First, there was the embarrassing and insulting treatment of the Brown family by the White House during the recent state visit. Now, the White House has put out a briefing booklet that appears to go out of its way to insult the British from referring to them as a declining world power to elevating France over Britain as an ally to noting its small size. It seems that the White House has been taken over by anglophobes.
Archive for March, 2009
Chicago divorce attorney, Corri Fetman, 45, is suing Playboy magazine alleging that an executive Thomas Hagopian harassed her and eventually dropped her column from the magazine where she wrote under the nom de guerre “Lawyer of Love.” Fetman previously posed nude for the magazine and has maintained a highly controversial practice in my home town of Chicago.
In Philip Morris USA v. Williams, the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal as “improvidently granted” in a long struggle with the Oregon Supreme Court. The Court had previously sent the case back twice to tell the Oregon court to review its huge punitive award. In this staring contest, the U.S. Supreme Court just blinked after the Oregon Supreme Court refused to consider the issues sent back on remand — instead upholding its $79.5 million punitive award million award on state grounds. With interest, that award may have doubled.
There is a very interesting case out of Pennsylvania where U.S. District Judge James M. Munley granted a temporary injunction to prevent Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick Jr. (left) from charging three teen girls who appeared in seminude photographs traded by classmates. A common practice called “sexting.” It is extremely uncommon to see an injunction of a criminal charge.
The Washington Post is reporting that the torture ofhigh-value captive, Abu Zubaida produced nothing but false leads — in direct contradiction of suggestions by former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who endorsed the torture program and use of waterboarding. Moreover, the report indicates that the Administration quickly learned that Zubaida was not the high-profile, highly placed Al Qaeda operative that they told the public. I discussed the latest developments on this segment of Countdown.
Morocco has joined the list of Islamic nations denying freedom of religion to its citizens. Five women were arrested by authorities and sent to Spain after they were caught allegedly in the act of converting Muslims to Christianity. Presumably, any effort to teach Muslims the benefits or values of Christianity could qualify for this particular offense.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been repeatedly criticized over its pet program that seems long on euthanasia and short on adoption. Now, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) published documents online showing that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) killed 95 percent of the adoptable pets in its care during 2008. As noted below, CCF is as controversial as PETA however.
An interesting case has emerged from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals which removed Judge Dean Whipple of the Western District in Kansas City, Missouri for bias in a contract case. The judge insists that he was pushed over the edge in an exchange with Fred Starrett of Lathrop & Gage in Overland Park, Kansas who represented Sentis Group Inc., and owner Alan Barazi, regarding a contract with Shell Oil Co. to operate 29 mini-mart gas stations in Kansas City.
According to an Internet report, Washington, D.C. lawyer Thomas Dunlap of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver has been peddling a tape for a “friend” of Vice President Joseph Biden’s daughter, Ashley, allegedly snorting cocaine at a party in Delaware. With rising criticism in the press, Dunlap reportedly has withdrawn from his controversial role in this political version of the Michael Phelps pot shot. Radar Online is suggesting that the presumably now former friend may have set up Biden by buying the cocaine and hiding the camera — claims that (if proven) could lead to liability for the individual.
Courts in various countries are increasing being asked to enforce the judgments of religious courts — a trend that bothers many civil libertarians. These cases often involve private agreements to submit cases to such courts in arbitration or mediation. An interesting case in New York, however, shows that such courts often lack back professional or ethical guarantees. A New York trial court has thrown out the ruling of a religious court on the grounds of a “judge” in a Rabbinical Court (Beth Din) having possible bias.
Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida are facing scrutiny and criticism after police officers beat a man in an elevator and then charged him with assaulting them. What is most disturbing is that internal affairs investigated Joshua Daniel Ortiz’s, 22, claims and completely cleared the officers — yet never appeared to have reviewed the surveillance tape (below) that clearly contradicts by the officers. The department, however, will not discipline the officers for a clearly bogus criminal charge and either intentionally misleading or false reports.
Covington & Burling has filed a response to the complaint filed by staff attorney Yolanda Young alleging that the firm inflated its minority staff numbers by relegating African-Americans in staff attorney jobs with no chance of promotion in the associate rankings. Covington responded with a remarkably rough (and low) appraisal of not just Young but, in the view of some, the other staff attorneys at the firm.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted this week that it was not the fault of the Democrats in confirming John Roberts and not using their power to block the nomination. Rather, they were tricked by Roberts who lied to them in suggesting that he was a moderate and that we are now “stuck” with him as chief justice.
