Even if you are having a good day, this will make it better. A high school team fulfills a mentally challenged boy’s dream of playing basketball, but he fails to get a single basket until an opposing player steps forward in the final seconds . . . [if you cannot watch this video, it is available on the CBS website HERE] (more…)
Archive for February, 2013
Georgia Public Defender, Alexia Dawn Davis, 31, has found herself facing a relatively rare charge for failing to take steps to return a diamond ring that she found in a parking lot. Davis is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property after she kept the ring for two weeks before taking it to the police in Augusta.
There is an interesting case of parents suing the public school in Fountain, Colorado for failing to accommodate their transgender child. These lawsuits have become more common, but in this case the school is the Eagleside Elementary School and the child is just 6 years old. Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis insist that their child, Coy Mathis, was born a boy but identifies as a girl and wants to use the girls’ restroom.
Police and prosecutors in Portage, Indiana appear to have a rather draconian version of a criminal code where every minor offense begins with a felony and goes up from there. We previously saw how a Walmart cleaning lady was charged with a felony for eating Oreo cookies at a story. Now, the Portage police and prosecutors are seeking a felony conviction against this couple for sneaking into a zombie movie and not paying the $6.75 ticket price.
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday and dealt another blow to public interest lawsuits by rejecting the standing of civil liberties groups and citizens to challenge the Obama Administration’s surveillance programs. President Obama has long been criticized for his opposition to such lawsuits and his Justice Department has continued a successful attack on the ability of citizens to challenge the unconstitutional actions of their government in the war on terror. The 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. insulates such programs from judicial review in yet another narrowing of standing rules.
New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind has come forward to explain that there is no reason for people to be offended after he was shown wearing black face. The Brooklyn assemblyman explained that people just do not get the Jewish holiday Purim when people have fun dressing up. He noted that many children will dress up as Arabs. This was meant as a defense. Hikind previously introduced an anti-terrorism bill that allowed ethnic profiling for searches. It appears that he is something of an expert.
We previously discussed how a local businessman shamed the Chinese government by offering to pay the top environmental official 200,000 yuan (around £20,000) to swim in the disgusting river near Rui’an City. The same dare was made by two Chinese environmentalists, including Chen Yuqian, a 60-year-old resident of Pailian village in Zhejiang province. It was a modest suggestion given the rampant environmental hazards and choking pollution in the country, including the dozens of cancer villages (which only this week were acknowledged by the government). However, he received his answer this week. Forty men came to his house and beat him for embarrassing the government — a standard response for Chinese environmentalists and villagers who succeeded in drawing attention to the dire plight of Chinese citizens.
There is a disturbing story out of Oklahoma State University where university officials failed to report sexual assault allegations to police out of a bizarre fear that they would be violating federal guidelines over the confidentiality of student grades. Former Oklahoma State student Nathan Cochran, 22, was accused of the assaults but university lawyers and staff believed that reporting the allegations would require disclosure of educational records in violation of the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act.
Minnesota lawyer Linda Ann Brost, 61, is under arrest this week after being suspended from practice and charged with theft by swindle, two counts of identity theft, and aggravated forgery after allegedly posing online and in letter as a deceased client to bilk his estate. A friend and beneficiary of the deceased raised the first alarm over Brost’s conduct.
We have all seen video of driving accidents in Russia where people commonly cut in front of cars with only inches of space. Well, the newest hero in Russia is a vigilante bus driver named Alexei Volkov who intentionally hits vehicles that cut in front of him — all recorded on his dashboard camera.
Vice President Joe Biden latest controversial statement has produced some interesting criticism. Biden was asked recently if the ban on certain guns would put people at risk. He responded by encouraging people to buy shotguns and fire them out the window. It was pretty dim-witted advice since that would be illegal, but is it sexist as well as stupid?
