October 13, 2012 --
October 16, 2012
US District Court Chief
Judge Mark Wolf steps aside; will assume senior judge status
10-16-12 -- US District
Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf, known for bringing a keen
legal mind to bear in a number of high-profile cases,
announced this morning that he will retire from full-time
status on after 27 years.
. . . Wolf said in
a letter to President Obama that he will take
senior status at the beginning of 2013, when his rotating
tenure as chief judge for the Massachusetts district ends.
US District Court Judge Patti B. Saris is slated to become
the next chief. . . .
Federal law allows judges to retire or take senior
status after reaching a certain age and having served a set
number of years on the bench. Wolf will be 66 when he steps
down. By taking senior status, he can still preside over
cases, though he can limit himself to a certain number and
type, such as hearing criminal trials only.
Bankruptcy debtor can't
escape attorney fees from child-support case
10-12-12 -- A
bankruptcy filing doesn't wipe out the debtor's obligation
to pay attorney fees in a child-custody case, the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled. .
. . On October 10, a unanimous panel of the court
affirmed a ruling by Judge Stephen Murphy III of the Eastern
District of Michigan that Patrick Rugiero pay $100,000 in
fees to Antonietta DiNardo. The appeals court determined
that the fee award was a domestic support obligation. Also,
a result, the attorney fees are not dischargeable.
. . . The
litigants are the unmarried parents of two children. In
their child-custody case, the Wayne County Circuit Court
issued two orders for Rugiero to pay DiNardo's attorney
fees. The court ordered Rugiero to pay $20,000 in May 2010
and $80,000 in November 2010. By the time of the second
award, DiNardo had racked up $184,697 in attorney fees in
Judge: schizophrenic man
can be put to death because his Jesus vision is basically
the same as all Christians
10-15-12 -- A judge in
Florida has ruled that John Ferguson, who has been diagnosed
as a schizophrenic by various mental health experts over the
last four decades, can be put to death by lethal injection
Thursday for murders he committed in the 70s. Though this
would seem to violate the Constitutional Amendment barring
the death penalty for crimes committed by those mentally
incapable of grasping reality, incredibly Judge David Glant
has ruled that in this particular case the criminal’s
schizophrenic delusion about the afterlife and his role on
Earth is basically the same as the worldview held by
mainstream Christians, and implied it should be judged by
the same standards. . . .
The Guardian notes Ferguson was first diagnosed
with mental instability ih the 60s and was deemed dangerous
by a psychiatrist in 1975. Two years later he committed his
first murder, and was sentenced to death in 1978.
No warrants for heat
Ga. Supreme Court: Thermal
detection doesn't meet state requirement for 'tangible'
evidence to issue a warrant
10-16-12 -- Georgia law
doesn't allow warrants for police to use special
heat-detecting equipment to spy on illegal activity in
people's homes, the state Supreme Court ruled on Monday.
. . . But the
unanimous decision was a loss for the defendant accused of
illegally growing marijuana inside his Athens garage. The
justices found that even without evidence from a thermal
imaging device, prosecutors had sufficient probable cause to
get a warrant to search the house for marijuana.
. . . So although
Monday's decision—one of 27 the court issued—takes thermal
imaging devices out of the police toolbox, it also raises
questions about whether police need such powers at all.
Louisiana high court
rules Johnson will be chief justice
10-16-12 -- The
Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Bernette Johnson
will be the court's next chief justice, resolving a racially
tinged power struggle that wound up in federal court.
. . . The court's unanimous ruling said Johnson's
years of appointed and elected service on the court give her
the seniority that entitles her to succeed Chief Justice
Catherine "Kitty" Kimball early next year and become the
court's first black chief justice.
. . . Justice Jeffrey Victory of Shreveport had
argued he had more seniority than his New Orleans colleague
and deserved the position. The court sided with Johnson,
saying its ruling was based strictly on the law, "without
passion or prejudice."
Judge releases names of
21 johns in Kennebunk hooker scandal
10-16-12 -- The first
batch of more than 100 men accused of paying a fitness
instructor for sex were laying low after police began
releasing their names in a small New England town where
rumors have run rampant for weeks.
. . . Police on Monday released 21 names of men who
were issued summons for engaging in prostitution with a
29-year-old Zumba instructor who's charged with turning her
dance studio into a brothel in this seaside community and
secretly videotaping her encounters.
. . . Residents watched the news flash on their local
evening TV news, and people could be heard discussing who
was on the list as they walked through a supermarket parking
lot and stood in line at a convenience store shortly after
the names were made public.
Millville man's family
waits 5 years for justice as murder case continues to be
10-15-12 -- James Penn
III, 31, was found dead in the
doorway of his city home on Sept. 11, 2007.
. . . Five years later, Penn’s family is still
waiting for the case against his accused killers to go to
trial. . . . Five
years later, the family is still looking for justice.
. . . “I can’t understand how they can keep
prolonging having a trial when you are ready to have closure
in your life,” said Malvese Penn, James’ mother.
. . . Police believe that the incident was a robbery
that turned into a homicide.
. . . James Penn was born in Vineland and only lived
in Millville for less than a year after he moved from
Pittsgrove Township. . . . He attended Cumberland County College and DeVry University
and was planning on earning his commercial drivers license.
. . . Two bullets ended those dreams.
NJ asks Supreme Court to
hear gift card case
10-13-12 -- New Jersey
has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that
could help the government claim at least $15 million a year
in unspent gift card revenue from retailers to help balance
the state budget. . . .
The high court is expected to decide within weeks
whether to accept the case that could rewrite the law on
unclaimed property by clarifying which state has priority
over forgotten gift cards - and whether it matters where the
card was bought. . . .
