Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Police Kill Teen with Stun Gun

From the Associated Press:
JERSEYVILLE, Ill. - A teenager carrying a Bible and shouting "I want Jesus" was shot twice with a police stun gun and later died at a St. Louis hospital, authorities said.

In a statement obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, police in Jerseyville, about 40 miles north of St. Louis, said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling, "I want Jesus."

Police tried to calm the teen, but Holyfield became combative, according to the statement. Officers fired the stun gun at him after he ignored their warnings, then fired again when he continued struggling, police said.

Holyfield was flown to St. Louis' Cardinal Glennon Hospital after the confrontation Saturday; he died there Sunday, police said.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Florida executes serial killer

Florida seems to have more than its fair share of executions and serial killers.

Yesterday, they executed Danny Harold Rolling, who was convicted of killing, sexually assaulting and mutilating the bodies of five college students in Gainesville in August 1990.

Read the story.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

24, That's How Long

Update to yesterday's post:

Jeffrey K. Skilling, former Enron CEO sentenced to 24 years in prison

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving man.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Former Enron CEO to find out how long

Ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling will find out today just how long he will have to spend in prison for his part in the financial collapse of Enron.

Ken Lay showed him a way out:
His co-defendant, Enron founder Kenneth Lay, died from heart disease on July 5. Lay's convictions on 10 counts of fraud, conspiracy and lying to banks in two separate cases were wiped out with his death.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Seven guilty pleas in corpse scheme

Seven funeral home directors secretly entered guilty pleas in a plot to steal tissue and organs from corpses to sell to biomedical companies, according to prosecutors in Brooklyn, NY.

Neither the charges nor their names were released. They are cooperating in the investigation.

The seven entered their pleas in closed courtrooms and their names were withheld, but defense attorneys said that among those cooperating was the director of a funeral home that took parts from the body of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke, who died in 2004.

The four original defendants in the case pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to enterprise corruption, body stealing and other charges in the new indictment. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison. All remain free on bail.

Prosecutors allege Michael Mastromarino, owner of Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, N.J., and three other men secretly removed skin, bone and other parts from up to 1,000 bodies from funeral homes, without the permission of families. They have accused the former oral surgeon of making millions of dollars by selling the stolen tissue to biomedical companies that supply material for common procedures including dental implants and hip replacements.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bush Grants Pardon ... to Himself

According to Elizabeth Holtzman, former U.S. congresswoman from New York and co-author of the special prosecutor law enacted in the midst of Watergate,President Bush has just signed his own pardon.
The bill countenances abuse of detainees in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and the country's past moral values and it suspends habeas corpus in defiance of the constitution. As bad as these features is the bill's grant of a pardon to President Bush and his top Cabinet officials for any crimes they may have committed under the War Crimes Act of 1996.

When a president violates the country's criminal laws and then gets a secret grant of immunity for those crimes, he makes a mockery of the rule of law. Then all lawlessness is permissible.
Read her entire statement here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Judge Bucks Bush Administration

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl bucked the Bush administration by sentencing prominent civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart to "only" 28 months in prison instead of the 30 years administration prosecuters wanted.

Oh, yeah, the judge also let her remain free on bond by appealing her conviction.

Friday, October 13, 2006

McDonald's on hot seat again

A lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles alleging McDonald's french fries of causing a severe allergic reaction in an autistic boy.

Seems that the fast-food chain had admitted earlier that their earlier claims of their french fries being free of allergens was not entirely true; the oil they are fried in contains gluten and casein.

According to a Court TV report:
The complaint alleges fraud, false advertising and negligent misrepresentation by McDonald's Corp. and McDonald's Restaurants of California and seeks $15,000 for Roman Brown's medical expenses, along with a share of profits made by the company for the alleged misrepresentation and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The plaintiffs also are asking for certification of the lawsuit as a class-action on behalf of other autistic children who they allege may have been similarly harmed.

"In most cases, elimination of gluten and casein from an autistic child's [diet] results in dramatic improvements in the child's condition, often enabling the child to attend mainstream educational programs in a matter of months,'' the suit states.

The complaint was filed in L.A. Superior Court by Richard Brown, who was id entified as the boy's guardian. The court papers do not state the relationship between the guardian and the child, nor specify the child's age.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Court Orders Grace to Pay for Clean Up

From The Los Angeles Times:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand lower court rulings that require W.R. Grace & Co. to pay a $54.5-million federal bill for asbestos cleanup in a Montana mining town described by federal regulators as one of the nation's most contaminated Superfund sites.

The court rejected Grace's appeal of a decision in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency, which sued Grace five years ago to recover the cleanup costs at a vermiculite mine in the town of Libby.
Anyone who hasn't seen this documentary, should.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Appeals Court Allows Admistration to Continue Spying

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing the government's warrantless surveillance program to continue while the Justice Department appeals a federal judge's ruling that the spying is unconstitutional.

The unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave little explanation for the decision. In the three-paragraph ruling, judges said that they balanced the likelihood an appeal would succeed, the potential damage to both sides and the public interest.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit ruled Aug. 17 that the program was unconstitutional because it violates the rights to free speech and privacy and the separation of powers in the Constitution.

The Justice Department had urged the appeals court to allow it to keep the program in place while it argues its appeal, claiming that the nation faced "potential irreparable harm." The appeal is likely to take months.

"The country will be more vulnerable to a terrorist attack," the government motion said.
Here's an interesting point made in the news account: "A secret court has been set up to grant warrants for such surveillance, but the government says it can't always wait for a court to take action."

As many understand Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 the government has the ability to initiate electronic surveillance without a court order and still have 15 days to go before the secret court to get the proper warrant.

However, this only applies when Congress has formally declared war.

The problem is that the current administration claims they have the authority to conduct warrantless searches without any court oversight at all, with which many legal and constitutional scholars (and at least one federal judge) disagee.

Could they avoid all this legal wrangling by having Congress issue a formal declaration of war on terror? Who is terror? What is terror? How do you declare war on terror?

It makes our brain hurt.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogger Beware

One would think common sense would dictate whether one would engage in libel on the blogosphere, but then again ...

The legal battles over blogging and message board postings are unfolding on several fronts:

•In Washington, D.C., former U.S. Senate aide Jessica Cutler was sued for invasion of privacy by Robert Steinbuch, also a former Senate aide, after Cutler posted a blog in 2004 describing their sexual escapades. The blog, titled Washingtonienne, was viewed widely after it was cited by a Washington gossip website called Wonkette. In July, Steinbuch added Wonkette to the lawsuit.

•Todd Hollis, a criminal defense lawyer in Pittsburgh, has filed a libel suit against a website called DontDateHimGirl.com, which includes message boards in which women gossip about men they supposedly dated. One posting on the site accused Hollis of having herpes. Another said he had infected a woman he once dated with a sexually transmitted disease. Yet another said he was gay. Hollis, 38, who says the accusations are false, is suing the site's operator, Tasha Joseph, and the posters of the messages.

•Anna Draker, a high school assistant principal in San Antonio, filed a defamation and negligence lawsuit against two students and their parents after a hoax page bearing her name, photo and several lewd comments and graphics appeared on MySpace.com, the popular social networking website.

Update on LA Homeless

There's more than one way to solve the homeless problem.

Now that the Los Angeles City Council has voted down an agreement between the city and the ACLU concerning the homeless, the LAPD, with the blessing of the city attorney, has resumed arresting people sleeping on city streets during the day.

The LA Times reports:
Police Chief William J. Bratton said he authorized the arrests after the L.A. city attorney's office issued a legal opinion saying that officers could arrest homeless people who slept on skid row's streets during the day.

But the new tactics were met with concern from some L.A. council members as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, which has aggressively challenged the city's efforts to remove the homeless camps.

Catherine Lhamon, racial justice director of the ACLU of Southern California, questioned whether the arrests made Tuesday are allowed under an April federal appeals court ruling that struck down the city's ban on people sleeping on streets and sidewalks.

Over-zealous Agent Facing Lawsuit

A Golden, Colorado, man has filed a federal lawsuit against a Secret Service agent for "unlawful seizure, unlawful search and retaliation for exercising his constitutional right to free speech."

According to the Denver Post:
Steven Howards, 54, a consultant to non-profit organizations, was vacationing with his family in Beaver Creek when he spotted Cheney in an outdoor mall shaking hands and posing for photos. Howards and his son walked over and told Cheney that his policies in Iraq are "reprehensible."

Howards said he may have touched Cheney on the elbow or shoulder, like others in the crowd.

Howards kept walking to his son's piano lesson. He returned to the spot about ten minutes later with another son, and that's when Secret Service agent Virgil Reichle handcuffed and arrested Howards for assaulting the vice president.

The charge was later reduced to harassment, then dismissed in Eagle County Court a month later.
As is often the case in such matters, this is probably not the full story, but we guess when the vice president crawls out of his "undisclosed location" agents charged with guarding his life must feel tremendous pressure to keep him safe from things he doesn't want to hear.

Remember the physician on the Gulf Coast last year who told Cheney to go f**k himself? He was not arrested, but that's probably because he said something the veep could understand.

Using words of more than one syllable will get you in trouble.