Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger
Washington State Constitution Article II Section 1(a) “Initiative: The first power reserved to the people is the initiative.”
The initiative process in Washington State is designed to allow individual citizens to participate in the law making process and collectively to work together to bring this cause to fruition. But is this century old tradition, rather uncommon in the various governments of the world, suffering from the effects of corporate interest and losing its original purpose?
Continue reading ‘By The People For The Dollars: Washington Initiative Process Dominated By Out Of State Corporations.’
Published 1, December 7, 2013
Academics , Free Speech , Justice , Religion
-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
Universities UK (UUK) is an advocacy organization whose members include just about every university in the United Kingdom. UUK provides its members with policy guidelines regarding all aspects of university life. The UUK recently released a report advocating a policy of gender segregation to preserve the freedom of speech of external speakers. The report uses a hypothetical case study of a representative of an “ultra-orthodox religious group” whose freedom of speech is imperiled if his demands for gender segregation in the seating arrangements aren’t met.
Continue reading ‘Universities UK Supports Gender Segregation’
Published 1, December 6, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Free Speech , Justice , Lawyering , Politics , Society , Supreme Court
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Many blogs have been written here that deal with the phony “War on Drugs” and the negative effects it has on society, particularly those lacking resources, or being people of color. This piece is not about the “War on Drugs”, but this ridiculous “war” has actually driven the abuses of our criminal justice system that is my topic today. Because the “War on Drugs” provides context for this subject I’ve included links at the bottom that supply the context behind my opinions here. Human Rights Watch produced a report this week about how most defendants in Federal drug cases are forced to plead guilty under the threat of the imposition of a mandatory sentence. I read an article in Huffington Post referencing this study and it immediately brought to mind two aspects of law enforcement and prosecution today that raise my ire.
The first is the process of plea bargaining, which I believe makes a mockery of our Criminal Justice System. The second is the concept of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MMS) which in my opinion leads inevitably to miscarriages of what we would like to call justice. The idea of negotiation, bargaining if you will, is that each of the two sides has the ability to provide enough of value to be able to establish a mutually beneficial contract. Clearly though when it comes to a Prosecutor bargaining with a defendant there is, except in the case of the wealthy/powerful, an unequal negotiation. The Prosecution has the authority and resources of the State backing it up. Most defendants and indeed most people in prisons, have little resources. In the public’s (thus jury’s) mind, most defendants are really guilty until proven innocent, despite the “presumption of innocence” that is supposedly a hallmark of our legal system. Adding immeasurably to the Prosecution’s resources are “Mandatory Minimum” sentences (MMS). They were instituted by legislators who wanted to appear “tough on crime” and so represent drastic solutions to punishment needs, in order to appear as “tough” as possible. With the trump card of MMS prosecutors are in a position to threaten a defendant to “cop a plea” to avoid a more draconian prison sentence. The Human Rights Watch study shows how these two procedures have become a feature of American Criminal Justice that in my opinion makes a mockery of it. Continue reading ‘Cheap Justice, Bad Law = Broken System’
Published 1, December 1, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Free Speech , International , Justice , Lawyering , Military , Politics , Society , Testimony
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
The five alleged 9/11 defendants currently being held at Guantanamo Bay where they have been detained since 2006, are currently preparing their defenses for trials that are scheduled for September 2014. All five defendants have been subjected to what the United States government called enhanced interrogation techniques at CIA black sites even before they got to Gitmo. Continue reading ‘Kangaroo Commissions and Torture’
With many of us rolling out of bed moaning from the food the consumed on Thanksgiving, I felt a wonderfully depressing fat story was appropriate to get us back into our guilt-ridden regimes. Maria Kang, fitness guru and mother of three, is not exactly the bedside nurse that you would want on such occasions. Kang has been banned from Facebook after she criticized an online article showing plus-size women in lingerie. While this is not a free speech issue involving the government, there is a question of whether Facebook should have taken it upon itself to punish someone for her view of obesity and what she views as an unhealthy lifestyle. More importantly, the controversy raises the issue of the expanding definition of “hate speech.”
Continue reading ‘Fitness Advocate Removed From Facebook After A Posting Critical of Plus-Sized Woman In Article Allegedly Labeled “Hate Speech”’
We have previously discussed how Barack Obama has become the president that Richard Nixon always wanted to be. From his Administration’s comprehensive attack on privacy and civil liberties, investigation of journalists, to his claim of unilateral authority to kill citizens, Obama has created an Imperial Presidency that could haunt this nation for generations. He has succeeded with the silent acquiescence of many liberals and Democrats who have embraced personality over principle in continuing to support his Administration. Now, a new report documents how the National Security Agency under Obama has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites to be used as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of people consider radicals. The obvious comparison to Nixon is only dwarfed by the comparison to J. Edgar Hoover, but again the silence is deafening from the Democrats. In the meantime, the so-called “reforms” of the NSA as expected would preserve the massive data-gathering programs of the agency — as guaranteed by such “reformers” as Dianne Feinstein.
Continue reading ‘Obama Administration Gathering Records on Porn Site Usage To Use Against People Viewed As Radical’
I am very happy to report that our blog has been inducted into the ABA Journal’s Hall of Fame for legal blogs around the world. We just received word this afternoon with the start of this year’s competition for the top News/Analysis blog. This is also our sixth year in being selected as one of the top 100 legal blogs in the world. Of course, this is the closest that an endomorphic law professor can get to any Hall of Fame. I am grateful to the ABA Journal staff not just for this distinction but for holding this competition each year to feature the wide variety of legal blogs. For all of us who were the last to be selected on sports teams growing up, this is our pudgy, wheezing victory lap. While people like Pete Rose may be a hundred times more athletic, we made it into the Hall of Fame (pending any last minute gambling scandals).
The selection for the Hall of Fame is latest distinction given this site which has strived to offer an alternative forum for those interested in passionate but civil discourse over the legal cases and issues of our day. Special thanks go to our talented and popular weekend team of guest bloggers: Mike Appleton, David Drumm, Mark Esposito, Gene Howington, Elaine Magliaro, Larry Rafferty, Darren Smith, Mike Spindell, and Charlton Stanley. I owe them a great debt for their insightful and gifted postings. The greatest thanks however goes to our readers and commenters who have placed this blog in the top ten most visited legal blogs in the world according to AVVO. We have strived to maintain a civility rule while discussing issues that may divide us. We do not want to be another echo chamber for one ideology or viewpoint. There are ample conservative and liberal sites that cater to that desire for reaffirmation. We value dialogue and different views. While we occasionally have some who stray into personal remarks, we have been remarkably successful in maintaining a high level of discourse. We even have some fun with the more bizarre legal and social stories.
