Category Archives: Law

Jordan Changes Rape Law

I guess one could call this an improvement, but not much.

A law which protected rapists from punishment if they married their victims has been scrapped in Jordan.
The Jordanian cabinet revoked Article 308 on Sunday, after years of campaigning by women’s activists, as well as Muslim and Christian scholars and others.

The law had meant rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years.

Its supporters said the law protected a victim’s honour and reputation.

But last year, it was amended so a rapist could only use the loophole to marry his victim if she was aged between 15 and 18 and the attack was believed to have been consensual.

So if you rape a child and marry her, it’s cool in Jordan.

Killers Ask Court to Stay Execution Due to Good Health

SMH.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death Monday in what could be the nation’s first double execution in more than 16 years asked an appeals court on Sunday to halt their lethal injections because of poor health that could cause complications.

Lawyers for Jack Jones and Marcel Williams asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday to grant them stays of execution.

Jones’ lawyers say he suffers from diabetes and is on insulin, has high blood pressure, neuropathy and had one leg amputated below the knee. He is on heavy doses of methadone and gabapentin. They say he may be resistant to the lethal injection drug midazolam because of the drugs he is taking for his maladies and could suffer a “tortuous death.”

Lawyers for Williams say he weighs 400 pounds and it will be difficult to find a vein for lethal injunction, so the drugs are unlikely to work as intended.

So much wrong with this… let’s start with how fat these guys are after being on death row for 20 years. Of course we should feed prisoners, but do we have to let them eat enough to blimp up to 400 pounds? And now that the prison did let them get that fat, remember that all of the related health care expenses are being paid for by the taxpayers.

Whether you support the death penalty or not, how can anyone take this bizarro argument seriously? They are sick so we shouldn’t carry out their sentences? If you find yourself having any sympathy for these men, remember that they are on death row for a reason:

Both Jones and Williams have admitted they are guilty. Williams was sent to death row in 1994 for the rape and murder of Stacy Errickson. Jones was given the death penalty for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips.

Federal Ruling May Slam AmFam

This is an interesting case.

American Family Insurance Co. could face a legal liability as high as $1 billion if a federal judge adopts the ruling of a federal jury, which found this week that thousands of the insurer’s independent agents should be classified as employees who are entitled to a full package of retirement benefits.

Following a two-week trial, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Ohio on Tuesday returned a unanimous decision finding that Madison-based American Family improperly classified its agents as independent contractors, even though the agents are bound exclusively to sell policies from the company, often known as AmFam.

If a federal judge accepts the jury’s finding in a follow-up decision that is expected in June or July, AmFam could be forced to fund its retirement package in compliance with terms of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which are federal regulations that protect retirement benefits.

“The jury apparently agreed that AmFam cannot have it both ways,” said Erin Dickinson, one of the attorneys representing the agents in the class-action suit. “A company cannot just call its agents ‘independent contractors’ to avoid following the federal law protecting retirement benefits and then insist on controlling how those agents do their work.”

I tend to agree with that attorney. How can one claim that they are “independent” contractors if they are prohibited from representing any other insurance provider? On the other hand, AmFam’s agents signed their contracts and entered the relationship with eyes wide open. Why should they get benefits that they weren’t expecting and that AmFam never promised?

I suppose the fairest solution is for the court to rule in favor of the agents, but only require AmFam to pay for their agents’ benefits moving forward.

Paris Terrorist Was Released Early

So the cop killing terrorist in Paris was released early from prison where he was serving a sentence for threatening cops. Brilliant.

A policeman was shot dead while two other officers were seriously injured by a Kalashnikov-wielding gunman on the Champs Elysees in central Paris – just three days before the French presidential election.

The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim C – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue.

[…]

Karim was born in France and lived in Chelles, a commuter town close to Paris and was jailed for the 2001 attack – but is believed to have been released early in 2016.

Roggensack Reelected Chief Justice of WI Supreme Court

Great!

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack will continue to serve in that role for another two years.

Justices on the court have voted to keep Roggensack in the position, which she has held since a state constitutional amendment was passed in 2015 that changed the process for naming the chief justice. Prior to the amendment’s passage, the position was held by the most senior member of the state Supreme Court – which is currently Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

This story reminded me of how things used to be when Abrahamson ran the court. Remember how dysfunctional and controversial the court had become? There were stories of bitter fights, open hatred, and it all spilled into the public resulting in vicious campaigns and partisan warfare.

Now? Not so much. The court appears to be running pretty well and people are generally happy with its functioning – as evidenced by the fact that Justice Ziegler just ran for reelection unopposed. What a difference a change in leadership makes.

Transgender Folks Sue UW for Free Surgery

One lawsuit to drive up taxes AND health care costs. Awesome

MADISON – Two transgender University of Wisconsin employees sued state entities Friday in federal court over their refusal to pay for their gender transition surgeries.

The two employees sued the UW System, the Board of Regents, insurers and others with the assistance of the national and Wisconsin arms of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“As a result of (state policies), plaintiffs’ health insurance plans single out transgender employees for unequal treatment by categorically depriving them of all medical care for gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Madison.

Former UWO Chancellor Responds to Allegations

And it’s laugh out loud funny.

In Wells’ response, his lawyers wrote that Wells was acting “within the scope of his employment” when carrying out the acts described by the UW lawsuit, and that collaboration and cooperation with the UW-Foundation was undertaken “with actual authority derived from the board,” along with the authority of state law, administrative code and practices and procedures of the UW System.

None of his actions, the document states, “constitute intention or negligent conversion,” but if they are ultimately found by a court to have happened as a result of Wells’ discretion as chancellor, Wells should not be held personally liable for them. His acts “were not malicious, willful or done with the intent” to violate any law or policy, the response states, but “were done for the benefit of UW-Oshkosh” and its students, “and in fact did provide significant benefits to UW-Oshkosh.”

Wells’ response also states that the UW System did not have in place a clear and concise set of rules, best practices and guidelines for universities and affiliated foundations that were applicable to UW-Oshkosh or known to Wells.

So how can he argue both that he followed the “practices and procedures of the UW System” AND “UW System did not have in place a clear and concise set of rules, best practices and guidelines?”

This looks like a “kitchen sink” response from someone who is caught dead to rights.

Senate Confirms Gorsuch

Huzzah!

WASHINGTON — Judge Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice of the Supreme Court, capping a political brawl that lasted for more than a year and tested constitutional norms inside the Capitol’s fraying upper chamber.

The development was a signal triumph for President Trump, whose campaign last year rested in large part on his pledge to appoint another committed conservative to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. However rocky the first months of his administration may have been, Mr. Trump now has a lasting legacy: Judge Gorsuch, 49, could serve on the court for 30 years or more.

Senate Changes Rules for Gorsuch

Excellent. Honestly, I didn’t think the national Republicans had the stones.

Washington (CNN)The Senate Thursday triggered the so-called “nuclear option” that allowed Republicans to break a Democratic filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

The chamber is now expected to vote to confirm Gorsuch Friday around 11:30 a.m. ET.
The controversial changes to Senate rules, made along partisan lines, allows filibusters of Supreme Court picks to be broken with only 51 votes rather than 60.

The filibuster was an extra-constitutional grant of power to the minority in the Senate. It appears nowhere in the Constitution and certainly is not necessary for Supreme Court confirmations. Here is the relevant part of Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Remember how we got here… The Democrats did away with the filibuster for other court appointments when Republicans were filibustering Obama’s lower court picks. This time, for the first time in history, the Democrats filibustered a SCOTUS pick, so the Republicans “pulled a Reid” and changed the rules.

Good for them. Gorsuch is undeniably qualified and if the Democrats were going to filibuster him, would they support any nominee? Ever? Of course not. And we all know that the Democrats would have done the exact same thing if they were on the other side of the fence. We know this because they already did it.

I look forward to Justice Gorsuch’s tenure.

Attack in London

These kinds of unsophisticated attacks are impossible to prevent except to identify and act upon people who adhere to the Islamist ideology. That’s difficult in a free society.

The Westminster attacker was British-born and known to the police and intelligence services, Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed.

She told MPs he had been investigated some years ago over violent extremism, but was “peripheral” and was not part of the current intelligence picture.

The so-called Islamic State group has said it was behind the attack.