The dispute between New Jersey and retailers around
the country arose in 2010 when the state expanded its
abandoned property law to include gift cards, a revenue
source projected to generate $4.34 billion in sales
statewide in this fiscal year. Cash-strapped New Jersey and
other states, including Maine, New York and Texas, see a
potential jackpot in laying claim to even a fraction of the
card balances that will be forgotten - $114 million will go
unspent in New Jersey alone this year, according to
N.J. appeals court
upholds dismissal of ex-girlfriend's lawsuit against Nets
10-12-12 -- A Bergen
County judge was right in dismissing a lawsuit by an Upper
Saddle River woman who claimed that Nets CEO Brett Yormark
deceived her into having an abortion, a state appeals court
ruled Friday. . . .
Reyna Purcell said in her lawsuit filed last year in
Superior Court in Hackensack that she became pregnant
shortly after she started dating Yormark in 2010. She said
she wanted to have the child but Yormark threatened to end
the relationship if she gave birth. She also claimed Yormark
promised to take her on a vacation if she got an abortion.
Purcell said she got the abortion, but Yormark ended the
relationship shortly afterward.
Town Owes $10M To Pupil
Paralyzed In School Beating
10-12-12 -- An Essex
County jury on Friday awarded $16.3 million to an Irvington
High School student who was left paralyzed from a bathroom
beating. . . . Due to a high-low agreement, Anwar Patterson's recovery
will be capped at $10 million in Patterson v. Irvington
Board of Education, ESX-L-1093-09. . . . Patterson and his assailant, Danzell Ebron, were in the
summer-school program at the high school in 2008. On July
14, Ebron was involved in an off-campus, after-school dustup
with Patterson's friends and possibly Patterson himself,
according to attorneys in the case.
Judge Rumbottom’ photos
amuse legal community
10-16-12 -- Judge Gil
Burnett has spent much of his life vacillating between
reality and fantasy. From carnival boy to chief judge, from
sailing the oceans to trying cases of racial injustice,
Burnett has been able to find a healthy balance of working
hard and playing hard. .
. . His playfulness and penchant for fantasy have
found an outlet in his photography.
. . . In his youth, Burnett spent summers working in
the fantastical world of the Carolina Beach carnival,
selling snow cones to sun-dazzled tourists and locals.
. . . As a teen, it was Burnett’s dream to be a pilot
in the military during World War II, but he was rejected
twice because he did not weigh enough. The third time he
volunteered, he finally weighed enough. He trained, but
never saw action.
Judges behaving badly are too common
10-16-12 -- Under the
"laugh lest you cry" doctrine, a healthy sense of humor is
practically a prerequisite for anyone undertaking the
quixotic task of policing Pennsylvania's motley judiciary.
And, sure enough, the state's Court of Judicial Discipline
has shown it's as well equipped in that regard as an
infamous ex-judge seems to believe he is in another. . . . Ruling last week on the case of former Philadelphia Traffic
Court Judge Willie Singletary, who showed photographs of his
eponymous extremity to a young woman working for the court,
the disciplinary panel struck just the right note of
jurisprudential solemnity leavened with absurdist
understatement: "We think that the public - even those
members of the public who register the lowest scores on the
sensitivity index - do not expect their judges to be
conducting photo sessions featuring the judicial penis."
Judge sets trial date for
suspended Pa. SC Justice Orie Melvin
10-12-12 -- A
Pennsylvania judge has set a trial start date in the case of
suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
. . . Court records show that Allegheny County Common
Pleas Court Judge Lester Nauhaus, who has taken over the
case from Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, set Jan. 23 at the first
day in the corruption trial of Orie Melvin, who stands
accused of using her former Superior Court staff to work on
her campaign for a seat on the high court, to which she was
subsequently elected. . .
. Orie Melvin, 56, was charged this spring with
various counts of public corruption.
Wheatley sued over cake-baking contest prize
10-12-12 -- A
Manchester woman and her daughter filed a small claims
lawsuit against state Rep. Jake Wheatley over a $200 prize
for winning a cake-baking competition.
. . . Denise Robinson, 55, and her daughter LaShae
Robinson, 21, said Wheatley awarded them $100 for LaShae
Robinson’s homemade pineapple upside down cake at the 10th
annual Community Appreciation Day at Kennard Field in the
Hill District. A flier for the Sept. 8 event said the winner
would receive $200. . . .
“It’s not about the money,” said Denise Robinson, a
paralegal who is a registered Democrat. “He is my state
representative. I own my house. I pay taxes and I vote. That
was just a smack in the face. If my state rep will breach a
contract for $200, then what is he doing for $200,000?”
Judge Dismisses Case
Challenging County's Invocation And "In God We Trust" Motto
Liberty Institute Applauds
Summary Judgment Ruling Supporting Wood County's Right to
Open Sessions in Prayer and to Display National Motto "In
God We Trust"
10-16-12 -- Today,
Liberty Institute and its local counsel Bryan Hughes on
behalf of the Wood County Commissioner's Court applauds the
ruling of a state district judge who granted a summary
judgment, dismissing the lawsuit against the County for
opening its sessions in prayer and for displaying in its
courtroom America's national motto "In God We Trust." The
ruling was made during a summary judgment hearing at the
Wood County Courthouse in Quitman, Texas.
. . . "We are very thankful that the district court
today followed clearly established precedent recognizing the
constitutionality of displaying the national motto and
having prayer before the county's meetings," said Jeff
Mateer, Liberty Institute general counsel.Hughes, a local
attorney, added, "I am so glad that we live in a country
that still honors the traditions of our founders—the
importance of prayer and displaying "In God We Trust" in the
No proof man wanted to be
dad, justices say
Decisions are based on
state laws that vary across the country.
10-12-12 -- A man who
preserved semen while he battled cancer — a disease that
eventually took his life — and bequeathed it to his wife did
not necessarily intend to become a parent and qualify his
offspring for Social Security benefits , the Utah Supreme
Court said Friday. . . .