We hope that all of our regulars will take the time to go and vote for the blog in the heavily competitive News/Analysis category. You only have to do a quick registration (used only to prevent vote stuffing) and then you can VOTE HERE.
Continue reading ‘TURLEY BLOG SELECTED BY ABA JOURNAL FOR HALL OF FAME’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
The picture above really says it all. Walmart, our country’s largest retail operation is run by people who are so clueless that they’ve created a culture that doesn’t even understand the massive irony in running a Thanksgiving Food Pantry for its own employees. The photo comes from a Walmart in Canton, Ohio. The concept of food collections for the poor at retail establishments is widespread in America, even as many Americans deny that anyone in this country goes hungry. The irony of this food drive though is that it is asking Walmart employees, who are already low paid, to donate food to fellow employees who are even worse off than they are. It is also ironic that the food drive is for Thanksgiving Dinner, since almost all Walmart Stores have been open all day for Thanksgiving for many years, so one wonders what type of Thanksgiving Dinner Walmart associates will have at all? What is new this year is that “Black Friday” for Walmart customers will begin at 6:00pm on Thanksgiving Day and run through the night.
The average Walmart Associate makes $8.81 per hour which translates into a yearly income of $15,576 if the Associate works a full time schedule. Most Associates don’t work full time because working full time would entitle them to benefits that Walmart doesn’t want to pay. Interestingly, the current U.S. poverty level for a three person family in our country is $19,530. So we see that the rare Walmart full time employee, with two dependents, earns about $4,000 per year below the nation’s poverty level. Indeed, Walmart has made it a practice to inform its employees about benefits like Snap and Public Assistance. At the risk of being portrayed as a “bleeding heart” by some of our readers, let me state that I think this company is disgusting in its personnel policies and is an example of what is worst about our country. Let me explain further. Continue reading ‘To Walmart with Contempt’
There is a truly bizarre defamation lawsuit filed against the Tonight Show and Jay Leno by former American flight attendant Louann Giambattista who was the subject of rather crude jokes by Leno referencing allegations that she had snuck a pet rat on flights in her underwear. Giambattista denies the allegations and says that she was falsely portrayed as ”engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat.”
Continue reading ‘Former American Flight Attendant Sues Leno And The Tonight Show For Defamation’
There is an interesting nuisance case in Detroit where Alan Markovitz has erected an art piece in his backyard. It so happens to be lighted at night and fully visible when his ex-wife looks out of her windows next door. It is a large piece giving a middle finger salute.
Continue reading ‘Michigan Man Buys House Next To Ex-Wife And Erects Statue Giving Middle Finger Outside Her Window’
Spain is on the verge of passing a draconian measure that threatens fundamental values of free speech. Faced with ongoing protests over economic conditions, the Spanish government is about to make insulting police officers and protesting without permission crimes punishable by fine greater than dealing drugs or prostitution. Not since Franco has the country turned so decidedly against civil liberties and free speech.
Continue reading ‘Spain Moves Toward Heavy Fines For Insulting Police And Protesting Without Permission’
Published 1, November 17, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Free Speech , Justice , Lawyering , Politics , Society , Supreme Court
Tags: Department of Homeland Security, The Electronic Infomation Privacy Center;
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
The Electronic Privacy Information Center recently won the first round of a court action asking that the Department of Homeland Security be required to disclose its plans to pull the plug on regional or national mobile telephone and internet communication systems pursuant to its Standard Operating Procedure 303.
“In the classicly-rendered case, DHS has argued that shutting down entire communication networks might be necessary in order to prevent the detonation of radio-controlled bomb or explosive device.
However, siding with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which brought a suit demanding more transparency for the DHS program known as “Standard Operating Procedure 303″ (or SOP303), the federal judge at the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that because the release of the protocol could not reasonably be seen as harming law enforcement “investigative techniques or prosecutions” it’s cited reasons for keeping the details of the program secret did not hold up.” Common Dreams
The so-called SOP 303 could allow DHS to cut-off all internet and mobile phone communications at a regional level or a national level if it determined that there was a national security concern. We have already seen this government tactic used in Oakland in 2011 and that alleged over reach by the Bay Area Rapid Transit authorities may be the reason for EPIC’s lawsuit. Continue reading ‘Internet Kill Switch Plan is Killed…For Now.’
Published 1, November 16, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Environment , Free Speech , International , Justice , Media , Military , Politics , Religion , Science , Society , Supreme Court
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
In recent years many studies have come out that have made the case that a high proportion of CEO’s of major companies are sociopaths. At the end of this blog I’ll provide a number of links that discuss this, some from major conservative business magazines. We do know that from 1% to 3% of humans are sociopaths sharing all of these 10 characteristics:
#1) Sociopaths are charming. #2) Sociopaths are more spontaneous and intense than other people. #3) Sociopaths are incapable of feeling shame, guilt or remorse. #4) Sociopaths invent outrageous lies about their experiences. #5) Sociopaths seek to dominate others and “win” at all costs. #6) Sociopaths tend to be highly intelligent #7) Sociopaths are incapable of love #8) Sociopaths speak poetically. #9) Sociopaths never apologize. #10) Sociopaths are delusional and literally believe that what they say becomes truth.” http://www.naturalnews.com/036112_sociopaths_cults_influence.html
Now the problem with the definition of Sociopathy is that there can be a good deal of subjectivity in making the diagnosis, absent a clinician interviewing the subject. After all many people are charming, spontaneous, invent lies, try to dominate others and speak “poetically” and that doesn’t make them sociopaths. The subjectivity comes in trying to determine whether a given person is incapable of feeling guilt, shame, remorse and is delusional. A trained clinician may be able to do this via an intensive interview, but the nature of this disorder is such that even a trained clinician can be fooled by a sociopath. Rather than argue back and forth about the negative effects of CEO sociopaths on this society as the root of so much dysfunction, my readings this week suggest another theory that would provide a simpler explanation of why it seems that so many in this country have so little compassion and empathy for the less fortunate among us. We need not deem them sociopaths, but people who are simply removed from the misery that they inflict. The apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” may well characterize those who control most of this country’s wealth. It may be why some are sincere philanthropists, yet show such disdain and lack a sense of responsibility for the suffering that they cause. Let’s explore this further. Continue reading ‘Selfish or Sociopath, Does It Make a Difference?’