Another Arrest in Threats to Jewish Centers

Usually, it seems, when the story says that they don’t know the motive, it means that they know the motive and don’t want to say.

Israeli police say a 19-year-old man with American and Israeli citizenship is suspected of making threats against Jewish institutions worldwide.

Police arrested the suspect in the south of Israel on Thursday morning over threats against Jewish communities in the US, New Zealand and Australia.

[…]

But Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday the latest suspect’s motives are unclear.

Catholic School Sues MPS Over Busing Kids

This will be an interesting case to watch.

Officials at a private school say the more than $100,000 they’re paying to bus its 70 students could be better spent on academics, and they’ve filed a federal lawsuit to get Milwaukee Public Schools to cover the costs.

[…]

St. Joan’s is represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (W.I.L.L.), which says busing costs are an issue for the 27,000 kids in the Milwaukee Choice program.

“This is a justice issue,” said Paul Gessner, SJA’s Head of School. “Our kids really deserve to have safe and reliable transportation to and from school. That’s why we’re doing this.”

The state Constitution calls out transportation to school as a right:

Transportation of school children. Section 23. [As created April 1967] Nothing in this constitution shall prohibit the legislature from providing for the safety and welfare of children by providing for the transportation of children to and from any parochial or private school or institution of learning. [1965 J.R. 46, 1967 J.R. 13, vote April 1967]
No, I don’t think that should be in the constitution, but it is. But WILL is suing in federal court, so it is unclear to me what basis they are suing under. Like I said, it will be interesting to watch.

Guy Arrested for Tweet

This will be an interesting bit of case law.

A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.

John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.

He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.

“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.

Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.

On the one hand, if the allegations are true, Rivello clearly acted with malicious intent to cause harm to Eichenwald and succeeded in causing that harm. On the other hand, we are treading in dangerous territory if we are going to start arresting people for stuff that they wrote on Twitter.

Florida Evaluates Burden of Proof in Self Defense Cases

Hmmmm… this is intriguing.

While at least 22 states have similar laws that say people can use force — even deadly force — to defend themselves from threats, Florida could soon be alone shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors.

Republican Sen. Rob Bradley says his bill “isn’t a novel concept.”

“We have a tradition in our criminal justice system that the burden of proof is with the government from the beginning of the case to the end,” he said.

Florida’s Supreme Court has ruled that the burden of proof is on defendants during self-defense immunity hearings. That’s the practice around the country. According to a legislative staff analysis of Bradley’s bill, only four states mention burden of proof in their “stand your ground” laws — Alabama, Colorado, Georgia and South Carolina — and all place the burden on defendants.

On the one hand, Bradley is correct. Our entire criminal legal structure is founded upon the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty by the government. The burden of proof is on the government to prove that someone broke the law. Why should it be any different in the case of self defense?

On the other hand, the government usually doesn’t have to prove intent. If I shoot someone, the government’s responsibility is to prove that I did it. Assuming that I did, then it would then be my responsibility to prove that the shooting was justified by self-defense. If the presumption if that every shooting is in self-defense unless the government proves otherwise, then it would be asking the government to enter the mind of the shooter to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – intent. That would seem impossible in many cases. Then again, right now it is impossible for the shooter to prove his or her intent either.

Tough call… in the end, I would lean on the side on placing the burden of proof on the government.

Illegal Alien Detained After Speaking at News Conference

Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to speak at a press conference about one’s illegal activities.

Daniela Vargas, 22, was detained by ICE agents Wednesday morning, shortly after speaking at a news conference in downtown Jackson, according to her attorney, Abby Peterson.

The news conference was hosted by local immigration attorneys, churches and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance to bring attention to families impacted by deportation.
Vargas’ brother and father were detained outside their home by ICE agents in February. Vargas hid in the closet. When she was discovered by agents, she was temporarily handcuffed and then released.

Vargas was 7 years old when her family came to America from Argentina, placing her under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration policy. Under the policy, DACA recipients have to reapply every two years. Vargas’ DACA is expired but her renewal application is pending.

Peterson said she told agents via telephone Vargas had a pending DACA case. However, agents reportedly told Peterson that Vargas was a “visa overstay” and will be detained.

Vargas has no bond and is in ICE detention.

