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No Parole Peltier Association
The Myth of Leonard Peltier
United States Court Decisions


Concerned readers and researchers are asked to take the time to read, in their entirety, the following very important decisions (including footnotes) in the Peltier case. These are not difficult to interpret and follow a logical development of Peltier's prosecution in the courts. It should become apparent that EVERY issue and allegation raised by Peltier's defense teams (and repeated by the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee) HAS BEEN REVIEWED and ANSWERED in the courts.

Court Decisions and Legal History

1. USA v. Leonard Peltier
U.S. District Court, Fargo, North Dakota

Trial (March 14-April 18, 1977)

Peltier is convicted after a jury trial and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murder of FBI Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams.

2. USA v. Peltier, Appellant
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
585 F.2d 314, 1978

Peltier's direct appeal raising the issues of prejudicial evidence, victimization by the FBI, refusal to reread testimony to the jury, violation of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, and collateral estoppel. His conviction is unanimously upheld.

(This decision contains the repeated statement by the LPDC indicating that the FBI abused its investigative process regarding the Myrtle Poor Bear affidavits; the entire footnote follows):

Footnote 18. The use of the affidavits of Myrtle Poor Bear in the extradition proceedings was, to say the least, a clear abuse of the investigative process by the FBI. This was conceded by government counsel on the hearing in this court. It does not, however follow that the testimony of this obviously confused and "unbelievable" witness should have been permitted under either theory advanced by Peltier as hereinbefore set forth. See discussion, Supra, at p. 332 of this opinion. (Emphasis added)

3. Peltier v. United States
440 U.S. 945 (1979)

The United States Supreme Court reviews Peltier's direct appeal and denies Certiorari. Denying Certiorari (Cert.) allows the lower court ruling, in this instance the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, to stand. Under current rules and practice of the Supreme Court, key elements of the proceedings below are submitted along with a petition, and under long-standing internal Court practice if four or more judges favor granting a petition for cert., it will be granted. In this instance at least six of the nine Justices agreed that there were insufficient Constitutional grounds to review Peltier's application.

4. USA v. Peltier
US District Court, District of North Dakota
553 F. Supp. 886, 1982 (December 29, 1982)

Response denying Peltier's motion to have Chief Judge Benson removed from hearing his 28 USC §2255* motion to overturn his conviction and grant a new trial. Judge Benson also reviews the possible reasons why Butler and Robideau were acquitted.

(*§2255 allows a prisoner to appeal his conviction alleging violation of his Constitutional Rights.)

5. USA v. Peltier
US District Court, District of North Dakota
553 F. Supp 890, 1982 (December 30, 1982)

Peltier applies under rule 28 U.S.C. §2255 to have his conviction vacated (overturned) and for a new trial based on "newly discovered evidence" from Freedom of Information Act requests claiming a violation of Brady v. Maryland. This decision addresses that evidence and allegations of perjury, etc, the Brady issue, and the Government's responsibility to disclose evidence to the defense. The court reviews this evidence and denies the motion, stating also, "As noted by the Court of Appeals," "the evidence of Peltier's guilt was strong."

6. USA v. Peltier, Appellant
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
731 F.2d 550, 1984

Peltier appeals (second appeal) to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals the decision of the District Court denying his §2255 motion to overturn his conviction and grant him a new trial. The Appeals Court affirms (agrees with) the lower court's decision not to be removed from Peltier's case. The Appeals Court reviews the law and testimony of FBI firearms expert Evan Hodge and the October 2, 1975 teletype. The case was remanded (sent back) to the District Court for an evidentiary hearing on the ballistic's issue relating to the "Wichita" AR-15 and the .223 caliber shell casing found in the trunk of Agent Coler's vehicle, and the October 2, 1975 teletype and October 31, 1975 FBI Lab report. The Court also stated:

"We do not mean to imply that the October 2 teletype establishes that the motives or actions of any FBI agent or government prosecutor were improper."

7. USA v. Leonard Peltier
U.S. District Court, Bismark, North Dakota

Evidentiary Hearing (October 1-3, 1984)

A three-day evidentiary hearing is held concerning ballistics evidence and reports.

