Civil Rights Convictions for March 2014

Number Latest Month 26
Percent Change from previous month 36.8
Percent Change from 1 year ago 31.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 60.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 72.4
Table 1. Criminal Civil Rights Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during March 2014 the government reported 26 new civil rights convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 36.8 percent 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 2014 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was up (31.6%). 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 60 percent from levels reported in 2009.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Civil Rights Convictions

The increase 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 March 2014 was for "Civil Rights-Slavery/Invol. Servitude", accounting for 50 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Civil Rights-Law Enforcement" (19.2%), " Civil Rights-Other" (19.2%), "Civil Rights-Racial Violence" (11.5%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for civil rights convictions in March 2014 was FBI accounting for 69 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of civil rights convictions were: DHS (15% ), Local (8%), 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 March 2014, 1 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 March the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving "Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.". This was the lead charge for 100 percent of all magistrate convictions in March.

Civil Rights Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In March 2014, 25 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during March 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 March.

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 March 2014.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
18 USC 1591 - Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion 10 1 More
18 USC 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law 6 2 More
18 USC 2421 - Transportation for illegal sexual activity and related crimes 3 3 More
18 USC 241 - Conspiracy against rights 1 4 More
18 USC 245 - Federally protected activities 1 4 More
18 USC 247 - Damage to religious prop; obstruct religious excer 1 4 More
18 USC 249 - Hate crime acts 1 4 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 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

  • "Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1591) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Deprivation of rights under color of law" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 242.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Transportation for illegal sexual activity and related crimes" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2421.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In March 2014 the Justice Department said the government obtained 9.6 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  
Tenn, W 5 1 More
Minnesota 3 2 More
Cal, E 2 3 More
Mo, E 2 3 More
N Mexico 2 3 More
Ohio, N 2 3 More
Oregon 2 3 More
Utah 2 3 More
Ga, S 1 9 More
Ill, N 1 9 More
La, E 1 9 More
Nevada 1 9 More
Tenn, M 1 9 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts

  • The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) — with 5 convictions — was the most active during March 2014.

  • The District of Minnesota ranked 2nd.

  • Eastern District of California (Sacramento), Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis), District of New Mexico, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland), District of Oregon and District of Utah 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 resulting in convictions of this type during March 2014 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
McCalla, Jon Phipps Tenn, W 4 1 More
Frank, Donovan W. Minnesota 2 2 More
Autrey, Henry Edward Mo, E 2 2 More
Johnson, William Paul N Mexico 2 2 More
Simon, Michael Howard Oregon 2 2 More
Ishii, Anthony W. Cal, E 1 6 More
Mendez, John A. Cal, E 1 6 More
Edenfield, Berry Avant Ga, S 1 6 More
Lefkow, Joan Humphrey Ill, N 1 6 More
Lemelle, Ivan L. R. La, E 1 6 More
Ericksen, Joan N. Minnesota 1 6 More
Mahan, James C. Nevada 1 6 More
Polster, Dan A. Ohio, N 1 6 More
Pearson, Benita Yalonda Ohio, N 1 6 More
Bryant, John S. Tenn, M 1 6 More
Breen, J. Daniel Tenn, W 1 6 More
Sam, David Utah 1 6 More
Wells, Brooke C. Utah 1 6 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

All 18 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of civil rights convictions. (Because of ties, there were a total of 18 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Jon Phipps McCalla in the Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) ranked 1st with 4 convicted in civil rights convictions.

  • Judges Donovan W. Frank in the District of Minnesota, Henry Edward Autrey in the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis), William Paul Johnson in the District of New Mexico and Michael Howard Simon in the District of Oregon ranked 2nd with 2 convicted in civil rights convictions.

Report Generated: May 13, 2014
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