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Part Two: More Collateral Damage from the Siegelman Case: Talking with DOJ Whistleblower, Tamarah Grimes

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Welcome back for the conclusion of my interview with DOJ whistleblower, Tamarah Grimes. You followed your conscience, Tamarah, and your employer, the federal government - the Justice Department, no less - has treated you very shabbily. [Background articles are supplied at the end of this interview.] Where does all this leave you and how does it make you feel?

We are descendants of great men and women who believed in this great nation, who gave their lives to secure freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Two years ago, I would have been confident that these things could not happen in the United States of America. These events occurred under the watch of two presidents and three attorneys general. This is a civil rights issue. The selective prosecutions in Montgomery, Alabama have far reaching implications for every citizen of the United States. A legal precedent has been set, a precedent that significantly abridges the civil rights and civil liberties guaranteed to every citizen of the United States by the U.S. Constitution.Today I passed the civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center here in Montgomery, Alabama.

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The memorial is dedicated to the memory and achievements of those who gave their lives to advance civil rights in this country. It is breathtaking to behold the glistening water, softly flowing over an ebony stone upon which is inscribed, "until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." I am proud of the progress we have made in civil rights in the past century, but saddened by the arrogance, defiance and disregard for justice demonstrated by a rogue prosecution team.In a sleepy southern city, the cradle of the Confederacy, where so much has been lost and gained, this huge step backward cannot be allowed to stand. Next time it cou ld be you or a member of your family, someone you love and respect. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.


Tamarah Grimes


As for my family and me, we are teetering on the brink, at risk of losing our home and everything we have ever worked for. While that is very painful, especially for a child who cannot understand why this has happened, this strengthens my resolve to fight to restore my credibility and expose the injustices that occurred here. In order to do that, I need help from every person who reads this and finds himself or herself disgusted that this has been allowed to proliferate. Please contact your Congressmen, your Senators and the White House to request an independent investigation into the selective prosecutions and attempted selective prosecutions in the Middle District of Alabama. If your elected official is not responsive to your concerns, remember that on Election Day, for that is the cornerstone of democracy - a nation of the people and for the people. May God bless you.

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It would certainly be understandable after all you've gone through if you wanted to just give up.

While my last comments may seem somewhat dark and hopeless, I am very hopeful about the future. I literally live my life through my favorite Churchill quote, "For me, I am an optimist, it does not seem to be much use being anything else." Every day when I get out of bed, I get to choose whether to wallow in my circumstances or be positive and look beyond these terrible times to a brighter future. I always choose to be positive for I truly am an optimist. I am a graduate school student, moving on with my life and planning a new career in a different field. I have faith that the future holds nothing but good things for me and my family. I truly believe that this experience has made me a stronger, more dedicated person. I have a focus that I lacked before and a dedication to a cause toward which to apply my formidable drive and spirit. I refuse to be dragged down by bitterness and regret. Consistent with my heritage, I am not only a survivor, but a thriver. There are babies to be loved and nurtured, and a life to be lived to its fullest. That is how I choose to live my life.

Is there anything we didn't cover that you'd like to bring to our readers' attention?

Joan, my family and I have been through so much over the past two years. It is disheartening to read articles like the one that appeared on the Main Justice site, touting that a "second" investigation refuted all of my claims. There is no second investigation. It is all the same investigation, conducted by DOJ, utilizing its career prosecutors, with no sworn statements and the leading testimony. Basically, the OSC report of September 29, 2009 is a regurgitation of the same material released in November 2008, with an addition of interviews from the U.S. Marshal Service whose career progression falls under the Department of Justice.

I have been called a "coward" and a liar by federal prosecutors Louis Franklin, Steve Feaga and J.B. Perrine because I have not given testimony under oath. As these career prosecutors well know, I am prohibited by statute (18 USC 207) from giving testimony under oath to any court or federal on behalf of any party other than the United States in any matter in which I had substantial participation. This is a lifetime prohibition. I can only surmise that calling me names for not testifying under oath was an attempt to provoke me into breaking the law so that they could attempt a third criminal prosecution against me. Are these the actions of honest and ethical federal prosecutor who hold themselves to a higher standard as representatives of the Department of Justice - or are these representative of the less-than-honorable conduct these prosecutors have exhibited all along?

Only Congress has oversight authority over DOJ. I reach out to Congress and humbly request the opportunity to give my testimony, under oath, before Congress. I request that Congress order an independent investigation of the selective prosecutions and attempted selective prosecutions in the Middle District of Alabama. Nothing short of a full blown Congressional inquiry, conducted by career investigators, not federal prosecutors whose livelihood is connected to the entity under investigation will begin to chip away at the carefully constructed façade. Elections have consequences. I, for one, would like to see some proof of that. So far, the Department of Justice continues to conduct business just as it did in the previous administration.

Update: The hearing was held Wednesday to determine whether Tamarah should be denied her unemployment compensation, as the Justice Department maintains. Bring us up to speed, Tamarah.

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The Department of Justice had two attorneys representing the agency: Kimya Jones and Stuart Melnick of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, Office of General Counsel. I have actually worked directly with Mr. Melnick in the past in my collateral duty role as an EEO investigator for the agency.

The agency is trying to have my unemployment benefits revoked on the basis of Section 25-4-78(3)(c) Code of Alabama 1975 which states that an employee is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if the employee was terminated for work-related misconduct.

Jones informed the hearing officer that the agency did not intend to present testimony, there would be no witnesses and the agency intended to rely upon documents which were submitted to the unemployment office on September 26, 2009. My attorney, Scott Boudreaux, moved for a dismissal of the appeal because he had not been served with a copy of the documents. Also, it is impossible to cross-examine a document. Jones, fired back, "Ms. Grimes has copies of all the documents in this case! She should have provided the documents to her attorney!"


Even if I knew which documents Ms. Jones was referencing, the burden is on the agency to pursue its appeal. How typically arrogant of the agency to suggest that I should "know" what documents Ms. Jones intends to use or that I have some responsibility to work against my own interest.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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