WASHINGTON – Eric Sanders doesn’t think it was mere coincidence he was thrown in jail with murder suspects for six days just one day after he gave a press conference and said, “You can’t trust the government.”
So, now he’s fighting back by filing a $200-million claim against the Justice Department, alleging false arrest, imprisonment and judicial impropriety.
Sanders is the civil rights attorney, and former NYPD officer, who blames overreaction and incompetence by federal officers for the shooting death of Miriam Carey near the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 3, 2013, and is representing her family in a $350-million claim against the Justice Department, or DOJ.
On Oct. 15, 2013 – the day of Carey’s funeral and one day after Sanders held a press conference announcing he was calling for the Justice Department to look into her death – the attorney was arrested and ordered jailed by a judge.
In announcing his own claim against the DOJ, Sanders told WND, “Judge (Dorothy) Eisenberg’s ‘Ultra Vires’ actions, were politically motivated, designed to destroy my professional reputation in a not-so-veiled attempt to dissuade me from vigorously pursuing justice for Miriam Carey’s family.”
“I’m not easily dissuaded,” he added. “We’re slowly peeling back the layers of lies and cover-up to expose the truth, which is the police ‘willfully’ violated Miriam and her daughter’s civil rights.”
Carey was the unarmed, suburban mother who was chased and shot dead by federal officers after apparently doing little more than making a wrong turn into a White House guard post, then immediately trying to leave.
Her infant child was in the back seat when U.S. Capitol Police and uniformed Secret Service officers shot a barrage of bullets into the back of Carey’s car. Perhaps miraculously, the child survived.
WND has published 35 investigative stories on the Carey case. On behalf of WND, the government-watchdog group Judicial Watch sued the Justice Department and compelled it to turn over evidence on the Carey case requested in a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request.
WND has published a three-part series on the information obtained from that FOIA request and a five-part series on information it obtained from a FOIA request filed with the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department.
Two weeks after Carey was killed, Sanders was arrested when Judge Eisenberg decided the attorney had missed too many payments owed to a former employee. A state Division of Human Rights panel found Sanders and a partner wrongfully discriminated against Mary Rocco.
The panel awarded her $175,000 in 2010 after deciding Sanders fired her because she was pregnant. Sanders denied that. He also insisted he has no debts and declared bankruptcy solely to fight that judgment and to protect his clients.
When WND asked Sanders if he felt his arrest was an attempt to either silence or intimidate him, the attorney laughed loud and long.
“Of course I think it was! I can’t prove it,” he said. “I loved the timing of it – the day after our press conference. Exactly one day after I said don’t trust the government.”
After his arrest, Sanders spent six days in a federal prison with murder suspects and other accused felons.
He said the court refused to see him for close to a week, traumatizing him, jeopardizing his safety and harming his “squeaky-clean image as an African-American legal professional,” while negatively affecting his family, friends and clients.
The New York-based attorney said the unjust incarceration cost him millions of dollars in business, as well as damage to his prestige.
“I am clean. That’s the way I was as a cop; that’s the way I am as an attorney,” he said. “I was a police officer in New York. I’ve never been arrested in my life. The questions is, why was I picked up?”
Indeed, the attorney was apparently vindicated when the civil contempt investigation was suddenly and mysteriously dropped in March, just as suddenly and mysteriously as it had begun a year-and-a-half earlier.
And, just as mysteriously, Sanders said the judge who brought the civil contempt charge against him, U.S. bankruptcy Judge Dorothy Eisenberg, suddenly retired without explanation at the same time the charge was dropped.
Equally mysteriously, Sanders said the official transcript of the case that led to the charges has simply disappeared without explanation.
He told WND he has tried to obtain that transcript from four different courts without success.
Sanders showed WND a copy of a document from the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, dated March 20, 2015, that simply reads: “The Committee on Grievances of the Eastern District of New York, having reviewed the relevant documents in 13-MC-885, has determined that no action is warranted.”
It is signed by Paula Marie Susi, case manager/attorney disciplinary clerk.
“Isn’t that interesting?” Sanders mused rhetorically, about the lack of any explanation as to either why the charge was brought or dropped.
And now that his name has been cleared, he is fighting back.
Sanders issued a statement Tuesday saying, in part:
Judge Eisenberg engaged in judicial impropriety, acting “Ultra Vires” not granting him (Sanders) an immediate impartial hearing to address her civil contempt charges, defend his civil rights and maintain his personal freedom.
The experts, in media reports, said it is unheard of for a pending civil bankruptcy case to become egregious enough to justify ordering a licensed member of the bar, officer of the court in good standing to spend a week in a federal prison without a public hearing.
Judge Eisenberg, acting outside of her judicial powers in ordering Sanders to be held in “a de facto ‘debtors prison’” to intimidate, scare and force him to forfeit more than $200,000 in personal funds under the threat of continued imprisonment against his will with violent criminals to satisfy a legally “VOID” lower court judgement.
After his arrest, Sanders issued a statement to WND, declaring:
“Retired bankruptcy Judge Dorothy T. Eisenberg and the attorneys involved in these matters intentionally, in a mean-spirited vindictive manner, damaged my stellar personal and business reputation affecting the handling of this and other client legal matters. Their collective actions caused ‘irreparable damage’ to me and lost revenue to The Sanders Firm, P.C.”
Representing the Carey family, Sanders filed a $200-million conspiracy claim in April against the Department of Justice, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police, after a wrongful death claim of $150 million was denied.
These federal tort claims are the first legal steps toward filing a pair of lawsuits, totaling $350 million, against the same defendants for the shooting death of Carey.
Sanders said the conspiracy claim is that authorities are trying to cover up the wrongful death of Carey.
Sanders told WND the newer claim is necessary because authorities “are actively blocking” attempts to gain the information needed to file a successful lawsuit, and are “covering up details.”
“They denied the first claim but gave no information why,” said Sanders.
The second claim, he said, will also help to keep statute of limitations from expiring. Technically, he said, there is no time limit in constitutional cases, but in practice, there is generally a three to four-year window.
The newer claim seeks:
- $50 million for the estate of Miriam Carey;
- $50 million for her mother, Idella Carey;
- $50 million for Miriam’s infant daughter;
- $50 million for Miriam’s sister, Valarie.
Carey was shot to death by Secret Service agents and Capitol Police. The official investigation into the shooting death of Carey was conducted by the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department and reviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington, D.C., a branch of the U.S. Justice Department.
Even long before WND uncovered numerous and serious revelations, once he heard the basic facts of the case in December of 2013, famed civil libertarian Nat Hentoff said from all of the evidence he had seen in WND’s reports, which he called very thorough and easily corroborated, “[T]his is a classic case of police out of control and, therefore, guilty of plain murder.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on July 10, 2014, that no criminal charges would be filed against any of the officers or agents involved in the shooting.
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth