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AG pick Garland may have to answer for rulings against LGBTQ plaintiffs

Biden’s choice ruled against protesters in police brutality case

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Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Merrick Garland is Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. attorney general. (Photo public domain)

Merrick Garland, chosen by President-elect Joe Biden to become the next U.S. attorney general, may have to answer during his confirmation process for his record as a federal judge for a series of rulings against LGBTQ plaintiffs, including LGBTQ protesters who were seeking to sue over police brutality.

Biden formally announced on Thursday that Garland, who became a liberal martyr after Senate Republicans refused to allow him to go through the confirmation process in 2016 for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, would be his choice for attorney general. Other names that were in contention were Sally Yates and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), other media outlets reported the choice had been narrowed down to Garland and Jones.

Other names announced on Thursday were Obama alums Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general and Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general. Kristen Clarke, former head of the Civil Rights bureau of the New York Department of Law, was named as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Major media outlets reported and the Blade confirmed on Wednesday the choice to lead the U.S. Justice Department in the Biden administration would be Garland the day after the Democratic victory in the Georgia runoff, which gave Biden a boost with the promise of a Democratic Senate in his administration.

A look at Garland’s record as a federal judge, as the Blade reported upon his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, found his LGBTQ-related cases are few in number. However, in at least four cases, Garland joined rulings against gay plaintiffs or self-proclaimed LGBTQ advocates. The Blade didn’t immediately find any additional cases Garland adjudicated on LGBTQ issues since his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016.

One decision that may have more relevance at a time of renewed scrutiny on policy brutality was against LGBTQ rights protesters seeking to sue law enforcement officials for spraying a chemical deterrent on them during former President George W. Bush’s inaugural parade.

In 2004, Garland was part of a three-judge panel adjudicating a lawsuit filed by the International Action Center, which billed itself as “an unincorporated political association opposed to racism, sexism, oppression of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people, war and militarism and the program of the Bush administration,” as well as supporters Elizabeth Ayer and Lowell T. Fletcher.

According to their complaint, Ayer and Fletcher on the day of Bush’s 2001 inaugural parade were “engaged in only lawful, peaceful activity” at the Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue when officers with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department “without justification, struck [them]…and sprayed a chemical agent into [their] eyes and faces at close range.” Additionally, Ayer and Fletcher alleged the police struck and sprayed other demonstrators while other uniformed and non-uniformed police officers watched and did nothing.

The plaintiffs sought to hold the officers’ supervisors personally liable for damages for those injuries, which was allowed by the district court overseeing the case on the basis that the supervisors had a duty to train their subordinates to prevent alleged misconduct under the First and Fourth Amendments.

But in an April 16, 2004, decision, Garland joined U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards and then-U.S. Circuit Judge John Roberts (now chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) in reversing the lower court decision, remanding with instructions to affirm qualified immunity for the supervisors.

“We hold that absent an allegation that the MPD supervisors had actual or constructive knowledge of past transgressions or that the supervisors were responsible for or aware of ‘clearly deficient’ training, the supervisors did not violate any constitutional right through inaction or failure to supervise,” the decision says. “Having found no constitutional violation … , ‘there is no necessity for further inquiries concerning qualified immunity.’”

Garland similarly joined the rulings against LGBTQ plaintiffs in other cases. One was filed by an Ohio-based radio station professing to serve an LGBTQ audience; another by a sailor discharged from the Navy after being accused of sexual assault against three other shipmates; and another by an inmate jailed for threatening the president who said he was at risk in his place of incarceration because he’s gay.

In 2001, Garland was on a three-judge panel adjudicating a complaint from Grid Radio, an unlicensed low-power radio station in Cleveland, Ohio, professing to serve “gay men and women and the arts community.” The Federal Communications Commission told Jerry Szoka, operator of the station, to cease broadcasting and pay an ancillary $11,000 forfeiture because Grid Radio was operating without a license.

Szoka contended he never sought a license because the FCC at the time had a ban on microbroadcasting, which would have prohibited a low-power station like Grid Radio from operating. The FCC order, Szoka contended, was unenforceable, because the agency’s microbroadcasting ban contravened federal law and the First Amendment, and because the forfeiture was unreasonable, excessive and beyond his ability to pay.

In a Feb. 8, 2002 decision, Garland and Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Williams joined the opinion of Judge David Tatel rejecting Szoka’s claims and affirming the FCC order against him.

“Absent a demonstration that the low-power ban was indisputably unlawful or unconstitutional, the Commission had no obligation to reconsider the ban in the context of an enforcement proceeding against a single unlicensed operator,” the decision says. “Moreover, the forfeiture is reasonable under the circumstances of this case, and the operator waived his inability-to-pay claim.”

In 2003, Garland as part of the same three-judge panel heard an appeal of Jim Turner, a petty officer who served in the Navy for seven years before the service expelled him with an “other than honorable” discharge after three shipmates accused him of sexual assault.

Turner — who petitioned the Navy secretary to reverse the decision, but was rebuffed — argued the commanding officer investigating the charges abused his discretion by proceeding against him under Article 15, which he said is reserved for minor offenses, and by asking him and other shipmates if they were gay, which would have been in violation of the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Even though the Board of Corrections of Naval Records found error on procedural points in the discharge and lack of sufficient corroboration, Garland joined Williams in an April 15, 2003, decision that upheld a district court ruling rejecting Turner’s claims.