Now, here is a case showing the need to get one’s captioning right on civil complaints in Warren, Michigan. Inez M. Starks, 55, was given a fine for suing the police department over an alleged dog attack. Judge David Viviano (left) fined her $500 for actually naming the dog, Liberty, in the lawsuit. She was also given a $500 fine for failing to appear in court.
In an example of the terrible treatment given rape victims in some traditional societies, a woman in India has converted to Islam to marry her rapist — in order to end the social stigma of being a rape victim. For years ago, the woman (who name was withheld) was raped and then ostracized for her status. She is asking a court to allow her rapist to be placed on bond so that she can marry him and end her isolation since the 2005 crime. As shown below, this is not a unique case.
New York Judge Catherine Bennett had become the hero of many a strip joint by declaring that pole dancing is a form of art worthy of a tax exemption. In doing so, she ruled in favor of the argument of Nite Moves in near Albany that it qualified for the “dramatic arts” tax exemption — allowing it to keep $129,000 in sales tax. It also gave thousands of customers an opportunity to rebut claims by their spouses that they lack culture and should expose themselves to art.
In yet another example of the shrinking values of free speech in England, a University of East London professor of anthropology Chris Knight has been suspended for saying that bankers need to be aware of the fury in the country before they are found “hanging from lampposts.” Knight was helping organize a protest for next week G20 summit.
Henry Ford once promised customers any color so long as it is black. Now, California seems close to saying that black cars can stay out of the state. This is not a racist takeover, but an environmental movement to encourage the selection of cars that reflect light to reduce energy demands.
Oklahoma appears poised to join seven other states in allowing motorcycles to run red lights. Many lights in the state are triggered by the metal mass of the vehicle to turn the traffic signal. However, motorcycles lack the weight and mass to register with the ground sensors. Not surprisingly, the lights do not change soon enough for the “Sooners” of Oklahoma.
Former judge Ann Lokuta has an intriguing claim for reinstatement: her accusers turned out to be criminals. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a stay of the Court of Judicial Discipline’s ruling to remove Lokuta and directed the Secretary of the Commonwealth not to place her judicial seat on the May ballot. Lokuta was removed after several weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses about her abusive behavior toward courthouse staff and attorneys. However, she claims that the witnesses were part of the recent criminal conspiracy by former president judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, who took kickbacks to send kids to jail.
For two years, German police have been stalking the most prolific serial killer in its history — a rare female serial killer connected to 39 murders with DNA traces Germany, Austria, and France. They offered 300,0000 euros to anyone who would help find her and hundreds of detectives interviewed 800 women convicted of crimes in the country. They have finally found her.
In New Zealand, they are using Barry Manilow tunes to chase away loitering teenagers who flee at the first note of Copacabana. The English, however, have decided to use teenage acne to their advantage, installing pink lights that highlight teenage dermatological weaknesses and insecurities. The use of Acne vulgaris as a deterrent has prompted teen protests.
A video from Plano, Texas shows a shocking scene as Ryan Moats – a running back for the Houston Texans — arrives with his wife to see his dying mother-in-law. While the mother-in-law is believed to be seconds from death, Officer Robert Powell stops him in the ER parking lot and demands proof of insurance. The video shows a heartbreaking scene as Moats desperately tries to say goodbye to his mother-in-law and Powell toys with him and threatens him with arrest. At one point, Powell, 25, says “I can screw you over. I’d rather not do that. She died before he was allowed inside. The video is below.
Attorney Steven Gustafson of Naperville, Ill. is facing a theft and fraud charges, but it may take longer for him to live down one of the more intriguing allegations in the criminal case: he tried to hit up a priest to help cover up money that he allegedly stole from a trust fund. Remarkably, the priest refused church funds but convinced a parishioner to pony up some of the cash.
For all of those employees who are receiving pink slips in the recession, the Texas legislature has moved toward guaranteeing them that they can bring their guns to their last day at work. The Texas Senate unanimously passed legislation to protect the right for workers to pack heat with your ham sandwiches at work.
Lawyers have long complained that some police officers will give clearly false testimony to protect themselves, other officers, or just maintain the “thin blue line.” This week, we saw two detectives in Michigan indicted with a judge and prosecutor for false testimony. The latest such case out of New York involves New York City detective, Debra Eager, 41, who was indicted on three felony perjury charges after her testimony before a grand jury in 2007 drug case was contradicted by a videotape. (more…)
We have yet another cosmetic surgery case out of California. In this case, two doctors, Dr. Harrell Edward Robinson of Anaheim Hills and Dr. Shir Miskinyar of Santa Ana, face charges of gross negligence and incompetence for botched cosmetic surgeries, including on where a woman who went in for a tummy tuck received a face lift and liposuction without her consent. With the recent case of a woman who is accused of stealing breast enhancements and liposuction, there seems a growing need for a Liposuction Law course.
