Archive for the ‘Courts’ Category

Adam SowdersHenry Goedrich MageeWe have previously discussed our concerns over the seemingly exponential increase in “no knock” raids in the country where police give no warning before raiding a home. (here and here and here and here and here and here). Now in a remarkable ruling, a Texas grand jury has refused to indict Goedrich Magee, 20, who shot and killed a law enforcement officer, Burleson County Sgt. Adam Sowders, 31, during a no knock entrance into his home. Magee said that he thought he was being robbed and acted to protect his pregnant girlfriend and children. The grand jury “no billed” the case in February.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

We have heard the phrase for quite some time now.  “Corporations are people”.  It sounds so simple, but what does it mean in practice?  The corporate structure is designed to protect individual shareholder assets from creditors of the corporation.  If you maintain your corporate structure requirements and corporate book, the individual’s assets cannot be attached or claimed by a creditor of the corporation.

Corporations are also afforded special tax breaks and tax rates that individual persons cannot take advantage of.  How has the Hobby Lobby decision altered or not altered the corporate veil protection provided to corporations?  (more…)

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gavel2I wanted to share an opinion this month out of Wisconsin where Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Paul Lundsten overturned the conviction of Thomas Smith for criticizing his local police department on Facebook. Prosecutors charged Smith with disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a computerized communications system after he made vulgar comments on a police department’s Facebook page. It was an abusive charge by the police and an abusive prosecution. Unbelievably, the lower court allowed this citizen to be convicted for the misdemeanor offenses. Prosecutors argued that Smith, 25, used profanity and vulgar language to comment on a police posting that thanked local citizens for their help in apprehending two black juveniles in the area. It was clearly protected speech but Smith was forced to go through a trial and an appeal to find a judge who upheld the first amendment claim. Below is the full decision.

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President_Barack_Obama220px-Water_droplet_blue_bg05Below is my column today in USA Today on the Obama Administration’s decision to cut off water to legal marijuana growers. Notably, the business concern today for the rollout of legal pot sales in Washington is greater demand than supply. I previously wrote about how a little known board had effectively moved to end the debate over the Redskins name, an example of agencies increasingly intervening in social and political disputes. This move by the Bureau of Reclamation is a prime example of such intervention into political disputes and a troubling precedent for the future.

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article-0-1F75612F00000578-313_634x427ESPN, the Yankees, Major League Baseball, and announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk are being sued by Andrew Rector, 26, who says that he was defamed after the network showed him asleep at the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game and joked about his being “oblivious” to the game. While Rector says that the commentators called him “stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid,” those insults are not heard on the videotape below from the telecast. Rector is suing for $10 million.

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Waleed_Abu_AlkhairSaudi Arabia’s medieval legal system has added a new outrage to its record: On Sunday, Saudi lawyer and reform advocate Waleed Abulkhair was sentenced on Sunday to 15 years in prison and a 15-year travel ban (to start after his release). He was also ordered to pay 200,000 Saudi riyals ($53,000). His offense? “inciting public opinion against the government” and “insulting the country’s leaders and judiciary.” The sentence once again raises the question over our level of support for Saudi Arabia and its distinction from our distinction with other countries viewed as extreme and inimical to the rule of law. Abulkhair is the head of the “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia” organization and was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of Top 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter.

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President_Barack_ObamaBelow is my column yesterday in the Sunday New York Daily News on the unfolding controversy over President Obama’s unilateral actions to circumvent Congress. The pledge of the President to “go it alone” has already resulted in court losses for the Administration and a growing separation of powers crisis. I testified (here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. I ran another column recently listing such incidents of executive over-reach that ideally would have included this potentially huge commitment under Obama’s claimed discretionary authority. I happen to believe that the President is right in many of these areas but that does not excuse the means that he is using to achieve these goals.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

The Antagonists

The Antagonists

I think it was Winston Churchill who reminded us that the “supreme virtue” of government is action. In fact, the greatest of  modern British prime ministers, who often marked his staff memoranda in red with the words “Action This Day,” counseled that ” I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Action in recognizing problems. Action in mobilizing support and action in addressing the causes of human suffering and improving the lives of those over whom you have power and authority.

