RSSCategory: Law

Status on Illinois law prohibiting citizens from recording police

March 22, 2012 | By | Reply More
Status on Illinois law prohibiting citizens from recording police

Illinois Republicans voted down a bill that would have allowed people to record public police activities in Illinois. What are they afraid of?

The good news:

Even without the legislation, however, the law’s days might be numbered. Two judges, one in Cook County and the other in Crawford County, have declared it unconstitutional in recent months.

Share

Read More

FINRA arbitration abuse by the numbers

March 20, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
FINRA arbitration abuse by the numbers

Dan Solin offers a disturbing inside view of FINRA arbitration. Given that it is binding, mandatory pre-dispute arbitration controlled by the industry being sued, it is not surprising that the table is tilted dramatically in favor of the financial industries and brokers. Here’s an excerpt from Solin’s article:

If you have an account with a retail broker, or are employed by one, you signed an agreement requiring you to submit all disputes to mandatory arbitration administered by FINRA. The idea of requiring investors and employees to arbitrate disputes before a tribunal appointed by the very industry being sued is deeply troubling. Because it deprives American citizens of their constitutional rights to access to the courtroom and trial by a jury of their peers, it has neither the appearance nor the reality of impartiality. Among others, Itestified before Congress and urged it to enact legislation prohibiting mandatory arbitration clauses as being fundamentally unfair.

A study I co-authored of more than 14,000 FINRA arbitration awards over a ten-year period found that investors with significant claims suing major brokerage firms could expect to recover only 12 percent of the amount claimed. It is not surprising that many investors required to submit to this process perceive it to be biased against them.

Note the $60,000 attorney fee award assessed against the man filing the arbitration claim described by Solin. Can you imagine many sane people exposing themselves to that sort of risk, especially when it is a rare court that would step in to reverse such an injustice? That’s what happened in the case Solin describes, but you’ll need to look long and hard to find other cases where a court disturbs a FINRA arbitrator’s decision.

Share

Read More

Barack Obama emulates George W. Bush, again.

March 14, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More
Barack Obama emulates George W. Bush, again.

Glenn Greenwald has just published this infuriating story. It starts with a big lie: the U.S. and the government of Yemen have a good laugh that a U.S. drone attack on Yemeni soil, killing 14 women and 21 children was a successful attack against “insurgents” and “militants” that did not involve the U.S. When a reporter exposes the U.S. involvement, a fact that has been corroborated by a Wikileaks cable release, he ends up in prison on trumped up charges. When he’s about to be pardoned, Barack Obama intervenes. The reporter, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, has spent the past two years in prison, where he has been beaten and held in solitary confinement. This is all part of a highly coordinated war on whistle-blowers by the Obama Administration, a fact duly ignored by most media outlets, who serve as stenographers for the American military-industrial complex and its Commander in Chief:

So it is beyond dispute that the moving force behind the ongoing imprisonment of this Yemeni journalist is President Obama. And the fact that Shaye is in prison, rather than able to report, is of particular significance (and value to the U.S.) in light of the still escalating American attacks in that country. Over the past 3 days alone, American air assaults have killed 64 people in Yemen, while American media outlets — without anyone on the scene — dutifully report that those killed are “suspected Al Qaeda insurgents” and “militants.”

Should anyone trust the United States’ claims about whether any dead people were “terrorists”? Greenwald says no (and see here).

It’s incredibly instructive to compare what we know (thanks to Shaye) actually happened in this Yemen strike to how The New York Times twice “reported” on it. I quoted above from these two NYT articles, but it’s just amazing to read them: over and over, the NYT assures its readers that this strike was carried out by Yemen (with U.S. assistance), that it killed scores of critical Al Qaeda leaders and other “militants,” that the strike likely killed “the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, and his deputy, Said Ali al-Shihri, who were believed to be at the meeting with Mr. Awlaki,” etc. How anyone, in light of this record of extreme inaccuracy, can trust the undocumented assertions of the U.S. Government or the American media over who is and is not a Terrorist or “militant” and who is killed by American drone strikes is simply mystifying.

There is much more to be considered in Greenwald’s piece, all of it ignored by Obama apologists everywhere. And no, I’m not a Republican. I voted for Barack Obama, yet I find many of his actions disgraceful.

Share

Read More

Pure political speech outlawed, for some.

March 12, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More
Pure political speech outlawed, for some.

Check out Glenn Greenwald’s discussion of a SCOTUS decision that blesses a “terrorism” law that clearly infringes on the First Amendment, in conjunction with blatant violations of that law by Washington insiders.

Incredibly, the law allows the prosecution of people involved in pure political speech.

In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law. In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that group.

Until recently, only Muslims have been prosecuted for engaging in this activity, not Washington Insiders. That might be about to change, leading various Washington insiders to invoke the First Amendment.

Share

Read More

How a law student could have failed a property law class in 1994

March 10, 2012 | By | Reply More
How a law student could have failed a property law class in 1994

Imagine the following law school exam question asked in a property law class in 1994, prior to securitization, when the laws of Missouri were substantially the same as they are today regarding real estate transaction recording, foreclosures and unlawful detainer proceedings: Joe buys a house from Bank A. Bank A and Joe are about to […]

Share

Read More

One way to fight patent trolls

March 5, 2012 | By | Reply More
One way to fight patent trolls

Farhad Manjoo gives us some good news in the wars against patent trolls:

When companies are sued for patent infringement, or when they’re proactively protecting themselves from an infringement claim, they often hire a prior art search firm to look for related inventions. But such searches tend to be expensive—you usually need to hire researchers in many different countries—and not all that effective, because even professional searchers tend to miss a lot of stuff. More than a decade ago, a young patent attorney named Cheryl Milone had a flash of insight for solving this problem: “I wondered, instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, what if you could ask each piece of hay if it’s a needle?” That might sound like some kind of riddle, but Milone’s insight has transformed patent litigation. In 2008, she founded Article One Partners, a firm that invites amateurs to look for prior art and rewards successful researchers with cash.

Share

Read More

Catholic clergy, obsessed about gay rights, again shoots itself in the foot.

March 4, 2012 | By | 15 Replies More
Catholic clergy, obsessed about gay rights, again shoots itself in the foot.

I’ve known Charlie Robin for many years, so I was deeply saddened to hear that the Catholic Church retaliated against Charlie’s partner, Al Fischer immediately after the pair announced that they were traveling to New York this week to get married.

Al has done exemplary work as a music teacher at St. Ann Catholic School, a St. Louis grade school. For many years, Al and Charlie have been out in the open as a committed gay couple. When they recently announced that they were getting married, though, it was too much for the St. Louis Diocese. The Administration of the St. Ann Catholic School has been, and remains, supportive of the couple, but must now hire a new music teacher for the children, even though they already had a perfectly good music teacher.

I was raised Catholic and I know a huge number of Catholics who are completely in support of gays getting married. The upper clergy are another matter, though. I’m not really angry about Al’s firing, because this is the kind of thing I expect of the Catholic Church at this point, and I’m also delighted to see how supportive the local Catholic school has been of the relationship and proposed marriage. The Clergy, on the other hand appear to be engaged in classic groupthink, combined with a willingness to elevate a personal feeling of disgust into a dominant moral principle; and this is combined with a classic reaction formation–I’ve heard from many sources (including many men who were in the Catholic seminary) that a significant proportion of Catholic clergy are, themselves, gay.

What should Catholics do in the meantime? That’s certainly not for me to say, since I don’t believe in any of the miraculous claims of the Bible. Then again, from my discussions with many Catholics, neither do many Catholics. What they do tend to believe in is coming together as a community to celebrating their community in song and ritual, as well as maintaining an admirable commitment to helping others in need through on-the-ground good works. It is in this context that the Catholic clergy displays its ugly vindictiveness. Perhaps this self-destructive decision by leadership of an ever-dwindling church will become a flashpoint for reform efforts in St. Louis, or even nationally.  Decisions like the firing of Al Fischer, combined with many other salient moral lapses of the Catholic clergy, help explain why one out of every 10 people in the United States (22,725,000) is an ex-Catholic. Not that any of this will sway the Pope, whose constant vitriolic rants against gays strongly suggest to me his own frustrated gayness.

I often wonder whether and when large numbers of Catholics will start buying up abandoned Churches, and start their own churches.

Then again, this animosity toward gays goes well beyond the Catholic Church. Rick Santorum, one of the front runners for the GOP has indicated that, if elected, he would work hard to pass laws to un-marry the 130,000 gay married couples in the United States. Such are these times . . .

Share

Read More

The right of citizens to record public events

March 2, 2012 | By | Reply More
The right of citizens to record public events

Many people have been arrested for recording public arrests, and many others have had their cameras confiscated, and that’s here in American where we have the First Amendment. At Gigaom, Matthew Ingram takes a look at this problem and concludes that the freedom of the press applies to everyone, even bloggers:

University of Pennsylvania law professor Seth Kreimer, who has written a research paper about the right of citizens to record public events under the First Amendment, told Reason magazine that rulings by three separate federal appeals courts have upheld that right. And one recent appeals court decision specifically referred to the fact that the ability to take photos, video and audio recordings with mobile devices has effectively made everyone a journalist — in practice, if not in name — and therefore deserving of protection.

Ingram’s article cites to another well-written article, this one by Rodney Balko, titled, “The War on Cameras.” Balko’s article discusses the right to privacy of police. Here’s an excerpt:

University of Pennsylvania law professor Seth Kreimer, author of a 2010 paper in the Pennsylvania Law Review about the right to record, says such legal vagueness is a problem. Citing decisions by three federal appeals courts, Kreimer says the First Amendment includes the right to record public events. “The First Amendment doesn’t allow for unbridled discretion” by police, he says, “and it’s particularly concerned with clear rules when free speech rights are at stake. Even if there is a privacy interest here, people have to know when they’re going to be subject to prosecution.”

Here’s the article by Seth Kreimer; it’s titled: “Pervasive Image Capture and the First Amendment: Memory, Discourse, and the Right to Record.”

Share

Read More

Expansion of police powers- now are you upset??

February 28, 2012 | By | Reply More
Expansion of police powers- now are you upset??

In the years since 9/11, America’s police state has been expanding rapidly. The “Patriot Act” gave nominal legal approval to a vastly expanded surveillance and detention authority, but in some startling new cases, police are not even seeking legal justification for working in areas that are clearly illegal and unconstitutional.

The latest abuses come courtesy of the New York Police Department. New reports indicate that the NYPD has been surveiling and profiling Jewish and Christian communities and individuals, often in areas that are far outside of NYPD’s jurisdiction, including Buffalo, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. As always, the bogeyman of “terrorism” is cited as the justification for these acts.

[More . . . ]

Share

Read More