Friday, November 09, 2007

Merck to settle Vioxx Lawsuits

After winning most of the Vioxx lawsuits, Merck decides to settle the rest for a cool $4.85 billion.
Three years after withdrawing its pain medication Vioxx from the market, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits by people who claim they or their family members suffered injury or died after taking the drug, according to two lawyers with direct knowledge of the matter.

The settlement, one of the largest ever in civil litigation, comes after nearly 20 Vioxx civil trials over the last two years from New Jersey to California. After losing a $253 million verdict in the first case, Merck has won most of the rest of the cases that reached juries, giving plaintiffs little choice but to settle.

The settlement will help put Vioxx behind Merck, as well as sharply reduce its Vioxx-related legal defense fees, which are now running at more than $600 million annually.

Judges in Louisiana, New Jersey and California, who oversee nearly all the lawsuits, had pressed for a deal before a new wave of trials was scheduled to begin in January.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Actor Keanu Reeves Faces Photographer's Law Suit

A paparazzo gets bumped by a car driven by Keanu Reeves last May and is now suing the actor.

LOS ANGELES - A photographer sued Keanu Reeves, accusing the actor of hitting him with his Porsche in a not-so-excellent encounter in March. The lawsuit said Reeves struck Alison Silva on March 19 and alleges that Silva suffered shock and serious injuries. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages.

According to reports at the time of the accident, Reeves was leaving a parking space in a residential area near Los Verdes County Golf Course, about 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

If you stand in the street be careful. This case needs to be tossed.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Merck cleared in Florida Vioxx trial

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida jury on Friday found Merck & Co's withdrawn painkiller Vioxx did not cause a former professional soccer player's heart attack and that the company did not conceal safety risks associated with the medicine.

After a three-week trial in the Circuit Court of Hillsborough County, the six-member jury took just two hours to hand Merck a victory on all counts.

The jury also found that Merck was not negligent and did not fail to provide adequate warnings about Vioxx heart risks.

The plaintiff, 56-year-old Refic Kozic, blamed Vioxx for his 2001 heart attack at the age of 50. He had used the drug for nine weeks for knee pain.

"We believe the evidence showed that Merck acted responsibly and that Vioxx was not the cause of Mr. Kozic's heart attack," said Mike Brock, one of Merck's attorneys.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Virtual Reality Tours Increase Real Estate Sales

We have two friends in the real estate business, and they couldn't be more different. Neither one wanted us to mention them by name (go figure) so we'll call them Marcia and Larry.

Marcia has been a real estate agent for 30 years and has a well-established business relying primarily on word-of-mouth and the occasional direct mail piece. Her idea of virtual reality tours is a few quality photos of each property on her Web site.

She told us her methods work well for her, and we can't argue with her success over the years through good times and bad.

Larry, on the other hand, is relatively new to the real estate game. He's young, eager, ambitious and very tech savvy. As expected he has quite a different view on the use of virtual reality tours in his quest to sell more homes.

He believes the use of video in virtual reality real estate tours is getting ready to revolutionize the home selling market and he plans to be in the vanguard.

Larry has statistic on his side, too.

Here's a couple of tidbits from Real Networks:
  • Visitors stayed at websites that used video 78% longer than websites that did not have video.
  • 86 percent of website visitors stay to listen to and/or watch a streaming media presentation.

Larry is as convinced of the benefits of using video virtual tours in his real estate practice as Marcia is on her tried and true methods.

Who's right? Our money is on Larry.

Monday, September 10, 2007

War on the Freedom of Information Act


We live with an administration whose concept of domestic "freedom" went out with those "freedom fries," briefly sold at the cafeterias of the House of Representatives. The Bush team has quite literally been a force for darkness. For those who remember the "memory hole" down which the bureaucrats of the Ministry of Truth dumped all uncomfortable or inconvenient documents in Orwell's famed dystopian novel 1984, this administration has created its functional equivalent. Just since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the government has removed from open shelves and sequestered from public view more than one million pages of "historical government documents -- a stack taller than the U.S. Capitol." According to the Associated Press, "some of these documents are more than a century old." What we are seeing in many cases is "declassification in reverse." For example, the CIA and other federal agencies "have secretly reclassified over 55,000 pages of records taken from the open shelves at the National Archives and Records Administration." These have even included half-century-old documents already published in a State Department historical series. In many cases, there is simply no way of knowing what has been removed, because the removals have largely not been catalogued.

Even the Pentagon phone book, on sale at the Government Printing Office bookstore until 2001, is gone. There's little way for a citizen to know who occupy offices that may determine the course of his or her life. In a sense, there are no longer "public servants," only private ones, beholden to the President, not Americans. This is what "national security," Bush-style, really means. Similarly, as Robert Dreyfuss discovered when he tried to chart out who was working in Vice President Cheney's office while researching a piece, no information could be revealed to a curious reporter, not even the names and positions of those who worked for the Vice President, those who, theoretically, were working for us. Cheney's office would not even publicly acknowledge its own employees, no less let them be interviewed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Anti-gay Lawmaker: 'I am not gay'

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, known for consistent votes against gay rights, says he is not gay after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge on Aug. 8, with the court dismissing a charge of gross misdemeanor interference to privacy.

BOISE, Idaho - Under fire from leaders of his own party, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig on Tuesday the only thing he had done wrong was to plead guilty after a police complaint of lewd conduct in a men's room. He declared, "I am not gay. I never have been gay."

"I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport," he said at a news conference with his wife, Suzanne, at his side.

