in the U.S. District
Court in Fargo, North Dakota. Peltier has been illegally imprisoned
for nearly 30 years. The federal jurisdiction conferred by the
statutes under which he was convicted and sentenced depended on the
location of the alleged crime, not against whom the crime was
allegedly committed. The statutes required that the acts in question
take place "within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction
of the United States". Because the acts occurred on the Pine Ridge
Indian Reservation, which is neither within the special maritime or
territorial jurisdiction of the United States (the Oglala Sioux Nation
of Pine Ridge is a sovereign nation!), Leonard Peltier was convicted
and sentenced for crimes over which the U.S. District Court had no
jurisdiction. Not only did the court not have jurisdiction in the
Peltier case, but the trial judge inflicted punishment – two
consecutive life terms – that the jury’s verdict alone did not allow.
The jury did not find all the facts ‘which the law makes essential to
the punishment’. According to the Supreme Court, the judge exceeded
his proper authority. Peltier is calling on the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure in effect at the time of his sentencing, that
provided that the Court could correct an illegal sentence at any time.
This rule applies to any offence committed before November 1, 1997.
The appellate courts have recognized the undisputed misconduct in
Peltier’s case – fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as
coerced testimony – yet have refused to take corrective action for
nearly three decades. This is clearly an abuse of the legal standards
of American justice.
30 December 2004: The FBI was ordered on August 15, 2003,
to begin releasing documents by December 2004. On December 30, 2004,
the FBI produces 5,112 pages of material. However, the pages released
consist of Mr. Peltier's 1977 trial transcript, as well as the
Robideau-Butler trial transcript. Incredibly, the FBI withheld 144
pages from these transcripts - documents that are already a matter of
public record - on the basis that they were exempt from disclosure.
Peltier's attorneys send a letter to the judge who issued the above
Order, to ask her to reconsider her August 2003 decision. We know that
the FBI has 142,579 pages of material that have never been made
available to Leonard's legal team. The FBI Minneapolis Field Office
alone has 90,000 pages. The data maintained by this Field Office are
particularly important because this was the office in which the
RESMURS investigation was based. Incredibly, the judge denied the
request, disagreeing that the FBI has made a bad faith response to her
Order. Perhaps she believes the legal team has waited nearly 30 years
only to receive Peltier's trial transcript?
6 February 2005: Leonard Peltier starts his 29th year in
February 2005: During the New York fashion week, the
American designers Anna Sui and Narciso Rodriguez (re-)print
the slogan "Leonard Peltier is Innocent" on their respective
16 February 2005: The Oglala Commemoration Committee
and the Lakota Student Alliance introduce the Leonard
Peltier Honorary Scholarship for incoming freshmen at the
Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.
This scholarship will be awarded to one student each year who has
finished his/her General Equivalency Diploma (GED) in good standing
and plans to attend Oglala Lakota College (OLC) to further his/her
education. The Award, in the amount of $250, is created in the name of
Leonard Peltier. Only GED Graduates at Oglala Lakota College shall be
eligible to receive this scholarship. The applicant (GED Graduate)
must submit an application and essay to be considered by the Oglala
Lakota College Scholarship Committee. The Oglala Lakota College
Scholarship Committee is authorized to select the award recipient each
year. The Oglala Commemoration Committee will announce the Leonard
Peltier Honorary Scholarship recipient following the annual Oglala
Commemoration Event held each year in Oglala on June 26th. The Lakota
Student Alliance and Oglala Commemoration Committee jointly sponsor
the Scholarship to honor and remember the lives lost during the 1970's
civil conflict on the reservation and to also raise awareness toward
the unjust imprisonment of AIM member Leonard Peltier. Lakota Student
Alliance members hope this scholarship will encourage GED graduates to
further their education and gain powerful knowledge for the common
good of the Lakota Nation. The LSA realizes the tremendous barriers
that often lead to painful choices by many Lakota tribal students. The
GED graduates of the Oglala Lakota Nation are mostly Single Parents
with little income. These parents took the initiative to better
themselves for their homes, and their communities.
