Civil Rights Prosecutions for June 2013

Number Latest Month 25
Percent Change from previous month 8.7
Percent Change from 1 year ago 48.9
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 63.4
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 49.3
Table 1: Criminal Civil Rights Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during June 2013 the government reported 25 new civil rights prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 8.7% 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 2013 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (48.9 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 63.4 percent from levels reported in 2008.

The substantial growth 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 prosecutions is 49.3 percent instead of 63.4 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 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 June 2013 was for "Civil Rights-Slavery/Invol. Servitude", accounting for 72 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Civil Rights-Other" (16%), " Civil Rights-Hate Crimes from Terrorism" (4%), "Civil Rights-Law Enforcement" (4%), "Civil Rights-Racial Violence" (4%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for civil rights prosecutions in June 2013 was FBI accounting for 96 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of civil rights referrals were: DEA (4% ). 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 June 2013, 5 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 June the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 241 involving the "Conspiracy against rights". This was the lead charge for 80 percent of all magistrate filings in June.

Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In June 2013, 20 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during June 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 June.

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 June 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 11 1 More
18 USC 1591 - Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion 4 2 More
18 USC 249 - Hate crime acts 3 3 More
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1 4 More
18 USC 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law 1 4 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 1 4 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 1 4 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "Laundering of monetary instruments" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1956) 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 was "Hate crime acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 249.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In June 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 8.6 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  
Texas, E 11 1 More
Fla, M 2 2 More
Ga, N 2 2 More
Oregon 2 2 More
Tenn, W 2 2 More
N. Y., S 1 6 More
Texas, S 1 6 More
Texas, W 1 6 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Eastern District of Texas (Tyler)—with 11 prosecutions—was the most active during June 2013.

  • The Middle District of Florida (Tampa), Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta), District of Oregon and Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) 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 of this type during June 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Schell, Richard A. Texas, E 11 1 More
Simon, Michael Howard Oregon 2 2 More
Mays, Samuel H., Jr. Tenn, W 2 2 More
Adams, Henry Lee, Jr. Fla, M 1 4 More
Chappell, Sheri Polster Fla, M 1 4 More
Forrester, J. Owen Ga, N 1 4 More
Murphy, Harold Lloyd Ga, N 1 4 More
Marrero, Victor N. Y., S 1 4 More
Saldana, Diana Texas, S 1 4 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 1 4 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 filings .

  • Judge Richard A. Schell in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 1st with 11 defendants in civil rights cases.

  • Judges Michael Howard Simon in the District of Oregon and Samuel H. Mays, Jr. in the Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) ranked 2nd with 2 defendants in civil rights cases.

Report Generated: August 20, 2013
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Copyright 2013, TRAC Reports, Inc.

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