There is growing tension in Israel between Orthodox Jews and the country’s gay community. As gays and lesbians have fought for the recognition of same-sex unions, Orthodox Jews have become equally vocal in fighting against such recognition. Into this volatile environment walked an Orthodox mayor who showed little evidence of intellect and even less judgment. Moshe Abutbul, the Haredi mayor of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, stated categorically in an interview that there are no gay people in his city and that such people should be left to health officials and the police. The comments by Abutbul, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, resulted in the filing of a criminal charge for incitement. While Abutbul appears a perfect moron, I do not believe that people should face criminal charges for expressing their views — even the absurd thoughts of a hateful religious bigot.
Continue reading ‘Israeli Mayor Facing Criminal Complaint For Anti-Homosexual Comments’
I know how you expect that sentence to end. We have covered endless stories of Christian schools abusing teachers or students due to their perceived lack of faith or morals. However on this occasion, the line ends something like this: “Student Class President Comes Out As Atheist And Christian College By Supporing Him.” That’s right, when Eric Fromm, 21, announced in an article that he is an atheist, he said the school and fellow students at Northwest Christian University went out of their way to assure him that he was valued and appreciated as part of their community. It is a good thing. A happy story. Such places do exist where religious people are both tolerant and pluralistic.
Continue reading ‘Student Class President Comes Out As Atheist And His Christian College Responds By . . .’
Published 1, November 11, 2013
Academics , Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Free Speech , International , Media , Politics , Religion , Society
We have previously discussed the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, who has captivated the world in her struggle after being shot in the head by Muslim extremists for her advocacy of female education. It is a story that appears destined to be read around the world but not in Pakistan where various organizations have banned it from private schools. One educator objected that she referred to the Prophet Muhammad without using the abbreviation PBUH — “peace be upon him.” For that, she is viewed as a dangerous heretic not a heroine.
Continue reading ‘PBUH or Perish: Educators in Pakistan Ban Malala Yousafzai’s Book As Anti-Islamic’
Published 1, November 9, 2013
Congress , Courts , Criminal law , Free Speech , Justice , Lawyering , Media , Military , Politics , Society , Supreme Court
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
I have written some guest blogs in the past dealing with aspects of the issue of America becoming a Police State and will link to them at the end of this piece. There are so many issues that call for our concern and attention in this country today, that dealing with the entire dysfunctional state of our country becomes daunting due to the wealth of material. Finally, the stories on a given issue multiply in such a way that their effect is a realization across all political lines that enough is enough. The issue of our country’s continuing descent into a”Police State” equaling all we know of the vile systems in the USSR and the former East Germany is an issue that concerns me.. The situation is dire and the consequences have produced not only horrible injustices, but also the many unneeded maiming and deaths of innocent individuals. Our country imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world by far. Part of the reason for that is the “War on Drugs” an abject failure that falls most heavily upon people with low incomes and people of color. One such incident caused Professor Turley to pen two blogs this week. They were about a man falsely suspected of drug possession who had all his bodily orifices and cavities checked in the local Arizona police’s vain attempt to find evidence of guilt. None was found and the procedures were not only traumatic, but invasive. Thus the “War on Drugs” is one major contributing force to turning our country into a Police State.
Another contributing Police State factor has been the Federal Government militarizing our local police forces. I’ve written about this as well and will link at those blogs at the end as well. Somewhere along the line, certainly hastened by 9/11 it appeared a necessity to some that are police should be turned from officers of the law into a paramilitary occupying army. There is a great distinction between an officer of the law and a paramilitary trooper. An officer of the law the way I see it, is empowered to enforce the criminal law in ways of lawful conduct that are deemed permissible via our Constitution and Statutes. Thus an officer of the law should be a citizen like the rest of us and in the performance of their jobs should respect the rights of the citizenry. A paramilitary trooper by definition perceives themselves operating in a hostile environment and so everyone in that environment that is not of their army is a potential “hostile”. This unerringly begets a certain level of brutality when dealing with the populace, because from a paramilitary perspective people are presumed guilty, until they are proven innocent. We have seen and I have documented in guest blogs that vast sums of money have come in from the Federal Government to help create paramilitary SWAT teams. Once created, the uses for these teams multiply far beyond their original purpose, because having a tool inevitably causes its usage. After the split I will discuss yet a third factor that adds to this police state mentality, but first I’d like to express the following. The issue of our country becoming a Police State should not be and is not a partisan issue. Just from the opinions of people who follow this blog and comment, we see general agreement that these police tactics violate our Constitution and our innate sense of propriety. We may not all agree on most aspects of government policy, but I would hope we can agree on the proper manner in which our law officers should enforce the peace. Continue reading ‘Police State America’
Published 1, November 7, 2013
Congress , Courts , Free Speech , Lawyering
We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). (For a prior column, click here) This trend is being fueled not only by powerful lobbyists who sometimes seem like they control both Congress and the White House but law firms that have made this a virtual cottage industry. There are a large number of law firms on retainer to bring these actions and artists and companies that do little to limit them. The latest example was brought to light by the good people at Techdirt which posted a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) letter to Reddit informing them that they had violated copyright laws with a posting of an individual known as heisenberg69 with this image satirizing Office Depot.
Continue reading ‘Office Depot Allegedly Threatens Reddit Over Parody Of Company Logo’
We recently discussed the crackdown on sorcerers in Muslim countries. Mystics are finding themselves targeted in the United States as well in recent weeks. In New York and Florida, clairvoyants have been prosecuted for fraud and some cities and states are moving to ban soothsaying.
