A Portland woman spent seven extra months in jail because of a judge's mistake, according to an appeals court ruling released on Wednesday, November 5. Felicia Yarborough pled guilty to identity theft and second-degree forgery in 2004, when she was sentenced to 18 months of probation. She later violated probation and was sentenced by Judge Christopher Marshall to 13 months of imprisonment on September 20, 2007. The appeals court ruled that Marshall erred in imposing the sentence, because the maximum allowable by law for Yarborough was six months. Yarborough, who already served the extra seven months, was unreachable for comment by press time. Judge Marshall was also unreachable for comment because of the Veterans Day holiday on Tuesday, November 11. MD
Federal Judge Garr King ruled last Thursday, November 6, that the government acted unconstitutionally when it froze the assets of the Ashland-based Al Haramain Islamic Foundation in February 2004, under anti-terrorism statutes passed by President Bush.
The treasury department's Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the group as a "specially designated global terrorist," but gave no reasons for doing so. Later, the treasury department alleged that the charity was giving "material support" to certain terrorist groups. The government then forbade the charity from using its frozen assets to pay for attorneys to defend against the claims, and attorneys for the charity have not been able to access the government's classified documents in order to defend against them.
"The government gets a great deal of deference from the courts when it comes to national security, but it puts the plaintiffs in the position of challenging information that they can never see, which is inherently unfair," says J. Ashlee Albies of law firm Steenson, Schumann, Tewksbury, Creighton, and Rose, who has been co-counsel on the case. "This case is about the right to be free from arbitrary government action. Due process should be the baseline constitutional protection, and it should mean something." MD