FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

The Law Officer's Pocket Manual - Bloomberg BNA
This handy 4" x 6" spiral-bound manual offers examples showing how rules are...

Top News

Holder Wants to Make It Easier to Prosecute Officers for Civil Rights Violations

February 27, 2015  | 

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to leave office next month. (Photo: CC_Flickr: European Parliment)
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to leave office next month. (Photo: CC_Flickr: European Parliment)

Attorney General Eric Holder plans to push, during his final weeks in office, a new standard of proof for civil-rights offenses, saying in an exit interview with POLITICO that such a change would make the federal government “a better backstop” against discrimination in cases like Ferguson and Trayvon Martin.

Holder said that between now and his departure, probably in early March when the Senate is expected to confirm Loretta Lynch as his successor, he will call for a lower standard of proof for civil rights crimes. Such a change would make it easier for the federal government to bring charges in the case of a future Ferguson or Trayvon Martin.

“I think some serious consideration needs to be given to the standard of proof that has to be met before federal involvement is appropriate, and that’s something that I am going to be talking about before I leave office,” Holder, 64, said.

The attorney general’s comments appeared to be aimed partly at preparing the country for the possibility that no federal charges would be brought in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last summer. Holder said the inquiry would be completed when he left office, expected around the second week of March.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that the Martin investigation had been closed, with “insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges” against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator who shot the unarmed black teenager to death back in 2012.

Asked if the bar for federal involvement in the civil rights offenses is too high for federal prosecutors to make cases in shootings like those of Martin and Brown, Holder suggested it was.

Lawyers in the Justice Department are looking into various possible reforms of civil rights law. Depending on their determination, it’s possible that Holder will simply argue about the need for a lower standard of proof rather than propose a specific legislative remedy. Possible changes include toughening hate-crimes laws, which were under consideration in the Martin case, and establishing a broader standard for what constitutes a “deprivation of rights under color of law,” the provision that could apply to the police shooting in Ferguson.

Comments (27)

Displaying 1 - 27 of 27

jnc36rcpd @ 2/28/2015 7:32 AM

Sue, Eric. Perhaps LEO's could be convicted if only probable causeexists rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Heck, how abou reasonable suspicion? Or even "looks bad"? I didn't realize the constitutional rights of a class of people could be usuped by an imperial presidency.

bud stapleton @ 2/28/2015 7:55 AM

the officers did not commit civil rights violations. The young men tried the police and lost, end of story. Teach your children not to confront and assault police. The problem is not the officers, its the lack of respect these young black males have for authority. We have created a generation of thugs and criminals because we don't want to confront the issue that young black males are allowed to run wild because you cant confront them because it becomes a racial issue. if the black parents and black communities wont confront the issue, the police have to. stop allowing black youth to commit a large portion of the most serious crimes. If you start making it easy for thugs and criminals to have police prosecuted, the police will stop dealing with the problem. If a small percentage of young black males are committing half of the most serious crimes, what's going to happen when police cant do anything. I'm sure the crime rate will go to zero.

T. Bailey @ 2/28/2015 8:38 AM

Sounds like he is creating a double standard. So much for equal justice for all under the law.

Sheriff Mike Pigg @ 2/28/2015 9:01 AM

Mr. Holder is an embarrassment to the Department of Justice and will not be missed. I think he needs to go to Phoenix and let Sheriff Arpaio run him through the shoot/don't shoot scenario and see if his attitude changes.

LT @ 2/28/2015 9:05 AM

Mr Holder, when you resign that means you quit. You have done a poor job as AG to this point, so cut your loses and go home. Quit, go home and leave the decisions to someone who wants the job. Hopefully, they are more successful during their tenure.

Mike @ 2/28/2015 9:39 AM

I have no interest in what this person has to say. If he can't work within the law he wants to have government far reach to convict people. This is not a comment on Ferguson or the Martin case. I think those are settled.

bob retired leo @ 2/28/2015 9:46 AM

If I could only pen what I really think about Holder but I cant here. Good ridence , Ill even come and help you pack. The faster the better.

kevCopAz @ 2/28/2015 9:59 AM

Like this is a big surprise! Why doesn't he want to make it easier to prosecute IRS officials, State Department or Justice Department officials? We all know that he is the most political AG this country has seen in our lifetime and he is a race baiting, inefficient AG that has screwed up most everything he has touched. I hope the next administration & AG look at prosecuting him for Fast and furious and perjury before Congress. Sure he wants to make it easier to prosecute LEOs for civil rights violations, since the current law is very clear and he has been unable to persecute anyone that he wanted to, due to the truth ,facts and the law getting in the way, combined with simply his playing politics instead of being the AG. Sorry that your inabilities and the Law gets in the way of your wanting to persecute LEOs, Thank God is is the case or you would have jailed many innocent officers by now. PLEASE just leave NOW. I hope that you get a good lawyer, you will need it.

Doc @ 2/28/2015 9:59 AM

Good riddance! Can't get out soon enough. Still has no idea of the split second decisions that are made in a deadly force situation!

kevCopAz @ 2/28/2015 10:01 AM

Sure if you lose by playing by the rules,,,,change the rules, you make me sick Holder. You are an inept and racist AG. GO NOW!

Tom Ret @ 2/28/2015 10:12 AM

If any investigations need to be made easier with less burden of proof, it is against corrupt politicians and Holder would top the list. This guy has been a total disgrace to his office and an enemy to law enforcement.

