Civil Rights Convictions for February 2013

Number Latest Month 24
Percent Change from previous month 140.0
Percent Change from 1 year ago -24.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 4.3
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 2.9
Table 1: Criminal Civil Rights Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2013 the government reported 24 new civil rights convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 140% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for civil rights-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See Table 1)

When monthly 2013 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was down (-24.7 percent). Convictions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are up 4.3 percent from levels reported in 2008.

The leveling out in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall increase in civil rights convictions is 2.9 percent instead of 4.3 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in civil rights convictions

The leveling out from the levels five years ago in civil rights convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of civil rights convictions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.

Within the broad category of civil rights, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

Case types within civil rights are

  • Civil Rights - Other

  • Civil Rights - Law Enforcement

  • Civil Rights - Slavery/Involuntary Servitude

  • Civil Rights - Racial Violence, Including Hate Crimes

  • Civil Rights - Access to Clinic Entrances

  • Civil Rights - Hate Crimes Arising Out of Terrorist Attacks on the US

The largest number of convictions of these matters in February 2013 was for "Civil Rights-Other", accounting for 79.2 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Civil Rights-Slavery/Invol. Servitude" (16.7%), " Civil Rights-Law Enforcement" (4.2%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for civil rights convictions in February 2013 was FBI accounting for 79 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of civil rights convictions were: DHS (8% ), SecServ (4%), USMarsh (4%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Convictions by investigative agency

Civil Rights Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In February 2013, no defendants in civil rights cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

Civil Rights Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In February 2013, 24 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during February there were an additional 0 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during February.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of civil rights matters filed in U.S. District Court during February 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
18 USC 241 - Conspiracy against rights 15 1 More
18 USC 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law 2 2 More
18 USC 2421 - Transportation for illegal sexual activity and related crimes 2 2 More
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1 4 More
18 USC 249 - Hate crime acts 1 4 More
18 USC 472 - Uttering counterfeit obligations or securities 1 4 More
18 USC 1591 - Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion 1 4 More
18 USC 2250 - Fail to register as sex offender after traveling interstate commerce 1 4 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "Conspiracy against rights" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 241) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency were the lead charges "Deprivation of rights under color of law" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 242 and "Transportation for illegal sexual activity and related crimes" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2421.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In February 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 9.4 civil rights convictions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the number of civil rights convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of convictions of this type last month are shown in Table 3.


Judicial District Count Rank  
Ohio, N 15 1 More
Texas, W 2 2 More
Wash, W 2 2 More
Fla, S 1 4 More
Mich, E 1 4 More
Penn, W 1 4 More
S Car 1 4 More
Vermont 1 4 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland)—with 15 convictions—was the most active during February 2013.

  • The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) and Western District of Washington (Seattle) ranked 2nd.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new civil rights crime cases resulting in convictions of this type during February 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Polster, Dan A. Ohio, N 15 1 More
Dimitrouleas, William P. Fla, S 1 2 More
O'Meara, John Corbett Mich, E 1 2 More
Diamond, Gustave Penn, W 1 2 More
Blatt, Solomon, Jr. S Car 1 2 More
Garcia, Orlando Luis Texas, W 1 2 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 1 2 More
Murtha, John Garvan Vermont 1 2 More
Leighton, Ronald B. Wash, W 1 2 More
Robart, James L. Wash, W 1 2 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 10 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of civil rights convictions .

  • Judge Dan A. Polster in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 1st with 15 convicted in civil rights convictions.

  • Judges William P. Dimitrouleas in the Southern District of Florida (Miami), John Corbett O'Meara in the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit), Gustave Diamond in the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh), Solomon Blatt, Jr. in the District of South Carol ina, Orlando Luis Garcia in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio), Robert A. Junell in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio), John Garvan Murtha in the District of Vermont, Ronald B. Leighton in the Western District of Washington (S ranked 2nd with 1 convicted in civil rights convictions.

Report Generated: April 23, 2013
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