Category Archives: Law

Weiner Pleads Guilty to Soliciting Child

Scum.

Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former New York congressman and estranged husband of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, tearfully admitted today to a federal judge that he sent obscene material to a 15-year-old high school student in North Carolina, the same day Abedin filed for divorce from him.

Weiner, who turned himself into the FBI, pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to a single count of transferring obscene material to a minor. This afternoon a court official confirmed that Abedin filed for divorce after seven years of marriage. The divorce is uncontested.

Weiner agreed to surrender his iPhone as part of the plea agreement and he must register as a sex offender.

With the stories about Bill Clinton hanging out with child sex predators, it is quite unusual that so many of these kinds of people end up in the Clinton orbit.

Nass Pushes Back on Taxpayer Bailout for UWO Foundation

Nass is spot on.

Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) on Thursday released a letter he wrote to Cross that states he’s aware of efforts to reach a deal that potentially would use public funds “to assist in what would be a bailout” of debts of the UW-Oshkosh Foundation.

“I am aware that such a bailout might need action by the Legislature to include elements of a deal in the 2017-’19 biennial budget,” Nass wrote. He said he hoped no one involved planned to “rush a bailout that benefits the private foundation and the banks/investors involved at the expense of the taxpayers or students.”

He urged Cross “to keep your commitment that the public won’t be forced to fund the inappropriate decisions of two campus administrators and the failed oversight of the System.”

[…]

At issue is the fact UW-Oshkosh’s private fundraising foundation does not have enough cash to cover $14.5 million in debt for several real estate projects under investigation by the state Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice is negotiating the settlement on behalf of the UW System and Board of Regents.

The UW-Oshkosh projects were the subject of a suit the UW System filed in January against former Chancellor Richard Wells and his chief business officer, Thomas Sonnleitner, for allegedly funneling millions of dollars in university money into real estate projects through the private foundation to push that work despite a weak economy.

The UW System ideally wants the UW-Oshkosh Foundation to remain solvent so that its assets are not frozen or at risk. That includes scholarship support for students. The UW-Oshkosh Foundation in fiscal 2016 provided $1.3 million in scholarships.

Note that despite the name, the UW-Oshkosh Foundation is a private organization that raises money to support UWO. There’s no good reason for the taxpayers to be on the hook for their bankruptcy.

Financial Mismanagement at Black Hawk School

Sheesh.

A Madison School District review of financial practices at Black Hawk Middle School found widespread disregard for proper accounting and money handling practices under then-principal Kenya Walker, who admitted using district credit cards for personal needs and oversaw school office operations so lax they allowed the theft of at least $1,000 from a school fundraiser and more than $10,500 in credit card charges for which the district has no receipt.

Walker, 45, who was paid $106,466 annually, effectively resigned on April 28 after spending months on a medical leave that began in late January and caused increasing concern among parents at the school. Also in January, the district hired external reviewer Shana Lewis to begin reviewing Black Hawk’s financial practices after concerns were noted by central office staff about spending there.

“We’re disappointed to learn of these actions by a former principal,” Superintendent Jen Cheatham said, calling what happened at the school a “rare but serious incident.”

Many of the problems noted in the review revolved around the use of some 15 district-issued credit and procurement cards that are to be used by school staff members for the purchase of low-cost goods, usually under $500. They are designed to eliminate the use of petty cash and personal funds that have to be reimbursed to staff later.

There is no good reason for a school district to issue credit cards to staff members. And if they do, there are ways to do it in which the school district is protected. For example, in many companies that have company credit cards, the cards are the responsibility of the employee and the company only pays for expenses after the employee submits the receipts and the expense is approved. That way, if an employee spends $10,500 and doesn’t have receipts, the employee is on the hook for paying that bill.

The utter lack of sensible financial controls is criminal.

Tax Exempt Organization Sues to Restrict 1st Amendment Rights of CompetingTax Exempt Organizations

Something like that

A Madison-based atheist group has filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to strike down President Donald Trump’s order easing enforcement of an IRS rule limiting religious organizations’ political activity.

A 1954 federal law prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations such as churches from participating in political campaigns. Violators could lose their tax-exempt status, but the law — known as the Johnson Amendment — has rarely been enforced.

The IRS doesn’t make its investigations of such cases public, but only one church is known to have lost its tax-exempt status as a result of the law. Still, Trump has long promised conservative Christians who supported his White House bid that he would block the regulation.

Comey Fails to Enforce Law Against Clinton Insider

Ummmnnnn

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information by her assistant, Huma Abedin,” he said.
In separate exchange with Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Comey said Abedin appeared to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to Weiner for him “to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.”
But there was no indication that Abedin “had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law” Comey added, and investigators couldn’t prove any sort of criminal intent.
The fact that Clinton and Abedin previously exchanged classified emails gave federal prosecutors probable cause to justify their review of Weiner’s laptop, according to a search warrant application.
The statute does not require that Abedin knew this was against the law for it to be a crime. Also, given her high position in the administration, there is an expectation that she would know the rules around handling classified information. Comey should have recommended charges against her. In failing to do so, Comey has failed to execute his duties.

Legislature Moves on “Dark Store” Theory

Good.

