In Comal County, Texas, judge Jack Robison, presiding over the trial of accused sex trafficker Gloria Romero Perez, walked into the jury room after the jurors landed on a guilty verdict and urged them to reverse their decision because God says she's innocent. Unswayed, the jurors stuck to their guilty verdict. Another judge later ruled the case a mistrial while the Texas Judicial Commission let Robison off with a public warning. From My San Antonio:
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"The judge later apologized to the jury, and said something to the effect of, 'When God tells me I gotta do something, I gotta do it,'" officials wrote in the report...
In his self-report, Robison told the committee he was experiencing memory lapses at the time and was under extreme stress due to treatment for a medical condition and the death of a close friend.
Robison provided letters from two medical professionals that Robison's outburst was caused by a "temporary, episodic medical condition referred to as a 'delirum.'" The professionals said that the issue appears to be resolved and that Robison is not currently experiencing the same impairment.
My name is Kelsey Juliana and I’m suing the United States government for causing and accelerating the climate change crisis. I’m 22 years old and I’ve been a climate advocate for more than half of my life. Read the rest
The slow eroding of autonomy for trans youth continues apace in Ohio, where a judge denied a legal name change to a trans teen who has taken all available social and medical steps required to do so. Read the rest
Look, we’re not all maple syrup lollipops and free healthcare up here. According to the CBC, a naturalized Canadian citizen was held against his will, without charge, for 10 months while immigration officials attempted to verify his identity.
47-year old Nigerian-born Olajide Ogunye moved to Canada with his family in the 1990s and, in 1996, he became a Canadian Citizen. But that didn’t matter to the Canadian Border Services Agency. During a sweep of his neighborhood (which, I have to admit, I had no idea that the CBSA did), Ogunye was told to produce evidence of his citizenship. So he did: His Ontario Health card and Canadian Citizenship card.
But here’s the thing: despite his producing two pieces of government identification – the gold standard for get-out-of-my-face-I’m-a-citizen, the CBSA refused to believe that Ogunye was who he claimed to be. So, without charge, they took him into custody so that he could be properly identified.
From the CBC:
According to Ogunye's statement of claim, the officers ran his fingerprints, which they said matched the identity of a man named Oluwafemi Kayode Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who had been deported from Canada to Nigeria in the 1990s.
Ogunye says he was told the CBSA believed he was actually Johnson, who had returned to Canada illegally and assumed Ogunye's identity. Those fingerprints, according to court documents, were never produced by the CBSA to Ogunye.
This shit went on for EIGHT MONTHS. Despite having not committed any crime, Ogunye was remanded to two different mixed medium/maximum security prisons. Read the rest
One of the great things about the past few years has been having it come to pass that, if you build a long, respected career in the public eye, yet simultaneously act like a lecherous scumbag behind closed doors, you're going to pay for it. Hard.
Days after Bill Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand 14 years ago, the hits to his legacy keep coming.
Almost as soon as the verdict in Cosby's case was announced, universities and colleges that had given the comedian honorary degrees over the years began to take them back. Five days ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, less than thrilled with the optics of having a convicted sex criminal among its members, kicked Cosby's puddin' pop loving ass to the curb. But the best was yet to come: yesterday, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts followed suit by revoking Honors that its board had bestowed on the tranquilizer-and-rape-happy celebrity over the years. Cosby is the first honoree in the Kennedy Center's history to have his awards rescinded.
That should look real nice on Cosby's Wikipedia page.
From the Washington Post:
In a statement released Monday, the arts center said that Cosby’s conviction eclipsed his decades-long performance career.
“The Honors and Mark Twain Prize are given to artists who, through their lifetime of work, have left an indelible impact on American culture. As a result of Mr. Cosby’s recent criminal conviction, the Board concluded that his actions have overshadowed the very career accomplishments these distinctions from the Kennedy Center intend to recognize.”
That quote, in my mind, is the literary equivalent of a throat punch. Read the rest
Unless you're self employed, like I am, sooner or later you're going to need to talk to someone about a Human Resources issue. There might be someone harassing you in your workplace. Maybe your douche of a boss is stealing your tip money. It might be that your workplace is filled with bigots giving you a hard time for your sexual orientation, the color of your skin or beliefs.
Whatever your reasons for doing it, approaching management can suck: while the people in your human resources department are there to address workplace issues that mess with the safety and satisfaction of employees, when it comes down to it, they work for the same company as you do. If it comes down to protecting the company they work for or doing you a good turn, they might not side with you. As such, it's a very good idea to get some professional, unbiased advice on a workplace issue before broaching it with management.
Hootsworth is an online service that provides anyone who needs it with free advice from employment lawyers and Human Resources experts. According to TechCrunch, all you need do is hit them up online, ask a question and, within 24 hours, you'll receive a personalized response. In order to help others that may be in the same boat as you, Hootsworth will then anonymize your question so that other users of the service can browse the expert answer to your problem that was given.
While it won't help you to muster up the courage to put in a complaint about your working conditions, the service could go along way towards your heading into your next HR meeting armed with the knowledge you need to ensure the outcome that you're looking for. Read the rest
Thanks to a recent court filing, we may soon see who's responsible for funding the bigoted neo-nazi bullshit machine we all loathe and know as The Daily Stormer. Read the rest
Oh, this is fun: No one in the government seems to be doing much of anything to help curb gun violence, but they're totally willing to use your tax dollars on bulletproof vests to keep their corpulent asses from getting zipped.
According to The Hill, The Committee on House Administration, by voice vote, passed a measure to make bulletproof vests a reimbursable expense. The motion also makes it cool for members to hire security to cover their six during public appearances, when they're at their office or taking a whizz at an Olive Garden during a working lunch. The Hill's Avery Anapol points out that the motion to keep House members safe from bullets that regular folks have to deal with on their own comes on the heels of Steve Scalise (R-La.) returning to Washington after getting shot last summer during a ball game. So, yeah, I can see why they're a little jumpy, but c'mon.
Given that members were already granted an additional $25,000 to implement greater security measures last year in the wake of Scalise's shooting, their being able to put risk management add-ons on the tab of taxpayers has a rotten smell to it – especially in light of the discussion surrounding school shootings and gun ownership these past few weeks/month/years.
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Ricardo Palacios, a 74-year old rancher, had gotten used to Customs and Border Protection officials tromping across his south Texas ranch lands without permission over the years. But finding a wireless surveillance camera set up in one of his trees? Not OK. Upon discovering the device, Palacios removed it immediately. It wasn't long after that he started receiving calls from CBP and the Texas Rangers demanding that he turn the camera over to them or face charges.
Having taken enough of their shit, instead of turning the camera over, Palacios gave the feds something else instead: a lawsuit.
According to Ars Technica, Palacios, who's been a lawyer for 50 years, named the two agencies and a CBP agent in a lawsuit that accuses them of violating his constitutional rights, by trespassing on his land, and setting up cameras where ever they damn well please. It's an important case: CBP claims it has a right, within a 100-mile radius of the American border, to stop people (including U.S. citizens, which flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment,) search cars and personal belongings in the name of border security, without a warrant. But this doesn't allow them to go traipsing on to private property in the name of their duties without permission. They're only allowed to do that within 25 miles of the border.
Palacios' ranch? It's 35 miles away from the edge of the U.S./Mexican border. This alone would be enough to warrant a suit against the government. But there's more:
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As Palacios alleges in the civil complaint, his interactions with CBP began in April 2010 when his two sons were stopped at a checkpoint along I-35.
The men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) never seem to miss a chance to make themselves look like a shower of bastards. They've gone after a 10-year-old girl as she came out of surgery, separated children from their parents, and have created an environment where calling on the police for help can be a terrifying experience for undocumented immigrants.
One could argue that these things all happen as a result of current American legislation, morality be damned. ICE agents are doing exactly what they were empowered to do. As so much of what ICE does makes many people want to take a bath after reading about it, it's heartening to find that not all of the bullshit ICE employees pull is hunky dory under the rule of law. According to the Washington Post, a lawyer in the employ of ICE has been charged with stealing the identities of seven people under investigation by ICE, using their credentials for financial gain.
Charged with one count of aggravated identity theft and identity fraud, Raphael A. Sanchez, ICE’s chief legal counsel in Seattle, is up Shit Creek with nary a paddle in sight. According to the charging documents filed against Sanchez, the lawyer allegedly attempted to defraud several financial institutions using the identity information of individuals under investigation by ICE between October 2016- October 2017. There's not a lot of information out there on the extent of Sanchez's alleged crimes, yet. But we could learn more about what he was getting up to soon, as a plea hearing for his case is scheduled for later this week. Read the rest
In New Braunfels, Texas, State District Judge Jack Robison walked into the jury room, twice, during deliberation in a teen sex trafficking case and told the jurors that the defendant shouldn't be convicted. Why? Because God told him to.
"He said he had thought it over and prayed on it and that God told him that he had to say this," said Mark A. House, jury foreman in the weeklong trial of Gloria Romero Perez that concluded Jan. 12.
Robison, a veteran jurist who presides in the 207th district that covers Comal and Hays counties, quickly informed the state and defense counsel of his conduct and recused himself from the punishment phase of the trial.
"It's probably the most unusual thing I've experienced in 20 years as an attorney," said Sylvia A. Cavazos, who represented Perez. "Judge Robison apologized in open court to the jury, saying something to the effect that 'I apologize but, if God tells me to do something, I have to do it...'"
Cavazos contends Perez should receive a new trial because of Robison's actions, but she noted, "The DA's position was (no retrial should occur because) he encouraged them to find her not guilty, and the jury had already reached their verdict, and he didn't change their minds."
House has filed a complaint against Robison with the state judicial authorities.
"Judge facing complaints over trying to sway jury" (San Antonio Express-News)
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Freedom of information requests for public records are getting harder to complete, especially now that some governments are suing requesters. Read the rest
Psychology professor Dr. Emyr Williams of Glyndwr University in Wales, UK researchers "real vampires" and often appears on television to discuss their blood-drinking lifestyle.
“We are talking about a group of individuals who believe they have a psychological need to consume blood," Williams has said.
Now an employment tribunal has revealed that after a female student somehow got a cut while in class, Williams allegedly wiped up the blood with his fingers and then licked them. The young woman reported the unusual behavior to one of Williams's PhD student, Helen Coleman, who reported it to school officials. Coleman alleges that the school didn't reprimand Williams but instead punished her, kicking her out of the PhD program.
“This is an extraordinary case," said Coleman's attorney. "We have never dealt with anything like this before.”
"'Extraordinary' claims Glyndwr University student 'turned vampire'" (Daily Post via Mysterious Universe) Read the rest
Chicago-based design firm Segura has streamlined their contract. The result is a simple, but effective, agreement that leaves out all pretentious jargon.
Here are their terms and conditions:
You give me money, I’ll give you creative.
I’ll start when the check clears.
Time is money. More time is more money.
I’ll listen to you. You listen to me.
You tell me what you want, I’ll tell you what you need.
You want me to be on time, I want you to be on time.
What you use is yours, what you don’t is mine.
I can’t give you stuff I don’t own.
I’ll try not to be an ass, you should do the same.
If you want something that’s been done before, use that.
If you want your way, you have to pay.
If you don’t pay, I have final say.
Let’s create something great together."
In case you're wondering about the legality of this, Basecamp's Founder and CEO Jason Fried remarks:
For those who will be quick to point out legal holes or missing protections, there are many ways to do business. One way is working with clients you trust — people who appreciate this approach to work. And if you guessed wrong, and someone fucks you, rather than pursuing legal remedies which cost even more time, money, and hassle, there’s an alternative: Take your losses, wash your hands, and don’t work with them again.
(RED) Read the rest
Miami lawyer Stephen Gutierrez was in court defending an alleged arsonist when his pants literally caught on fire. However, please don't assume that Gutierrez is a liar, liar. Apparently he had been playing with an e-cigarette in his pocket. From the Miami Herald:
Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told the Miami Herald.
He rushed out of the Miami courtroom, leaving spectators stunned. After jurors were ushered out, Gutierrez returned unharmed, with a singed pocket, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defense demonstration gone wrong, observers said.
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A building council in Vancouver, BC commercial building are reportedly refusing to allow one of the building owners to lease to Moby Dick's Restaurant, a fish-and-chips franchise, in part because of its name. According to a lawsuit, the building council claims that “that the word ‘Dick’ in Moby Dick was an offensive term" and "also claimed a Moby Dick sign would hurt the value of neighboring properties, and that the restaurant would bring increased litter and violate city laws on odor." From Courthouse News Service:
“It was clear by the end of August 2016 that the Strata intended to refuse any signage proposals belonging to Moby Dick which resembled its traditional trademark and brand,” the complaint states. “Instead, the Strata demanded that Moby Dick adopt a signage that was ‘minimalist’ both in color and design. As such, the Strata wrongfully denied Moby Dick’s use of its logo, brand name, and goodwill recognition at the commercial property.”
Mengfa seeks declaratory judgment and damages for interference with business relations.
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A federal jury in Los Angeles has just ruled that Led Zeppelin did not swipe the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" from the Spirit song "Taurus." From the New York Times:
Mr. Plant and Mr. Page both testified that “Stairway to Heaven” had been composed independently, and that while both bands had played on the same bill a handful of times, they did not recall ever seeing Spirit perform and had no familiarity with “Taurus” until the lawsuit was brought.
“I didn’t remember it then, and I don’t remember it now,” Mr. Plant said.
The jury found that, although Mr. Page and Mr. Plant had access to “Taurus” before the release of “Stairway to Heaven,” the two songs’ original elements did not contain enough similarities. Before reaching the verdict on Thursday, the jury asked to listen to audio recordings of the introductions to both songs twice.
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