State Hate Crime Charge Dropped Pending Federal Investigation

A hate crime case has been dismissed in Tulsa County District Court, clearing the way for a federal case. Earlier this year, Stuart David Manning, 43, was arrested following the assault of a woman in December 2013. According to reports, Manning became irate when the woman parked her car too closely to his own. The woman says he struck her in the head and knifed her tires. His alleged actions, on their own, were enough to bring charges of assault and battery and malicious injury of property--both misdemeanor offenses. However, what he allegedly said during the assault brought an additional charge and incited a federal investigation. According to the victim, Manning called her a "Muslim b--" during the attack. These words triggered Oklahoma's hate crimes statute, resulting in a charge of malicious intimidation. The Oklahoma hate crime law is found in 21 O.S. 850 - Malicious Harassment Based on Race, Color, Religion, Ancestry, National Origin, Disability: A. No person shall maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability:

  1. Assault or batter another person;
  2. Damage, destroy, vandalize or deface any real or personal property of another person; or
  3. Threaten, by word or act, to do any act prohibited by paragraph 1 or 2 of this subsection if there is reasonable cause to believe that such act will occur.
As a first offense, violating the state's hate crime statute is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. After Manning's arrest, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations contacted the United States Department of Justice, asking the government to file federal hate crimes charges against Manning. In order to clear the way for a federal investigation, a Tulsa County assistant district attorney asked the judge to dismiss the case with prejudice, which means that the case can be refiled if the federal government declines to file charges.  Tulsa County District Judge David Youll dismissed the case at the request of the state. Manning, who says he "had a drinking relapse" and did not recall the incident, has prior convictions for writing bogus checks and driving under suspension. In general, hate crimes are prosecuted as state offenses unless they meet certain criteria that place them under federal jurisdiction, including interstate travel or occurrence on federal property. However, there are other situations in which the federal government may prosecute a hate crime; these are described in 18 USC 249: "(b) Certification Requirement.— (1) In general.— No prosecution of any offense described in this subsection may be undertaken by the United States, except under the certification in writing of the Attorney General, or a designee, that— (A) the State does not have jurisdiction; (B) the State has requested that the Federal Government assume jurisdiction; (C) the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence; or (D) a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice. (2) Rule of construction.— Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of Federal officers, or a Federal grand jury, to investigate possible violations of this section." If the federal government declines to file charges against Manning, the state may refile charges.  

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