The United Nations this week heard of rising abuse against atheists, agnostics, and secularists around the world. A report on this abuse, including executions, was given to a panel including Pakistan, Mauritania and Maldives which impose the death penalty on blasphemers. Turkey used the opportunity to call for the protection of “people of faith.”
In Erin, Tennessee, The Flood Zone on Highway 149 is serious about its bathrooms. When Patricia Barnes used the bathroom and then left without buying anything, the owner ran outside and wrote down the license plate of her car. Later, she received a $5 charge for the use of the bathroom. Putting aside that that is a pretty high cost for the use of a bathroom, Barnes wondered how the restaurant could have tracked down her address. The answer appears to be Houston County Sheriff Darrell Allison, who ran the plate for the restaurant.
Brian Levine, a traffic court judge in Staten Island for the Department of Motor Vehicles, is back and neither lawyers nor drivers appear thrilled. Levine was dispatched to take anger management and “human relations” classes two years ago, but reports indicate that he still has a bit of a sharp edge in dealing with traffic violations.
We appear to have another citizen arrested for exercising his constitutional rights to videotape police in public. Jared Parr, the founder of a YouTube channel called Rockville Cop Watch, has posted his encounter with Montgomery County Police officers at a routine traffic stop. The officers are shown demanding that he turn off his camera and what proceeds is yet another tirade from an officer who seems entirely clueless about the first amendment and basic constitutional rights. For a prior column on this issue, click here.
We have another ruling in a hunting accident case. I have previously written columns and blogs about the different treatment generally afforded to killings committed by hunters. In Salem, Oregon, Eugene Collier, 68, was acquitted of manslaughter in the killing of Marine reservist Christopher Ochoa, 20, after mistaking him for a bear. We previously discussed the case.
This is a video of how a Chinese official deals with news that he has missed his flight. The man is identified in news accounts as Yunnan Mining Co. Vice Chairman Yan Linkun, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the political advisory body in the People’s Republic of China. Linkun reportedly missed a flight from Kunming to Guangzhou because he was eating breakfast. He then missed the second flight when he didn’t hear an announcement. It then went from bad to worse.
Something about this just does not sound like a good idea. In the coming months, toxic mice will rain down on the jungles in Guam. They are the solution to the intrusion of the brown tree snake which has wiped out much of Guam’s native bird species after first arriving on the island in U.S. naval ships after World War II. With an estimated 2 million of the snakes on the island, the military has decided to carpet bomb the island with dead mice laced with lethal painkillers. Italy carpet bombed one its islands with poison to combat a similar rat problem. The brown tree snakes have been cutting power lines and even biting residents. However, there is the obvious problem of other animals eating the mice. To reduce this problem, the scientists have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed. Yet, if anything goes wrong, we have replaced a brown tree snake problem with an army of airborne paratrooping zombie toxic mice with addiction problems.
Muslim cleric Ahmed Al-abedulqader is a member of the Islamic Ministry for Da’wah, Guidance and Endowments and he clearly has “issues” with women, particularly when they served in public positions. Recently, women were allowed to serve on the Shura Council, a formal advisory body to the King of 150 members who can propose laws and advise him. It was a significant and commendable act by the King — a hopeful sign of reform for women’s rights. That appears to be the very reason that Al-abedulqader and other clerics unleashed sexist tirades. In Al-abedulqader’s case, he took to Twitter to call the women “prostitutes.” Dr. Saleh al-Sugair, a former teaching assistant at King Saud University, also went public and called the women the “fifth of society” for their historic achievement.
Last December, I wrote a post titled You Call This Justice? DOJ Criticized for Its Settlement with “Too Big to Jail” Bank HSBC. It appears that the US Justice Department isn’t too keen on bringing criminal charges against ANY wealthy bankers—not just those who work for HSBC, a huge international bank that has knowingly laundered money for drug cartels and murderers. The unethical shenanigans of the banksters of Wall Street that led to the near collapse of the US economy and to a recession don’t seem to merit jail time for the perpetrators—just a slap on the wrist and a fine. No individual fines are paid though. The mega banks pay the fines and the banksters continue to go about their business…and continue to earn hefty salaries and bonuses.
At “Wall Street Reform: Oversight of Financial Stability and Consumer and Investor Protections,” the first Banking Committee hearing attended by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA), Warren asked bank regulators how tough they really are on the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street and about the last few times they actually took any banks all the way to a trial.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
Now that the infamous Sequestration cuts are likely to kick in next week, I find it both hilarious and scary, that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairmen of the deceased debt commission that failed to produce a plan that their own committee could accept, are back in the news calling for cuts to Medicare and Social Security and reduced taxes for the wealthy and corporations as our only way out of our so-called debt crisis! Where have I heard that song and dance before? The so-called Catfood Commission is now back at work trying to do a reverse Robin Hood on the poor and middle class. The only difference this time is that they have a new name, The Fix The Debt Coalition and they are funded by Billionaire Pete Peterson. (more…)
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
The United States Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous (9-0) decision in Florida v. Harris (2013) that deals with probable cause and drug detection dogs. The Court overturned the Florida Supreme Court ruling (pdf) and held that the police officer had probable cause, based on the dog’s reliability, to search Harris’s truck. The Court also held that: “If the State has produced proof from controlled settings that a dog performs reliably in detecting drugs, and the defendant has not contested that showing, the court should find probable cause.”
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
A topic that probably causes among the most heated discussions on this blog is the attempt to either displace evolution from Public School Curriculum, or to at least give “intelligent design” equal footing to evolution. My own opinion is that “intelligent design”, or “Creationism” as some call it, has no place in our public school system. Those who would force it on our schools would be destroying the Constitutional separation of Church and State. We saw a blog post by Professor Turley a week ago discussing some crazy State Legislator in Missouri introducing a bill to teach “Creationism” as a scientific theory and to teach “Evolution” as a philosophy, almost all who commented were not only outraged, but some disparaged Missouri as a backward state. A few of the comments belittled religion in general. http://jonathanturley.org/2013/02/15/missouri-legislator-introduces-bill-to-teach-creationism-as-a-scientific-theory-and-to-teach-evolution-as-a-philosophy/ . Another blog post by Professor Turley in October 2012, about Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin brought a firestorm of angry comments, also disparaging Missouri. http://jonathanturley.org/2012/10/15/akin-disproves-evolution/#comments Interestingly this Conservative State voted for Todd Akin’s opponent when Election Day came around. (more…)
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an on-going series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously and honorably make positive differences in their own lives and the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes reside among us and serves as quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward – and ours too.
Most days he just drinks. Hard liquor is his preference but he’ll take most anything – beer, wine, or garage-made moonshine. When he’s not wandering the streets of Dallas looking for any day job he can get or a kind stranger with a spare dollar, Charles “Chucky” Alexander stays in a tiny apartment provided by a charity known as The Bridge. No furniture, no luxuries, just four walls some heat and a bedroll. He lives mostly out of his backpack, and wonders how his seven-year-old daughter is doing in foster care. He thinks back to his days as a gang leader in L.A.’s ruthless, drug-dealing Crips gang, and knows he’s lucky to have made it to his 45th birthday. This past year Chucky was making some headway against his addictions, but his mother died unexpectedly sending the homeless man into yet another downward spiral of booze and despair.
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Well better late than never, y’all. The great state of Mississippi officially ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution on February 7, 2013. For those counting, we’re now 50 states out of 50 against human bondage. Who says no progress is being made? And to whose credit is this crowning achievement? Why Abraham Lincoln, of course. Well, sort of.