Communities around Wisconsin have expressed frustration to state lawmakers over the 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court property assessment decision that includes the “dark store” theory. Some large retail chains have been fighting and winning tax reassessment cases that deal with the level of property taxes they pay on properties that formerly housed their businesses which are now “dark” or vacant.

In a news conference Wednesday in Madison, Rep. Rob Brooks (RSaukville), Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) unveiled legislation regarding the “dark store theory.” The theory is a tax argument being used by a variety of big-box store chains to argue their stores are over-assessed for tax purposes. Under their argument, the operating business within a building should not factor into assessment; the assessment that decides a store’s property taxes should be determined by recent sales of comparable, vacant properties.

In 2008, a Wisconsin Supreme Court case, Walgreens vs. city of Madison, sided with Walgreens, saying the store’s taxes should be based not on the store’s lease agreement, but on what the landlord could get if the drugstore moved out of the buildings, which are generally developed and built to the store’s particular specifications.

“The court overstepped its bounds and we need to bring it back to where it always was prior to 2008,” Stroebel said. “Our taxation system is based on fair-market value. The Constitution has a uniformity clause which says all property has to be assessed the same and that is by fair-market value. In 2008, the courts hijacked the valuation process or real estate as it pertains to a certain — generally what they call the Walgreens or other similar kinds of stores.

I admit that I waffle with this a bit. On the one hand, I agree with Walgreens and the big box stores to an extent. We base our property taxes on the fair market value of the property. That value is generally what the owner could reasonably sell the property for in the open market and would fluctuate with market conditions. That is how we do it for residential properties. The tax assessors look at a residential property, its neighborhood, its general condition and specifications, and then make an educated guess on what the home would sell for in the current market. We could argue over how accurate those assessments are, but the intent is certainly to peg the value of the home at, or near, what the owner could sell it for. Why should we do it any different for businesses?

On the other hand, businesses are different than residential homes. The buildings are often purpose-built and have a drastically reduced value for any other businesses. This is why we see so many big box locations sit empty for years when the business closes. The value of the business is irreparably conjoined with the value of the property in which it resides. This is not true with all businesses – or even most. But with some, like Walgreens, it is undeniably true. So why shouldn’t those businesses pay taxes based more on what the property is worth to them instead of what it might be worth to somebody else?

In the end, I support the proposed law because wherever one falls in this argument, I don’t think it is a matter for the courts. It is a matter for the local taxing authority. If West Bend wants to assess property taxes based on the “dark store” theory to attract businesses and the residents are willing to pick up the slack in the property tax levy, then so be it. If they don’t, then that’s fine too. The point is that it should be up to the local taxing authority to make that determination. As long as it is fair and uniform, then the courts should not be involved.

Inquest Jury Recommends Charges

Bearing in mind that only the prosecutors get to present to an inquest jury so they only get one side of the story, it sure does appear that something went terribly wrong at the jail and someone is responsible for this man’s death.

An inquest jury Monday issued an advisory verdict that probable cause of a crime exists in the death of Terrill Thomas in the Milwaukee County Jail a year ago.

The jury found probable cause of a crime in the actions of seven jail officials under a felony statute prohibiting abuse, neglect and ill-treatment of inmates.

Now it will be up to District Attorney John Chisholm to decide if any criminal charges are warranted in the April 2016 death of Thomas, a 38-year-old with bipolar disorder who was deprived of water and a mattress during seven straight days at the Milwaukee County Jail run by Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.

Lefty Lawyer Announces Run for Wisconsin Supreme Court

It looks like the Democrats have found a candidate early this cycle.

Madison attorney Tim Burns today announced he will run for the state Supreme Court next year, when conservative Justice Michael Gableman would be up for re-election.

Burns, who said his legal practice focuses on challenging insurance companies on behalf of businesses and consumers, said he was inspired to run because he has watched the judiciary’s fairness and impartiality getting chipped away over the last several decades due to judges being aligned with special interests and “radical philosophies.”

I got a kick out of this.

Burns also said he does not plan to self-fund his campaign, saying he disagrees with that approach to running for office.

“It doesn’t comport with my notion of democracy,” he said. “It worries me because it sends a message that only rich folks can be in elected office.”

In true Democrat fashion… he’ll only spend other people’s money on his own ambitions.

Chicago Area Community Organizer Admits to Being a Terrorist

It’s shocking how easily our immigration system can be defrauded.

(CNN)A Chicago-area resident who participated in two terror attacks in Israel in 1969 pleaded guilty Tuesday to having illegally obtained her American citizenship.

Rasmieh Odeh, 69, entered her plea Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Detroit, admitting she had been convicted in Israeli court in 1970 for her role in two bombings, and that she had willingly omitted that information from her US citizenship application.
[…]
Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli military court in 1970 in connection with two bombs planted the previous year in Jerusalem by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, according to court documents. One bomb killed two people at a supermarket. The other damaged the British Consulate in Jerusalem, but caused no injuries.
Odeh, a Jordanian national, was later released from Israeli prison in 1979 as part of a prisoner transfer.
[…]
Court documents state that Odeh is a community organizer with the Arab American Action Network. The group, a Chicago-area nonprofit, lists Odeh as an associate director on its website.

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.