Continue reading ‘Fortune Tellers Convicted Of Fraudulent Practices in New York, Florida, and Colorado’
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Well, the guy who ushered in the recent government shutdown with a 21 hour filibuster sure gets it honest. Texas senator Ted Cruz, that darling of the Tea Baggers, is no longer the Harvard educated political mystery man who chides the administration at every turn and who rabble rouses what is loosely referred to as the Republican base. Seems he learned the techniques of fact-free demagoguery at daddy’s knee and not amid the ivy in Cambridge (or at Princeton as Elaine M reminds me). That’s right, the Right (as in far) Reverend Rafael Cruz has embarked on his own freewheeling magical mystery tour armed only with the credential that he sired that darling of the Rebel flag wavers. Cashing in on sonny boy’s status among some on the right, Rafael Cruz is now touring the country demanding Obama “go back to Kenya” and turning the Treaty of Tripoli* on its head claiming divine sanction in decreeing that the land of the free and home of the brave is also the exclusive dominion of the Christian. And if that isn’t a big enough stain on his vestments, the representative of the Savior commands all Tea Baggers to shinny on up to the latest polling place to vote Republican.
IRS are you listening?
Continue reading ‘Like Son, Like Father’
Published 1, November 1, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Free Speech , International , Justice , Media , Military , Politics , Society , Supreme Court
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Through the years this site has produced a multitude of blogs that details the excesses that occur in the intelligence community of the United States. Whether it is about spying on us, or upon other governments, the disclosures of incidents where this group of agencies has overstepped the bounds of our Constitution have become too numerous to detail. Beyond that through the years there have been many instances where elements of our Intelligence Complex have interceded in other countries, under the rubric of protection of United States interests. There are many different Agencies within our government that deal with intelligence and in the post 9/11 era the prevention of threats to our country and its citizens has become a giant self serving industry. The Agencies that we know about have supposedly fallen under the egis of the Department of Homeland Security, which should mean from an organizational chart perspective, they are under the control of the President of the United States. To get the political issue out of the way I believe that President Obama has aided and abetted policies that go against the Constitution of the United States. However, not to justify his policies, which are clearly wrong, my opinion is that it has been a very long time since any American President had control of our Intelligence Complex. My belief is not informed by any information public or private, but from what I’ve gleaned from history and from what I know about the operations of bureaucracy. This Guest Blog is not a piece of investigative journalism, but the opinion of someone who understands both the workings of human nature and the workings of bureaucracy. I hope that this piece can engender discussions about the Intelligence Complex and elicit opinions as to what service it provides in protecting this country. The issue is not one of politics per se, because the guilt of enabling our Intelligence Complex falls equally on both political parties and the powerful elements within those parties who would support any action taken by the Intelligence Complex including abrogating our Constitution. The FBI is where I’d like to begin my perspective and that might surprise some, who consider the Federal Bureau of Investigation, basically a law enforcement agency. The history of the FBI is such that it has expanded its role with each upheaval, or new popular shibboleth that garners national attention. Continue reading ‘The Problem with the “Intelligence Community”’
This week we saw how NSA Director General Keith Alexander called on the government to find a way to stop the free press from being . . . well . . . a free press and publish Snowden documents. This follows statements from Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other denouncing both Snowden and the media despite admissions (as a result of those disclosures) that the government has made a variety of violations of U.S. and international laws. Now, even as his country decries the disclosure of over monitoring of foreign leaders and citizens, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he intends to stop English papers like the Guardian of informing of the public of the content of these Snowden documents.
Continue reading ‘Cameron Joins American Leaders In Threatening The Media Over Release Of Snowden Documents’
By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
American poet Stephen Dunn (bio here) reminds us that “all good poems are a victory over something.” For the folks in Rittman , Ohio (pop. 6,491) those words have a decidedly athletic context. The Rittman Indians High School football team was suffering through another miserable season at 1-7 and team morale was plummeting. Like most bad institutions there’s plenty of blame to go around but the school administration thought it had its scapegoat. Junior Defensive End Nick Andre had been tasked with composing a poem about something that made him angry. His English teacher told him anything he wrote about was fine as long as it was authentic and sincere. Not content with such weighty issues as drone strikes or government shutdowns, Nick decided to write about what he knew — the abysmal football team and allegations of nepotism and favoritism that were weighing down the squad.
Continue reading ‘The Victory of Poetry’
Published 1, October 26, 2013
Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Courts , Free Speech , Justice , Lawyering , Society
Tags: Cocke County, Ethics, Lu Ann Ballew, Messiah, Tennessee
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
Last August, this blog had the story of Cocke County, Tennessee child support Magistrate Judge Lu Ann Ballew who arbitrarily ordered parents to change the first name of their seven month old child. Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough had decided on their child’s first name, but were not able to agree on whether his surname should be that of his mother or his father. It was Judge Ballew who ordered the parents of seven month old Messiah McCullough Martin they had to change the child’s first name and change his birth certificate. Judge Ballew opined, “The word Messiah is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ.”
In a rambling interview with local television, Judge Ballew tried to explain her reasoning. The reporter asked her what if the child had been named Jesus, a popular name in the Spanish speaking community. The judge stammered, finally declaring that to be irrelevant. The reporter did not press the issue and ask about the use of Mohammed/Muhammed by many Islamic families. Her answer to that would have been…..interesting. Here is the interview of Magistrate Judge Lu Ann Ballew with a reporter from a local TV station. This is almost painful to watch.
Continue reading ‘Tennessee Judge Who Renamed Child Now Facing Judicial Misconduct Charges’
Published 1, October 26, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Environment , Free Speech , Justice , Lawyering , Media , Military , Politics , Religion , Science , Society , Supreme Court , Testimony , Uncategorized
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
We have had a lot of discussions here about the ever growing private prison system in the United States, where our country has become the world leader in imprisoning its citizens. Many blogs have been written discussing our world prison leadership and the fact that it stems from the failed “War on Drugs”, which has tended to focus on people in poverty and/or people of color. The for-profit prison industry has had a growth spurt that can be directly traced to that aspect of the conservative movement that has disparaged government services and at the same time pushed for privatization of government services using the false concept that private industry can do it better and cheaper. It is an ideas that to me seems nonsensical on its face because of the absolute need that private industry turns a profit and in today’s economic scheme that profit has to continually rise as time passes. Business strategy, which by definition, must focus on profit has focused on cutting costs as a means of building profit. Cutting costs then devolves into hiring less skilled workers, cutting down on services provided and in a business like private prisons reducing the quality of care. When ot comes to reduction of services and diminishing of quality of care when it comes to the prison industry, I’m sure that the majority of public opinion would approve of even more draconian measures. After all those convicted of a crime are generally scorned and feared. Muscular fundamentalist philosophy has discarded the Jesus of turn the other cheek into a Jesus of vengeance and so there is even in some circles moral approval of treating prison inmates harshly. There is now a widespread use of solitary confinement as a tool of prison punishment and that confinement has stretched from weeks, too months and too years. We are after all, a society that has a majority of Americans for torture in our post 9/11 era.