On this side of the Atlantic, the framers understood this seemingly obvious facet of government. Jefferson wrote, “The purpose of government is to maintain a society which secures to every member the inherent and inalienable rights of man, and promotes the safety and happiness of its people.” Protecting individual  rights and promoting the security and happiness of those individuals is the essential business of government. Not “either-or” but both.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the GodfatherWe have previously described events happening at city hall in Wenatchee, Washington regarding the city exercising control over the marijuana business legalized in the state.  HERE and HERE The Washington State Liquor Control Board sold the licensing rights to Wenatchee to SMP Retail, LLC.  The city then prohibited the business from opening its doors despite having progressed through the build-out of the business as required by the Liquor Control Board to complete the operating permit.  The city council claimed it did not want to grant business licenses to those that “violated federal laws”.  Despite the assurances proffered by the U.S. Justice Department that the federal government would not prosecute state licensed marijuana businesses, the city held fast and elicited the lawsuit.  SMP Retail sued the City of Wenatchee in Chelan County Superior Court.

City of Wenatchee LogoIt seemed likely in a subsequent council meeting the city would reverse course on its ban as it had previously directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance removing the federal compliance requirement and allow by default the state licensed marijuana businesses to set up shop.  Now it is back to prohibition.

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Supreme CourtBelow is my column today in the Los Angeles Times on a little discussed case that presents a far greater threat to Obamacare than did Hobby Lobby. The Hobby Lobby case is a huge blow for the Administration in terms of one of the most prominent provisions of the Act and recognizing religious rights for corporations. However, it is more of a fender bender for the ACA. Halbig could be a train wreck of a case if it goes against the Administration. We are expecting a ruling any day and the panel is interesting: Judges Harry T. Edwards (a Carter appointee), Thomas B. Griffith (a George W. Bush appointee), and A. Raymond Randolph (a George H.W. Bush appointee). In oral argument, Edwards was reportedly highly supportive of the Administration’s argument while Randolph was very skeptical. That leaves Griffith. It could go 2-1 either way, though in my view the interpretive edge goes to the challengers for the reasons discussed below. This case however is largely a statutory interpretation case, though it has the same separation of powers allegations of executive overreach that we have seen in other recent cases.

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Supreme Court225px-010_alitoToday’s ruling in Hobby Lobby is the type of decision that tends to suck the oxygen out of the room. For that reason, the important decision in Harris v. Quinn could be overlooked. At issue in the case is the viability of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education— the 1977 opinion held that the government could constitutionally condition a person’s employment in the public sector on the paying fees to a union. As I mentioned on CNN last night, this is a major decision that is being pushed from the coverage but deserves more attention. As anticipated, Justice Alito wrote the decision and ruled against the union.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

abuAhmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.

As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.

Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of  the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam.  Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled.  According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.” (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

meriam-yehya-ibrahim-apostasy-sharia-law-sudanWe have discussed the plight of Meriam Ibrahim who endured a trial and subsequent death sentence imposed in a Sudan sharia court alleging apostasy and adultery. A Christian woman, she was considered formerly to be Muslim by virtue of her father’s religion though raised by her mother in an Orthodox faith. Having married her husband, a Christian man with American citizenship, triggered the charges. Previous discussion can be read HERE and HERE.

After an international outrage over her arrest and conviction, an appeals court struck down the convictions and released her, and a child born to her while in prison.

As she was preparing to leave Sudan, Meriam again faced the authorities at an airport alleging she had false documentation allowing her departure from Sudan. Once again arrested, she has since been released and has taken refuge in the American Embassy in Khartoum. Yet it seems her ordeal will not be over.

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module_img_1 It is with a great sense of relief and thankfulness that I can now report that all charges have been dropped against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Minutes ago, United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga signed the order dismissing the indictment against Dr. Al-Arian. The case was before Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, but it was Judge Trenga who signed the order on Friday afternoon.

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module_img_1The press has reported on the motion of the Justice Department to drop all charges against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Obviously, we have been seeking this result for years in this case. However, as lead counsel, I am limited in what I can say about the case before the dismissal of all charges. My office is receiving a great number of calls from the media, but I will continue to defer to the Court on the pending motion.

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