First Amendment Violation: Separation Of Church And State


In a recent Wall Street Journal article written by Jacob Gershman entitled: For Next Big Religion Case, High Court Goes to Greece, is reported that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to rule on a case whether an upstate New York town violated the Constitution by opening its public meetings with a Christian prayer.

The case centers on the Town of Greece, near Rochester, which had routinely invited Christian clergy to deliver prayers, most of which contained references to “Jesus Christ,” “Jesus,” “Your Son,” or the “Holy Spirit.”

Town residents claim the practice violated the separation of church and state of the First Amendment.

Constitutional scholar Carl Tobias, of the University of Richmond School of Law, said “It’s a very delicate and difficult issue”.

The outcome could have wider implications beyond legislative invocations, Mr. Tobias said. It could have an impact on everything from school prayer to what may be recited at funerals for state troopers.

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Kermit Gosnell: Accusation Of Illegal Late-term Abortions

A recent Wall Street Journal article written by Peter Loftus and Louise Radnofsky entitled: “Abortion Doctor Convicted of Murder in Baby Deaths”, reports that a Philadelphia abortion doctor was declared to be guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive.

The hot abortion debate was caused by a horrible case of 2009 when Kermit Gosnell, 72 years old, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 sedation-overdose death of a 41-year-old woman during an abortion procedure. Dr. Gosnell was found not guilty on a third-degree-murder charge in the woman’s death, and he was acquitted of first-degree murder of a fourth baby.

Dr. Gosnell can get the death penalty when the jury will return next week to reach its verdict on his case.

Opponents and supporters of abortion rights have seized on Dr. Gosnell’s case. Antiabortion activists, accusing Dr. Gosnell of the violence in terminating pregnancies, believe the issue of late-term abortions could influence Americans who support abortion rights. They believe there are at least some instances in which abortion should be illegal.

Other opinion accuses restrictive laws in Pennsylvania and many other states, where women with low-income have few possibilities to obtain quality care they need. That is why “inexpensive” Dr. Gosnell became so popular for poor and desperate women, despite his practice could be illegal, unethical and unsafe.

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Institutional Capital is Finding its Way Into Litigation Finance


A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled: Investors Put Up Millions of Dollars to Fund Lawsuits written by Jennifer Smith may spark further interest amongst investors into funding lawsuits.  The term most commonly used for this investment type is Litigation Finance but Litigation Funding, Legal Financing, Settlement Funding, Third Party Funding and Professional Funding are also used.

Legal Financing is the mechanism or process through which litigants (and even law firms) can finance their litigation or other legal costs through a third party funding company. These third party funding companies provide cash advances to litigants in exchange for a percentage share of the judgment or settlement. Since the advances are provided in the form of non-recourse loans, usury laws do not apply.

If the case proceeds to trial and the litigant loses, the third party funding company receives nothing and loses the funds they have invested in the case.  In other words, the investor assumes the full risk for their investment in the lawsuit and the litigant is not required to repay any of the invested capital if he case is lost.  Obviously the investor will only risk their capital if they believe the litigant to have very strong merits to their case.

In those situations where the plaintiff prevails in their litigation, the funder’s share of the settlement may be calculated from several factors:

  1. the sum of money involved;
  2. the length of time until recovery;
  3. the expected value of the plaintiff’s claim;and
  4. whether the claim settles, proceeds to trial, or is appealed.

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Crimes and Sins: Casino Addicted Nun Steals $130,000 From Churches in NY

A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “NY gambling nun admits taking $128K from churches” reports that a Roman Catholic nun faces up to six months in prison for stealing approximately $130,000 from two rural churches in western New York. The nun needed money to fund her gambling addiction.

Sister Mary Rapp, 68, was arrested in November when the theft was uncovered during an audit.

She admits she stole the money from St. Mary’s Church in Holley and St. Mark’s Church in Kendall from March 2006 to April 2011 and pleaded guilty to grand larceny.

The sentence will be announced on 1 July. She will also have to pay “reasonable restitution” of the stolen money.

Sister Rapp was placed on leave in 2011 and agreed to attend addiction treatment.

Global Warming & the Impact on New York City


The most recent estimates for total losses and damages from Superstorm Sandy will end up causing about $20 billion in property damages and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm. More than thirty percent of these losses will be realized by New York City. Mayor Bloomberg has recently raised the issue of recent abnormal weather in the Northeast, and particularly New York City, being a glimpse into the future of what will come as a result of Global Warming.

Let’s just consider for the moment that the Mayor could be right.  Can you imagine the number of insurance claims submitted by policy holders; denials of many claims by insurance companies concerned about their financial performance and the massive number of lawsuits that could result from this activity?

While we are not trying to suggest that the sky is falling, the following video posted on YouTube by the Wall Street Journal foretells that recent catastrophic weather related events may only be the beginning of much worse things to come in the future.  Assuming that there is actually a correlation between global warming caused by our abuse of the environment and changes in weather patterns, the recent storm should serve as a wake up call for environmental responsibility.

Capital Sentence Set Aside for California Inmate


In a recent Wall Street Journal Law Blog Post written by Chad Bray entitled:California’s Longest-Serving Death Row Inmate Wins in Ninth Circuit, Mr. Stankewitz, a Native American, has been on death row in California since 1978, when he was convicted in the kidnapping and murder of Ms. Greybeal had his capital sentence set aside.

Mr. Stankewitz was one of the first people sentenced to death after the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978. Thirteen people have been executed since.  In a 2-1 decision Monday, the Ninth Circuit upheld a court order that Mr. Stankewitz’s death sentence be vacated unless California officials seek to retry the capital phase of his case within 90 days or resentence him to life without parole.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit tracked that of a lower court, which found that a lawyer for Douglas Ray Stankewitz failed to investigate circumstances leading up to the murder of Theresa Greybeal – namely Mr. Stankewitz’s abusive childhood and long history of substance abuse.

For further information, please read the entire Wall Street Journal Blog Post.