Fred @ 2/28/2015 2:25 PM

Dont tie the hands of the police. Teach young blacks to respect authorities. Why does every encounter between police and black males get federal attention. It's getting ridiculous. Black parents need to teach their children not to run at and attack police officers,especially in their patrols cars. Also, stop pointing toy guns at police. The police cant tell if a gun pointed at them is a toy. Get real. The real problem is with young black males not the police. The police are doing their job. The young black males have the idea that they are protected when committing crimes. If over 50% of rapes, murders, armed robberies are commited by young black males, we need to stop worrying about their criminal rights and stop the problem.

RICHARD @ 2/28/2015 7:02 PM


RMA @ 2/28/2015 7:28 PM

The 14th Amendment, Due Process and the Presumption of Innocence be dammed Holder, Sharpton and Obama are the real Racists in all this. In both the Brown and Martin case we had simple Self-Defense use of force situations. If the deceased had been White, there would have been no Media Coverage. Does anyone remember the White couple, raped, tortured and murdered in Knoxville, Tenn. by a gang of Blacks? Did Whites riot over the Black cop in a Chicago suburb who killed a 95 yr. old White man and was found not guilty of manslaughter last month? If race becomes the trigger as to prosecute or not prosecute, we have as a nation destroyed Due Process.

AZBIGDOG @ 2/28/2015 7:32 PM

I guess if you don't like the standards, you change them to fit what you want. God forbid that regardless of the standards you still do not meet them for prosecution of a LEO. But between Holder and obama, neither of them appear to understand or even follow the Constitution or its amendments.

Retired Chief @ 2/28/2015 8:28 PM

"Mr. Civil Rights"! Does anyone besides me think that Holder and his federal whores violated the civil rights of U S Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry when they illegally ran guns into Mexico and one of those weapons was used to murder Terry? Holder is a gigantic POS and along with Obama (aided by some others) they have collectively done more to harm race relations in this country and to reduce police effectiveness than any other administration in the history of our nation.

plato's playdough @ 3/1/2015 3:40 AM

If the NSA is worth a shit, they should examine this traitor's web of dangerous liasons. Specifically if he is invested in independent contractor security forces. Sounds like he is trying to setup a hoop shot.

REH-Jr @ 3/1/2015 5:55 AM

I thing the AG has done enough damage, the quicker he is gone the better off the entire LE community will be.

MikeAT @ 3/1/2015 8:49 AM

Racist sack of shit. I've gotten into discussions of whom I would prefer in jail, him or B Hussein Obama. I have to say it's Holder, he's got a bigger chip on his shoulder about America and law enforcement than B Hussein, and that is saying something. I wonder if Politico asked him about loosing an agent because of Fast and Furious. He dares to call himself "the chief law enforcement officer" of the country. I wouldn't hire him to be a meter maid.

Angela McMinn @ 3/1/2015 11:38 AM

Piece Of Shit. Our top cop has done more damage to L.E than anyone i have ever seen Good Damned Riddance. The sooner the Better.

Bernie @ 3/1/2015 12:10 PM

Maybe Holder should lower the standard by which a person can be imprisoned for failing to respond to a Congressional subpoena. Oh wait, then he might go to jail. But maybe not, he could play the race card.

Leonard Mather @ 3/1/2015 7:16 PM

Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Be aware that Al Sharpton now has ready access to the White House. Clear thinking, logical, problem solving ideas like those of Netanyahu regarding depriving Iran of nuclear capability receive the same treatment and the results are going down the same drain. We are experiencing "Alice in Wonderland." Soon it will be "Off with their heads." The answer in one word is: VOTE.

tom @ 3/2/2015 5:46 AM

The reason there were not charges on those cases, is probably because there was no crime or wrong doing. This was determined later by the appropriate local authorities. The problem with Holder is that he has always been motivated by the politics of the present administration, along with good old fashioned "political correctness", there is not room for getting the facts strait. This has led to our federal government creating a very dangerous situation with police officers hesitating, when they shouldn't. We need to inject some degree of common sense back into our Justice Department.

Lt Dan @ 3/2/2015 7:55 AM

Prosecutoral discretions/thresholds are going up for immigration, Islamic Terrorism and money laundering but down for police involved interactions with criminals. Last I looked there was a blindfold on Lady Justice so that EXACTLY WHAT HOLDER IS PROPOSING WOULD NOT HAPPEN. (oh wait, it isn't Islamic terrorism, is it the poor unemployed.....lets throw money at them too)

Richard Hightower @ 3/3/2015 11:09 AM

Yes... I'll just bet he does.

dan @ 3/9/2015 2:11 PM

Shooting of Trayvon Martin
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shooting of Trayvon Martin
Date February 26, 2012
The Retreat at Twin Lakes
in Sanford, Florida, U.S.

George Zimmerman (shooter) "Has never been a police Officer!"
Fractured nose, lacerations to the back of the head. (Zimmerman)

Second-degree murder,[1] lesser included offense of manslaughter.[2]

Not guilty

On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States, George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has never been a police officer but Holder and others keep referring to him as a racist COP. WHY?

Kevin @ 4/22/2017 11:37 PM

Mike Pigg should be fair and impartial in his comments. That's the duty of law enforcement.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.
Police Magazine