It seems Ranjan Batra, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, just finished watching Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nominated movie, Lincoln (filmed here in Richmond, you know). That got the academic wondering if the Magnolia State ever did ratify the law to free over half its citizens. Batra consulted Ken Sullivan, an anatomical material specialist at UMC, who sliced right into the subject (pun intended). Sullivan’s sleuthing found that while the legislature passed the bill authorizing ratification in 1995, one final requirement had never been met. Mississippi’s secretary of state had forgotten to send a copy of the bill to the federal register’s office for inclusion. On January 30, 2013, the Honorable Delbert Hosemann corrected the oversight and mailed the bill. On February 7 the bill officially became law and Mississippi joined the rest of us. Welcome back!
State trooper Lisa Steed is the first woman to be selected as Trooper of the Year in Utah for her record of hundreds of DUI arrests. She was celebrated as having a type of sixth sense for drunk drivers that allowed her to rake up an unprecedented number of hundreds of such arrests in a year. She is now a former trooper after her arrests were found to be invalid. What is striking is how prosecutors long suspected that Steed was unreliable as a witness but she was allowed to continue to abuse citizens. Ironically, in an interview during her illustrious career, Steed referred to her work as a “numbers game,” where she assumed that one in every 10 drivers stopped for a violation is driving impaired.
Pakistan has been working with the Obama Administration in an effort to create an international blasphemy standard. Now one of its diplomats in Washington is accused of blasphemy herself. She has been accused of blasphemy by a businessman, an offense that carries the death penalty in Pakistan.
Parents in Ontario, Canada are justifiably angry at a prank pulled by teachers on the graduating students of a South Windsor where students were convinced that they were gong to be taken to Disneyland as a graduation gifts and then crushed when told it was just an elaborate joke. The joke left many students at Roseland in tears and left parents fuming about the worst joke ever.
As some of you know, I love Canada and particularly Quebec. However, for all of their wonderful food and culture, Quebec inherited the quixotic and often comical cause of protecting French against common expressions from their counterparts in Europe. Now, the language police, Quebec’s office of French language, or OQLF, has cited a restaurant for having too many non-French terms on its menu. The problem is that it is an Italian restaurant and the names of the dishes are Italian.
Mutawa units, Saudi Arabia’s religious police, have been busy this month arresting Christians who practice their faith in the Kingdom. While Saudi Arabia has led the fight to create an international blasphemy crime and objected to every minor slight to Islam, it is one of the most repressive and intolerant regimes for religious freedom in the world. It will not allow the building of a single church in the Kingdom and now is cracking down on those who pray to a Christian God. The latest arrests occurred among foreign workers at a private residence in Dammam.
Five Connecticut towns will pay $3.5 million in a bizarre raid by heavily armed SWAT team members after a report of drugs in the house of a Norwalk man. The team hit the home with flash grenades while snipers and officers surrounded the property. The owner, Ronald Terebesi, was dragged from the home and another man, Gonzalo Guizan (right), shot and killed. Neither was armed and a small amount of recreational drugs were found. The towns however still fought the case for years until a court issued a key ruling against them. They still deny any negligence or fault and proceeded to give the officer leading the raid an award for his role in the disastrous raid. (Swat members shown here were not involved in this raid)
Posted in Academics, Animals, Bizarre, Congress, Constitutional Law, Courts, Criminal law, Environment, Free Speech, International, Justice, Lawyering, Media, Military, Politics, Religion, Science, Society, Supreme Court, Torts on 1, February 21, 2013 | 35 Comments »
This morning, our blog passed our 15,000,000 viewers. Since just a few weeks ago that we passed the 14,000,000 mark, it is obvious that the blog continues to grow at an impressive rate. We continue to rank in the top ten most viewed legal blogs in the world and I would like to think that our civility policy adds to the appeal of the blog for new viewers.
A report from Nigeria alleges that a million dollars of a poverty fund was used to pay for an appearance of Beyoncé in Bayelsa. While it is not clear if she also chose to lip sync that performance, she was paid, with Jay Z, to appear in 2006 allegedly with money dedicated to help 47% of Bayelsans who live in abject poverty.