Craig's defiant stance came as Senate Republican leaders in Washington called for an ethics committee review into his involvement in a police sting operation this summer in the airport men's room.

"In the meantime, the leadership is examining other aspects of the case to see if additional action is required," Sen. Mitch McConnell and other top GOP lawmakers said in a written statement.

A private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, also filed a complaint with the ethics committee seeking an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate rules by engaging in disorderly conduct.

Craig entered his plea several weeks after an undercover police officer in the airport arrested him and issued a complaint that said the three-term senator had engaged in actions "often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct."

Craig said he has hired a lawyer and will ask him to review the case.

The airport incident occurred June 11. Craig signed his plea papers on Aug. 1, and word of the events surfaced Monday. The senator issued a statement Monday night that said, "In hindsight, I should have pled not guilty."

He repeated that assertion at the Idaho news conference. "In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision," he said. "I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Outsourcing That Makes Sense

If you are running a web-based business on a budget there's a new service you need to know about - SEO Outsourcing.

While the site is new, they have more than 11 years experience in making sure web site place well in the search engines. Oh, they don't guarantee a No. 1 Google ranking, but they do guarantee quick results.

Here's what they have to say:

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Their rates are very affordable, too. Even for the Mom and Pop businesses.

In addition to SEO, they offer:
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  • Content Management Systems
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Give them a try. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Filing a Personal Head Injury Claim in Spain

After each holiday weekend or fiesta there is always a large accident rate and a high death toll on Spanish roads. Authorities in Spain are clamping down on drunken drivers and reckless driving but enforcement of the traffic laws is not yet having a direct impact on reducing the high number of deaths and injuries on Spanish roads.

One of the most prevalent types of injury from these accidents involves head trauma and resultant brain injury. In fact, one recent study involving Spanish coastal property indicated 61 percent of traffic accidents resulted in some type of brain injury. These accidents included autos, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians hit by vehicles.

With more and more British citizens expected to retire in Spain and other European countries it is important for these expatriots to understand the local laws involving injury. Here is a summary of what you should know about

Similar to the UK there is an obligation on the drivers to remain at the site of the accident until the police arrive. If the injuries suffered and damage to the car is minor then the other driver may ask you to sign a form accepting who was responsible for the accident. This is known as a "declaracion amistosa" and should not be signed unless you are absolutely certain of what you are signing and accepting. If the other driver wishes to leave the scene try and obtain, as far as possible, his insurance details, full name, identity card number and details of the vehicle before he does so. If the injuries suffered require hospitalisation then on leaving the hospital ensure that you obtain a discharge certificate, which will set out the injuries that you have suffered, the amount of days in hospital and the treatment prescribed.

Usually after a road accident the Police will visit the scene, prepare a report and then send it to the local Court. The report will contain details of the drivers insurance companies, names of the drivers, witnesses, if any, statement from the parties involved and an objective assessment of how the accident occurred.

Once you have been discharged or in the event of a death after the funeral, the relatives or victim should seek legal advice as the claim has to be brought within 1 year of the accident. If you have a valid motor or other insurance policy then read the policy carefully to see if you have legal expenses cover. If you do then contact the insurance company, notify them of the claim (if they have not already been notified) and ask them how much cover you have and whether or not you are permitted under the terms of the policy to use your own lawyer rather than their huge claims department, which may not offer the personalised service.

When instructing a lawyer ask him for details of his charges and an explanation of the action that he will take on your behalf.

The first steps a lawyer will take is to contact the Court and obtain a copy of the Police report which will contain some important information. He will also notify the Court if proceedings are ongoing that his Firm is instructed and appoint a Procurador. A Procurador is a Court Official employed by the lawyer to present documents to the Court and notify the lawyer of progress of the claim in the Court.

Following these instructions should make it easier to make a personal injury claim following an accident in Spain.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Data Mining Triggered Flap Between Gonzales, Congress

Fresh from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, July 28 — A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.

It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.

The N.S.A.’s data mining has previously been reported. But the disclosure that concerns about it figured in the March 2004 debate helps to clarify the clash this week between Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senators who accused him of misleading Congress and called for a perjury investigation.

The confrontation in 2004 led to a showdown in the hospital room of then Attorney General John Ashcroft, where Mr. Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff, tried to get the ailing Mr. Ashcroft to reauthorize the N.S.A. program.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Judge Dismisses Plame's Lawsuit

Federal Judge John D. Bates dismissed a lawsuit filed by former CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame against Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the administration because they were just doing their jobs.

The Washington Post reports:

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said that Cheney and the others could not be held liable for the disclosures in the summer of 2003 in the midst of a White House effort to rebut criticism of the Iraq war by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The judge said that such efforts are a natural part of the officials' job duties, and, thus, they are immune from liability.

"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote. "But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."
An interesting point is the judge owes his position to President Bush.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lawyer Sent to Jail For Testimony Leak

From AFP via Yahoo! News:

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Troy Ellerman, a defense lawyer in the BALCO steroid scandal, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Thursday for leaking secret testimony from star athlete witnesses to the media.

Ellerman, 44, had pleaded guilty in February to contempt of court, obstruction of justice and making false statements after allowing a San Francisco Chronicle reporter access to transcripts of grand jury testimony by baseball star Barry Bonds and other athletes embroiled in the BALCO steroids investigation.

Ellerman, who at the time represented BALCO Vice President James Valente, then complained about the leaks in court.

US District Judge Jeffrey White said Ellerman's actions "infected every aspect of the judicial system."

BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, was accused of producing and supplying performance-enhancing substances to top athletes in one of the worst scandals in sporting history.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supreme Court Rejects Use of Race in School Plans

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected school assignment plans that take account of students' race in two major public school districts.

The school rulings in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle leave public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by the court's other three liberals.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion in which he said race may be a component of school district plans designed to achieve diversity.

He agreed with Roberts that the plans in Louisville and Seattle went too far. He said, however, that to the extent that Roberts' opinion could be interpreted as foreclosing the use of race in any circumstance, "I disagree with that reasoning."

The two school systems in Thursday's decisions employ slightly different methods of taking students' race into account when determining which school they would attend.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Judge Suspends Duke D.A.

Already stripped of his law license over his mishandling of the Duke rape case, a judge ordered District Attorney Mike Nifong immediately suspended from office.

From USA Today:
DURHAM, N.C. — A judge suspended District Attorney Mike Nifong effective immediately Tuesday after learning the prosecutor disbarred for his handling of the Duke lacrosse rape case intended to stay in office for another month.
"There is probably cause to believe that the district attorney has engaged in willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which brings the office into disrepute," Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson wrote in his order.

Later Tuesday, state lawmakers were scheduled to take up — and expected to pass — a bill that would allow Gov. Mike Easley to immediately remove Nifong from office.

Nifong, who was disbarred Saturday for breaking more than two dozen rules of professional conduct in his handling of the Duke case, said in a letter issued Monday that he would leave office July 13 — a date that could arrive before the legislation becomes law.

That departure date wasn't soon enough for Hudson, who decided late Monday that he would suspend Nifong from office. He said then that he would order the sheriff to prevent Nifong from carrying out any duties of the district attorney.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A lesson in innocence

The horrible miscarriage of justice in the cases of the Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape is a prime example of why American justice insists that a person charged with a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case with institutions and people.

Duke University has settled with the three players for undisclosed amounts because "it is in the best interests of the Duke community to eliminate the possibility of future litigation and move forward," according to a written statement released by the university.

After the rape charges first surfaced in the spring of 2006, Duke canceled the men's lacrosse season and forced the resignation of coach Mike Pressler. Dozens of Duke faculty members known as the "Group of 88" signed a statement criticizing the lacrosse team.

Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were suspended from Duke after their indictments. David Evans graduated from Duke just before he was indicted.

"This has been an extraordinary year for Duke students David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann," Duke added in today's statement.

"We welcomed their exoneration and deeply regret the difficult year they and their families have had to endure. They conducted themselves with great dignity during their long ordeal."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Prosecutor Facing Own Hearing

The prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case from last year is now facing a hearing of his own after charges of ethics violations were leveled at him.
RALEIGH, N.C. - More than a year after shocking allegations emerged about Duke University's lacrosse team, prosecutor Mike Nifong was back in court Tuesday — this time as the defendant.

The North Carolina State Bar charged the Durham County district attorney with several violations of the state's rules of professional conduct, all tied to his handling of the lacrosse case.

If convicted by a disciplinary commission hearing the case, he could be stripped of his license to practice law in the state.

Georgia Yo-yo Justice

A Georgia teen imprisoned for consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, was first told he was being released, but will stay in prison pending a bond hearing next month.
ATLANTA - Genarlow Wilson's joy was short-lived. One minute, a judge ordered him released from prison, saying the young man's 10-year sentence for consensual sex between teens was a "grave miscarriage of justice." Ninety minutes later, Georgia's attorney general said Wilson wasn't going anywhere — the state had appealed.

On Tuesday, Wilson's attorney was fighting to at least get him released on bond during the appeal process. He is now 21 and has been behind bars for more than 28 months.

"Yesterday, they did not consent to a bond," attorney B.J. Bernstein said Tuesday on CNN. "We are hopeful to hurry up and get in front of a judge — one, to get him out pending an appeal, but even more importantly, to get this madness over with."

Bernstein sought a hearing Tuesday in Douglas County court, where Wilson was convicted, even though the district attorney there opposes his release. Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson set the bond hearing for July 5, another three weeks away.

Wilson became a symbol for extreme cases of getting tough on sex offenders when he was sentenced to the mandatory 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2003, when Wilson was 17.

If he had instead had sexual intercourse with the teen, he would have fallen under Georgia's "Romeo and Juliet" exception. But under the law in 2003, oral sex for teens still constituted aggravated child molestation and carried a mandatory sentence, plus listing on the sex offender registry.

Lawmakers last year voted to close that loophole, but the state's top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively to Wilson's case.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Libby Sentenced; Bush Feels Terrible

Former White House official Lewis "Scooter" Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his lying in the investigation of the outing of a covert CIA agent. His attorneys want him to remain free while his case is on appeal. The judge is not so inclined.

Meanwhile, President George Bush is said to feel "terrible" for Libby's family.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Court Limits Suits Over Pay-Bias

Does big business rule the courts? You be the judge after reading about their ruling on pay-bias suits.
The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that the deadline for workers to file a pay-bias complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is 180 days from the date the decision on their pay is made and communicated to them.

In general, an individual wishing to bring a discrimination lawsuit must first file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred."

The question before the Supreme Court was whether the clock on that 180 days restarts each time an employee receives a paycheck that reflects past discrimination.

Lilly Ledbetter was a supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber's plant in Gadsden, Alabama, from 1979 until her retirement in 1998. At first, her pay was in line with the salaries of men, but over time a gap developed between her salary and the pay of male area managers with equal or less seniority. By the end of 1997, Ledbetter was the only woman working as an area manager and was paid $3,727 per month. By comparison, the pay of the lowest paid male area manager was $4,286 per month.

Ledbetter sued in 1998, alleging disparate treatment. The company argued that the suit should be dismissed because Ledbetter failed to file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the previous pay decisions that Ledbetter alleges were discriminatory.

However, Ledbetter argued that the clock on the 180-day deadline restarted after each paycheck that reflected past discrimination. She claimed that each time the company issued her a paycheck, the company demonstrated an intent to discriminate and violated Title VII.

However, the majority rejected her arguments, saying Ledbetter should have filed a complaint after each pay decision.

"Ledbetter should have filed an EEOC charge within 180 days after each allegedly discriminatory pay decision was made and communicated to her," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. "She did not do so, and the paychecks that were issued to her during the 180 days prior to the filing of her EEOC charge do not provide a basis for overcoming that prior failure."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Saving Money on Ink Cartridges

Most people have a tendency to buy ink cartridges from the same manufacturer as the printer. Since major name brand printers make most of their profit from the replacement cartridges they charge a premium price. How can the average user save money on ink supplies.

One way is to purchase ink cartridges from independent sellers whose product will work just as well as those from the manufacturer. However, wise consumers will save not only money, but heartache as well if they do their homework.

By checking on the reputation of the independent seller, the consumer can avoid poorly made cartridges that not only produce low quality prints but can even damage the printer. If buying online, the consumer can look for testimonials and even search for independent reviews of the seller.

Another option available for consumers is using refillable inks for their cartridges. The downside here is again the quality of the ink along with the possible leaking of the cartridge.

Still another way to save money on printing costs is to use black ink in draft mode whenever possible. Color ink is more expensive and should only be used when printing the final project. Some everyday printing, such like something from the Internet may not require color ink. Use black ink in these cases.

Some consumers will buy ink in bulk as a way to save money. Additionally, if you have a major printing job that requires a lot of ink and want to stick to cartridges, try buying in quantity. Many online retailers offer special prices when several cartridges are ordered at one time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Does Paris Hilton Deserve Jail Time?

Paris Hilton belongs behind bars, accordint to this analysis by Susan Filan:

No questions about it, Hilton should be behind bars

By Susan Filan
Senior legal analyst

It's about time Paris Hilton learned that rules apply to her too.

Until now, the hotel heiress has lived her life as if the law was a buffet menu from which she could pick and choose which to rules to follow and which to disobey.

On Friday, after she had the audacity to arrive 18 minutes late to her sentencing hearing, a Los Angeles judge ended her a la carte lifestyle and sentenced Hilton to 45 days in prison for violating the terms of her probation. And she won't be allowed to serve her prison sentence at a "camp" for celebrities either. The judge ordered Hilton to surrender on June 5 to Los Angeles County's jailhouse for women, a 2,200 inmate facility. This is one accommodation in which Hilton will not be permitted to order room service, use a cell phone or a Blackberry, or do whatever she wants whenever she wants. She will be allowed outside her cell for one hour a day to shower, watch television in the dayroom with other inmates, or go outside for recreation.

And this is the absolute right result. Justice has been served. Hilton brought this on herself by the choices she has made and by her own behavior. And now she has to pay the price. It’s only fair. Were the judge to have ruled differently, it would have sent a message to our celebrity-worshipping culture that only "regular" folks have to obey the rules.

Just what is Paris’ crime and why should she go to jail?

In January 2007, Hilton was convicted of reckless driving. Her blood alcohol content was .08, which is illegal. Her punishment then was a “get out of jail free” card. She was placed on probation for 36 months, fined $1,500 and ordered to enroll in alcohol education classes. And her driver’s license was suspended.

On January 15, 2007, Paris was caught driving with a suspended license. If your license is suspended, you can’t drive. It’s that simple. On February 27, 2007, Paris was caught driving again at 11:00 at night, license still suspended. She was speeding and she didn’t have her headlights on.

Paris said she did not know her license was suspended, but she had to sign a piece of paper acknowledging the license suspension. Guess what? That piece of paper was in her glove compartment with her signature on it.

Oh, and those alcohol education classes she was supposed to enroll in by February 12th? As of April 17 , she still hadn’t enrolled.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Twice-Convicted Murderer Released

From The New York Times:
OKLAHOMA CITY, May 21 — “It’s like landing on a new planet,” said Curtis E. McCarty, who was freed from death row this month after two convictions for the same murder, and 22 years in prison, 16 of them on death row.

Mr. McCarty, 44, had been scheduled to stand trial yet again on Monday for the killing in 1982 of a police officer’s daughter but was released based on a presumption of innocence after DNA evidence from earlier trials was destroyed.

“This is a real bad situation for everybody involved — for my family, for the victim’s family, for myself, for the local court system, for the people of this community,” Mr. McCarty said in a telephone interview after declining to show up Friday at a news conference at the Capitol featuring his parents and justice advocates calling for a commission to examine wrongful convictions.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Supreme Court: Prisoner Must Die

The Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling and orders death for inmate.
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled against a death row inmate Monday who directed his lawyer not to present evidence that could spare him, then argued on appeal that the attorney was ineffective.

The court reversed a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision granting twice-convicted killer Jeffrey Landrigan a hearing on his claim that his lawyer didn’t do enough to ward off the death sentence.

The appeals court should have deferred to lower court rulings against Landrigan, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority in a 5-4 decision.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

In our society many people have been being diagnosed with a deadly cancer called mesothelioma, which is a disease of the lining that surrounds vital organs such as the lungs, the abdomen, and the heart. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to a material we have all heard of called asbestos.

Asbestos was widely used in the late 19th century into the middle of the 20th century, and it was so common because of its fire resistant properties. Studies soon started to show that the dust from asbestos would get into your lungs but your body would not reject it.

Asbestos exposure can cause many health problems but mesothelioma is the worst, and in most cases it is deadly. There are many studies being done trying to find something to help battle against mesothelioma, but at this point the life expectancy after a mesothelioma diagnosis is usually around a year.

One of the major problems with mesothelioma is that you can show no signs or symptoms for years and then whee you do show symptoms and get the diagnosis from the doctor it is usually too late.

Advancements are being made in mesothelioma research and there are high hopes for the near future in at least extending the life expectancy and the quality of life for the patient. Doctors and scientists are working on many prescriptions and radiation treatments to try and aid a mesothelioma patient. If you know that you were exposed to asbestos in the past this is a disease you should learn more about and it can be quite scary and overwhelming.

There are many support groups and counselors that can help someone diagnosed with mesothelioma and understand the different types of this asbestos cancer.

So if you or someone you know is seeking more info on mesothelioma there are many great informational and legal sites that can help you become more educated.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Court Rules Against Mormon in Tax Case

A federal appeals court has dismissed a case in which a Mormon argued his religion should exempt him from Social Security taxes.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court dismissed a case on Monday in which a Las Vegas attorney argued his Mormon religion should exempt him from
Social Security taxes.

"I don't believe in it, I don't like it, I think it is Satanic," Jonathan Hansen said in a telephone interview, adding that to date he has paid his Social Security taxes. "I belong to a religion that will take care of me. I don't need the Social Security system and I don't want it."

"It violates my religious beliefs and it violates the teachings of my church as I interpret them."

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with such arguments and backed a lower court's dismissal of Hansen's claim.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Courts Swamped by Immigration-Related Felonies

Federal courts along the southern border are swamped with immigration-related felony cases. The problem stems from a Border Patrol decision to send illegal immigrants to court rather than deport them.

From the Associated Press:
During a push to crack down on illegal immigration last fall, Customs and Border Protection floated a plan for New Mexico that would have suspended the practice of sending home hundreds of illegal immigrants caught near the border with Mexico. Instead, these people would be sent to court.

The idea, called "Operation Streamline," was to make it clear that people caught illegally in the U.S. would be prosecuted.

Then New Mexico's federal judges reminded the Border Patrol that they lacked the resources to handle the hundreds of new defendants who would stream into the court system every day.

"We said, 'Do you realize that the second week into this we're going to run out of (jail) space?'" Martha Vazquez, chief judge for the District of New Mexico, recalled telling Border Patrol chief David Aguilar.

"We were obviously alarmed because where would we put our bank robbers? Our rapists? Those who violate probation?" she said.

Border Patrol eventually dropped the idea. Officials said they could not get all the necessary agencies to agree to it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Supreme Court Throws Out Three Texas Death Sentences

Court cites improper instruction to the juries in tossing out the death sentences of three men on death row in Texas.

Excerpt from MSNBC:
The three 5-4 rulings had the same lineup of justices, with Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and John Paul Stevens forming the majority.

"When the jury is not permitted to give meaningful effect or a 'reasoned moral response' to a defendant's mitigating evidence...the sentencing process is fatally flawed," Stevens wrote in Abdul-Kabir's case

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Impeachment of Cheney Sought

Posted at CommonDreams:
Congressman Kucinich Will Hold Press Conference to Announce Introduction of Articles of Impeachment Relating To Vice President Richard Cheney

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon to announce the introduction of articles of impeachment relating to the Vice President of the United States Richard B. Cheney.

Where: Cannon Terrace (intersection of Independence Avenue and New Jersey Avenue)
When: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Time: 12 p.m.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Team Link Network Affiliate Program

Teamlink Network (TLN), a provider of software that links up advertisers with publishers, offers a flat 25 percent commission, coupled with weekly payments.

TLN’s payment schedule is rare in the affiliate marketplace. Many affiliate programs make you wait for up to 90 days, then you must have a set minimum before they will pay out.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Are sex offenders trolls?

Seems that in Miami-Dade County the Florida Corrections Department thinks convicted sex offenders are trolls. Several are housed under a bridge.

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The sparkling blue waters off Miami's Julia Tuttle Causeway look as if they were taken from a postcard. But the causeway's only inhabitants see little paradise in their surroundings.

Five men -- all registered sex offenders convicted of abusing children -- live along the causeway because there is a housing shortage for Miami's least welcome residents.

"I got nowhere I can go!" says sex offender Rene Matamoros, who lives with his dog on the shore where Biscayne Bay meets the causeway.

The Florida Department of Corrections says there are fewer and fewer places in Miami-Dade County where sex offenders can live because the county has some of the strongest restrictions against this kind of criminal in the country.

Florida's solution: house the convicted felons under a bridge that forms one part of the causeway.

The Julia Tuttle Causeway, which links Miami to Miami Beach, offers no running water, no electricity and little protection from nasty weather. It's not an ideal solution, Department of Corrections Officials told CNN, but at least the state knows where the sex offenders are.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

New York's Outdated Divorce Laws

New York is the only state that does not have no-fault divorce. Couples in that state that want to divorce quickly without blame are out of luck.

From the Associated Press:

New York is the only state that won't allow the speedy dissolution of a marriage without proof that one spouse is somehow at fault, experts say. Adultery is sufficient grounds, but irreconcilable differences are not. "He beats me" (with proof) works, but "We grew apart" doesn't cut it.

The system has been ridiculed as hopelessly outdated, and sometimes results in endless litigation and spouses leaving the state to evade the law. This week, in what some see as more proof of the law's absurdity, a jury denied the bickering Taubs a divorce."I think it's an anachronistic, completely inefficient process," said Bernard Clair, a divorce lawyer.

"Today, divorce is really about dividing an economic partnership. The dirty laundry aspects play no role except to jazz up the clients and distract them from the real issues of the case."Under New York divorce law, couples can split up without either spouse being assigned blame, but only if they first sign a division-of-property agreement and live apart for a year.

Couples who want to end a marriage more quickly than that have been known to lie, move or tarnish their own reputations.If the desire for a divorce is mutual, but neither side wants to wait a year, one common ruse is to have one party take the blame.

A popular ground is "constructive abandonment," in which one spouse alleges the other won't have sex. The other spouse agrees not to contest the allegation.

Not all Dems happy with Military Funding Bill

Not every Democrat is celebrating the passage of the House version of the Military Funding bill. Dennis Kucinich makes his views known in this article found at the video blog Ravel Babel:
Another sore point with Kucinich is that the bill "sets the stage for the privatization of Iraq’s ... oil industry.

"To have the Democratic Party involved in something like that is outrageous," he said. "Furthermore, we should be pushing for the stabilization of Iraq’s food and energy crisis. There’s no talk about that. Basically we’re blaming Iraq for the disaster that the United States and this administration visited upon them. We’re telling them, either they’re going to get their house in order or we’re going to leave. Well, you know what, this approach is wrongheaded and the Democrats should have known better and they should have done better."
Read the Rest

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gonzales losing support

Key Republicans are abandoning support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
Three key Republican senators sharply questioned his truthfulness over the firings last fall of eight federal prosecutors. Two more Democrats on Sunday joined the list of lawmakers calling for Gonzales' ouster.

Several Republicans also urged President Bush to allow sworn testimony from his top aides about their role in dismissing the U.S. attorneys — a standoff threatening to result in Capitol Hill subpoenas of White House officials.

Gonzales faces the toughest test of his two-year tenure at the Justice Department with the release of documents suggesting he was more involved with the firings than he indicated earlier.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Troubles For Edwards Family

This from CNN:
CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Thursday his wife's cancer has returned but his bid for the White House will continue.

"The campaign goes on," the former senator from North Carolina said at a news conference, contradicting earlier media reports to the contrary.

John Edwards said tests this week had shown his wife, Elizabeth, had cancer in a rib on her right side. He said the cancer is treatable but not curable.

"We are very optimistic about this," he said, noting that the tumor is small in size and has a "relatively minimal presence."

Elizabeth Edwards said she was "incredibly optimistic" and said her expectations about the future were unchanged.

"I expect to do next week all the things I did last week. And the week after that, and next year at the same time," she said.

And she wanted her husband to continue his run for the presidency.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'

We think this case made it to the Supreme Court for the message on the sign.

WASHINGTON - A high school senior’s 14-foot banner proclaiming “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” gave the Supreme Court a provocative prop for a lively argument Monday about the extent of schools’ control over student speech.

If the justices conclude Joseph Frederick’s homemade sign was a pro-drug message, they are likely to side with principal Deborah Morse. She suspended Frederick in 2002 when he unfurled the banner across the street from the school in Juneau, Alaska.

“I thought we wanted our schools to teach something, including something besides just basic elements, including the character formation and not to use drugs,” Chief Justice John Roberts said Monday.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tribe's Video Gambling Nixed

From the Houston Chronicle:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Catawba Indian Nation may not offer video gambling on its reservation because it would violate a state law prohibiting the games, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The Catawbas, the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina, sued in 2005 for the right to offer video gambling, arguing their 1993 land deal with the state allowed it.

A South Carolina law banned video gambling in 2000.

The state contends that the land deal means the tribe's reservation falls under state, not federal, gambling laws. The Catawbas disagree and said they would appeal.

"This is just another round," said tribe attorney Dwight Drake.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Senate Seeking Answers to Attorney Firings

The New York Times reports:
WASHINGTON, March 13 — Senate Democrats vowed today to get explanations, with or without subpoenas, from high Bush administration officials as revelations about the dismissal of federal prosecutors put renewed pressure on the White House.

“Just when we thought our faith could not be shaken any further, it has been,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The latest revelations prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there has been unprecedented breach of trust, abuse of power and misuse of the Justice Department.”

Mr. Schumer was reacting to disclosures by administration officials on Monday that the White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers.

Mr. Schumer, who called over the weekend for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, renewed that call today. The senator also said Karl Rove, President Bush’s top political adviser, “should not wait for a subpoena” but should come before Congress at once to tell what he knows about the affair.

So should Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel and one-time Supreme Court nominee, “who was deeply involved in this ill-conceived project,” Mr. Schumer said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and also a member of the Judiciary Committee, said she had always believed that the attorney general’s office “stood apart from the White House.”

“And now I learn that much of what I had believed, at least about this attorney general’s office, is in fact not the case,” Senator Feinstein said. Predicting that a full inquiry may take a while, she said: “We will go that distance. And we will dig just as deep as is required.”
More of the Story

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Sooner Thought Podcast

Even law watchers have to take a break every now and then, and when we do, we listens to the Sooner Thought Podcast by our good friend Alex.

DISCLOSURE: We're not just saying that; Alex really is a friend of ours, and we're not above plugging for a friend. No money has changed hands, we're doing a favor because he asked nicely and we think his podcast is entertaining, thought-provoking ... well, you get the picture.

We don't know about his choice of guests sometimes, like this Jake numb-nuts from Ravel Babel. Just go check out his site and you'll see what we mean.

Give Alex and his Sooner Thought Podcast a try. You'll never go back.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


We all know the outcome of the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Here are comments from the Democratic congressional leaders:

House Speaker Nancy Peolsi:
Today’s guilty verdicts are not solely about the acts of one individual.

This trial provided a troubling picture of the inner workings of the Bush Administration. The testimony unmistakably revealed – at the highest levels of the Bush Administration – a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
Washington, DC — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today released the following statement on news that a jury has found Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice.

"I welcome the jury's verdict. It's about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics. Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Going overboard?

Does this strike you as going just a bit too far? Or is it OK to mark offenders this way?

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The cars of sexual predators would be marked by fluorescent green license plates under a unique proposal before Ohio lawmakers.

A bill introduced Wednesday by two legislators, Democratic Rep. Michael DeBose and Republican Sen. Kevin Coughlin, would require all habitual and child-oriented sex offenders to display the easy-to-spot plates.

It is something no other state has tried, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though some require a designation to appear on sex offenders’ driver’s licenses. An earlier Ohio proposal to require pink plates for sex offenders was unsuccessful.
What's next? Summary execution?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Politics Real Reason for Prosecutors' Dismissals?

The New York Times has received copies of "[I]nternal Justice Department performance reports for six of the eight United States attorneys who have been dismissed in recent months ..."

For months the Justice Department has been claiming the fired prosecutors were let go because of performance issues. As the Times article points out. the attorneys were rated “well regarded,” “capable” or “very competent.”

But wait, an unnamed senior Justice Department official had this to say: “The reviews don’t take into account whether the U.S. attorneys carried out departmental priorities.”

But the Times article points out:
However, each case report included a statement that each of the ousted prosecutors had established strategic goals set by the Justice Department in high priority areas like counterterrorism, narcotics and gun violence.
So what does this leave? Politics.

Ya think?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Appeals Court Rules Against Detainees

Chalk one up for the Neo-Cons.

From The New York Times:
A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a new law stripping federal judges of authority to review foreign prisoners’ challenges to their detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The decision set the stage for a third trip to the Supreme Court for the detainees, who will once again ask the justices to consider a complex issue that tests the balance of power among the White House, Congress and the courts in the murky context of the fight against international terrorism.

It also prompted some senior Democratic lawmakers, who have fought the Bush administration on the matter before and who now hold sway in Congress, to vow enactment of a law more favorable to the prisoners.

The Supreme Court previously ruled twice that federal statutes empowered the courts to consider Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions challenging the grounds for their detention. In response to those rulings, Congress twice rewrote law to limit the detainees’ avenues of appeal. The most recent rewriting was at issue in Tuesday’s 2-to-1 decision.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Police Taping Facing Limits

If your are exercising your right of free speech in New York you will no longer be videotaped by the police.

A federal judge in Manhatten has ruled that the police do not have carte blance to videotape peaceful demonstrations unless there is a clear indication of "unlawful or terrorist activity."

Exerpt from The New York Times:
Citing two events in 2005 — a march in Harlem and a demonstration by homeless people in front of the home of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — the judge said the city had offered scant justification for videotaping the people involved.

“There was no reason to suspect or anticipate that unlawful or terrorist activity might occur,” he wrote, “or that pertinent information about or evidence of such activity might be obtained by filming the earnest faces of those concerned citizens and the signs by which they hoped to convey their message to a public official.”

While he called the police conduct “egregious,” Judge Haight also offered an unusual judicial mea culpa, taking responsibility for his own words in a 2003 order that he conceded had not been “a model of clarity.”

The restrictions on videotaping do not apply to bridges, tunnels, airports, subways or street traffic, Judge Haight noted, but are meant to control police surveillance at events where people gather to exercise their rights under the First Amendment.

“No reasonable person, and surely not this court, is unaware of the perils the New York public faces and the crucial importance of the N.Y.P.D.’s efforts to detect, prevent and punish those who would cause others harm,” Judge Haight wrote.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole and DNA

Seems that even the dead can't rest when paternity tests are ordered by judges.

This from FOX News:
A judge on Friday refused to order an emergency DNA test on the body of Anna Nicole Smith as part of a paternity suit involving her infant daughter, but he ordered that the body be preserved until a hearing in 10 days, attorneys said.

Two men are contesting the paternity of 5-month-old Dannielynn, and experts say the custody decision could determine the child's inheritance.

With major legal issues undecided, Smith's legacy could take years to untangle and could leave the baby girl with millions of dollars or nothing at all.
Why would the entire body have to be preserved? Seems that a tissue sample would be sufficient. Anna Nicole's so-called celebrity continues to spill over.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Astronaut needs psych eval

Lisa Marie Nowak, astronaut turned arrestee who is free on bail following charges of attempted kidnapping and attempted murder, should have a thorough psychological examination prior to her case going forward.

However, the charges against her are in Florida. Need we say more?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Two Charged in Boston Fiasco

Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens pleaded not guilty to charges of placing a hoax device in a way that causes panic and disorderly conduct in a Boston.

They are the two men were hired by an advertising agency to place boxes resembling Lite-Brite boards promoting a program on the Cartoon Network. Panic ensued when the Boston police were notified of suspicious devices and treated them like a terrorist attack.

The city closed major highways and subway systems and went into full "we're under attack mode." The devices were up for two weeks before coming under suspicion. Officials in nine other U.S. cities apparently saw them for what they were and took no action.

Turner Broadcasting reportedly agreed to pay the city up to $1 million to help offset the costs, which they will undoubtedly recoup through the free advertising.

Boston officials, who some say over reacted, would be smart to quietly dismiss the charges and let the matter die.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

When the punishment doesn't fit the crime

A 20-year-old Georgia man is going to prison for 10 years for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. The prosecutor seems to be punishing the man for demanding a jury trial and not taking a plea deal for five years in prison and registering as a sex offender.

Read Susan Filan's comments about the case.

Everyone agreed, including the prosecutor and the girl herself, that she initiated the act.

It was all captured on video — the evidence used to convict him at trial. On the tape, police saw a 15-year-old perform oral sex on one partygoer, and after finishing with him, she turned and did the same to Wilson. Under Georgia law at the time, this was considered aggravated child molestation, a felony for teens less than three years apart to have oral sex. It carried with it a 10-year sentence, even though it was only a misdemeanor for those same teens to have sexual intercourse.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

District Attorney in More Hot Water

Seems that Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong is finding himself in more ethics trouble.

The North Carolina Bar Association is accusing Nifong of withholding DNA evidence and making misleading statements to the court.

Nifong recently dropped rape charges against three members of the Duke University lacrosse team when the victim started wavering on her account of the incident. The district attorney withdrew from the case earlier because previously ethics charges created a conflict of interest.

If Nifong's purpose in pursuing the case was to make a name for himself, he sure succeeded. Just what that name is remains to be seen.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Model Bargains Out of Jail

Former supermodel Naomi Campbell struck a deal with prosecutors that will keep her out of jail.

Originally charged with second-degree felony assault on her maid Ana Scolavino, which carries a sentence of to two to seven years in prison, Campbel pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault which carries a much lesser penalty.

Campbell admitted throwing the cell phone which struck Scolavino in the back of the head but insisted it was an accident because she did not mean to hit her.

In exchange for her plea, Campbell with pay Scolavino's medical expenses of of $363, complete five days of community service and attend a two-day anger management program.

As is said, money talks, or in this case, takes the catwalk.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Minimum Wage Opponents Missing Point

Opponents of raising the federal minimum wage cite all kinds of statistics supporting their view, as do proponents.

Guys like George Will and Rich Lowry claim the minimum wage only affects a small number of Americans, but claim that raising it will cause all kinds of economic damage to business, including causing some of them to lay off workers or go out of business altogether.

We'll let others argue those points.

But Lowry says, "The effect of the hike basically will be to give a small boost to the wage of teenagers working summers or after school."

What's wrong with that?

With the cost of college tuitions increasing dramatically every year, and the cutback of grants and loans available for students, many teens are working to help pay their way through college.

They need all the help they can get and deserve a chance to make enough money to better themselves.

The problem with guys like Will and Lowry is that they have either forgotten what it's like to struggle to get ahead, or never had to in the first place. Now they want to deny that opportunity to others.

Spring Break Plans May Include DUI Lawyer

Several of my son's friends were over the other night talking about going to California (specifically San Diego) for Spring Break, and boys being boys, they got to talking about getting rowdy.

Now they know not to drink and drive, but being young and thinking they are invincible, these boys (young men really) do not always make the right decisions.

That's when I told them it might be wise to know about a San Diego DUI Lawyer before they make the trip. So they got on the Web and found Rick Mueller, who from the looks of his Web site is a fairly competent lawyer when it comes to DUI.

He's got a victory page devoted to cases where he has saved his client's driving privileges. Let's face it, you have to be able to drive in this country, so being able to keep your driver's license is essential.

Another positive point is the page on defenses to California's DUI breath test. Pre-knowledge of one's rights is always a good thing.

Now, I don't expect these guys to get into trouble while in Sunny Southern California, but I'll sleep better knowing that if the worse happens, they'll know who to call.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Is U.S. Mail Really Private?

The U.S. mail is not private and the government does not need a search warrant to open your mail, according to the latest signing statement by President George Bush. As defined by the Bush White House, a signing statement is something this president uses so he doesn't have to follow the law.

Why haven't the American people heard about this before now since it happened in December? Media Matters for America points out that it's because the issue was largely ignore by most of the major media outlets.

On January 4, the New York Daily News reported that on December 20, President Bush attached a "signing statement" to a postal reform bill that "quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant." According to the Daily News: "That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it." ABC, CBS, and CNN have largely ignored the story, however, and ABC's Good Morning America reported that Bush "acquired new powers" and suggested that they were "included" the bill.
Have the American people become so numb to the constant law violations of the current administration that we don't care anymore? Are we really that far gone?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Inmates religious rights upheld

From Associated Press:
RICHMOND, Va. - In a ruling favorable to an inmate who sued after a Virginia prison denied his request for kosher meals, a federal appeals court on Friday upheld a federal law that protects the religious rights of incarcerated people.

The state of Virginia had challenged the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act after inmate Ira Madison complained in a 2001 lawsuit that prison officials were violating the act by denying him a kosher diet.

Virginia argued that Congress had exceeded its authority by tying compliance with the act to federal funding for prisons.

But the appellate judges rejected that argument, saying the law does not force states to change prison policies.
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