25 February 2005: the FBI releases an additional 5,167
pages of withheld records from its Minneapolis field office. Peltier's
legal team is presently reviewing this information.
1 March 2005: During the Paris, France fashion week,
British designer Vivienne Westwood reprints the slogan "Leonard
Peltier is Innocent" on her show program; as well as on her
3 March 2005: the Peltier attorneys file a Motion to
Summarily Proceed on Leonard's Petition for Habeas Corpus and to
establish bail. On August 6, 2002, a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus was submitted to the U.S. District Court in the District of
Columbia. This pending appeal concerns the unconstitutional
misapplication of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (under which
prisoners sentenced "under the old system" were to be issued release
dates no later than October 1989) by the U.S. Parole Commission. On
February 20, 2004, a Reply Brief on the government's Motion to
Transfer (to the U.S. District Court in the District of Kansas) was
filed. In March, the DC District Court granted the government's Motion
to Transfer. There has been no movement on this appeal for over a year.
9 March 2005: a Motion for Expedited Hearing is
filed concerning the December 15, 2004,Motion to Correct an Illegal
Sentence filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of North
Dakota. The Peltier attorneys demand a permanent injunction preventing
further misapplication of the SRA and its amendments by the government;
enforcement of the rights created by the original section 235(b)(3);
and due to irreparable injuries suffered by Peltier, compensatory and
punitive damages as determined by a jury. On September 17, stating the
claim appeared to be a habeas corpus petition, the court issued an
Order to Show Cause why the case shouldn't be transferred to the U.S.
District Court of Kansas On October 12, the legal team submitted its
response and filed the final complaint. Nevertheless, the court
recently ordered the claim transferred to the U.S. District Court of
Kansas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
affirmed the District Court's decision.
15 March 2005: the Peltier legal team files a Petition
for a Writ of Mandamus from the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the
appellate court's ruling. In a related action, an Emergency
Grievance was submitted to the Bureau of Prisons in early March
2005 to address claims of illegal detention resulting in personal
injuries and/or irreparable harm. No response from prison authorities
within a 48-hour period will result in court action.
21 March 2005: Judge Donovan W. Frank issues an
Order & Memorandum regarding the appeal the legal team filed
concerning the Magistrate Judge Decision in their Minneapolis FOIA
action. The Court set the matter for oral argument.
27 March 2005: The hearing concerning the FOIA action
against the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office has been set for April 15,
2005, at 2:00 p.m. CT, at the St. Paul Federal Court House, 316 N.
Roberts, St. Paul, Minnesota.
5 April 2005: Leonard's lawyers fail to persuade a federal
judge in Buffalo, NY, to release a key document that could lead to a
new trial for Peltier. Citing legal provisions that protect identities
of FBI personnel and confidential sources, U.S. District Judge
William M. Skretny refuses to provide the full text of a 1975
teletype message from the FBI's Buffalo office to then-FBI Director
Clarence M. Kelley. A version with parts blacked out had been
released last year. Peltier's attorneys contend the message suggests
that a New York FBI informant might have been trying to infiltrate
Peltier's defense team. The judge didn't deal with the legal team's
arguments about COINTELPRO and the FBI's war on the American
Indian Movement. He sidestepped that issue, and it's key because
Freedom of Information Act exemptions cannot be used to shield illegal
or unauthorized investigative tactics. Skretny deferred a final
decision on releasing seven of the 15 requested pages; all had been
withheld on national security grounds. Mike Kuzma, Peltier's
FOIA lawyer, says he will appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City.
15 April 2005: Peltier's lawyers ask U.S. District Court
Judge Donovan Frank for immediate and unfettered access to 90,000
pages of documents that were wrongly withheld during Peltier's 1977
trial. The thousands of pages compiled by the FBI's Minneapolis field
office could contain information about informants and evidence Peltier
could use to win his release or a new trial.
