Archive for October, 2008

SPOOKY TORTS WITH TURLEY

Halloween is the favorite holiday for all torts professors and personal injury lawyers. (Indeed, I am convinced it was invented by a personal injury lawyer). Common carrier hay rides, lighting vegetables on fire, handing out foodstuffs without a permit . . . It’s the most wonderful day of the year. So, with no further ado, here is this year’s annual Spooky Torts list of actual cases from Halloween.
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In this increasingly bizarre political season, this one is off the charts. An anti-immigration group has linked illegal immigration to global warming. The video explains that their carbon footprint would be lower if they remained in their original countries.

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After years of de-regulation led to the current financial meltdown, the Bush Administration is now promising to re-regulate the industry. However, it is quietly moving to de-regulate environmental protection laws. These regulatory changes violate a core tradition in American politics. At the end of an Administration, sitting presidents have declined to make major changes or issue new policies that bind the incoming president. Here, Bush is seeking to rollback on environmental rules to cause years of delay before any new president can fully protect the environment.

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Ok, not that Bush. This was Hunter Bush, 21, of Lexington, Kentucky who was arrested with Joe Fischer, 22, a UK student, for hanging an effigy of Barack Obama from a tree. The charge was for disorderly conduct, though it is unclear why these men were arrested while a recent example of hanging Palin was not made into a criminal matter.

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Just days after a McCain supporter in Ohio shot a teenager for knocking over his sign, Shawn Turschak of Chapel Hill, North Carolina shocked a nine-year-old boy after electrifying his campaign sign to protect it. What is unbelievable is that the police will not charge Turschak for this reckless act. In this case, the boy was carrying an Obama sign, but the boy’s father, Andrew Noble, insists that he just wanted to see how the sign was put together and was not trying to tear it down.
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Sholom Rubashkin, 49, a powerful member of the Hasidic Jewish community and former head of the kosher plant Agriprocessors, is now in police custody after being arrested for harboring illegal immigrants and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. The Rubaskhin family has a long checkered history with the law.

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Below is today’s column in Roll Call where I discuss the Stevens conviction and the dismal state of the Alaskan delegation. The voters in Alaska will have a increasingly difficult time claiming to espouse “small town values” and “law and order politics” when they routinely reelect corrupt politicians.

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Sgt. Steve Brody of the Morrisville State College University Police seemed intent on fulfilling stereotypes when he was arrested for stealing donuts. The New York college officer was nailed at the Valero Nice N Easy and is accused of taking $30 worth of pastries on at least 17 occasions.

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The New York Times has misspelled her name over a dozen times since 2001 but it is finally stating publicly that, for the future, it will be Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and not Ginsberg. However, starting today it will be John Paul Stephens.

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Sen. Elizabeth Dole appears unwilling to simply run on her faith. She is now running an ad that accuses her opponent state Sen. Kay Hagan of being “godless” because she was seen in the company of atheists at a fundraiser. Hagan is now taking legal action to stop the political ads. Despite a cultivated image of Southern charm, Dole has now shown that she will sink to any low to get reelected. However, Hagan will have a very tough time getting a court to regulate political speech.
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Kenneth Rowles, 50, was charged in Ohio with felonious assault after he shot at two teenagers who had knocked over his McCain campaign sign. Patrick Wise, 16, had kicked the sign and then ran to a waiting SUV. Rowles fired a rifle three times at their fleeing SUV, hitting the vehicle all three times and wounding Kyree Flowers, 17.
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France has recently seem a rollback in free speech rights, but there remains enough in the country to defeat the ridiculous attempt by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s to stop sales of a “voodoo doll” in his image.

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A Monroe, N.C. police officer Darryl Howard had one wife too many. He has been fired and is facing bigamy charges after one of his wives filed a criminal charges with his colleagues.
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I am not sure which is worse, the criminal charge or the video for Democratic State Senator Dianne Wilkerson. In a video to be shown at her trial for bribery, Wilkerson is shown allegedly stuffing a $1,000 cash payoff into her bra during a meeting at an aptly named restaurant — the Fill-A-Buster.

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An ex-judge has apologized after the McCain campaign and Republicans denounced her email sent to Jewish voters in Pennsylvania suggesting that presidential candidate Barack Obama taught members of a community group “to commit voter registration fraud.” She also compared a vote for Obama ignoring “the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s.”

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The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that striking a juror from a civil jury for wearing dreadlocks is not race neutral. Remarkably, there was a dissent filed in the close 3-2 decision by two justices who believe that it is appropriate to strike a juror over hairstyle.

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Another woman has been stoned to death for adultery — this time in Somalia. In Mogadishu, thousands of people gathered to watch 50 men stone Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow to death according to the sentence of an Islamic court imposing Sharia law. Local Islamist leader Sheikh Hayakallah said the woman wanted the punishment.