A federal court judge asked the state’s high court to
answer the question of whether, under Utah law, Michael
Burns’ signed agreement to donate the frozen sperm to his
wife in the event of his death constituted consent to being
the parent of any child she later conceived by artificial
means. Now that the state court has answered the question,
the case will return to federal court.
Court voids settlement
parties made behind their lawyers' backs
10-16-12 -- Frustrated
parties entangled in certain consumer litigation can't just
cut deals behind their lawyers' backs, a court ruled
Tuesday. . . . The
state Court of Appeals
threw out the settlement a car dealer worked
out with its disgruntled customer, and reinstated the
lawsuit a Milwaukee circuit judge had dismissed.
. . . "The parties are now back to square one — they
can settle if they wish, or try the case if they wish," the
court wrote. . . .
"This is a good decision for consumers," said Vince Megna, a
noted lemon law lawyer who represented the buyer in the
case, and stood to lose his fee under the private
settlement. . . .
Randy L. Betz of Milwaukee bought a 1999 Cadillac Escalade
from Diamond Jim's Auto Sales in October 2009. He had
constant engine problems and hired Megna in 2010, who sued
for misrepresentation, claiming the dealer knew of the
problems and failed to disclose them.
. . . If Betz prevailed, Megna would have been paid
by Diamond Jim's, under the fee-shifting provisions of the
applicable consumer laws.
Appeals Court OKs Extra
One-Year Sentence for Inmate’s Profanity-Laced Courtroom
10-15-12 -- Wisconsin’s
court of appeals didn’t agree with an inmate who argued he
deserved no more than one contempt citation for 11 profane
statements and one act of spitting in the courtroom.
. . . The Oct. 10 appeals court
opinion (PDF) included a transcript of the
exchange between inmate Cesar Deleon and Judge Sue Bischel
of Brown County, who has since retired, according to the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog
Proof & Hearsay. Deleon is in prison serving a
sentence that ends in 2058. Bischel imposed a 30-day
sentence for each act of contempt, to be served at the end
of Deleon's 2058 sentence.
October 10, 2012 --
October 12, 2012
Fed. Circuit Says Trial
Judge Abused Discretion in Smartphone Sales Ban, Aligns with
10-12-12 -- In a
Thursday ruling in one of several recent patent cases
related to smartphone technology, a federal appeals court
said a U.S. District Court judge in California abused her
discretion by granting a pretrial injunction sought by Apple
Inc. that banned sales of the Galaxy Nexus marketed by
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
. . . While the appellate decision by the influential
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit isn't likely
to have a major impact on the parties, since the Nexus is no
longer considered cutting-edge by buyers, it could have a
major impact on corporations seeking pretrial relief in
other patent cases,
Website ordered to pay
$6.6 million for posting song lyrics
10-11-12 -- A group of
music publishers has won $6.6 million in a copyright
infringement case over song lyrics posted on websites owned
by a co-founder of MySpace. Although a default judgment, it
was the first of its kind involving lyrics on the Internet,
according to plaintiffs attorneys. .
. . U.S. District Judge George Wu of the Central
District of California on October 9 ordered LiveUniverse
Inc., owned by Brad Greenspan, to pay the amount for
willfully violating copyright laws. The case centered on
lyrics to 528 songs posted on LiveUniverse's websites.
Judge Closes Court to
Mull U.S. Request to Seal Records
10-10-12 -- A federal
judge considering whether to unseal documents from a
14-year-old criminal case yesterday barred the public from a
hearing where prosecutors apparently argued to keep some
records secret and possibly to seal others that are already
in the public domain. . .
. Eastern District Judge I. Leo Glasser closed the
courtroom to everyone other than representatives of the U.S.
attorney's office, including two lawyers who are seeking to
open the files and who contend the records in play include
documents they wrote and which have already been publicly
disseminated. Among those records, the attorneys say, are
documents discussing topics as mundane as 14th- and
15th-century judicial impeachments.
. . . The dispute
centers on the 1998 conviction of Felix Sater, who pleaded
guilty to a $40 million stock swindle in exchange for a
sentence of probation, a $25,000 fine and a promise that his
file would be sealed.
The Hidden Stakes of the
10-09-12 -- It is not
exactly news that there are big differences between judges
chosen by Republican presidents and judges chosen by
Democratic presidents. Of course the most visible
differences involve constitutional law. For all the
high-flown talk about the Constitution’s original meaning,
the role of precedent, and the virtues and vices of the
“living Constitution” (the idea that the meaning of the
Constitution changes over time), the fact is that the views
of Republican and Democratic appointees on questions of
constitutional law tend to overlap with the views of
Republican and Democratic presidents on questions of public
policy. . . . In
predictable ways, Republican judicial appointees differ from
Democratic judicial appointees on all of the great
constitutional questions of the day, including affirmative
action, campaign finance regulation, gun control, abortion,
and sex discrimination. On many issues, the positions of
Republican and Democratic judicial appointees look
uncomfortably close to their respective party platforms.
. . . However
fundamental, the debate over the Constitution misses a
problem that may well be even more important in American
life. Many of the most significant judicial decisions do not
involve the Constitution at all. Most people never hear
about those decisions. But they determine the fate of
countless regulations, issued by federal agencies, that are
indispensable to implementing important laws—including those
designed to reform the health care system, promote financial
stability, protect consumers, ensure clean air and water,
protect civil rights, keep the food supply safe, reduce
deaths from tobacco, promote energy efficiency, maintain
safe workplaces, and much more.
FDA Seeks Reconsideration
of U.S. Cigarette Label Ruling
10-09-12 -- The U.S.
Food and Drug Administration asked for a full-court review
of a decision by a three-judge appeals panel that threw out
rules forcing cigarette packaging and advertising to display
images such as diseased lungs.
. . . The agency in a filing today in the U.S Court of Appeals in
Washington said the court’s 2-1 ruling finding the
regulations violated the free speech rights of tobacco
companies under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
was wrong and conflicts with a ruling by a federal appeals
court in Cincinnati. . .
. The majority on the three-judge panel said in
August that the government failed to present any data
showing the warnings would cut smoking rates.
2012 Spending on Judicial
Advertisements Surpasses $7 Million, With Michigan Leading
Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake
10-11-12 -- Television
ad spending for judicial races has already surpassed $7
million this year, with more than $2.6 million spent since
September, according to data released by the Brennan Center
for Justice and Justice at Stake.
. . . Michigan has seen more than $1.4 million in TV spending
since the general election season began and is on track to
be the highest-spending state this year. Special interest
money has also hit the judicial retention races in Iowa and
Florida, with national political figures playing an outsized
role in these state judicial races. Meanwhile, while overall
spending is down in Alabama, the race for chief justice may
see high spending as the Democratic candidate seeks support
within traditional Republican circles in his race against a
controversial Republican nominee.
. . . “Around the country, we are continuing to see heavy
spending, partisan politics and special interest pressure in
judicial races,” said Bert Brandenburg, executive director
of Justice at Stake. “With judges increasingly forced to act
like politicians, the public’s trust in the courts is
threatened.” . . .
National TV spending data for judicial races, as well as
links to ads, are available at “Judicial
Elections 2012,” a web page jointly hosted by the
Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Additional
analysis is also available at the Brennan Center’s "Buying
Time 2012" web page.
READ ENTIRE NEWS RELEASE
Would You Trust These
State Justices to Review Your Case?
10-11-12 -- In
Texas, judges campaign like politicians, with predictable
consequences for judicial integrity, independence, and equal
justice under a rule of law. (Third in a three-part series)
Disciplining judges for making an unpopular decision can
only undermine their duty to apply the law impartially.
Indeed, as Sir Matthew Hale, a respected English judge,
explained centuries ago, the duty to be impartial and to be
indifferent to popularity is an essential attribute of the
-- Retired United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul
"Should We Have a New Constitutional Convention?",
New York Review of Books, October 11, 2012.
. . . Judicial
elections, races where sitting judges or judicial candidates
beg for votes from past, present, and future litigants, are
now sadly the norm in America. They occur, to varying
degrees, in 39 states, undermining justice, prejudicing
litigants, and generating genuine alarm among old-school
conservatives. "When you enter one of those courtrooms,"
retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor, the first Reagan appointee,
wrote in an op-ed piece in 2010, "the last thing
you want to worry about is whether the judge is more
accountable to a campaign contributor or an ideological
group than to the law." .
. . Yet litigants everywhere might reasonably have
such worries. Supporters of judicial elections claim they
are necessary to ensure that the judiciary is more
accountable to its constituents. But the whole premise of
Western law, and the underpinning of the our justice system,
is that judges must maintain objectivity and independence --
and avoid even the appearance of impropriety -- if they are
to sustain the judiciary's role in law and governance. The
juxtaposition is irreconcilable, of course; the more judges
talk and act like politicians, they less able they are to
generate faith and confidence in the authority and accuracy
of their rulings.
Queried at LAX re Legal
Body Armor, Arrested Passenger Is Denied Bail Based on
10-12-12 -- The hatchet
in a checked bag for an airline passenger traveling through
Los Angeles from Japan last week, en route to Boston, was
legal, according to authorities. Ditto the gas mask,
biohazard suit, handcuffs, leg irons and a number of other
items obviously likely to catch a U.S. Customs and Border
Protection officer's attention that also reportedly were
found in luggage for Yongda Huang Harris.
. . . It likewise
appears that the bulletproof vest, flameproof pants and
kneepads the 28-year-old was wearing as traveling attire
under a trench coat, and which initially led to his
questioning by the feds at the Los Angeles airport, didn't
violate any laws either, the
Daily Mail reports.
Proposed $123 Mil. Accord
Is Reached in Bradley Abuse Suit
10-11-12 -- Insurance
companies and the hospital where convicted serial child sex
offender Dr. Earl Bradley worked have reached a proposed
settlement of $123.15 million to create a fund for the
reported hundreds of victims assaulted by the doctor.
. . . Word that a
$100 million-plus settlement was in the works has been out
there for some time, but the parties, including Beebe
Medical Center, officially announced the final number
Wednesday. A November 13 hearing before Delaware Superior
Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III is set to determine the
fairness of the settlement.
. . . According to
the statement released Wednesday by Beebe, the hospital said
it wanted to avoid costly litigation that could bankrupt the
institution and be painful for the victims. Beebe said that
for the first time anywhere, a class action was agreed upon
to deal with sexual abuse.
. . . According to
the statement, the $123.15 million is a combination of
insurance coverage and a donation from Beebe.
In Jerusalem Case, DOJ
Tells Court to Respect President's Authority
10-11-12 -- The U.S.
Justice Department is urging a federal appeals court in
Washington to shut down a suit the government contends has
the potential to frustrate foreign relations in the Middle
East. . . . The
litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit is rooted in a tiff over the place of birth
designation on an American boy's passport. The boy, Menachem
Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem in 2002, wants
"Israel" included on his U.S. passport. The boy's parents
unsuccessfully sued the U.S. State Department in 2003 over
the government's refusal to oblige his request.
. . . A provision in federal law allows American citizens born in
Jerusalem to designate the place of birth as "Jerusalem,
Israel." But here's the problem: The United States doesn't
officially recognize any state as having sovereignty over
Jerusalem. DOJ lawyers, representing the U.S. State
said in a court brief filed yesterday—asking the
court to uphold the dismissal of the suit—that the ultimate
determination of the city is a "sensitive matter" that must
be resolved through negotiation.