26 April 2005: While admonishing the FBI for withholding
some documents, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul, MN,
denies the request by Peltier's lawyers for quicker access to
information used to convict him of killing two federal agents three
decades ago. The Judge says a previously arranged schedule for the
release of documents assembled by the Minneapolis FBI office should
continue and be completed by December 1st. But he took issue with the
FBI's earlier decision to withhold 144 pages of public trial
transcripts in the case of Peltier. "Whether this sequestration of
pages was the result of the FBI's lack of resources or ineptitude, it
is inexcusable and will not be tolerated again by this court," Frank
wrote. He wrote that he is "fully prepared to order an expedited
release schedule if it is demonstrated, again, that the FBI has not
acted in good faith." At the hearing, FBI attorney Preeya Noranha
says the agency is working as quickly as possible and plans to turn
over a new batch of documents every 60 days.
6 June 2005: Peltier's defense team is granted a hearing to
correct his illegal sentencing. The basis for this motion is that the
U.S. District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the
statutes upon which Mr. Peltier was convicted and sentenced. The
statutes in question require that the crime take place "within the
special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States".
Since the deaths of the agents occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation which is neither "within the special maritime [or]
territorial jurisdiction of the United States", the Peltier defense
team is asking the Court to grant Mr. Peltier's motion and vacate the
illegal sentences imposed upon him. This hearing is important because
Peltier was never charged with crimes over which the United States had
jurisdiction. The history of the constitution, and the statutes
implicated, unequivocally establish that Leonard Peltier was not
convicted under the Indian Crimes Act, which is the only possible
authority under which the government could have tried and convicted
Peltier. Whereas here, the court had no jurisdiction to convict
Peltier under the crimes for which he was convicted, those convictions
must be set aside as a matter of law.
15 June 2005: At 2:00 PM the hearing takes place at the
Quentin N. Burdick U.S. Courthouse in Fargo, North Dakota. Peltier's
defense team argue for his release, saying the federal government did
not have the right to try him for crimes that occurred on a South
Dakota reservation. "The court had no federal offense before it and it
had no federal jurisdiction," attorney Barry Bachrach tells
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson. Leonard Peltier, who has a
history of diabetes and recently suffered a stroke, listens by
speakerphone from federal prison in Leavenworth,Kansas. He talks
briefly after lawyers had finished, complaining that the government
continues to change its story about his role in the killings. Bachrach
also tells the judge that a recent court ruling on sentencing
guidelines shows the court exceeded its authority in handing down two
consecutive life terms. A ruling is expected within two months. About
30 people attend a protest rally outside the courthouse before the
1 July 2005: Leonard Peltier is suddenly moved to USP Terre
Haute, in Indiana. The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently
decided to convert the maximum-security prison of USP Leavenworth,
Kansas, to a medium security prison. The 1,511 prisoners will all be
moved to maximum-security prisons such as Terre Haute or Florence,
Colorado. At Terre Haute, Leonard Peltier was immediately placed in "the
hole". It is basic procedure to keep transferred inmates in the hole
while processing takes place, however we do not know how long that
will take. While the Terre Haute facility is comparable to Leavenworth
– with 7.5-hour work assignments (all prisoners must work); recreation;
and other programs – there are some significant differences between
the two institutions. Terre Haute has a death row and its prison
industry includes work in support of the United States' "War on
Terrorism", i.e., production of ammunition for the U.S. military.
22 July 2005: The federal judge in North Dakota rejects the
by Leonard Peltier. Peltier's lawyer,Barry Bachrach, said
federal laws did not apply to Peltier because the FBI agents Williams
and Coler were killed in Indian Country. U.S. District Judge Ralph
Erickson denies the appeal, saying the government has the right to
prosecute people who kill federal agents, no matter where the crimes
occur. The appeal was one of several in the 30-year-old case. Leonard
himself speaks briefly by speakerphone during the hearing. He
complains that the government has changed itsstory about his role in
15 August 2005: Only one and half month after the transfer
from USP Leavenworth, KS to USP Terre Haure, IN, once again Leonard
Peltier is transferred to USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania. Health
problems continue to plague Leonard and the conditions he was
subjected to in Indiana exacerbated.