In 2008 we saw the opening of a scandal in Pennsylvania where it was discovered that juvenile court judges were sentencing youths to prison for minor offenses because they had received money from sources in the private prison industry. Two judges were convicted in this case and it was seen that many youths were adversely affected and are now suing for unlawful imprisonment. It is this profiting on the imprisonment of youth that I would like to address broadly in this blog. For the most part my reference links will appear at its conclusion. This is a very disturbing problem that I think cuts to the heart of what kind of society we want to live in and I would hope that others find this as disturbing as I do. Continue reading ‘The Private Prisons Profit on Youth’
There could be an interesting conflict brewing in New York where IFC Center in Greenwich Village has declared that it will not impose the NC-17 rating for Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour long lesbian drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color”. In other words, it will allow in teenage viewers in violation of the rating. The case could force a confrontation over the voluntary system of ratings. This was a compromise with politicians and some groups that want to regulate films for obscenity or violence or sexual content. If theaters refuse to comply with the ratings, there may be a move to re-introduce legislation imposing direct government regulation — raising obvious free speech issues.
Continue reading ‘New York Theater Announces That It Will Ignore NC-17 Rating For Lesbian Film And Allow Minors To See Film’
Various news sites are reporting that four Christians have been sentenced in Iran to 80 lashes each for drinking communion wine at services and possessing a satellite antenna. Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) were reportedly arrested during a house service in December. These house services are efforts of Iranian Christians to practice their faith in the face of the continued Iranian crackdown on non-Muslims. The cases have been made public in the aftermath of a United Nations report criticizing the denial of religious freedom in Iran.
Continue reading ‘Iran Reportedly Orders Flogging For Christians While U.N. Report Blasts Crackdown On Non-Muslims’
Published 1, October 20, 2013
Courts , Criminal law , Environment , Free Speech , International , Justice , Lawyering , Supreme Court , Uncategorized
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
Back in July of this year, we discussed a successful request by oil giant Chevron to subpoena 9 years of metadata from countless defendants and non-defendants. This was arguably an attempt to attack a $19 Billion dollar judgment handed down by an Ecuadorian court against Chevron by going after the parties involved in the lawsuit.
Chevron was not deterred when the United States Supreme Court refused to review the judgment. It merely went on the attack and found an allegedly friendly judge in New York to assist in refusing to pay the judgment owed to various indigenous communities that were devastated by Chevron’s predecessor’s actions in the rainforests where it was drilling for oil. We need to revisit this issue now that the RICO action filed by Chevron started this week in New York. Continue reading ‘Chevron Owes $19 Billion and Doesn’t Want to Pay!’
Published 1, October 18, 2013
Bizarre , Congress , Free Speech , Lawyering , Society
My opposition to the ever-expanding trademark and copyright laws is well known. (For a prior column, click here). Common phrases and symbols are being snatched up as Congress and the Obama Administration continue to yield to every demand for higher levels of penalties and prosecutions. Now we have a personal injury firm — Geoff McDonald & Associates — that has knuckled under to a threat from GEICO insurance because it used an obvious (and stated) parody in a commercial. This is an office filled with attorneys and yet they pulled the commercial because of an obvious joke. If they cannot stand up to the copyright and trademark hawks, consider the position of average citizens faced with threatening letters. Even other insurance companies have folded under pressure from GEICO in parody commercials. It is not clear if GEICO will now move against zoos and elementary schools who try to feature geckos. Before I am sued by the lawyers at GEICO, the picture to the left is a body part of a common gecko found in the wild. He has no connection to the insurance company and is not meant to mock it in any way.
Continue reading ‘Law Firm Pulls Commercial Parody of Geico and Allstate After Receiving Threats From Companies’
A Malaysian appeals court on Monday showed once again how a religious based legal system is fundamentally at odds with not just freedom of speech but freedom of religion. The court upheld an abusive government ban on non-Muslims using the word “Allah.” Other faiths are now barred from using the term after the court upheld a law previously struck down by a lower court.
Continue reading ‘Thou Shalt Not Speak His Name: Malaysian Court Reinstates Law Banning Use Of Allah By Non-Muslims’
Published 1, October 12, 2013
Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Free Speech , International , Justice , Media , Military , Politics , Religion , Science , Society
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Last week I wrote two guests blogs that were essentially two sides of the same coin. “How We Are Manipulated #1” and “The Decline of Journalism” were akin in that in the former I was writing about the use of “False Equivalency” that has long been a propaganda tool, especially from the wealthy backers of the conservative movement and the bland acceptance of “False Equivalency” by our mainstream media. I receive “E mails” each week from “Media Matters for America” the organization that examines bias in the media. http://mediamatters.org/ . This organization often provides me with ideas for this blog and I think performs a yeoman service for the people in this country who wish to clear the mental fog of propaganda, supplied by people who want to destroy the democratic process, and that has bombarded us since the Age of Reagan. These people own the major media and/or use their media ownership to ensure that the truth about our country is not only hidden, but subsumed in a planned torrent of propaganda. In this piece I will continue my series by providing various quotations that serve as examples, or admonishment of the prevalence of “False Equivalency” memes in the media. Links will be supplied at the end of this blog. Continue reading ‘False Equivalency: How We Are Manipulated #2′
Published 1, October 12, 2013
Bizarre , Congress , Constitutional Law , Courts , Criminal law , Environment , Free Speech , International , Justice , Media , Military , Politics , Religion , Science , Society , Supreme Court
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As a Jew who is familiar with “The Gospels” there is something perplexing about some Christians in America who have risen to power in our political process within the last four decades. Much of Jesus message, as detailed in “The Gospels” has been one of sympathy to the poor, enmity to the rich and love for humanity. I can give you the time tested quotes but just about everyone is familiar with them. Indeed through my childhood and formative teen years Christmastime every year would yield endless repetition of “Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men”. Sometime in the 1970’s people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell gained prominence and political power preaching their version of Christianity. These Christians became Kingmakers as it was assumed and actually true that their millions of followers would vote as a bloc. The Christianity that they preached had little to do with the American Christianity that I grew up with. To be sure their teachings on sexuality differed little from Christian thought for the previous 1,700 years and so abortion was evil, virginity was prized and sexuality was to be performed in subscribed methodology. What was different was that this version of Christian belief was a far more muscular and mach one. War was good when fought for American principles of capitalism and self interest. The wealthy needn’t worry about the “eye of the camel.” Poverty was seen as the result of moral failure. Rendering unto Caesar (the Government) was no longer the moral thing to do.
Now knowing history there were always periods where certain Christian leaders were in favor of warfare, favored the wealthy and sought to kill non-believers. Nevertheless, all through those era’s the same message of peace and love was preached as doctrine, whilst the religious leadership ignored the dichotomy of their own works. However, hypocrisies have always existed in every religious belief. The overriding principles always remained static, even if logic had to be twisted to ignore the obvious dichotomy. This is certainly true of the religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that each give their own interpretation of the “Torah.” The most glaring example of this is the entire Chapter of Genesis, which is literally riddled with dichotomy. Who did Cain, Abel and Seth marry and where did their brides come from? The standard method of dismissing these dichotomies was to ignore them and censor the questioner. Today though, in certain Christian circles these overarching principles derived from the teachings of Jesus have become ignored, to be replaced by a new “Dominionist” view, which would turn Jesus into a warlike, wealthy Republican that hated government and taxes. That is the subject of this guest blog. Continue reading ‘Ted Cruz, Dominionism and Jesus’
The officials at Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) appear to have added books as an imminent threat to safety. Agent John Dobson has reportedly been blocked by the ATF from publishing a book on Operation Fast and Furious. Dobson blew the whistle on the disastrous operation that led to the sale of 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels, including one used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. The reason? The book would embarrass the ATF.
Continue reading ‘ATF Bars Agent’s Book On “Fast and Furious” Because It Would Lower Morale’
We previously discussed a lawsuit against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch over a rule barring the wearing of religious headscarves in their business. Now the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has handed down an important decision in favor of the store involving a woman in Tulsa Oklahoma who said that she was passed over for a job due to her religious dress. The federal government supported Samantha Elauf, 17, in her claim of discrimination, but the court ruled 3-0 against the arguments of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Continue reading ‘Abercrombie Wins Appeal Over Employee’s Right To Wear Headscarf’
The effort by Muslim countries to curtail free speech in the name of their religion continues. While the Obama Administration has sought to appease these countries in developing an international blasphemy standard, this case shows how even the more modern Islamic countries (as well as Western countries) are finding blasphemy to be a useful vehicle to control speech and silence critics. The latest attack comes from Qatar which has proposed a ban that would allow for the prosecution of people in other countries. That’s right, our allies are creating laws to allow them to prosecute people for insulting religion outside their own countries.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Countries Move To Adopt New Law Allowing The Prosecution Of People Insulting Religion In Other Countries’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
When I awoke a short time ago my mind was in its usual morning fog that slowly dissipates as I go through my wake-up routine which includes laying out the 35 or so pills that I take to stay alive. That fog mentally is usually a jumble of wide ranging short thoughts that are later forgotten as the fog lifts after my first coffee. On the way to the bathroom for my morning ablutions I found myself thinking about the biggest news all week which had been the shutdown of the government and the crisis that ensued. Suddenly, as an idea arose that woke me from the fog. Political Theater, it is all political theater. The threatened shutdown by the Republican Congressman, led by John Boehner et. al. was merely a show whose purpose was to destroy the publicity that would have surrounded the inception of enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dubbed by the conservative PR geniuses “Obamacare”. How obvious this was took my breath away and also gave me some chagrin that it took me so long to see this con job in the making, while I mulled over the ramifications of a government shutdown. As the President has said and as some Republican have opined the GOP’s great fear regarding “Obamacare” is that it will succeed. Since enrollment was scheduled to begin on October 1st, without the shutdown speculation dominating the news cycle there would have been much publicity on the beginning of people enrolling in the plan. There would have been actual discussion of the plan and not just the cacophony of misinformation deftly spread by well placed conservative rumor mongers, broadcast blaringly on FOX News and flacked by the innumerable leaders of the “Tea Party”. Our mainstream media would play their continuing game of false equivalence by blithely accepting all information as being equal and not bothering to supply context when lies are told in the service “informing” the public.
Instead we have a manufactured crisis that sends the ACA to the back pages of virtual news media and we have faux layoffs and service loss endlessly debated. Now in truth this thought make me even a little sad for those “Tea Party” congresspeople that haven’t been let in on the nature of the game, nor their role as pawns in the manipulations of some the wealthy elite in this country. As I explained awhile ago in these guest blogs: http://jonathanturley.org/2011/08/02/tea-party-and-the-myth-of-a-grassroots-movement/#more-38049 and http://jonathanturley.org/2013/02/16/tea-party-a-phony-movement-mantled-as-legitimate/ the so-called “Tea Party” is not a grassroots movement, but the creation of the Koch, via an organization known as “Freedomworks” which they fund. On the Bill Maher show last Friday night one of his panel guests was the President and CEO of “Freedomworks” Matt Kibbe. From my perspective he was debunked by the panel, particularly Congressman Alan Cranston. What caught my attention though, was that Kibbe was at one point railing about how big government was run by insider lobbyists. None on the panel, or Maher, were perceptive enough to call him out on this since he is the quintessential lobbyist for the Koch Brothers. To my mind there is nothing to see here folks, move along and allow yourselves to be distracted by yet another manufactured crisis, designed to prevent you from actually evaluating the health care plan that is now available to you without adequate health care, or who are paying far too much for what should be a basic right of citizenship, health care. The Affordable Care Act is not my ideal of what American health insurance should be about because I believe in the “single payer” system used in most civilized nations. However, it is far better than what we already have and because of that should be fairly evaluated by the public. Perhaps though that fair evaluation will never get a chance since there are those who consciously work to distract us through propaganda, mythology and political theater into supporting what is in our own worst interests. Continue reading ‘How We Are Manipulated #1′
Published 1, October 5, 2013
Academics , Bizarre , Free Speech , Media , Society , Uncategorized
Tags: Hate Speech, homophobia, LGBTQ, Matthew Shepard, Ole Miss, The Laramie Project, University of Mississippi
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
The Laramie Project is a play by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project about the torture-murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student in 1998. Mutilated and almost dead, he was found tied to a barbed wire fence just outside Laramie, Wyoming. That fence was the inspiration for the play’s logo. Matthew Shepard died of his injuries shortly after being taken to a local hospital. The murder was called a hate crime, but in 1998 there were few hate crime laws, and there was none in Wyoming.