8. USA v. Leonard Peltier
U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota
609 F. Supp. 1143, 1985 (May 22, 1985)

The sequence of events concerning submissions (total of three) of hundreds of items of evidence to the FBI Laboratory and the timing of the examination of the "Wichita AR-15" and the .223 shell casing (item Q# 2628) found in the trunk of Agent Coler's vehicle are explored at length during an evidentiary hearing. The Court concluded, as a finding of fact, what the word "different" in the October 2, 1975 teletype meant and denied Peltier's §2255 motion based on an alleged violation of Brady.

9. USA v. Leonard Peltier
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
800 F. 2d 772, 21 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (September 11, 1986)

The Eighth Circuit court is critical of some aspects of the FBI investigation but reviews witness testimony regarding Peltier's actions on June 26, 1975, dispels allegations of wrongdoing and specifically addresses the .223 shell casing found in Agent Coler's trunk and the AR-15 weapons*. The Appeals court reviews the entire record and applies the law as it relates to the Brady (Brady v. Maryland) and Bagley (U.S. v. Bagley) tests and were not convinced that the Peltier jury would have found him not guilty.

(*It was later determined that the only other AR-15 weapons [capable of firing the .223 caliber round] present in the crime scene area [and which were fired and the shell casings collected as evidence] belonged to law enforcement personnel who responded to the scene after the initial shooting in an effort to rescue Agents Coler and Williams.)

10. Peltier v. United States
484 U.S. 822 (1987)

The United States Supreme Court reviews Peltier's second appeal and denies Certiorari. Denying Certiorari (Cert.) allows the lower court ruling, in this instance the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, to stand. Under current rules and practice of the Supreme Court, key elements of the proceedings below are submitted along with a petition, and under long-standing internal Court practice if four or more judges favor granting a petition for cert., it will be granted. In this instance at least six of the nine Justices agreed that there were insufficient Constitutional grounds to review Peltier's application.

11. Peltier v. Henman
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
997 F.2d 461, 1993 U.S. App. (July 7, 1993)

Peltier appeals based on a second 28 U.S.C. §2255 motion relating to: 1) An alleged concession by the prosecutor that the government changed its prosecutive theory and 2) Alleged government misconduct in connection with the investigation. This second §2255 motion was denied by the District Court. The Court of Appeals denies this application and reviews extensively the evidence that was introduced to the jury during his 1977, Fargo, ND, trial, and the remaining issues and allegations Peltier raised.

(The LPDC has repeatedly quoted the oral arguments before the Court of Appeals where the prosecutor Lynn Crooks stated, "But we can't prove who shot those agents." The defense, and later the LPDC's continued assertion of that statement, was taken completely out of context. The Court of Appeals deals at length with this statement presenting that it could have referred to the two sentences prior to this quote but more importantly gives numerous reasons why the government did not change its theory of the prosecution and quotes other statements of both Mr. Crooks and the Court of Appeals judges.)

12. Peltier v. United States
515 U.S. 1188, 132, L.Ed. 2d 918

In re Leonard PELTIER.
No. 94-9791.
Sept. 20, 1995.

The petition for a writ of habeas corpus or in the alternative petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in the above-entitled case was dismissed today pursuant to Rule 46 of this Court.
(complete text)

13. Canadian Government
Minister of Justice, Anne McLellan
Peltier Extradition letter, 10/12/99

The Canadian Government makes its final review and decision regarding the facts surrounding Peltier's extradition from Canada based on the Myrtle Poor Bear affidavits and other evidence presented during an extradition hearing. The Minister of Justice states, "I have concluded that Mr. Peltier was LAWFULLY EXTRADITED to the United States".

14. USA v. Leonard Peltier
U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota

Criminal Docket No. C77-3003 (February 25, 2002)

Peltier appeals (11/1/01) pursuant to Rules 35 and 47, "a Renewed Motion to Reduce or Correct His Sentence." The Court is critical of this tactic, stating, in part, "there are two fatal flaws to Mr. Peltier's argument." The motion is denied because it is untimely and the elements had been previously considered and available to Peltier. However, even if Peltier's motion were timely it would have been denied on its merits: "Mr. Peltier's renewed Rule 35 Motion is untimely and the Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to consider it. Even if the Court retained jurisdiction, however, Mr. Peltier has failed to alleged sufficient changes in circumstances to warrant the Court's consideration of his Motion. The changes that Mr. Peltier claims justify his Motion were either known to Judge Benson at the time of sentencing or to Mr. Peltier prior to his original Rule 35 Motion. Notwithstanding Mr. Peltier's protestations to the contrary, then, he has had a meaningful second round before the sentencing judge by the drafters of Rule 35."