23 September 2005: The legal defense team for Leonard
Peltier files an appeal to the July 2005 U.S. District Court decision
which wrongly endorsed federal jurisdiction over Indian Territory. The
appeal seeks to overturn the denial of Peltier's Motion to correct the
illegal sentence imposed upon him by the federal courts.
23 January 2006: A Hearing has been scheduled for February
13, 2006 to correct the illegal sentencing that occurred in Leonard
Peltier's case. The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. at the Thomas
F. Eagleton Courthouse, Southeast Courtroom 27th Floor, 111 S. 10th
Street in St. Louis, Missouri.
6 February 2006: It is exactly 30 years ago
that Leonard Peltier was arrested in Canada...
13 February 2006: In a "Standing Room" only courtroom in St.
Louis, Missouri, Mr. Peltier's attorneys argue Leonard's appeal to the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, relative to the District
Court's denial of the Motion to correct his Illegal Sentence. The
Court greets both Peltier's attorneys and the government attorney with
many questions concerning the key issues raised. After listening to
the parties' arguments, the Court took the case under advisement and a
decision will most likely be rendered within the next three months.
23 February 2006: The FBI can keep secret a handful of
documents in the case of Leonard Peltier in the interest of national
security, U.S. District Judge William Skretny ruled in
Buffalo,NY, rejecting efforts by Leonard's legal team for a glimpse at
the 30-year-old records. Skretny issued the decision after reviewing
some of the pages in private as part of a Freedom of Information
request by the attorneys fighting to have Peltier's 1977 conviction
overturned. Attorney Michael Kuzma says he plans to appeal Skretny's
ruling. "Plaintiff has not established the existence of bad faith or
provided any evidence contradicting the FBI's claim that the release
of these documents would endanger national security or would impair
this country's relationship with a foreign government," the judge
wrote in his decision. "The pages we were most intrigued about
revolved around a teletype from Buffalo... a three-page document that
seems to indicate that a confidential source was being advised by the
FBI not to engage in conduct that would compromise attorney-client
privilege," Kuzma said.
28 April 2006: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth
Circuit rules that the U.S. government had the right to prosecute
American Indian activist Leonard Peltier for crimes that occurred on a
South Dakota reservation. In this latest appeal, Peltier's lawyers
argued that federal courts have no jurisdiction over Indian land. In
the summer of 2005, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled
that the government has the right to prosecute and imprison anyone who
kills federal agents, no matter where the crimes occur. The 8th U.S.
Circuit Appeals Court now upholds Erickson's ruling. Barry Bachrach,
Peltier's lawyer, says he is disappointed but that he is just going to
keep moving forward with the issues to correct this injustice.
17 June 2006: Peltier's legal team files a brief with the
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan. In
this case, the legal team is seeking the production of FBI documents
which the government is withholding on, among other grounds, national
security. This is the first of several legal filings that have been
prepared to require the FBI to produce the documents it has been
withholding for over 30 years. Put simply: the US government would not
be fighting so hard to keep these documents secret unless it had
something to hide!
31 August 2006: On September 8, 2006 at 9:30 a.m., Barry A.
Bachrach, Esq. and Michael Kuzma, Esq. will be arguing before U.S.
Magistrate Judge Susan R. Nelson for the full release of all
FBI files maintained by the Minneapolis Field Office relating to
Leonard Peltier and RESMURS. The FBI reviewed 77,149 pages and
released 66,594 pages in full or in part, however, 10,555 pages were
withheld in their entirety. Of utmost significance is that Mr. Peltier
seeks release of documents relating to informants, particularly with
respect to the extent the FBI paid informants to infiltrate Mr.
