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Friday, August 12, 2011

Obama Justice Dept. Rejects Fallen Agent's Family as Fast & Furious Crime Victims

Border Patrol Agent

Brian A. Terry

United States Department of Homeland Security - Customs and Border Protection - Border Patrol

End of Watch: Wednesday, December 15, 2010

August 11, 2011

In a surprise move in a controversial case, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona is opposing a routine motion by the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry to qualify as crime victims in the eyes of the court.

The family asked to intervene as victims in the case against Jamie Avila, the 23-year-old Phoenix man who purchased the guns allegedly used to kill Terry. Such motions are routinely approved by prosecutors, but may be opposed by defense attorneys.

However in this case, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke argues because the family was not "directly or proximately harmed" by the illegal purchase of the murder weapon, it does not meet the definition of "crime victim" in the Avila case. Burke claims the victim of the Avila's gun purchases, "is not any particular person, but society in general."

Prominent litigator and the former U.S. Attorney in Florida, Kendall Coffey disagrees.

"The government apparently is saying they're not victims, even though it was a federal crime that put the murder weapon in the hands of the killer of Brian Terry," says Coffey. "They are simply rights of respect, rights of communication and the right to be heard."

Coffey and others wonder if Burke has a conflict. It was his office that led Operation Fast and Furious. The operation, while executed by agents for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was managed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. Hurley drafted the response to the family's motion. It was signed by Burke.

Congressional investigators are expected to subpoena both to appear before the House Government and Oversight Committee next month to answer questions about the flawed operation that put some 2,000 weapons in the hands of the Sinaloa cartel.

"The government leaders responsible for the tragic mistakes of Operation Fast and Furious have a lot of explaining to do before Congress. But at the same time, they still have a duty under federal law to give answers, to consult and extend respect to the family," said Coffey.

Under the federal Crime Victims Rights Act, the Terry family would have the right to confer with prosecutors and speak at Avila's sentencing. Some speculate that the U.S. Attorney's Office may cut a deal with Avila in exchange for information to be used against his associates. That deal could mean little or no jail time, and a controversial sentencing day in the courtroom. Having the Terry family fight that deal, could further embarrass and complicate Burke's case.

Burke may also be trying to protect the federal government. The family may pursue a wrongful death claim against federal agents, including Burke himself.

"If the evidence shows Brian's death was proximately caused by the negligence of government, there may be a cause of action," said Paul Charlton, the family's attorney.
Coffey says that puts Burke in a tough spot.

"The government's already been put on notice that they might be facing a wrongful death action by the family. And you have to wonder if the government's efforts to deny the family the status of 'crime victims' is part of a strategy to avoid legal responsibility for some of the tragic mistakes of Operation Fast and Furious," he said.
Burke refused comment when asked why he opposed the family’s motion and his possible conflict of interest.

Read more: Fox News
Meet Brian Terry:

Source: The Committee On Oversight and Government Reform

Please take a moment and leave a comment on this memorial page for Agent Terry:

Officer Down Memorial Page 


Meet The US Attorney

Dennis K. Burke

United States Attorney for the District of Arizona

On September 16, 2009, Dennis K. Burke was sworn in as the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona. He was appointed to serve on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee (AGAC) which advises the Attorney General on policy, management, and operational issues at the Department of Justice. He was also appointed as the Chair of the AGAC Subcommittee on Border and Immigration Law Enforcement and is a member of two other AGAC Subcommittees, Native American Issues and Civil Rights.

Burke has over 20 years of public service at both the federal and state levels. Burke served as a Senior Advisor to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He served as Chief of Staff to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano from 2003 to 2008. Prior to that position, he worked in the Arizona Attorney General's Office as the Chief Deputy Attorney General. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Arizona prosecuting drug trafficking cases, was the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the United States Department of Justice, served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the White House Domestic Policy Council during the Clinton Administration and as a Majority Counsel for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, where he worked on three Supreme Court nominations, intellectual property as well as crime and law enforcement legislation.

He graduated from Georgetown University in 1985 and received a law degree in 1988 from University of Arizona, College of Law in Tucson, where he served as Executive Editor of the Arizona Law Review. After law school, Burke was a clerk for the Honorable James Moeller on the Arizona Supreme Court. He was also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Burke has received numerous awards and commendations for his years in public service, including the Public Advocate Award from Chicanos Por La Causa in Phoenix and the Minuteman Award from the Arizona National Guard.

Burke was nominated by President Obama in July 2009 and confirmed by unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate on September 15, 2009. 

If you want to file a complaint against the US Attorney:
Arizona Attorney Complaint Arizona State Bar


Ironically, if you look at the home page of the Arizona US attorney's website, you will see this link on the right side of the page:

When you click on the link, it takes you to this page:   

The United States Attorney's Office, District of Arizona Victim Witness Services                                                                                                                          Victims Rights Justice for All Act of 2004

Victim / Witness Services

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona is committed to ensuring that the rights of victims are protected.

Victim/Witness staff is available to help all victims of crimes and to ensure that questions and concerns of victims and witnesses are addressed and promptly answered. There are highlighted links below this paragraph to provide specific information about the Victim Witness Program and updated information on specific cases. 

If you were notified of a case by letter to check this section, then your case will have an update provided. Click here to locate case specific, victim notification information.
What if I move? How will I get my money? A major problem with the District Court is that victims of a crime may move or otherwise change addresses and do not inform the Court. If you are owed restitution and you move, it is your responsibility to notify the Court. If you move or change your address, please complete a Change of Address form (PDF) and mail it to the address shown on the form.

Victim / Witness Staff

The Victim Witness staff for the District of Arizona are shown below:

Contact: Toll Free Number: (800) 800-2570 | Email:

Shawn Cox, Victim Witness Coordinator (602) 514-7595

Phoenix Office

Mary Williams, Advocate (602) 514-7593
Marlene Beall, Advocate (602) 514-7562
Eydie Robertson, Advocate (602) 514-7653
Krista Armenta, Advocate (602) 514-7576
Toll Free Number: (800) 800-2570
Fax Number: (602) 514-7650

Tucson Office

Dori Arter, Advocate (520) 620-7367
Mary-Anne Estrada, Advocate (520) 620-7431
Timothy Jefferson, Advocate (520) 620-7461
Toll Free Number: (888) 565-0631
Fax Number: (520) 620-7320

Flagstaff Office

Lee Mills, Assistant (928) 556-5007

Victim / Witness Information Resource Links


I guess the victim/witness program doesn't consider parents of a murdered US Border Patrol Agent victims. I'll bet if this was the parents of an murdered illegal alien, they would get more compassion.

This just doesn't smell right. They are just trying to protect themselves because they know they have blood on their hands. 


"I realize that on the sea of life, I can't control the weather, but I can adjust my sails." Unknown

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