Update: October 8, 2002; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, St. Paul, MN, to hear oral arguments concerning denial by the District Court of Peltier’s “Renewed Motion to Reduce or Correct His Sentence.” (Click here to view the article.)

APPEAL DENIED: December 12, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, denied Peltier's recent claims stating, in part, that "And equity does not support extending the 120-day filing period for the 17 years it has taken Mr. Peltier to file his renewed...motion." Also stating that Peltier's sentences were not illegal. (Click here to view the article).

15. PELTIER v. Louis Freeh, ET. AL.
U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C.
Filed April 4, 2002

Peltier files a complaint in U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, against former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and other named and unnamed defendants for violation of the Bivens case alleging a "...systematic, and officially sanctioned campaign of misinformation and disinformation designed to prevent the named Plaintiff from receiving a fair hearing on his claims for both Clemency... and ...Parole..." Peltier sues for a jury trial and judgments, which include restraining orders and $1,000,000.

Author's Note: This long awaited suit is a disappointment. It is clear though that this very desperate attempt by Peltier and his supporters has but two goals:

  1. Publicity: And from where Peltier sits, any publicity is good publicity.
  2. Discovery: An endeavor to make an end-run, of sorts, to force a hearing and require a discovery process to obtain previously withheld Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (FOIPA) documents.

Aside from not even getting the names or status correct, Peltier, through his New York attorney, Bernard V. Kleinman, made a number of erroneous allegations and statements:

At paragraph 29 of the complaint:

"29. Significantly, however, The FBIAA (FBI Agent's Association) has, among its website links, one to the "No Parole Peltier Association" []. This lists an address of P.O. Box 54667, Cincinnati, OH 45254. The website contains no identifying information as to who runs, pays, organizes, plans, or executes it."

Perhaps Peltier at Leavenworth does not have access to the Internet, but certainly the LPDC, most Peltier supporters, and presumably, Mr. Kleinman, do. Posted on the NPPA site from its inception were answers to these questions in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section:

Why, How, and Who Created the NPPA?

Who Makes Up the NPPA?

How Much Taxpayer Time and Money Go Into the NPPA and its Web Site?

But even after this allegation in Paragraph 29, Peltier and Mr. Kleinman answer their own question in Paragraph 82 of the complaint by quoting a newspaper article:

"82... May 26, 2000...acknowledged his authorship, funding and maintenance of the website"

But unlike the LPDC, which sends emails and "press releases" and never provides a name but only the closing, "In Solidarity, LPDC:" This author has never hidden his identity.

At the heart of Peltier's "Substantive Allegations" are several bewildering statements: He criticizes, and uses as examples, quotes from himself and sources close to him:

"83...included quotes from the book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse...Included also was a quote from Plaintiff Peltier's acquitted co-indictee, Robert Robideau," and "84. From the aforementioned sources...relying upon Plaintiff's (Peltier's) interview with CNN..."

Finally, Leonard Peltier, and now his attorney Kleinman, got it right. They now realize that the NPPA's position was to provide the interested reader with an analysis of the contradicting statements made by Peltier and the LPDC. So evident is this principle that they could have seen it in the very first paragraph on the homepage of the NPPA web site:

The stated purpose of the NPPA is to respond to the erroneous statements and allegations made by the International Office of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC). The NPPA will forgo political rhetoric and name-calling and concentrate on the record of the events reviewed. Its goal is to provide the interested reader and researcher with a balanced approach to a very serious incident. The NPPA opposes early parole or clemency for Leonard Peltier.

Which brings us to the final point in Peltier's complaint:

"85...primary, if not sole purpose, in the creation, design, and maintenance, of this website was and is "to collect signatures of those opposing Peltier's release." Journal World, at p.3b (5/26/2000). Thus, such actions were designed solely to deny him the right to due process both before the Parole Commission and in petitions for Executive Clemency."