There is an interesting torts case brewing in Los Angeles where guests at the Cecil Hotel drank and bathed from a rooftop water tank that appears to have had a decomposing body in it for two weeks. The body of Elisa Lam was found after a worker investigated the cause for low water pressure at the hotel.
A high-ranking EPA official, Region 8 Administrator James Martin, will resign after weeks of scrutiny over allegations that he used a personal email account to conduct “official business.” Martin was accused of using his private me.com account to confirm a meeting with the general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. That would not appear a catastrophic event, but what truly interests me is the Senator who has been leading the charge: Louisiana Senator David Vitter. It was Vitter who used his official cellphone to arrange liaisons with prostitutes from the Senate floor. He first attacked reporters and witnesses as liars before reluctantly admitting the truth and claiming to have been forgiven for his sins. He then demanded to use campaign funds to pay for his legal fees. He was not only not charged but reelected to the Senate.
Florida trooper Detrick McClellan (left) was on-duty when he sped at more than 100 mph without emergency lights down a county road and slammed into a Mitsubishi Galant driven by Michelle Campbell, 51. Campbell died in the crash and her granddaughter, 12, flew through the windshield. Her adult niece was also injured. McClellan was found at fault and given three traffic citations even though he said he was responding to a call about someone throwing rocks off an overpass. He was facing citations for careless driving, speeding, and failure to use his emergency lights. Yet, when McClellan came up for his hearing, the ticketing officer was no where to be found and the judge therefore dismissed the case. A video shows officers and McClellan laughing after the dismissal.
We previously discussed the legal issues raised by ChristianMingle promising the faithful to help find “God’s Choice” for them. It seems unlikely that Sean Patrick Banks, 37, was God’s Choice for an ideal Christian date. He is now accused of raping women that he met through ChristianMingle.com across the country.
Professor Emlyn Hughesof Columbia University found a solution to the common complaint of students surfing the Internet and text messaging through class. In his lecture on quantum mechanics, Hughes stripped to his underwear as images of 9/11 and the Holocaust were shown to the class. Two people dressed as ninjas blindfolded stuffed animals while Hughes laid in a fetal position on the floor. One then impaled a stuffed animal with a sword.
How standards have changed. First there was Mao’s famous Yangtze River swim where he set a world record by swimming 15 km in 65 min. Now a wealthy Chinese businessman is offering 200,000 yuan [HK$246,000] to get a Chinese official to simply swim for 20 minutes in a river without success. It is not the result of diminishing physical stamina (or propaganda) in China as much as the river in question. Jin Zengmin, chief executive of a Hangzhou eyeglasses retailer, wants Ruian’s environmental protection bureau chief, Bao Zhenmin, to swim in the river in the small-town Ruian, which is virtually solid garbage. He could literally do a crawl on the surface. Not the Australian crawl, mind you, but the Chinese crawl on a surface of refuse.
Meet Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, Idaho who allegedly responded to an irritable flight by getting himself arrested and later fired from his job as a company executive at a defense contractor. Hundley was on a Delta flight when he allegedly slapped a 19-month-old boy who was crying.
There should be extra points awarded in world skiing competition for sheer guts or at least a medal for the best performance in the worst conditions. Skier Sverre Liliequist was competing in the 2012 Swatch Skiers Cup when his run tripped off an avalanche. Liliequist continued to ski in front of the avalanche and then finished a flip as his final feature virtually on top of the avalanche. Now get up and go to work, campers.
Mississippi politicians have long allowed their state to rest at the bottom of state in educational quality. Now they have finally decided to act: a new bill would legalize school prayer so children will presumably be able to pray for a day when politicians in the state will actually support public education.
It appears that police supervisors in the West Midlands Police department have a certain lack of humor. Officers were frustrated by the demands of prosecutors for an account of an arrest involving a dog capture. The account lacked a witness statement. Finally, the officers completed a witness statement (below) on behalf of “PC Peach” and then posted a copy at the station. I personally thought it was a scream but supervisors told the officers that they are not amused.