Peltier's defense team. Mr. Peltier's legal team just discovered
evidence establishing that Douglas Durham, who was a
confidential source paid by the FBI to infiltrate the highest levels
of the American Indian Movement and who was exposed on March 7, 1975,
spoke with, and provided information to, William Halprin, the
Chief Prosecutor from Canada against Mr. Peltier in connection with
the extradition proceedings. Halprin requested Durham's involvement "to
enable him to utilize source [Durham] to refute statements made by
Peltier's defense." The FBI instructed Durham "to provide information
requested by Crown Attorney [and]... If recontacted by Halprin, he
would cooperate fully and would keep Omaha advised of developments."
Knowing full well the impact such revelations would have on Mr.
Peltier's case, the government is fighting vigorously to prevent these
documents, that date back over 30 years, from being publicly released.
Among other things, the FBI claims that the release of this
information would harm national security and reveal the identities of
confidential sources. Mr. Peltier's lawyers have argued that these are
nothing more than pretexts to prevent the release of further evidence
of the continuing violation of Mr. Peltier's constitutional rights and
further drives home the fact that Mr. Peltier never received a fair
30 November 2006: On December 7, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.,
Leonard Peltier's attorney Michael Kuzma will be arguing before a
three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for
the full release of all documents maintained by the Buffalo field
office of the FBI relating to Leonard Peltier and RESMURS. As a result
of this lawsuit, and a similar case brought against the FBI in
Minnesota under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we have learned
that the FBI actually possesses 142,579 pages of material pertaining
to Leonard Peltier and RESMURS. Although these documents are over 30
years old, the government continues to block release of this
information on the basis that disclosure would, among other things,
hamper the "war on transnational terrorism" and reveal the identities
of confidential sources.
3 January 2007: Barry Bachrach, attorney for Leonard
Peltier, files an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth
Circuit. This appeal concerns the unconstitutional application of
Section 235( b)(3) of the SRA by the Parole Commission. This enactment
made substantial changes by stripping the Parole Commission of any
discretion and by establishing a method of determinate sentencing.
3 February through 8 April 2007: the Leonard Peltier
Defense Committee and the Smoki Museum in Prescott, Arizona present
"Warrior Elder: The Paintings of Leonard Peltier". The
Warrior Elder Exhibit and event include a benefit concert featuring
reggae artists Casper, Native Roots and Native flute
player Travis Terry.
23 February 2007: In two separate decisions rendered this
month, US District Judge Donovan W. Frank and a three-judge
panel for the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals refused to order the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to release thousands of pages of
documents relating to Leonard Peltier. Both Judge Frank and the
Appeals Court upheld claims by the FBI that release of the sought-after
information would, among other things, cause serious damage to the
national security of the United States and the war on transnational
terrorism. Judge Frank found that any evidence of prior FBI misconduct
was "irrelevant". Judge Frank's decision will be appealed to the US
8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
3 April 2007: The Norwegian Nobel Committee confirms that
Leonard Peltier has officially been nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace
Prize. This year 181 candidates have been registered. The name of the
Prize recipient for 2007 will be announced in mid-October.
8 June 2007: Ron Kuby and David Pressman,
attorneys for Leonard Peltier, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Eighth Circuit an appellate brief asking the Court to review
and release some 11,000 pages of documents related to the
investigation and prosecution of Leonard Peltier. The FBI continues to
withhold those documents, claiming that their release would violate
promises of confidentiality made to informants and would, incredibly,
endanger the national security of the United States. In their brief,
they argue that the FBI's promises to its informants expired long ago,
and were waived when those informants testified publicly. Peltier's
attorneys also assert that the virtually unprecedented public interest
in the case of Leonard Peltier warrants careful judicial review of the
withheld documents. In addition, they demonstrate that the FBI's
historic misconduct in this case, coupled with its continued
misrepresentations about Peltier's case, shows sufficient bad faith to
require the most searching inquiry into any claims of privilege.