Gathering signatures on petitions was an ancillary goal--not unlike the continuing similar efforts by the LPDC on behalf of Peltier. The NPPA's purpose, repeated here for clarity is " provide the interested reader and researcher with a balanced approach to a very serious incident." For too many years the public only knew of Peltier's version of the event's of June 26, 1975, a version he has repeatedly changed to suit his own needs, coupled with documented lies and erroneous statements about what occurred. Peltier's efforts here are shallow and transparent; publicity, the FOIPA documents, and most significantly, an attempt to squelch free speech from those who oppose his release and believe in his guilt.

Ed Woods,

 Download Civil Rights Complaint in Word Format

On March 22, 2004, USDCJ Richard Leon granted the defendant's motion to dismiss.

15a. 15a. USA v. Leonard Peltier
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Filed December 18, 2002
No. 02-1761

Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota: Leonard Peltier appeals the district court's denial of his renewed motion under Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to reduce the sentences imposed on him in 1977. We Affirm.

(For a further explanation of this decision and a related quote by the LPDC, please see the NPPA March 2009 Newsletter.)

16. PELTIER v. Joseph W. Booker, Jr., Warden
Appeal from the US District Court for the District of Kansas to The US Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, November 4, 2003


In 1999 Peltier brought suit in the District of Kansas on various parole issues claiming, among other things, that the US Parole Commission abused its discretion and authority by improperly considering certain factors and establishing a fifteen year (2008) parole hearing date. The District Court denied the claim. Peltier was later entitled to biennial parole-review hearings.

The 10th US District Court of Appeals disagreed with Peltier's claim also, concluding: "Because we hold the Commission's principal finding that Mr. Peltier shot and killed Agents Coler and Williams was rational, we need not address the Commission's implication that the same disposition is supportable if Mr. Peltier only aided and abetted at the murder scene. As such, we affirm the district court's denial of relief."

Peltier appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on April 19, 2004, without comment, let stand the lower court's ruling.

17. Peltier appeals U.S. Government jurisdiction to convict him (July 22, 2005)

Federal judge says Peltier sentence was proper

The Associated Press

A federal judge has turned down an appeal by imprisoned American Indian activist Leonard Peltier.

Peltier was convicted of killing two FBI agents on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. He claimed in his appeal that the government did not have jurisdiction to try the case.

US District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled that authorities have the right to prosecute people who kill federal agents -- no matter where the deaths occur.

Peltier's lawyer, Barry Bachrach, testified that the only authority the government has in Indian country is regulating interstate commerce -- not criminal penalties.

Assistant US Attorney Scott Schneider had called the claims ``frivolous.''

The 60-year-old Peltier was tried in Fargo in 1977. He's serving his sentence at a federal prison in Terri Haute, Indiana.

+=+=+=+ [In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]

Judge rejects appeal by American Indian activist


Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. - A federal judge has rejected an appeal by imprisoned American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, who said the government did not have right to sentence him for killing two federal agents in 1975.

Peltier's lawyer, Barry Bachrach, said federal laws did not apply to Peltier because FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were killed in Indian Country. Peltier was convicted in Fargo in 1977, and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson denied the appeal, saying the government has the right to prosecute people who kill federal agents, no matter where the crimes occur. Williams and Coler were shot in the head at point-blank range after being injured in a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The appeal was one of several in the 30-year-old case.

"I'm the sixth U.S. attorney (in North Dakota) since Leonard Peltier murdered FBI agents Coler and Williams in cold blood," federal prosecutor Drew Wrigley said. "Somewhere out there, there's some law student who isn't even thinking about being a U.S. attorney who's going to be doing the same thing I'm doing."

Bachrach was not immediately available for comment.

In a hearing in Fargo last month, Bachrach said the federal court had no jurisdiction on the reservation.

Erickson wrote that Congress has the power to pass laws to "provide for the punishment of all crimes and offenses against the United States," whether within one of the states or in Indian Country. Peltier, 60, spoke briefly by speakerphone during the hearing. He complained that the government has changed its story about his role in the killings.

Peltier, who suffers from diabetes and other ailments, was moved earlier this month from a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., to a prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Wrigley expects more appeals.

