In a letter to President Obama urging clemency for Leonard Peltier, former United States Attorney, James H. Reynolds made the following claims:
“I was the United States Attorney, whose office handled the criminal case prosecution and appeal of Leonard Peltier.”
“After my appointment by President Jimmy Carter and Senate confirmation I kept on as an Assistant United States Attorney, Evan Hultman, who preceded me as United States Attorney and had handled the prosecution of Leonard Peltier. I directed Hultman’s handling of the appeal of Leonard Peltier after my appoint (sic).
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However, a review of Mr. Reynolds’ actual position and responsibilities regarding the Peltier case paints an uncomfortably different picture.
In the beginning of the prosecution stages of the case, Evan Hultman was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.
The first trial of Robert Robideau and Dino Butler for the murders of FBI Agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams, was transferred to the Northern District of Iowa and then was held in Cedar Rapids.
Evan Hultman was in charge of the prosecution at that time.
Peltier was not tried in Iowa because he had fled to Canada and was fighting extradition. After the acquittal of Butler and Robideau in Iowa, and prior to the Peltier trial, venue was changed again, this time to North Dakota.
Evan Hultman remained the lead prosecutor even though the venue had changed.
Around this time, the administration also changed, and Mr. Reynolds was appointed by President Carter as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.
Eugene K. Anthony was the interim U.S. Attorney in North Dakota followed by President Carter's appointment of James Britton.
Evan Hultman took on a role as "Special Prosecutor" for the Peltier case and continued as the lead prosecutor.
Since the case's venue was then in North Dakota, Hultman would have reported to the U.S. Attorney in North Dakota, not the U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Iowa. However, by most accounts, Evan Hultman was in charge and actually reported to neither one. Correspondence from that period went out in the name of the North Dakota, U.S. Attorney (Eugene K. Anthony or James Britton) with Evan Hultman's signature as a Special Assistant.
Once venue for the Peltier case was designated to North Dakota (prior to Peltier's trial), management of the case was the responsibility of the North Dakota U. S. Attorney's office, where it remains to this day.
It would appear that Mr. Reynolds, from his position as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, is attempting to assume supervising authority for Mr. Hultman, who prosecuted Peltier in Fargo, within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney for North Dakota.
There is a matter of credibility as Mr. Reynolds ends his letter to the President with:
“I would join in any request for Clemency of Leonard Peltier by you as being in the best interest of justice in considering the totality of all the matters involved.
Thank you for our (sic) attention in this matter, I am”
“Considering the totality of all the matters involved” is a curious way to express
justification for clemency.
However, a very simple and straightforward question for Mr. Reynolds would be:
As the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, how did your authority stretch across state lines and judicial boundaries to the District of North Dakota where Peltier was prosecuted?
Also, what would the opinion of the former U.S. Attorney for North Dakota be of Mr. Reynolds’ claim that “(He) directed Hultman’s handling of the appeal of Leonard Peltier…” A claim that reaches well beyond his jurisdiction.
We suspect, and suggest, that there is not a logical explanation, notwithstanding whether or not Evan Hultman remained an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and especially for Mr. Reynolds’ claim of “totality” of knowledge of the Peltier case.
Perhaps, in some unexplainable manner, Mr. Reynolds may have been taken in by the Peltier myth.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”