“Chief Petty Officer Clanahan, who conducted the investigation at Captain Frank’s request, at one point asked Seaman Maurer whether he was homosexual,” the decision says. “Turner says that this — and the coercive conditions of the interview — violated that portion of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ regulations that precludes asking members of the armed forces ‘their sexual orientation.’ Assuming the question was a violation and the regulations are enforceable, Turner’s claim still fails. There is little reason to believe that the error (if such it was) affected the ADB or Article 15 proceedings.”

In 2013, Garland was part of another three-judge panel hearing a petition from Jeremy Pinson, a gay federal prisoner serving a 20-year sentence for threatening the president, knowingly and willfully making a false statement to a U.S. marshal and mailing threatening communications. According to the decision, Pinson “made good use of the federal courts during his time in prison, having filed more than 100 civil actions and appeals across the nation.”

In the case before Garland and other judges, Pinson sought a fee waiver for challenging his incarceration in the special management unit at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala. Because special management units house gang-affiliated and other disruptive inmates who present unique security concerns, Pinson alleged being placed in such conditions would put him at substantial risk because he’s gay and a former gang member.

But in an Aug. 5, 2014 decision, Garland joined U.S. Circuit Judge Sri Srinavasan and U.S. Circuit Judge Thelton Eugene Henderson in denying Pinson relief. The decision is based on Pinson running afoul of the Prison Litigation Reform Act’s three-strikes provision for a fee-waiver and not being able to show under the precedent of Mitchell v. Federal Bureau of Prisons qualification for the imminent danger exception.

“Like Mitchell, Pinson’s claim rests on the BOP’s decision to designate him to a particular facility notwithstanding its reputation as a dangerous place for inmates possessing certain characteristics — here, as a rival gang-member and homosexual, and in Mitchell, as a government ‘snitch,’” the decision says. “The Mitchell court found such contentions insufficient to satisfy the imminent danger exception, even though Mitchell, unlike Pinson, further alleged that he had already been attacked by the time he filed his complaint. We see no ground to reach a different conclusion here.

The Blade could find no rulings written by Garland himself pertaining to LGBTQ people, only opinions written by other judges that he joined. Since his tenure on the bench starting in 1997, Garland was never asked to rule on major LGBT rights issues, such as the constitutionality of state sodomy bans, state prohibitions on same-sex marriage or the Defense of Marriage Act.

Garland, during remarks in Wilmington, Del., in the official announcement he was tapped to become attorney general, didn’t explicitly mention any of his past rulings, but after assault by Trump supporters on U.S. Capitol said racial justice and countering violent extremism would be his priorities.

“The essence of the rule of law is that like cases are treated alike,” Garland said. “That there not be one rule for Democrats, and another for Republicans, one rule for friends and other foes one rule for the powerful. Another for the powerless, one rule for the rich and another for the poor are different rules, depending upon one’s race or ethnicity, and the essence of its great corollary equal justice under law is that all citizens are protected in the exercise of their civil rights, those ideals have animated the Department of Justice, since the very moment of its inception.”

A Biden transition spokesperson had no comment Wednesday in response to Garland’s cases and whether the nominee would address them.

It remains to be seen whether LGBTQ groups will call on Garland to address the rulings in his confirmation process or refuse to support him otherwise. The Human Rights Campaign didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the decisions.

The LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal, which in 2016 via former Legal Director Jon Davidson said “we need a Senate hearing to fully understand Judge Garland’s judicial philosophy” in light of Garland’s decisions, expressed an openness to Biden’s pick as attorney general in 2021.

“A deep commitment to civil rights is an essential qualification for anyone aspiring to the position of Attorney General of the United States,” Sharon McGowan, legal director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement to the Blade. “While Judge Garland does not have the kind of civil rights credentials that Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke do, we receive the news of his nomination with an open mind.  The role of a judge and the duties of an advocate are related, but distinct, and so we will be eager to hear more from Judge Garland about his vision for the Justice Department, and how he would exert his leadership as attorney general to ensure that the vindication of civil rights is among the Department’s highest priorities.” 

LaShawn Warren, executive vice president of government affairs at the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, said in a statement Thursday upon Garland’s nomination he’d uphold civil rights after years of neglect in the Trump administration.

“For the past four years, the top political leaders at the Justice Department have abdicated their duty to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States,” Warren said. “Attorneys General Sessions and Barr have not only undermined morale, but they have also fallen in lock step with President Trump’s attempts to use the department to weaken civil rights laws and to further his personal agenda. Merrick Garland will lead the department in recommitting itself to the people and restore fidelity to the democratic values embedded in the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”

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Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

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Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security

Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots

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New fencing around the Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented some D.C. bills from being delivered to the Hill for a required congressional review. (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.

According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.

“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.

Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.

Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.

Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.

But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.

“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”

If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.

A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.

“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.

“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.

The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.

“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.

LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.

Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.

In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.

Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.

The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.

“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”

He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.

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D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

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shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.

According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.

Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.

“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”

The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”

Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.

Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.

In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.

“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.

Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.

The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.

In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”

At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.

The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.

In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.

The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.

It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.

Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.

The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.

The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.

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