"We're going to continue to fight the baseless claims to turn back the conviction that was a just one and decided nearly 30 years ago," he said.

Leonard Peltier Appeals Ruling That Wrongly Endorsed Federal Jurisdiction Over Indian Territory
Appeal Seeks To Revise Sentence Of Native American Political Prisoner

Olympia, WA - On Friday, September 23rd, the legal defense team for Leonard Peltier, the Internationally-known Native American Political Prisoner, filed an appeal to a U.S. District Court decision which wrongly endorsed federal jurisdiction over Indian Territory.

The appeal seeks to overturn the denial of Peltier's Motion to correct the illegal sentence imposed upon him by the federal courts.

In July, the U.S. District Court of North Dakota wrongly ruled that the alleged crimes did not have to occur within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States to be prosecuted under federal law. However, Indian Country is sovereign land and the U.S. has no jurisdiction under the statutes with which Leonard was charged unless acts occur "within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States."

"We feel that the Court blatantly ignored jurisdiction laws when it denied Leonard's original motion," said Leonard Peltier Defense Committee lead counsel Barry Bachrach. "We hope that this appeal will convince the Court that it had no jurisdiction to convict Mr. Peltier under the crimes for which he was convicted, those convictions must be set aside as a matter of law. The history of the constitution, and the statutes implicated, unequivocally establish that Mr. Peltier was not convicted under the Indian Crimes Act, which is the only possible authority under which the government could have tried and convicted Mr. Peltier."

Following a fraudulent trial featuring withheld documents, witnesses intimidation, and false testimony, among other irregularities, Peltier was tried, convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on June 26, 1975.

Peltier was falsely convicted on a two-count indictment for first-degree murder, even though the acts at issue all occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

"As it has countless times in the past, the federal government has trampled over indigenous sovereignty," Wanbli Watakpe (aka Russ Redner), Director of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. "This precedent does not just affect Leonard Peltier but the Lakota Nation and all sovereign nations that have a relationship with the US."

18. Leonard Peltier v. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, April 29, 2009 (Corrected 5/1/2009)
No. 07-1745

The Eighth Circuit reviews Peltier's appeal from the district court dismissing an action against the FBI Minneapolis field office for documents not released under exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act. The district court reviewed 569 pages out of 10,557 and concluded that the FBI had followed established exemptions for non-disclosure. Peltier argued, among other areas, that he was entitled to these documents because of an alleged "public interest" and that the documents may disclose efforts that compromised Peltier's attorney-client privilege.

The court summarized its affirmation of the lower court by stating in part:

"…we are not persuaded that there is a strong inference that the agency in this case is likely to withhold documents improperly to avoid embarrassment for actions taken in the 1970s."

"But it should be recalled that one of the two actions declared improper by this court - the withholding of the FBI teletype that could have been used at trial to cross-examine the FBI's ballistics expert - was itself disclosed in response to a previous FOIPA request by Peltier. It would be odd to rely on an incident discovered only through the FBI's response to a FOIA request as the basis for a presumption that the FBI is likely to respond in bad faith to this FOIA request, some twenty-five years later." (Emphasis added)

"So while this court has found certain improprieties on the part of the government, they are not so severe and extensive as to create a general public interest in disclosure regarding all matters related to Peltier's case that overrides the privacy interests of third parties recognized by Exemption 7(C)."

"We are also not convinced that there is a substantial nexus between Peltier's FOIA request and the specific public interest asserted by Peltier-namely, the potential for disclosure of records that would disclose deliberate interference with Peltier's confidential attorney-client relationship. Peltier is in a position to know whether third parties attended meetings between him and his counsel relating to his criminal trial, but he has presented no evidence of any such infiltration. Any benefits to the public from disclosure on the grounds asserted by Peltier are too uncertain and remote to overcome the privacy interests of third parties, confidential sources, and law enforcement personnel." (Emphasis added)

"We see no reason to believe that other documents withheld under Exemption 7(C) - i.e., those that would identify law enforcement personnel, persons of investigative interest, or third parties who were merely mentioned by the FBI during the investigation - would shed light on allegations of deliberate interference with attorney-client communications through the use of confidential informants."

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