Hillsborough judge vows
to send prospective juror to jail
10-11-12 -- A
prospective juror may have picked the worst possible judge
to defy by ignoring the judge's written warning not to
research a death-penalty murder trial getting started this
week and not to talk about the case with other jurors.
. . . Would-be
juror Vishnu P. Singh did all that. And when Hillsborough
Circuit Judge William Fuente found out Wednesday, he clearly
was out of patience and out of leniency. He angrily told
Singh to leave a valid address with the bailiffs and prepare
to go to jail when he is called back. . . .
He then ordered Singh thrown out of the courthouse.
Kandi Hall details her
relationship with attorney who was killed
10-12-12 -- The wife of
a Meridian man on trial for murder took the stand Thursday
in Ada County Court. . .
. Kandi Hall has been married to Rob Hall for 19
years. Rob Hall is accused of murdering the man his wife was
having an affair with. .
. . Prosecutors claim Rob Hall waited for that man,
Emmett Corrigan, in a Meridian Walgreens parking lot, and
then shot him in the forehead and heart in March of 2011.
. . . Hall was the
only eyewitness to the crime, and she was in a relationship
with both the suspect and the victim at the time.
Pregnant Woman Tased,
Sues for Miscarriage
Chicago-resident Cherese Morris was only two months pregnant
when police arrested her so forcefully
she claims it caused a miscarriage.
. . . Morris says
she was talking on her cell phone on the night of the arrest
back in 2011. The police
treated her roughly during the arrest,
'violently' put her face-down in the back of the squad car
and tased her until she passed out, according to the
complaint. . . .
Two weeks later, Morris lost her baby. Now she's turned to
the legal system for justice.
. . . The claim
against the police department alleges excessive force and
wanton misconduct against the two arresting officers. It
also includes a third officer in claims of conspiracy and
2 others claim gardener's
$150K crop of lettuce
Finder could yet be
keeper; court may rule next year
10-12-12 -- After
finding $150,000 stashed in a black bag in his vegetable
garden, Wayne Sabaj had to wait a year before he could begin
the process of legally claiming the money for himself.
. . . Now a year
has passed, but the garden plot has thickened.
. . . Two other parties have made claims to the dough, which Sabaj
said he found in August 2011 amid some broccoli plants and
reported to police. One is a woman who lives in Sabaj's
neighborhood near the far northwest suburb of Johnsburg; the
other is the owner of a Naperville liquor store who said he
was robbed of the same amount of money two years ago,
Man Facing Cocaine
Charges Brings Cocaine to Court
10-11-12 -- An Illinois
man facing a court date for cocaine charges decided to
bring some cocaine with him to the courthouse.
. . . Alex
Robinson was previously arrested for cocaine delivery in
2006 and was due in court for a probation hearing on a drug
charge earlier this week.
. . . When the 37-year-old man showed up at the
courtroom, he had to go through security screening. That's
when he allegedly put a baggie containing three grams of
cocaine onto a security tray, reports the Huffington Post.
. . . Immediately
realizing his error, Robinson allegedly tried to flee the
scene. Given the number of cops and security personnel at
the courthouse, the man was quickly apprehended and
arrested, reports the Huffington Post.
Judge to sentence Ind.
doctor who hid for 5 years
10-12-12 -- A federal
judge is scheduled to decide how long a former Indiana
surgeon captured in Italy after five years on the run will
spend in prison after pleading guilty to 22 counts of health
care fraud. . . .
The sentencing Friday in Hammond is Mark Weinberger's second
attempt at a plea deal. U.S. District Judge Philip Simon
rejected a plea deal in April 2011 that called for a
four-year prison sentence, saying he was not confident it
took into account the scope of Weinberger's crimes.
. . . Weinberger once ran a nose and sinus clinic in Merrillville,
where prosecutors say he billed insurers and patients for
procedures he didn't perform. He was arrested on a mountain
in Italy in December 2009, more than five years after he
disappeared during a vacation.
Judge to release names of
men tied to Zumba dance studio prostitution ring in Maine
A search of the studio in
Kennebunk turned up videos showing clients having sex,
billing info and notes about the prostitution ring's alleged
johns. A lawyer for two of the men has moved to block the
release of the names.
10-12-12 -- A state
judge declined to block the release of names of men accused
of giving business to a fitness instructor charged with
running a prostitution operation out of her Zumba fitness
studio, and police in this seaside town prepared Friday to
reveal the first batch of identities.
. . . Alexis
Wright, a 29-year-old fitness instructor from Wells, has
pleaded not guilty to 106 counts of prostitution, invasion
of privacy, tax evasion and other charges for allegedly
accepting money for sex and secretly videotaping her
encounters. . . .
Her business partner, Mark Strong Sr., a 57-year-old
insurance agent and private investigator from Thomaston, has
pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor charges for his alleged
Baltimore man, imprisoned
for bullets found in antique gun, fights case on appeal
10-09-12 -- When
Baltimore police arrested Thomas Royal during a traffic stop
one winter morning in 2009, he was carrying a loaded
revolver. . . .
Not just any pistol, however. An antique Iver Johnson model
handgun made in 1895. As a convicted felon, the pistol could
have landed Royal in legal trouble. But federal law defines
a firearm as a gun made in or after 1898.
. . . Yet Royal
wasn't off the hook. Prosecutors got him on the charge of a
felon in possession of ammunition—the five .32-caliber
bullets found inside the antique gun. Royal was indicted in
August 2009. He was later convicted and sentenced to 15
years in prison. . . .
Royal's lawyers, including
Venable litigation partner James Fraser, now are
trying to convince the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit to erase the conviction. Royal's attorneys argue
prosecutors didn't present evidence that the bullets were
designed for use in a non-antique firearm. The appeals court
will hear the case October 26.
