According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 178.6% 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 2011 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (16.7 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 4.3 percent from levels reported in 2006.
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in December 2011 was for "Civil Rights-Slavery/Invol. Servitude", accounting for 66.7 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Civil Rights-Other" (28.2%), "Civil Rights-Law Enforcement" (5.1%). See Figure 1.
The leading investigative agency for civil rights prosecutions in December 2011 was FBI, accounting for 79 percent of prosecutions referred. The only other agency with substantial numbers of civil rights referrals was DHS, with 18 percent. See Figure 2.
Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In December 2011, 3 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 December the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 115 involving the "Influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a Federal official". This was the lead charge for 33.3 percent of all magistrate filings in December.
Civil Rights Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In December 2011, 36 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 8 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 December.
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 December 2011.
Table 2: Top charges filed
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In December 2011 the Justice Department said the government brought 17.2 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.