Shortly after Matthew Shepard was killed, Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and interviewed dozens of local people about the murder. The play draws on over 400 hours of interviews with residents of Laramie, as well as company members’ own journal entries and published news reports. The Laramie Project is divided into three acts. Eight actors portray more than sixty characters in a series of short scenes.
The play has been performed all over the US and internationally as well. Venues have included high schools, colleges, and community theaters across the US. As of this writing, The Laramie Project has also been performed at professional playhouses in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Not surprisingly, Fred Phelps and his merry band of haters have frequently picketed The Laramie Project.
Continue reading ‘The Ole Miss Incident: The University is Tested Once Again’
Published 1, October 5, 2013
Environment , Free Speech , International , Justice , Media , Politics , Religion , Science , Society
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
A lynchpin of the idea of America has been the meme “freedom of the press”. It is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment and many have declared it essential as a bulwark against tyranny. The Constitution, however, was written at the time when it took little expense to produce a newspaper or a one sheet broadside informing the people about one’s point of view. It was a time that had no media except for the print media and so “the press” as it existed then played a central role in informing the citizenry about the important issues of the time. From 1704 on the regular newspapers and magazines in the colonies had begun to charge for advertising, but the price of a paper still was the most significant revenue stream. While press freedom always was impacted by the major advertisers a paper had, the impact was quite minimal for more than 150 years, most importantly because each newspaper reflected its publisher’s point of view and that was the raison d’etre for the publishers. Then too, one could publish independent leaflets (broadsides) that could also sway the public discourse. Print media, which mainly included newspapers and magazines held sway as the conduit through which most Americans learned of the doings of the world and from which they formed their opinions politically. This “monopoly” last until the late 1930’s when the CBS and NBC radio networks started developing correspondents to go overseas and cover the world descending into war.
Depending on which side you were on the tradition of American journalism was a long and proud one. It played a significant role in the American Revolution and continued to do so for long afterward. The “free press” almost always took sides in that certain publications were known for their views and from what point on the political spectrum they saw the world. Investigative reporting was a proud American tradition, protected in the main by our Constitution and exposing the dark underside of America’s dream. The reader either is aware of, or can easily find instances where such reporting made a difference in the “people’s view” of a given issue and so I won’t detail the history except broadly. Sometimes, such as in William Randolph Hearst’s manufacture of the “The Spanish American War”, this press freedom was used in service of private interests. At other times with journalists like Lincoln Steffens; Ida B. Wells; Ambrose Bierce; Upton Sinclair; and Jacob Riis; to name a few, the public was informed of corruption both public and private in a long tradition dating back to the founding of this country. Whether one agreed, or disagreed with the information source, one could depend on the fact that given the already obvious point of view of the journalist/reporter, what they were reading was indeed a nuanced version of the facts that at least properly developed one side of the issue. The advent of first Radio and then Television supplanting the print media as the source of information for most Americans led to a trend in so-called “objective journalism” that has resulted in reporters/journalists/newsreaders presenting “both” sides of a dispute, without insight or context. Its’ my contention, as I’ll explain, that this has become very dangerous to the idea of an informed electorate and has resulted in sensationalistic bombast on a given issue, rather than intelligent debate allowing the public to make informed judgments as to where they stand. Continue reading ‘The Decline of Journalism’
Published 1, October 4, 2013
Academics , Free Speech , International , Media
While there has been little media attention in the United States, European press is reporting how German-Bulgarian writer and activist Ilija Trojanow was barred from entering the United States this week. A critic of NSA spying programs and professor at The European Graduate School, Trojanow was invited to speak at a literary conference and is well-known for his criticism of the surveillance state. He said that he was given no explanation for being barred from entry.
Continue reading ‘U.S. Reportedly Bars Entry To Leading Critic Of NSA Surveillance Programs’
Published 1, September 30, 2013
Free Speech , Religion , Society
The hatred for educators by Islamic extremists is well-known. It is difficult to keep people in a pre-historic mindset if they attend schools that open them up to the world and different ideas. For that reason, students and academics are routinely targeted in various Muslim countries for acid attacks, bombings, and shootings. However, even with this history, the slaughter last week in Nigeria is breathtaking. Some 50 students are dead, including some burned to death in the name of Islam by these extremists who use religion as an excuse for murder.
Continue reading ‘Islamic Militants Kill Dozens Of Students and A Priest in Nigeria’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
When 1965 dawned I was about to be twenty one years old and in my Junior Year in college. My parents were dead years past and I lived in a furnished room off campus, supporting myself by working 35 hours per week in a liquor store. The Viet Nam War was heating up and the civil rights of Black people, then called “negroes”, was the big issue of the day thanks to the inspired leadership of Martin Luther King. My parents had been Leftists in both words and deeds, which of course influenced my political leanings, because I loved and admired them greatly. JFK had been the great hope for a country recovering from the conformity of the 50’s, but he was murdered. Yet working and going to school full time, dating and hanging out with friends, gave me little time for political activity. The year before I had attended the organizing meeting for Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) on my college campus, but while I found the ideas stimulating, the organizer from national SDS seemed to be quite full of himself and an ass to boot. My economics professor had discussed Viet Nam disparagingly and predicted a costly war being pursued because of mineral rights off the coast of that country. His foreboding about the War proved to be correct. People peacefully demonstrating for an end to “Jim Crow” were being beaten and being murdered. The seamy underpinnings of our “exceptional” society were being exposed and the hypocrisy of it all was running rampant
Musically, the Beatles had pushed Folk Music somewhat to the side, yet there was still great popularity for it among the “intelligentsia”, or those who thought themselves “intellectuals”. The “enfant terrible” of folk music was of course young Bob Dylan, who scandalized the “folkies” when he moved to electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in Forest Hills Stadium. He released a song that year becoming his first single record to hit the “Top Forty” charts. I think this song ranks among his most prescient works and that I’ve used part of it to title this piece. The song was listed by Rolling Stone Magazine as the 332nd “Greatest Song of All Time”, but in my life it has had much greater influence. I was a young adult orphan, without the guidance and love of my parents, living in a world of ever-increasing complexity. Many of my generation, myself included, turned to popular music for guidance. The Bob Dylan song “Subterranean Homesick Blues” not only offered guidance for navigating this ever stranger land that America was becoming, but also predicted many of the “changes” to this country that we discuss here on this blog and to my mind achieves greatness because of Dylan’s foresight. Let me explain. Continue reading ‘“You don’t need a weatherman, To know which way the wind blows”’
EasyJet has long been notorious for the level of service and comfort of a cattle car. However, the cattle were at least allowed to get on the plane and occasionally “moo”. Mark Leiser, who lectures at Strathclyde University, says that he was pulled out of line on his delayed flight and told that he could not board the plane. The reason? Lesier had tweeted criticism of the airline, which one would think the no-frills company would be rather used to. Apparently not. He says that he was only allowed on the plane after the airline employees discovered that he is a lawyer.