Top judge irate over
10-12-12 -- Federal
prosecutors and lawyers are preparing to tackle hundreds of
cases, including as many as 200 in which former state
chemist Annie Dookhan directly handled samples, in what the
state’s top federal judge called an “unprecedented” scandal
that highlights how small-time local cases have jammed up a
federal system better suited for the drug game’s big
hitters. . . . “I find it disturbing we have to devote scarce judicial
resources to cases with evidence that has been polluted
because of improper work by the state Department of Public
Health,” U.S. District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf said in a
telephone interview yesterday. “I think it’s fair to say in
the district of Massachusetts, at least, this is
unprecedented.” . . .
Wolf said anywhere from 100 to 200 cases have been
identified as possibly affected by the state drug lab crisis
in which Dookhan allegedly admitted to mishandling samples.
But he warned there is a “large universe of defendants” who
received enhanced sentences under federal guidelines based
on past convictions that now could be altered in the wake of
Purported Expert on
Sengalese Spells Is Barred from Testifying in Murder Trial
10-12-12 -- A purported
expert on Sengalese spells and curses won’t be allowed to
testify in the trial of a murder defendant who claimed he
was influenced by evil spirits.
. . . Judge Juan
Merchan of Manhattan found that the defense had failed to
prove the witness, Cheikh Ndao, had expertise in witchcraft,
New York Times reports. The testimony was offered
on behalf of Bakary Camara, who claimed he was under the
influence of evil spirits when his girlfriend was murdered.
Court Finds Picture of
'Judicial Penis' Matter of Disrepute
10-10-12 -- Even though
a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge contends that he
did not intend to show photographs of his genitals on his
phone to a Philadelphia Parking Authority contractor, the
Court of Judicial Discipline found that he did intentionally
show the images. . . .
By doing so, Willie F. Singletary brought the
judicial office into disrepute in violation of the state
constitution, said Judge Timothy F. McCune, writing for the
panel of President Judge Robert E.J. Curran and Judges
Bernard L. McGinley, Charles A. Clement Jr. and John R.
Cellucci. . . .
"We think that the public — even those members of the public
who register the lowest scores on the sensitivity index — do
not expect their judges to be conducting photo sessions
featuring the judicial penis and then to be sending the
photos over the electronic airwaves to another person," the
Judge relents: Clover
“junk man” avoids more jail time
10-12-12 -- A judge
ruled Friday afternoon that Johnny Ramsey, the disabled
79-year-old Korean War veteran who fought the Town of Clover
over keeping junk on his property to sell, will not have to
go back to jail.Clover Town Judge Melvin Howell suspended
the 30-day jail sentence to be served on weekends that was
imposed Oct. 4, said Toni Johnson, Ramsey’s lawyer. The
change came after Ramsey cleaned up some of his yard this
week after his time in jail.During three days in jail last
weekend, Ramsey was York County’s oldest inmate. His long
battle against the town has attracted support from people
locally and around the nation. Others have taken the side of
the town, but the more vocal and outspoken have sided with
Ramsey as seeing the town’s enforcement against an old man
as far too strong-armed.
Woman convicted of
bribing judge sentenced to 30 days in prison
10-12-12 -- A
University Park woman has been sentenced to 30 days in jail
for her role in the bribery case that led to the resignation
of former Collin County District Court Judge Suzanne Wooten.
. . . Stacy Stine
Cary, 54, was convicted in June of eight felonies, including
six counts of bribery, one count of money laundering and one
count of engaging in organized criminal activity. In
addition to her jail time, Cary must also serve 10 years
probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
. . . Prosecutors
accused Cary and her husband, David, of funneling six
payments totaling $150,000 into Wooten's campaign account.
The state alleges the payments were made in an attempt to
gain favor with Wooten in a pending child custody case.
Texas Mom Faces Life
After Gluing Toddler's Hands to Wall
10-09-12 -- This week,
Dallas courts are hearing testimony in the sentencing
hearing of a woman who pleaded guilty to a
horrific case of child abuse against her two year
old child, reports The Associated Press.
. . . Elizabeth
Escalona pleaded guilty in July to child abuse. She was
accused of beating her daughter and gluing her hands to the
wall, after the toddler was having trouble potty training.
. . . In addition
to gluing her hands to the wall, Escalona reportedly
kicked her daughter in the stomach and hit her
with a milk jug, writes The Dallas News.
. . . The child, Jocelyn Cedillo, spent one week in the hospital
after the attack with bleeding to the brain, a fractured rib
and other bruises, reports the AP.
October 6, 2012 --
October 9, 2012
2 suspects appear before
NY judge in terror case
10-08-12 -- Two men
brought from England to face terrorism charges made their
first appearance Tuesday before the New York judge who will
oversee their trial next year.
. . . Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary are
charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in
Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The attacks killed 224
people, including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case
that also charged Osama
bin Laden. Both pleaded not guilty on Saturday. The
judge on Tuesday set their trial date for October 2013.
. . . Another Manhattan judge will conduct a hearing
for Egyptian-born preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri.
Major victory – and pay
raises – for U.S. judges
10-07-12 -- After
battling for years to get a pay raise that they say Congress
had once promised them, six federal judges finally won in a
specialized federal court on Friday. If the ruling
withstands a likely trip to the Supreme Court, those judges
– and presumably others – will get annual cost-of-living
increases that have been specifically vetoed by Congress.
The ten-to-two decision by the Federal Circuit is
here. . . . The Court ruled that, in a 1989 law upon which the judges
have been relying, Congress triggered the judges’ right
under the Constitution not to have their pay level
diminished. The Compensation Clause itself, the decision
said, creates “basic expectations and protections” on
judges’ pay. . . .
Thus, it concluded, “in the unique context of the 1989 act,
the Constitution prevents Congress from abrogating that
statute’s precise and definite commitment to automatic
yearly cost of living adjustments for sitting members of the
Roy Moore, Alabama Chief
Justice Candidate, Calls Gay Marriage 'Ultimate Destruction
Of Our Country' (VIDEO)
By Meredith Bennett-Smith, The Huffington Post
10-09-12 -- Former
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a conservative judge whose
fight to preserve a Ten Commandments statue in the state
courthouse garnered national headlines, is campaigning to
get his old job back with some decidedly anti-LGBT,
. . . Speaking to about a hundred members of the
DeKalb County Tea Party on Saturday, Moore told the crowd
that gay marriage would be "the
ultimate destruction of our country," Queerty
reports. . . .
Warning that "we will suffer the consequences," Moore
emphasized the destructive nature of the Democratic party's
same-sex marriage platform.
Judge's fistfight in
Wal-Mart leads to suspension
10-05-12 -- The
Arkansas Supreme Court has suspended a trial judge for 30
days after police had to intervene in an apparent
love-triangle brawl at a Wal-Mart. .
. . The state's high court on October 4 approved a
disciplinary commission's finding about a fistfight in April
between state Circuit Judge Sam Pope of Hamburg, Ark., and
his estranged wife's male companion. Besides the suspension,
the justices ordered Pope to attend anger management
classes. He had acknowledged his misconduct and agreed with
the commission's findings, the court said.
Florida Justices Say Fair Court System Threatened
Written by Bill Kaczor, Associated Press | The South Florida
10-09-12 -- Three state
Supreme Court justices being targeted by Republicans and
other conservatives said Friday that such partisan and
special interest attacks are threatening the independence
and fairness of Florida's judicial system.
. . . The Florida Republican Party this year broke with a
nonpartisan tradition in merit-retention elections by
opposing the three justices who will be on the Nov. 6 ballot
for up-or-down votes. . .
. They also have drawn opposition from Americans for
Prosperity, a group formed by the conservative billionaire
brothers Charles and David Koch, as well as a small,
grass-roots organization that also unsuccessfully campaigned
against two other justices in 2010.
High-profile vote for
Iowa Supreme Court
10-08-12 -- Judicial
elections were once sedate, bottom-of-the-ballot affairs,
frequently overlooked by voters focused on the bigger-name
races. . . . But
there was nothing low-key about the
message on a bus that toured Iowa recently,
bearing the face of state Supreme Court Justice David
Wiggins and a giant “NO.” Nor was there anything decorous
about the contingent of
lawyers that trailed with a smaller truck urging
“Yes Iowa Judges.” . . .
A Christian conservative group,
Iowa for Freedom, is campaigning to remove
Wiggins from the bench because of his vote in a unanimous
overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The cause has drawn two figures not normally interested in
the workings of a state court system: former senator Rick
Santorum (Pa.), winner of the 2012 Iowa presidential
caucuses, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — both possible
Republican presidential contenders in 2016.
Wiggins 63% retention
rating lowest Iowa bar association score in 50 years for
Supreme Court justice
10-08-12 -- Iowa
Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins’ 63 percent favorability
rating from fellow attorneys is the lowest score earned by a
member of the court in 50 years of judicial retention
elections, according to a group calling for his ouster.
. . . Since the Iowa State Bar Association helped put
the retention process in place in 1962, no Supreme Court
justice has earned less than a 72 percent retention score
until this year, according to Iowans for Freedom, a project
of the conservative Christian group The Family Leader.
. . . Former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus earned that
72 percent ranking in 2010. She and two other justices, who,
like Wiggins, were part of the unanimous 2009 Varnum vs.
Brien decision striking down a state law banning same-sex
marriage, were voted off the court in 2010. About 54 percent
of Iowa voters opposed their retention.
. . . Wiggins is one of four Iowa Supreme Court
judges up for retention this year. He is the only one on the
ballot who participated in the Varnum decision.
Kansas now among states
upholding cap on med-mal damages
10-08-12 -- Kansas has
become the latest state to uphold limits on damages in
medical malpractice cases. On October 5, the Kansas Supreme
Court ruled that the state's $250,000 limit on pain and
suffering damages did not violate the Kansas Constitution.
. . . The case
involved plaintiff Amy Miller, who sued Dr. Carol Johnson
for removing the wrong ovary. A jury had awarded Miller
about $760,000 in 2006, but a trial judge reduced that
amount by more than half, mainly citing the damages cap
passed by the Kansas Legislature in 1988.
. . . The Kansas
Supreme Court ruled, 5-2, in a109-page decision that the
limit on damages did not violate the separation of powers
doctrine. The court, in an opinion written by Justice Dan
Biles, said the Legislature's failure to raise the cap since
1988 was a concern, but that lawmakers' inaction did not
mean that the statute was unconstitutional.
Questions linger about
10-08-12 -- In the
weeks since a standing-room-only crowd paid final respects
to a longtime Kentucky judge, his death remains shrouded in
mystery for his grieving family members — who wonder whether
the cause was a routine steroid treatment now linked to a
rare form of meningitis.
. . . Eddie C. Lovelace, a circuit judge for 20 years
in southern Kentucky, received the steroid at a Tennessee
clinic to treat neck pain stemming from an auto accident. He
later developed stroke-like symptoms and died at Vanderbilt
University Medical Center on Sept. 17.
. . . But it wasn't until recent news reports
surfaced about the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak that
his family began wondering whether his three rounds of
pain-relieving steroid injections were linked to the
New Orleans' criminal
justice system is 'fragmented,' outdated, consultants say
10-09-12 -- An
independent study, commissioned by the city of New Orleans
to scrutinize its embattled criminal justice system, found
"highly fragmented" and low-tech coordination among the
dozen agencies under the public safety umbrella.
The report, "A 21st Century Criminal Justice
System for the City of New Orleans," was released Tuesday
afternoon by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office.
. . . "In a world of Microsoft Outlook, the New Orleans
criminal justice system is functioning in a
bygone era," the report notes of the court system's reliance
on hard-copy calendars and handwritten summonses.
. . . The
antiquated organization system, the report notes, creates
poor communication between agencies and scheduling conflicts
that bog down the entire system.
McDonald's employees sue
co-worker, alleging lottery fraud
10-09-12 -- A group of
McDonald’s employees last month filed a civil lawsuit
against a co-worker they say defrauded the Maryland Lottery
to avoid having to split the $656 million fortune with them,
The Baltimore Sun reported.
. . . Mirlande Wilson, 37, became something of an
overnight celebrity when she held a press conference last
April claiming to be the winner of the huge jackpot. She
told reporters that she hid the ticket at the McDonald’s
where she worked, but later said she lost it.
. . . McDonald's workers at the time said they had
pooled their money together and put Wilson in charge of
purchasing the tickets. To be sure, the complaint says
Wilson even told a few co-workers that "we won,"
Courhousenews.com reported, citing the complaint.
Bogus Coin Peddler
Accused of Arranging a ‘Hit’ on Judge
10-09-12 -- A Long
Island man convicted of running a “boiler room” earlier this
year was charged Tuesday with attempting to arrange the
murder of the judge and prosecutor who handled his case.
. . . Authorities accused Joseph Romano, 49, as well
as a business associate, of attempting to hire hit men to
kill the judge and the prosecutor. In fact, the “hit men”
were undercover police officers who recorded meetings with
the men, authorities said.
. . . A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for
the Eastern District of New York, which handled the case,
declined to name the judge or the prosecutor targeted. U.S.
District Court Judge Joseph F. Bianco handled Mr. Romano’s
earlier case. A phone call to his chambers in Brooklyn
wasn’t immediately returned.
. . . “Romano thought he was buying revenge,” said
Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of
New York, in a an emailed statement. “Instead, he bought the
full force of the law, along with a possible life sentence.”
Inmates held off on
lawyer bid for access to dental floss
Judge: Group must prove
dental fight has a chance
10-09-12 -- A group of
Westchester County Jail inmates will have to fight their own
legal battle for access to dental floss, a federal judge has
ruled. . . . U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled in Manhattan that
the 11 Westchester inmates, who sued the county Sept. 10 for
$500 million because they were denied access to dental
floss, will have to convince him their case has a shot
before he gives them a court-appointed lawyer.
. . . “As a threshold matter, in order to qualify for
appointment of counsel plaintiffs must demonstrate that
their claims have substance or likelihood of success,”
Abrams wrote in an Oct. 4 order. “In addition, in reviewing
a request of appointment of counsel, the court must be
cognizant of the fact that volunteer attorney time is a
precious commodity, and thus, should not grant appointment
of counsel indiscriminately.”
‘Flame Arrester’ at Issue
in Gas Can Litigation; Was It Lawsuit Abuse?
10-09-12 -- Abusive
lawsuits are blamed for the shutdown of gas can manufacturer
Blitz USA in an ad by the Institute for Legal Reform.
. . . The ad shows plant employees in Oklahoma who
lost their jobs and invites viewers to visit
FacesofLawsuitAbuse.com to learn how in-house
lawyers ranked states for their business legal climate. The
Institute is the lobbying arm for the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce. . . .
New York Times examines the suits. Generally the
plaintiffs sought compensation for burn injuries or deaths
suffered when gasoline vapors ignited outside the gas can,
traveled back to the container, and caused flashback
explosions. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say a “flame arrester”
shield at the mouth of the container would have prevented
the problem; the company says the most serious injuries
could have been avoided if consumers had not poured gasoline
on fires or otherwise misused the gas cans.
Sandusky gets 30-60 years
prison for child abuse
10-09-12 -- Serial
child molester Jerry Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State
University football coach, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years
in prison on Tuesday for abusing young, at-risk boys for
more than a decade. . . .
The sentence by Judge John Cleland in Centre County
Court could put the 68-year-old retired defensive
coordinator in prison for the rest of his life.
. . . Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child
sex abuse for molesting 10 boys over 15 years, some in the
football team's showers on campus.
. . . "Your crime is not only what you did to their
bodies, but your assault on their psyche and their souls,"
the judge told him. "The tragedy of this story is it is a
story of betrayal. Some of your victims had a genuine
affection for you.
Swisher County justice of
the peace confesses she issued illegal order
Texas Rangers arrested
Priscilla Ann Sanders on a charge of tampering with
government records, a third-degree felony
10-09-12 -- Swisher
County justice of the peace confesses she issued illegal
order. . . . A
Swisher County justice of the peace gave Texas Rangers an
audio-recorded confession in which she said she issued an
illegal protective order for a relative embroiled in a
custody dispute, improperly granting the man custody of an
8-year-old girl, court documents show.
. . . Texas Rangers arrested Priscilla Ann Sanders,
44, Friday on a charge of tampering with a government
record, a third-degree felony, Texas Department of Public
Safety officials said.
Judges to wear pink
robes, ribbons each Monday in October to promote breast
10-09-12 -- State
district and county court-at-law judges greeted men and
women, promoting for jury duty Monday to spread breast
cancer awareness. . . . The judges will show up early at the Nueces County
Courthouse each Monday in October, which is Breast Cancer
Awareness Month, to pass out pink ribbon stickers to the
more than 500 people who report to jury duty.
. . . The female judges wore pink robes early Monday
while male judges wore ribbons attached to their black
robes. The judges will not wear the pink robes in the
Judge stays execution of
young girl's killer
10-08-12 -- A federal
district judge on Monday blocked the execution of Jonathan
Green, two days before he was set to die for the 2000 murder
of a 12-year-old Montgomery County girl.
. . . U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas ruled that a
state mental competency hearing violated due process
standards and that the judge who conducted it applied
incorrect standards for determining competency for
execution. . . .
"The inadequacies of the state court's process and the
resulting constitutional violations require this court to
stay Green's execution," Atlas said in her 17-page order.