Category: Criminal law

Minnesota City Council Member Declares Support For Antifa

Antifa_The_Anti-Fascist_HandbookWhile many have condemned Antifa and similar groups for destroying Minneapolis and other cities, Minneapolis city council member for Ward 5 (and son of the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison) Jeremiah Ellison tweeted Sunday that he is not among them. Indeed, he is declaring his support for Antifa.  Some of us have long opposed Antifa as a vehemently anti-free speech group.  Ellison does not seem to include free speech among his priorities for voters in Ward 5.  While most Democratic members have correctly condemned Antifa attacks, Ellison is one of those who continue to support the controversial group.

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Two New York Attorneys Arrested For Throwing Molotov Cocktail At Police [Updated]

downloadYesterday we discussed the four arrests associated with two attacks on New York police officers using Molotov cocktails.  It is now being reported that one of the defendants arrested, Colinford Mattis, 32, is a furloughed Pryor Cashman associate.  Mattis is a graduate of New York University and Princeton University. He was reportedly arrested with a second attorney in the attack.  Mattis is accused of driving a van and passenger Urooj Rahman, 31, threw a Molotov cocktail. Rahman is reportedly a human rights lawyer but also recently lost her job. Update: The FBI now says that the two defendants sought to pass out Molotov cocktails.

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Can A Divorce Shield The Assets Of Derek Chauvin From Civil Lawsuits? Not Necessarily.

200529-derek-chauvin-mug-inline-ac-947p_8d9dd7099ef74c31fea0f3779d824fb9.fit-720wKellie Chauvin, the wife of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, has announced that she is filing for divorce after 10 years of marriage.  In her statement, she expresses sympathy for the family of George Floyd.  There is no evidence that this is a tactic to shield assets from the inevitable civil lawsuit against the estate of Chauvin.  However, it is a question that often comes up with clients that I dealt with on both civil and criminal cases.  When faced with potential of civil liability, some clients raise the possibility of shielding their assets by transferring them or seeking a divorce.  Such maneuvers often do not work for a variety of legal and practical reasons.

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The Shader Sisters: Two Women Arrested After Molotov Cocktail Is Thrown Into Van With Four Officers [Updated]

Two sisters have been arrested after a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a NYPD van with four officers inside. Samantha Shader, 27, of Catskill, NY, is charged with throwing the incendiary device, which did not explode.  Her sister, Darian, 21, (left) then allegedly tried to stop the arrest of Samantha Shader.  The police have hit Samantha Shader with a slew of major charges including attempted murder of a police officer, attempted arson, assault on a police officer, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.  Her sister faces charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration. (The Daily Mail has released these pictures from social media allegedly showing the two sisters).  Update: Media is reporting that Shader admitted to her attack on the police.  The police have released a picture of Shader throwing the Molotov cocktail.

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Professor: “Looting Is An Expression Of Power”

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Michael Smerconish had an interesting discussion today with Professor Cliffort Scott, Professor of Social Psychology at Keele University.  Scott believes that rioting should not be portrayed as random and without meaning.  I think that is true. There are deeper causes that should be considered when considering violent dimensions to some protests. While I find Professor Scott’s work on protests and “hooliganism” quite interesting, I do not agree with his assertion on the program that “looting is an expression of power.” It is more often a means of acquisition not expression (unless they are expressing their desire for a Nintendo Switch). In other words, it is a crime act that arises in a myriad of public emergencies that offer an opportunity to steal with less risk of detection or arrest.

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DOJ Closes Three Insider Trading Investigations Of U.S. Senators

US-DeptOfJustice-Seal_svgsenate_large_sealWe previously discussed the insider trading allegations against Senators Richard Burr (R., N.C.) Dianne Feinstein (D., Cal.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), and Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.) over the selling of stocks after briefings early in the pandemic.  As I stated earlier, I am highly skeptical of such cases as a criminal defense attorney as viable due to the difficulty in both the elements and the proof needed for such a charge.  Yesterday, the Justice Department dropped three of the four investigations. Only Burr remains under investigation.

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Executive Loses Job and Dog After Tirade Against African American Bird Watcher [Updated]

download-4We have long discussed the difficult questions raised by private and public employers punishing employees for postings on social media or controversies in their private lives.  When employers are identified in the media, controversial statements or conduct can have an obvious backlash against the them, particularly if there is an allegation of racist or discriminatory views.  For free speech advocates, this can raise a type of “Little Brother” problem but the First Amendment is focused on state, not private action. This ongoing debate over where to draw the line on private speech has a new controversy with the release of a truly shocking videotape of a woman, identified as Amy Cooper calling police on an African American bird watcher in Central Park. Her employer Franklin Templeton has put her on administrative leave while reviewing the incident.  She is reportedly the head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton.  Others have called for animal abuse charges to be filed as Cooper was shown yanking around her hapless dog during her tirade. The dog was surrendered to a local shelter for its protection. Update: Amy Cooper was fired shortly after she was put on administrative leave.