Syrian Refugee Becomes Truly American

Yup.

A Syrian man who fled the war-torn city of Aleppo in 2014 after suffering torture and imprisonment is suing President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials over an executive order issued by Trump last month that still effectively bars the man’s wife and daughter from joining him in the U.S., where he was granted asylum.

The man filed the lawsuit anonymously, to protect the identities of his wife and daughter, who still live in hiding in Aleppo. It was filed Monday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, located in Madison. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge William Conley.

The lawsuit doesn’t state where the man lives, only that he’s a resident of the Western District of Wisconsin.

Democrats Warming to Gorsuch?

I doubt it, but here’s why they might.

Like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he will take if confirmed, Gorsuch has often ruled in favor of criminal defendants over the government – rulings not uncommon for strict “textualists” and their razor-close readings of the statutory texts.

And unlike many other federal judges, Gorsuch has been a fierce critic of the so-called Chevron doctrine, which holds that judges should generally defer to the executive branch and its agencies when they have any reasonable interpretation of federal statutes.

“That basically gives people comfort that didn’t have comfort,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia after meeting Gorsuch. “That has helped him” in his quest for confirmation, he said.

ICE Does Its Job

My, my… by the cries and wails of the Left, one would think that this is a big deal.

(Reuters) – U.S. federal immigration agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least four states this week in what officials on Friday called routine enforcement actions.

Reports of immigration sweeps this week sparked concern among immigration advocates and families, coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations. That order is currently on hold.

“The fear coursing through immigrant homes and the native-born Americans who love immigrants as friends and family is palpable,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. “Reports of raids in immigrant communities are a grave concern.”

The enforcement actions took place in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and surrounding areas, said David Marin, director of enforcement and removal for the Los Angeles field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

First, advocates of immigration, of which I am one, are not concerned. Advocates of illegal immigration are concerned, and should be. But even then, this provides a little window into what’s going on:

Only five of 161 people arrested in Southern California would not have been enforcement priorities under the Obama administration, he said.

[…]

He said that of the people arrested in Southern California, only 10 did not have criminal records. Of those, five had prior deportation orders.

So a scant minority of those being picked up might not have been under Obama. And the vast majority of them are criminals, which even Democrats used to agree should be deported.

Why am I supposed to be outraged that ICE is doing its job? Don’t we pay them to find and deport illegal aliens? Don’t we tell them to prioritize ones with criminal records first? Yes, yes we do. And I thank them for their efforts.

The 9th’s Dangerous Ruling

The National Review does a concise job of breaking down the 9th Circuit’s horrible ruling without giving the Trump Administration any excuses for their slipshod executive order. This part is downright disturbing:

Finally, and crucially, the court made a statement near the end of its opinion that is deeply, deeply troubling. In discussing the evidence before the court, the panel says this:

The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.

Putting aside, for the moment, the administration’s inexplicable failure to include in the executive order or the record the extensive documentation and evidence demonstrating the threat of jihad from the seven identified countries (including terror attacks in the U.S., plots in the U.S., and a record of plots and attacks abroad), whether an attack has been completed in this country is not the standard for implementing heightened security measures. The president doesn’t have to wait for completed attacks to protect the U.S. from dangerous immigrants. He can see the deteriorating security situation on the ground, evaluate the intentions and capabilities of the enemy, and then act before the enemy can strike. Indeed, that’s the goal of national defense — to prevent attacks, not respond after the carnage.

MPS Principal Arrested for Intimidating Witness

Wow.

The criminal complaint alleges the Washington High School principal tried to silence the victim in a sexual assault because she was dating the man police said committed the assault.

Washington High School Principal Valencia Carthen, 42, is facing a felony charge and word of her arrest is spreading through the school.

“Everybody was on Facebook posting her mugshot and stuff,” Washington High School student Cherish Smith said.

The charges stem from a case last September in which Jason Cunningham is charged with sexual assault and strangulation/suffocation.

Carthen is accused of trying to intimidate the victim in that case, allegedly to get the woman to leave town.

Court documents show “Carthen told (the victim) that she knew where (the victim’s) family was in Mississippi.” And that the victim knew Carthen was an MPS principal, “which caused (the victim) to fear for her children’s safety as MPS students.”