Peter Thiel & Y Combinator fund a "litigation financing" startup to make money off other peoples' lawsuits

Legalist is a startup founded by Thiel Fellow Eva Shang and Christian Haigh, backed by Y Combinator: it will use data-mining to identify people who have been legally wronged by deep-pocketed aggressors and offer to finance their litigation in return for a share of the winnings. Read the rest

Florida prosecutor who bumbled George Zimmerman trial is really good at putting children in adult prisons for life

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Angela Corey is state attorney for Florida's 4th Circuit, where she's put children as young as 12 on trial as adults, facing life in prison -- in solitary, because children can't be mixed with adult populations -- without counseling, education, or any access to family. Read the rest

As America's temperatures soar, prisoners are dropping dead

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Most states have no maximum temperature standards for their prisons: combine that with a succession of hottest-months-on-record and a prison system that provides less water than is medically recommended even when it's not hotter than blazes, and you've got a carceral state that is roasting prisoners alive. Read the rest

Artist who denied authenticity of painting wins in court

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Artist Peter Doig, accused of damaging the value of a painting simply by denying that he was its creator, prevailed in court this week. U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman found that there no evidence that Doig created the work, but plenty that it was by someone else: one Peter Doige, with an "e".

Doig maintained from the beginning that he was the victim of a opportunistic "scam" enabled by similarity of the two artists' names and the recent death of Doige. Meanwhile, the plaintiff claimed Doig was "embarrassed" by a juvenile work that happened to expose a youthful stint in prison [Doige, not Doig, was imprisoned.]

Doige's sister, Marilyn Doige Bovard, testified that the painting was her brother's work.

As Doig's work sells for millions of dollars, much was at stake; the case was watched closely by artists and dealers concerned about an outcome that made it dangerous to discuss their own work lest they be sued by hungry speculators.

Others were angered that the judge had let the case go to trial in the first place, costing Doig heavy sums to defend himself even after producing ample evidence the painting could not possibly be by him.

The case is unusual because disputes over the authenticity of a work of art normally arise long after an artist has died. When artists are alive, it is widely accepted that their word on whether a work is theirs or not is final. Mr Fletcher claimed Mr Doig had renounced the work to avoid admitting he had spent time in prison.

Read the rest

Bronx cops can steal anything they want by calling it "evidence"

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In the Bronx (and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere) when your belongings are seized as "evidence," it can be impossible to ever get them back, even if you're never charged with a crime. Read the rest

Woman sues cops because they destroyed her empty house, thinking a suspect was hiding in it

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The police in Caldwell, Idaho told Shariz West that they thought her ex-boyfriend might have run into her house and they asked for permission to look inside; she said yes, but then the cops engaged in a 10-hour armed standoff against her empty home (the family dog was inside, but there were no humans), blasting holes in the walls, crashing through the ceilings, smashing out the windows, and filling the house with tear-gas, which destroyed most of the family's possessions. Read the rest

Candid Republican operators admit that voter ID laws are about disenfranchisement

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The Brennan Center has rounded up a rogues' gallery of candid, on-the-record admissions from Republican politicians, officials, and operators about the true nature of the unconstitutional voter restriction laws that were cookie-cuttered across the Tea Party state governments: they don't fight voter fraud (because that's not a thing), but they do disenfranchise traditional democratic voters: people of color and students. Read the rest

Parents who can't pay the bill for kids' incarceration can still go bankrupt, a US court rules

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When Maria Rivera got a bill from Orange County for her young son's year in juvenile detention, she sold her house to pay for it, but ended up short, and the county got a court order for another $10K to pay the remainder and various fees and penalties. Read the rest

Court of Appeal reverses Labour disenfranchisement ruling, but Corbyn still likely to win

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UK Labour General Secretary Iain McNichol has succeeded in disenfranchising 150,000 party members in the upcoming leadership election, having spent the party's money on an appeal of a High Court ruling saying that the dirty trick that yanked the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of new members, presumed to support Jeremy Corbyn, the besieged, left-wing leader of the party. Read the rest

Boulder rapist Austin James Wilkerson receives no prison time

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Austin James Wilkerson, a 22-year-old University of Colorado student, was convicted of raping a drunk woman. But he'll be released on probation after District Judge Patrick Butler said he "struggled, to be quite frank, with the idea" of imprisoning him.

Supporters of Wilkerson, as in the California case of Turner, appealed for leniency. Wilkerson’s friends and family said the crime was a “traumatic incident” for him.

Prosecutors had sought a custodial sentence for the felony sexual assault charge, but Butler worried about "the kind of treatment" Wilkerson would receive in the prison system. Instead, Wilkerson will spend two years in Boulder County Jail on a program that allows him to leave during the day, and 20 years on probation.

"I don't know that there is any great result for anybody," Butler said. "Mr. Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated."

The victim, who was present at the hearing but left before the defense addressed the court, asked Butler to send Wilkerson to prison.

"Have as much mercy for the rapist as he did for me that night," she told the judge.

The victim consumed alcohol on March 15, 2014; Wilkerson told her friends he would "make sure she was safe," then "isolated" and raped her, according to prosecutors.

Wilkerson admitted to investigators he’d made advances to the victim that night, “but that she rebuffed him each time, and that he felt ‘pissed off’ and called her a ‘fucking bitch,’” according to court documents.
Read the rest

British judge sentences racist "cunt" to 18 months in jail

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When racist thug John Hennigan called Judge Patricia Lynch QC a "bit of a cunt" during his sentencing for the latest in a long string of convictions, she had the perfect response: "You are a bit of a cunt yourself." Read the rest

Court rules that FCC can't force states to repeal laws banning municipal ISPs

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Tea Party-dominated states across America passed laws banning cities from providing high-speed internet access to their residents, even in places where the cable/telco duopoly had decided not to sell broadband; last year, the FCC issued an order stating that these laws were null and void. Read the rest

American Bar Association votes to DRM the law, put it behind a EULA

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Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "I just got back from the big debate on is free law like free beer that has been brewing for months at the American Bar Association over the question of who gets to read public safety codes and on what terms." Read the rest

Thai telcoms regulator wants tourists to use location-tracking SIMs

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Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has proposed issuing tracking-chips to all visitors to the country, which would allow the government to monitor the movements of all foreign nationals while in-country, in order to "locate them which will help if there are some tourists who overstay or run away (from police)." Read the rest

Illegal "Warranty Void If Removed" still ubiquitous: they're on the Xbox One S

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The tamper-evident "Warrant Void If Removed" stickers violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which allows device owners to take their gadgets for service at independent depots without voiding their warranties. Read the rest

After repeated budget cuts, Missouri's underfunded Public Defender drafts the Governor to work for him

Brother Phil writes, "The Public Defender's Office in Missouri is chronically underfunded by a governor who can always find money for his pet projects. However, they do have the power to draft any lawyer to serve as the defense in a case if they don't have one spare.Guess who just happens to be a lawyer..." Read the rest

Lawsuit: Getty Images copyfrauded 47,000 photos from indie press agency Zuma

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Photographer, public domain enthusiast, and national treasure Carol M Highsmith is suing Getty Images for $1B because they took the photos she'd donated to the Library of Congress and started asking people who'd used them to pay for them (they even sent Highsmith an invoice!); now it turns out that Highsmith is not alone: independent news agency Zuma is suing Getty for doing the same thing with 47,000 of their images. Read the rest

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