In today’s series of stories of judges acting bravely and badly, here is one for the latter category. Judge Sharon Keller, Chief Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, has filed her response to the charges of judicial misconduct and incompetence for ordering the closing of the clerk’s office after being informed of a last minute death-penalty appeal. She blames the lawyer and denies any responsibility in the matter.
While Judge Richards in Florida is rescuing witnesses in Florida, former Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Mary Waterstone appeared on the other side of the bench this week as a criminal defendant. Waterstone joined a former prosecutor, Karen Plants, and two police officers Scott Rechtzigel and Robert McArthur as defendants in the case related to a 2005 drug trial. Controversy continues to swirl around the actions of Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy (left), who defended her prosecutor’s actions and resisted criminal charges — while aggressively pursuing the former mayor of Detroit and his aide for false testimony.
The Afghan government gave the West another example how it is struggling to defeat the Taliban by joining it. The government has arrested the manager of a popular Afghan television network for refusing to censor images of women dancing in short skirts and plunging necklines. Fahim Khodamani of Emrose TV was arrested on the crime of broadcasting un-Islamic images.
A recent study of capital cases in Texas shows that nine death row inmates lost their appeals due to the failure of counsel to file by the court deadline. Johnny Ray Johnson was put to death after his lawyers missed a filing deadline by one day. He is one of six such inmates put to death after missed deadlines.
If Yvonne Pampellonne, 30, wanted a “hot” body, she got it. She is accused of stealing newly enhanced breasts and lipusuction from the Pacific Center For Plastic Surgery by stealing another person identity to change her own appearance. She was identified by clinic employees in a (fully dressed) line up.
Today, the Supreme Court will be taking up Hillary: The Movie — and its ultimate reviews could hold great significance for campaign financing. We have been following the case involving “Hillary: The Movie” since it first came out during the last presidential campaign. The legal dispute over the film was always more interesting than the film itself — whether this is a film or a 90-minute campaign ad. Now, the Supreme Court is set to review the film. Citizens United v. FEC (08-205) raises a fascinating question of what constitutes political advocacy and what constitutes a documentary. The Court will hopefully not produce another “I know politics when I see it” standard. I discussed the case on this segement of NPR’s Here and Now.
What is Blowin’ in the Wind at Bob Dylan’s Malibu home ain’t justice. Dylan’s neighbors are complaining that a portable toilet Dylan, 67, has in his yard stinks to high heavens and, when the ocean winds blow, has forced them to abandon parts of their homes. Dylan has not responded to complaints for six months over the nuisance.
In New York, the popular Shawarma King deli was turned upside down after someone spotted what appeared to be a non-Kosher hot dog being prepared in the kitchen. Chaos ensued as Jewish patrons surrounded the staff. In the video below, a deli worker fends off a group of around 100 irate patrons with an electric knife. Notably, this type of accident has led to litigation, as discussed below.
Two British High Court judges have released a very disturbing decision that finds that ormer detainee Binyam Mohamed was offered his freedom by the United States in exchange for his promise not to reveal his own torture at Guantanamo Bay. Equally disturbing is the statement from the English government that it cannot release proof of the torture because of objections from the United States government. If the Obama Administration is continuing this position, it is not only blocking prosecution of war crimes but the release of evidence of such war crimes to other nations. I discussed this and other developments on this segment of Rachel Maddow’s show.
In an incredible act, the South African government has barred the Dalai Lama from an International Peace Conference — knuckling under to pressure from China. The very people that once fought efforts to silence Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are now silencing a Noble Prize winner and international voice of peace because they do not want to insult China.
This goes into the good news, bad news category. San Francisco-based attorney David Replogle (right), 60, is no longer facing a forgery trial in Riverside, California. The bad news is that he is now facing a murder trial in the death of Clifford Lambert (left), a 74-year-old retired art dealer.
Eric Montanez faces a curious criminal charge in Orlando, Florida: feeding hungry people. The good people of Orlando, Florida have decided to join other cities in making it a crime to feed poor and hungry people caught up in this recession. Even at Yellowstone you are simply asked not to feed the bears, but in Orlando feeding the hungry will get you arrested. There was a guy in the New Testament that did such things and look where that got us.