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And you think your landlord is the pits. In Kalihi, Hawaii, officials shutdown a collapsing building only to hear from tenants that they were allegedly subjected to medical experiments by their landlord, ex-licensed chiropractor Daniel Cunningham.
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Police have charged the manager of a chicken restaurant of making a false report after an employee panicked during a Halloween prank. Joe Watkins of the Chicken Ranch restaurant in Paris, Kentucky thought it was funny to lie in a pool of blood on the floor. The police were not amused.
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Kurt William Havelock, 36, was sentenced this week to a year and a day for his plot to massacre people at the Super Bowl football game in Glendale, Arizona. He was bringing a semiautomatic rifle and 200 rounds of ammunition to a parking lot near University of Phoenix Stadium and sent letters to media promising to be “swift and bloody.” He was upset with this inability to open a bar named “Drunkenstein’s.”
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A former Missouri deputy has pleaded guilty to federal charges of using excessive force and obstructing justice during a traffic stop. Donald A. Devens of Smithville admitted that he not only assaulted motorist Wesley A. Lewis in August 2005 (by kicking him in the groin and punching him in the throat when he was handcuffed), but he then tried to destroy the tape on the dashcam. It didn’t work.

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If you wonder how this country still raises guys like the two neo-Nazis who wanted to kill Obama (while living with their grandparents and reading Guns-n-Ammo), take a look at this video. Here we have a family chanting “No ‘Bama” while the children make monkey sounds. Note the adults look directly at the older girl making monkey sounds and say nothing.
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Two men have been charged with threatening Barack Obama and planning his assassination. allegedly also planned to kill 102 black people. The two suspects two suspects—Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark.— are both skin head, white supremists.

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For those who opposed the massive bailout, a report in the New York Times may be little surprise.  A reporter was able to get into a telephone conference call with JPMorgan Chase to hear executives discuss the $25 billion it received from Congress.  Just four days after the bailout, JPMorgan Chase’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon held the conference call during which an executive admitted that Chase has no intention to use the money to make new loans but instead will use it to try to take over other companies.

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In a major victory against congressional corruption, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska has been found guilty on all seven counts in his federal trial. Despite numerous blunders by the prosecution, the evidence proved too strong for Senator No who has been an infamous figure for congressional ethics advocates for years.
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If Sen. Ted Stevens is not acquitted in his corruption trial, it is not for a lack of effort by the prosecutors who have again been accused of fumbling. This time the prosecutorial error was found not by the court or the defense, but the jurors themselves. The jury noted that the indictment states that Stevens marked “no” in his 2001 report on whether he received any gifts. In fact, he marked “yes.”

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In one of the world’s most disgraceful religious practices, girls (some younger than ten years old) continue to be made “slaves to the Gods” by priests in Ghana who abuse and sexually assault the girls — serving as surrogates for the Gods. While now illegal in Ghana, Trokosi continues to be practiced in the open and not a single arrest has been made to end the practice.

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An 8-year-old boy, Christopher Bizilj (Bah-SEAL) of Ashford, Conn., died after he accidentally shot himself in the head at a gun club during the annual “Great New England Pumpkin Shoot”, which features automatic weapons. It appears that organizers (or the boy’s parents) see no problem is handing an eight-year-old a fully loaded, fully automatic Uzi. At a minimum, one would think that an adult would hold or secure the weapon when a young boy was pulling the trigger on a submachine gun (shown to the left).

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In the latest outrage involving an under-aged bride, Muslim cleric Pujianto Cahyo Widianto married a 12-year-old girl in the Semarang, Indonesia. Widianto reportedly selected the girl from a pool of 20 girls and took her to Singapore as his new bride with his first wife. Widianto runs an Islamic boarding school and they were married in an Islamic ceremony.

This is only the latest in a long line of such abuses in Islamic ceremonies, here and here and here.

For the full story, click here.

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Target was hit with a sizable $3 million award to Rita Cantrell of Greenville, South Carolina. The award included punitive damages after Target sent out an email to businesses stating that Cantrell was a shoplifter trying to pass counterfeit cash.

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It appears that a vow of poverty does not stand in the way of a good Birthday bash. A Catholic diocese in southern Germany plans to spend 100,000 euros (130,000 dollars) on a birthday bash at the Vatican for the Pope Benedict XVI’s elder brother, Georg Ratzinger. In the meantime, Crystal Cathedral founder televangelist Robert Schuller has forced his own son out of control of his church.

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A Colorado couple objected to the topping on one of their tacos at a Del Taco restaurant when they were served a bag of pot. While waiter Dennis Klermund, 26, initially denied that the pot was his, more pot was found in his locker and he now faces charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

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Journalists and artists in Jordan have rallied around poet Islam Samhan who was indicted for the crime of incorporating verses of the Holy Koran into his poetry about love. This followed a fatwa issued by the country’s mufti who declared him an infidel and his poetry to be blasphemy.

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Despite the enormous attention given to false allegations of an attack on a McCain supporter in Pennsylvania, there has been virtually no attention of the well-supported allegation of an Obama worker being attacked in Racine, Wisconsin. Nancy Takehara tells WISN-TV she drove from Chicago to help canvass a neighborhood and got into a heated exchange with Ronald Goetsch over allegations of voter improprieties in other states. She says that Goetsch grabbed her by the back of the neck and was pounding her head and screaming.