Continue reading ‘EasyJet: No Frills, No Free Speech?’
Published 1, September 25, 2013
Bizarre , Free Speech , Media , Society
Recently, I received from three sources an article that St. George, Utah had passed an ordinance making possession of pornography a crime. The article quoted public figures and gave details on the new law. When I researched the story, I could not confirm its origin despite its attribution to CNN. It now turns out to be a hoax by the “National Report” but the editors succeeded in convincing many on the Internet that it was true. I am once again left confused why this is funny or considered a form of creative satire. This is more akin to graffiti except that it spreads rumors that are harmful or offensive. Most of us have fallen victim to such hoaxes in the fast-moving Internet world but this is an organization that appears dedicated to embarrassing people and degrading the national debate on important issues like homosexual rights or free speech.
Continue reading ‘The National Report Spreads False Story About Criminalization Of Pornography In Utah’
We have previously discussed the wholesale attack on free speech principles in France from limits on religious garments to stripping the Internet of anonymity to attempting to criminalize historical accounts. The most recent case involves a woman who named her boy “Jihad” and then dressed her three-year-old in a sweater with the words “Je suis une bombe – I am a bomb” on the front, along with his name and ‘Born on September 11th’ on the back. She was given a suspended jail sentence for “glorifying a crime” — it is a crime that is only punishable if you disregard the most fundamental principles of free speech. It turns out that the boy was born on September 11, 2009.
Continue reading ‘Je Suis Une Bombe: Family Criminally Convicted For Sending 3-Year-Old Son “Jihad” To School With T-Shirt Reading “I Am A Bomb”’
We have another example of a teacher being disciplined for an act of free speech in his private time. I have previously written about the increasing scrutiny given public school teachers in their use of social media sites. University of Kansas Associate Professor of Journalism David Guth has been placed on administrative leave after posting an anti-NRA tweet following the recent Navy Yard shootings that killed 12 people. Guth tweeted” “blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”
Continue reading ‘Kansas Professor Under Fire For Anti-NRA Tweet’
Published 1, September 22, 2013
Bizarre , Constitutional Law , Free Speech , Society , Uncategorized
Tags: censorship, Institute for Justice, Jeff Rowes, John Rosemond, Kentucky, Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology, Lexington Herald-Leader, newspaper column, professional licensing, psychology, Thomas Kerby Neill
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
Sixty-five year old North Carolina family therapist John Rosemond was having a day much like any other day last May, until he opened the certified letter from the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In a Cease and Desist letter, the Kentucky Attorney General advised him the Kentucky psychology licensing board had determined that by publishing an advice column in the Louisville Herald-Leader, he was practicing psychology without a license. The letter warned him that if he did not cease and desist, he faces criminal penalties which includes both fines and jail time. The Attorney General thoughtfully enclosed an affidavit which John was to sign and return, promising that he would forever give up his life of crime.
You read that right. John Rosemond, syndicated columnist, is being threatened by the Commonwealth of Kentucky that he might face stiff fines and jail unless he stopped writing his advice column in Kentucky newspapers. Naturally, John did what any self-respecting reporter or columnist would do. He got a lawyer. He contacted Jeff Rowes of the Institute for Justice who agreed to take the case, and last July 16, Mr. Rowes and local counsel, Richard Brueggeman, Esq., filed a 45-page lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Continue reading ‘Kentucky Psychology Board vs. the First Amendment. Oh My!’
Hampton, Va., Sheriff B.J. Roberts appears not to have much time for actually fighting crime. Instead, after his reeleection, Roberts sought out employees who favored his opponent. It was not too difficult, he found jailer Daniel Carter who hit “like” on his opponents website. Roberts fired him and others allegedly viewed as disloyal. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled this week that such a designation is protected speech under the First Amendment. The opinion in Bland v. Roberts is below.
Continue reading ‘An Opinion You Have To Like: Federal Court Rules Employee’s “Likes” Are Protected Speech’
Published 1, September 19, 2013
Bizarre , Free Speech , Lawyering , Society , Torts
Attorney Andrea Pelligreni has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former client for a culture of sexism and improper behavior. A lawyer suing a client for such misconduct can be a challenge in itself, but when your client is named the “Insane Clown Posse” it is especially difficult. While many would view working with the Insane Clown Posse to be something of an assumption of risk, Pelligreni insists that she was shocked and moved to tears in working with the recording group and particularly two members of Insane Clown Posse, Joseph “Shaggy 2 Dope” Bruce and Joseph “Violent J” Utsler. Other defendants include Psychopathic Records; its president, William Dail; and some of its employees. It makes for a curious cite as an attorney sues defendants named “Shaggy 2 Dope” and “Violent J” and Psychopathic Records for being shockingly immature and demeaning and . . . well . . . insane.
Continue reading ‘Insane Clown Posse Sued By Their Former Attorney For Harassment and Abusive Conduct’
China appears to be returning to the Cultural Revolution with public confessions of dissidents as a warning to all those who would challenge the ruling party. Chinese viewers were exposed to a truly sad and transparent confession of American businessman and leading Chinese blogger, Charles Xue. The Chinese recognize the Internet as the greatest threat to the totalitarian regime. Xue was therefore rolled out to degrade himself before the Chinese people — begging forgiveness for forgetting his place in objecting to such things as contaminated water. He admits to feeling like the “emperor of the Internet” and apologizes for spreading rumors against the ruling party leaders.
Continue reading ‘American Businessman and Leading Blogger Shown On Chinese State Television in Mao-Like Confession’