Civil Rights Prosecutions for January 2014

Number Latest Month 28
Percent Change from previous month 75.0
Percent Change from 1 year ago 24.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 74.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 73.0
Table 1: Criminal Civil Rights Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during January 2014 the government reported 28 new civil rights prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 75% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with 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 2014 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (24.5 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 74.6 percent from levels reported in 2009.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in civil rights prosecutions

The increase from the levels five years ago in civil rights prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of civil rights prosecutions 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 prosecutions of these matters in January 2014 was for "Civil Rights-Other", accounting for 46.4 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Civil Rights-Slavery/Invol. Servitude" (32.1%), " Civil Rights-Law Enforcement" (21.4%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for civil rights prosecutions in January 2014 was FBI accounting for 39 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of civil rights referrals were: DHS (32% ), Local (29%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Prosecutions by investigative agency

Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In January 2014, 4 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.

In the magistrate courts in January the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 involving the "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens". This was the lead charge for 50 percent of all magistrate filings in January.

Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In January 2014, 24 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during January there were an additional 2 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 January.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of civil rights matters filed in U.S. District Court during January 2014.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
18 USC 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law 14 1 More
18 USC 1591 - Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion 8 2 More
18 USC 1584 - Sale into involuntary servitude 1 3 More
18 USC 1594 - Attempted Forced Labor 1 3 More
18 USC 2423 - Transportation of minors for sexual activity 1 3 More
21 USC 353 - Exemptions in case of drugs and devices 1 3 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "Deprivation of rights under color of law" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 242) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1591.

  • Ranked 3rd were "Sale into involuntary servitude" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1584, "Attempted Forced Labor" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1594, "Transportation of minors for sexual activity" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2423 and "Exemptions in case of drugs and devices" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 353.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In January 2014 the Justice Department said the government brought 9.9 civil rights prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

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

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


Judicial District Count Rank  
Ga, M 8 1 More
Puer Rico 5 2 More
La, E 3 3 More
Maryland 3 3 More
Penn, W 2 5 More
Arizona 1 6 More
Minnesota 1 6 More
N. Y., E 1 6 More
Texas, W 1 6 More
Wash, W 1 6 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Middle District of Georgia (Macon)—with 8 prosecutions—was the most active during January 2014.

  • The District of Puerto Rico ranked 2nd.

  • Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) and District of Maryland are now ranking 3rd.

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 of this type during January 2014 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Treadwell, Marc Thomas Ga, M 8 1 More
Garcia-Gregory, Jay A. Puer Rico 5 2 More
Vance, Sarah S. La, E 3 3 More
Chasanow, Deborah K. Maryland 2 4 More
Schwab, Arthur J. Penn, W 2 4 More
Ferraro, D. Thomas Arizona 1 6 More
Bredar, James Kelleher Maryland 1 6 More
Nelson, Susan Richard Minnesota 1 6 More
Glasser, Israel Leo N. Y., E 1 6 More
Martinez, Philip Ray Texas, W 1 6 More
Lasnik, Robert S. Wash, W 1 6 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

All 11 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of civil rights filings . (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell in the Middle District of Georgia (Macon) ranked 1st with 8 defendants in civil rights cases.

  • Judge Jay A. Garcia-Gregory in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 2nd with 5 defendants in civil rights cases.

  • Judge Sarah S. Vance in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) ranked 3rd with 3 defendants in civil rights cases.

Report Generated: March 17, 2014
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