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Florida WFTV-Channel 9′s Barbara West thought that she was using her five minutes with Sen. Joe Biden to get at the toughest questions being raised by critics of the campaign. None of the usual softball, scripted questions in the video below. The choice reportedly resulted in the campaign canceling future interviews with the station. Blacklisting is a Nixonian trick and not something that most modern campaigns openly embrace.

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Bishop John Thattungal, 58, raised a few eyebrows when he announced that he had decided to adopt in the Catholic church where celibate priests are married to the bride of the Church. Parishioners in India were even more surprised when they adopted child turned out to be a 26-year-old woman.
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Ok, I am a bit confused. Klara Mauerova, 31, is a member of a cannibal cult in teh Czech Republic who ortured her son in a locked cellar while relatives skinned him and forced him to eat his own flesh. The sentence: nine years. That is less than a tax evasion sentence.

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In a major victory for the media, the Florida Supreme Court throw out a lawsuit where the Pensacola News Journal was successfully sued for false light of road-building contractor Joe Anderson. Anderson sued over a series of articles in 1998 about environmental issues surrounding the paving company he founded, Anderson Columbia. The story included references being on probation for fraud in 1988 when he shot and killed his wife in a Dixie County hunting accident. This was only days after he filed for divorce. The substantive decision came in an equally interesting case of Jews for Jesus v. Rapp.

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Steven Parker, 42, has received a new trial by unanimous vote after his 2006 conviction for child sexual assault on a 11-year-old child was thrown out due to the placement of a screen around him at trial so his alleged victim could not see him.

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New reports show that “Hockey Mom” Sarah Palin spent $32,800 on hair and make-up in just two weeks. At that rate, you buy and could lipstick over 64,000 pigs. You could also pay the annual salary and medical expenses for one average citizen for what Palin spent on hair and make-up in two weeks. In the meantime, Palin has now given her deposition in the troopergate investigation where an investigation has already found that she acted unethically in the firing of a state employee.
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Johnson County Clerk Jill Jackson in Franklin, Indiana waited until after hours to put copies of a chain letter on the desks of employees that called Sen. Barack Obama a “young, black Adolf Hitler” and discussed the absence of white pride. The problem is that a video camera captured her at 5:27 p.m. on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. When she was confronted by police, she insisted it was a joke — she merely forgot to tell anyone. Here’s one: what goes “Ha, Ha, Thump”? — a disgraced Indiana clerk laughing her head off.

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Chicago is set for a vote on the new high school targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual students on November 19th. Below is today’s column on the school, which I reluctantly oppose as I did the Harvey Milk high school.

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A Pennsylvania woman says that she was attacked at an ATM in Pittsburgh by a robber, who proceeded to carve a “B” in her face when he saw her McCain bumper sticker. It turns out to be a lie and Ashley Todd, 20, of College Park, Texas, will be charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, and may face more charges.

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First there was the gross prosecutorial misconduct. Then there was the juror misconduct. Now, another juror has left after the death of her father — suspending deliberations. Sen. Ted Stevens’ trial has had all of the sense of control and predictability as a falling locomotive.

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Tammy Christopher is suing Grady County Oklahoma after Deputy Sean Kinght shot her dog. While the police officer told her that the dog charged at him when he stopped for direction while serving tax warrants, the video appears to contradict that claim and show Knight.
shooting the dog in the head.
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For most of the trial, many observers were waiting for the infamous temper of Sen. Ted Stevens (R. Alaska) to be unleashed before the jury. It now appears that the attention should have been directed on the ninth juror from the left. The other jurors have formally requested that Judge Sullivan replace Juror Number Nine who has reportedly been causing a ruckus in the jury room. It is only the latest problem in this star-crossed trial. Prior evidence of prosecutorial misconduct now joins juror misconduct in the trial of Ted Stevens.

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In a very interesting decision (with implications for same-sex marriage), a Louisiana court has held that the state must recognize a foreign marriage between cousins despite the fact that such a marriage would be null and void in the statem The 1st Circuit Appeals court ruled that there is no strong public policy that would bar such a recognition. The case involved a divorce case where the East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court judge declined jurisdiction.

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A federal court has issued an interesting ruling after the arrest of various members of the Mongols motorcycle gang: gang members, their family and their associates are enjoined from wearing, licensing, selling or distributing the gang’s logo. It is a novel and questionable order, in my view, by U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper.
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In the large library of truly bad mugshots, this just may be the worst. Preacher Tony Alamo’s mugshot was released with new allegations that he had multiple wives, including a nine-year-old girl.
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Ok, I will miss her. Gov. Sarah Palin today not only stated that she is an intellectual (despite all outward appearances and available tests would indicate) but that she wanted a sixth child named Zamboni. I have been searching for video of this interview to determine if the Zamboni thing was a joke, but it appears that most viewers concluded that she was serious.
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