Florida Man Charged with Kidnapping . . . For A Lift To The Keys

Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, has been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)We have been discussing curious criminal charges linked to the pandemic but few are quite as bizarre as the charges facing Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37  Sardinas has been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment. The reason for the alleged crimes is the truly bizarre element.

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Rep. Omar Declares That She Believes Biden Is A Rapist But Should Be The Next President

440px-Ilhan_Omar,_official_portrait,_116th_CongressWe have been discussing special dispensation granted to former Vice President Joe Biden by Democratic members and the media.  Yesterday, Rep. Iihan Omar, D-Minn., became the latest member to declare that she believes that Biden did rape a Senate aide and is continuing to lie about the crime in public statements.  However, Omar reaffirmed that she will do everything in her power to make him the next president of the United States.

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Law Professor Wins Record Defamation Verdict For False Rape Claim

downloadUniversity of Minnesota Law School Professor Francesco Parisi has won almost $1.2 million in a defamation case against a woman who accused him falsely of rape.  It might be the largest defamation verdict in history for Minnesota. It is a rare such verdict in a rape case. However, the defendant was never charged with a false charge, a common practice of police even in some of the most notorious false rape cases like the Duke Lacrosse Case.  At the time, Morgan Wright’s false charge destroyed Parisi’s life, including a three-week incarceration which led to his not being with his mother when she died. Continue reading “Law Professor Wins Record Defamation Verdict For False Rape Claim”

A Call To Account: D.C. Circuit Gives Sullivan 10 Days To Defend His Flynn Orders

1280px-Emmet_G._Sullivan_2012We have been having a spirited debate over the orders of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.  Now, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has given Judge Sullivan ten days to respond to the motion for his removal.  The language is not discretionary so Sullivan will likely to have address the two controversial orders issued after the filing of the motion to dismiss.  In particular, he will have to state directly to the D.C. Circuit his understanding of his own discretion in such matters. I have maintained that the law in this areas is clear and that Sullivan has little ground upon which to deny this motion.  Continue reading “A Call To Account: D.C. Circuit Gives Sullivan 10 Days To Defend His Flynn Orders”

The Flynn Court Drifts Dangerously Outside Judicial Navigational Beacons

Der Untergang der TitanicBelow is my column in USA Today on concerns over the recent orders of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. As leading lawyers, including a former Clinton U.S. Attorney openly advise Sullivan on how to “make trouble” for the Administration, these calls only magnify concerns over the purpose of these proceedings and whether they are increasingly detached from the merits of the pending motion. While many seem to relish the improvisational element, they risk undermining the judicial element of the proceedings. Flynn’s team has sought the removal of Sullivan (a very difficult proposition, particularly in the D.C. Circuit).  The intense opposition in the bar and teaching academy to Trump seems again to have greatly distorted the legal analysis, which fails to address the most troubling aspects of these orders.  As I have previously acknowledged, there are good-faith arguments to be made but much of the analysis has ignored the strong precedent against a denial of the motion and rarely even acknowledge the serious implications for the rights of defendants in such action. I address some of the countervailing (and in my view controlling) authority in a separate posting.

Notably, the D.C. Circuit gave Judge Sullivan ten days to respond to the motion seeking his removal. Thus, these issues will presumably be addressed by Judge Sullivan before any hearing is held.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Flynn Court Drifts Dangerously Outside Judicial Navigational Beacons”

Michael Cohen Wins Release Under Pandemic Order

images-1 The pandemic has cost many thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and destroyed the global economy. However, there are some who are pandemic beneficiaries and Michael Cohen can now call himself among them.  The former fixer (and now sworn enemy) of President Donald Trump will be released early from a federal prison in New York to serve the remainder of this three-year sentence as a true one percenter.  For a lawyer who bragged of his special treatment and special access, he is finally serving his sentence in his signature style.  His case also raises an interesting dynamic for the sudden plea agreements for Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli.

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No, Trump Did Not Commit A Crime In Threatening To Withhold Funds From Michigan [Updated]

Out Like Flynn: How the Media Embraced Prosecutorial Misconduct As An Article Of Faith

440px-Michael_T_FlynnFor decades, the legal community has decried common practices used by prosecutors to coerce pleas from defendants. Prosecutors often stack up charges and then drain defendants until they agree to pleading guilty. There was a time when such abuses were regularly called out in leading newspapers. These are not those times. Continue reading “Out Like Flynn: How the Media Embraced Prosecutorial Misconduct As An Article Of Faith”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks