Sexual Harassment – A Hot Potatoe for New York Politicians

 

In a recent New York Times article written by Sam Dolnick and Danny Hakim entitled  Women Employed by Lawmaker Describe Sexually Hostile Office Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Victor J. Lopez has been accused by five women of sexual harassment and the use of crude language in his office.  The scandal began to unfold last Friday when the New York Assembly ethics committee substantiated claims that Mr. Lopez had harassed two women.  The Assembly released a letter censuring Mr. Lopez and taking away committee chairmanship and barring him from employing interns or anyone under the age of 21.

Mr. Lopez represents one of the city’s last powerful political bosses at the age of 71.  The letter released by the Assembly found that he had verbally harassed, groped and kissed two of his staff members without their consent.  Governor Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials have called on Mr. Lopez to resign.  To date, Mr. Lopez has refused to do so.

The scandal comes on the heels of the release of information that New York State Assembly speaker Sidney Shelton had authorized a secret payment of $103,080 in June to settle prior allegations against Mr. Lopez from two other women.  This settlement has resulted in cries for an investigation into the Assembly’s handling of the matter.

Human brains, lungs and hearts found in Florida storage unit

According to a recent CNN article entitled: Body parts found in auctioned Florida storage unit, body parts belonging to more that 100 people were found after Pensacola storage unit was auctioned. The parts were stored in formaldehyde inside the unit, in plastic containers, specimen cups, trash bags and even a 32-ounce Styrofoam cup from a convenience store. Some of the containers had cracked and leaked.

George Klages, manager of Uncle Bob’s Storage said that the discovery was reported to police Friday after the purchaser of the unit began going through the items.

According to Capt. David Alexander of the Pensacola Police Department, the unit was rented by Michael Berkland, a former associate medical examiner. However, now the investigators are trying to figure out if a crime was committed.

Berkland worked for the Medical Examiner’s Office between 1997 and May 2003. He was fired to complete autopsy reports in time.

Authorities have made some attempts to reach Berkland but he is no longer licensed in Florida.

Berkland worked as a private pathologist as well. Some families would contact him sometimes for second opinions about autopsy decisions, Alexander said.

Police say the parts could belong to the autopsies Berkland did between 1997 and 2007 at funeral homes in Pensacola, Tallahassee, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City. Some of the containers had labels with names and autopsy dates but others did not.

The investigation is still being conducted.

Citigroup $590 Million Proposed Settlement

 

Wall Street has applauded yet another large financial settlement by Citigroup when the bank’s shares rose nearly 2%.  Citigroup has agreed to pay $590 million to shareholders who sued the bank over toxic mortgage backed securities that the bank failed to write down yet knew were worthless.  The lawsuit had been brought on behalf of investors who purchased Citigroup shares between February 26, 2007 and April 18, 2008 when the financial crisis exploded.

While the proposed settlement has yet to be approved by the judge, the announcement is yet another example of a major bank settling for a fraction of the losses incurred by shareholders.

For further information, please read the Forbesarticle written by Halah Touryali entitled Citi To Pay $590 Million To Burned Shareholders In Toxic Asset Case

Constitutional Reprieve For California Death Row Inmate

On December 01, 1989, Hector Ayala joined his brother Ronaldo on Death Row when a judge affirmed a jury’s recommendation for the death penalty for a drug related killing of three men in a Southeast Dan Diego garage on April 26, 1985.  At the time of the conviction, lawyers for Mr. Ayala alleged that prosecutors struck jurors from hearing the case on the basis of their race.  The judge who presided over he case heard the prosecutors arguments for disqualifying certain jurors but failed to reveal these reasons to either Mr. Ayala or his lawyers.

On Wednesday, August 28th, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge’s handling of the juror strikes violated Mr. Ayala’s constitutional rights and ordered Mr. Ayala released from custody unless the state decides to retry him.

For further information about this ruling, please refer to the Wall Street Journal Law BlogPosting written by Steve Eder entitled Death Row Inmate Scores Legal Victory in the Ninth Circuit. 

The World is Embracing Linux

Did you ever think that big business and more specifically Apple Computer would be readily embracing the Linux Operating System?  Alex Williams of TechCrunch reported in an article entitled The State Of Linux — How Even Apple Is Going Open Source that the advent of the cloud is driving businesses towards the adoption of Linux.  Since much of the cloud has been built on open source technologies, companies such as Google, Intel and IBM have made commitments to adopting open source technologies.

Apple Computer, a company that has always been known for being one of the most closed and proprietary companies in the world, is using quite a bit of open source technology.  If you have any doubts that this is true, simply go to the legal section on the iPhone and you will learn that Linux Kernel developer Ted Ts’o has been credited for his code.

Even more surprising is the fact that even Microsoft has gotten on board.  Microsoft has shifted from a company that at one time equated open source with communism to being a major contributor to the Linux Kernal Project.

Legal Bistro has been developed using all open source technologies and applaud the movement of major corporations in this direction.

Police seek for hhgregg burglars

A recent WSVN article entitled: Another hhgregg store burglarized reports that police are looking for at least six people who are involved in two hhgregg burglaries.

The latest burglary happened early in the morning, just before 5 a.m. Thursday at the store on Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 199th Street, in Aventura, Florida.

The burglars were all dressed in black and they had masks on. They did not care about the cameras in the store. They acted quickly and cooperatively. They planned everything well before they broke into the store.

Police believe the same crooks broke into a hhgregg store at West 20th Avenue and 36th Street in Hialeah last week.

Police said the motive in both burglaries is the same.”They’ve been hitting all over the state and their MO is exactly the same. They’re very, very, very well organized, they know exactly what they want to do,” said Washa.

6-year-old facing court deportation

According to a recent The New York Times Article written by Julia Preston, entitled: Young and Alone, Facing Court Deportation, Juan David Gonzalez, a 6-year-old boy was in the court, which would decide whether to expel him from the country, without a parent – and also a lawyer.

Immigration courts in the South Texas border town and across the country are confronting a great number of children, some of them are not even school age, who traveled to the US without parents and were caught as they tried to cross illegally into the United States.

They come mostly from Mexico and Central America. The children ride to the border on the roofs of freight trains or the backs of buses. They cross the Rio Grande on inner tubes, or hike for days in Arizona deserts. Children like Juan, the smallest ones, are usually brought by smugglers.

Such cases pose difficulties for American immigration courts. The people who cannot afford a lawyer have no right to a lawyer paid by the government in immigration courts. And immigration law contains few protections specifically for minors. So if a child as young as Juan has to go before an immigration judge he will go without the help of a lawyer, if one is not privately provided.

This year, more than 11,000 unaccompanied children have been placed in deportation proceedings.

Juan David Gonzalez is just one of the thousands of illegal border crossers. Like any adult, Juan is facing charges of entering the United States without authorization, punishable by removal.

A federal child welfare agency plans to send Juan to be reunited with his parents, who are illegal immigrants living in another state.

The Judge postponed Juan’s proceedings but he warned the boy and other minors in the courtroom.

“If you do not have a lawyer,” the judge said, “you need to be ready to speak for yourselves at your next hearing.”

Juan left holding the social worker’s hand, grinning proudly when she told him he had done well. But his case was just beginning. Most likely it would end with a final order for his deportation.

Boston Judge Charged in Misdemeanor in Craig’s List Sale of Baby Item

  Graco Newborn Napper Pack 'n Play Playard - Meadow Menagerie

In a bizarre set of circumstances involving the sale of a Pack N Play Placard on Craig’s List, a Boston Administrative Judge was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of larceny by false pretenses for allegedly having sold the item without a vibrating pad.  Apparently the buyer had inquired whether the item included the pad and was told that it would be included.

Administrative Judge Cheryl Ann Jacques is a former state senator and a former Assistant Attorney General.The Above the Law article written by Elie Mystal entitled:Misdemeanor Offense of the Day: Judicial Cribs. Like, Baby Cribs, Not Lawyerly Lair does an excellent of illustrating the absurd nature of the charges.  Clearly taxpayer dollars could be put to much better use.

Dodd-Frank Act Finally Pays Out

  

After the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 (better known as the “Whistle Blower Act”), an article written by Chad Bray entitled: SEC Readying First Payment Under New Whistleblower Program reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission will pay out nearly $50,000 (30% of the funds collected by the SEC) to the whistleblower.

The word from the SEC is that they are receiving very high quality tips, as well as documents and information allowing cases to be prosecuted much more quickly, cost effectively and with a higher degree of success.  Perhaps the new program will give new meaning to the old expression that crime does not pay!