9 October 2007: the Leonard Peltier legal team, Ron Kuby
and David Pressman filed a reply brief with the United States Courts
of Appeals for the Eight Circuit. Defendant-Appellee ("the Government")
continues to categorically insist that there is no degree of
governmental misconduct toward a FOIA litigant that could cause a
court to "question the good faith of the agency," Cox v Department of
Justice, 576 F2d 1302, 1312( 8 Cir.1978) unless the litigant can prove
misconduct in the FOIA proceedings themselves. The Government's
assertion that it can wave away its sordid history of proven FBI and
prosecutorial misconduct toward Peltier with a "what have we done to
you lately" nonchalance rests entirely on the Government's own
insistence. More significantly, the Government conflates Peltier's
lengthy, documented, proven history of the most serious governmental
misconduct with some fanciful, gauzy grievance made by some
hypothetical litigant. The Government again demonstrates that it does
not now, nor has it ever, taken seriously any of the courts that have
admonished it about the treatment of Leonard Peltier. It has been
proven that the FBI withheld exculpatory evidence, manufactured
inculpatory evidence that it knew to be false, coerced witnesses and
engaged in an over reaction to Wounded Knee sufficiently grave to
cause a Senior Judge of this Court to opine that the Government shares
responsibility for the firefight that led to the death of the two FBI
agents. The Government has shown no solicitude for the enormous "burden
on the judiciary" that its own malfeasance has caused.
12 February 2008: A hearing regarding the release of the
documents the FBI is still withholding, is scheduled to take place on
Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, beginning at 9:00 a.m. before the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Court will be held at the
University of St. Thomas School of Law in the Frey Moot Courtroom at
1000 LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
11 March 2008: Oral arguments before a three-judge panel of
the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minneapolis, Minnesota, deals
with Peltier's attempt to get the FBI to release thousands of pages of
documents about him that it has withheld. Judge Lavenski R. Smith
asks Peltier’s attorney, Michael Kuzma what the remedy would be
for Peltier. Kuzma says the court should conduct "a full in-camera
review of the documents". When Smith expresses some disbelief at that
idea, Kuzma adds that, if that were too burdensome, the court could
focus on the documents from 1977, of which Peltier has received none.
Tom Byron, attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in
Washington D.C., argues that "there's no support" for an in-camera
inspection of the records. The agency has said it properly withheld
documents based on exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act. Those
include documents kept secret for national security reasons and
information that would reveal funds spent on undercover operations. He
also says there was no evidence the U.S. District Court abused its
discretion in ruling that the FBI could withhold certain documents.
Kuzma says the documents compiled by the FBI's Minneapolis field
office could contain information about FBI informants who were privy
to attorney-client conversations involving Peltier, and who could have
turned around and reported valuable information to the FBI. Peltier
has filed similar lawsuits elsewhere in the country.
12 January 2009: Leonard Peltier is transferred to a high-security
federal prison in Canaan, Pennsylvania, northeast of his former
facility in Lewisburg. Prison authorities have assured us that he will
retain his phone and painting privileges and access to his diabetes
13 January 2009: Leonard Peltier is brutally beaten by two
other inmates while arriving in general population at USP Canaan.
Leonard is placed in solitary confinement, alledgedly for his "protection".
19 January 2009: President George W. Bush formally
denies Leonard Peltier's request for executive clemency.
20 January 2009: Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Leonard Peltier's supporters immediately start a campaign to ask the
new president to grant clemency.
25 January 2009: All week long, Leonard Peltier has not had
a medical examination after the beating, nor was he allowed a visit
from his lawyers. On January 25th, finally one of his attorneys,
Sheila Dugan is allowed to visit Leonard.
30 January 2009: Leonard Peltier is transferred back to USP
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He is back in general population.
6 February 2009: Peltier suporters from all across the
world jam the White House comments line all day, demanding that
President Barack Obama grants executive clemency. Today marks
the 33th anniversary of Mr. Peltier's arrest in Canada.
17 February 2009: Robert Robideau passes away at his
home in Barcelona, Spain.