Bill Cosby’s Trial Ends in Mistrial

After 53 hours of deliberation, the judge in Bill Cosby’s trial says that the jury is hopelessly deadlocked. Judge Steven O’Neill  says that he hopes to schedule a new trial within 120 days in the case where Cosby is accused of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand who is director of operations of Temple University’s women’s basketball team in 2004 when the alleged assault occurred. Bill Cosby plead not guilty, although he had paid Constand an undisclosed amount of money following her civil suit in 2006.

Why Cosby’s Mistrial?

The jury in their sixth day had already asked the judge 12 questions including the definition of reasonable doubt. Five of them were requests to review what Constand and Cosby said in court. In the end, however, the jury asked the judge for a definition of reasonable doubt shortly before the mistrial was declared.

Camille Cosby’s Statement

While Bill Cosby who is now 79 made no statement after the mistrial was declared, a spokesman for Cosby’s wife Camille read a statement which included calling the:

  • District attorney-heinously and exploitively ambitious
  • Judge- Overtly and arrogantly collaborating with the district attorney
  • Counsel for the accuser- Unethical
  • General media- Blatantly vicious entities

What did Bill Cosby Allegedly do in 2004?

Bill Cosby admits that he had sex with Constand in 2004. He, however, says that it was consensual. He also says that he gave Constand three half-pills of Benadryl. About a year later, Constand told her mother that Cosby raped her. She reported the incident to the police a few days later. At that time, the district attorney did not press charges because there was a lack of evidence.

Cosby’s Health

Cosby’s lead attorney says that he is very worried about his client’s health on the day after the mistrial was declared. Cosby who is 79 years old is legally blind. He uses a cane for mobility. Cosby was arrested in December 2016, and he appeared to stumble entering the building where his passport was revoked. At that time, bond was set at $1 million.

Possible Outcome

If the district attorney retires the case, then Cosby could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. He would also have to register as a sex offender if found guilty. While the district attorney has said that he will retry the expensive case, he has not filed the paperwork to start the process again.

 

Suicide by text – Guilty!

Michelle Carter faces 20 years in prison after a Massachusetts judge found her responsible for the suicide death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. Conrad killed himself in 2014 by Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

In presenting his rationale for the manslaughter conviction Judge Lawrence Moniz called Ms. Carter’s actions “reckless” with a “wanton” disregard. Ms. Carter opted for a trial by judge and rejected her right to a jury trial.

The case stems from a situation where Mr. Roy, a severely depressed young man, had told his girlfriend and confidant, Ms. Carter, that he wanted to die. He told her he was going to kill himself but wasn’t sure how he should do it. After research by himself and Ms. Carter it was decided he would kill himself by placing a generator in his vehicle and seal off any fresh air from the carbon monoxide.

Some say the guilty verdict in this suicide by text message is a “slippery slope” against free speech, assisted suicide, and that it muddles the water regarding criminal liability versus personal responsibility. Little focus was placed on earlier text messages where Ms. Carter initially suggested Mr. Roy get help and possibly go into a “mental hospital”.

“But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life,” she texted on July 19. 2014.

Roy, 18, committed suicide in 2014. The Massachusetts District Attorney held fast that had Ms. Carter contacted someone who could actually help, Mr. Roy would not have been successful. Their claim was Ms. Carter helped to instigate the suicide when, among other things, sent a text to Mr. Roy “ordering” him to get back into the vehicle and go through with it. She went as far as to text that his parents would “get over it”.

Now, 20 years old, Ms. Carter’s defense team presented expert testimony from Dr. Peter Breggin wherein he stated she was “involuntarily intoxicated” because of the anti-depressant she was taking. The expert explained it is an SSRI pharmaceutical Celexa and caused her to have “erratic” behaviors. The DA countered with its own expert who simply said there is no such thing as “involuntary intoxication” cause by Celexa.

The full accounts of the texts conversations can be read here

Sources:
http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2017/06/teen-guilty-of-manslaughter-for-encouraging-friends-suicide-with-texts.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4612636/Conrad-Roy-s-parents-speak-Michelle-Carters-trial.html

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a10017083/michelle-carter-involuntarily-intoxicated-defense-claims/

Plaintiffs Continue to Join Larry Nassar Lawsuit

Plaintiffs continue to come out of the woodwork to join a lawsuit against former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University employee Larry Nassar. Four more Plaintiffs have requested to join the lawsuit that accuses Nassar of ongoing, systemic, sexual abuse over a period of decades. Plaintiff filed a request with the court to allow them to amend the complaint in order to add the new plaintiffs to the case.

Although Nassar headlines the lawsuit, there are many people and organizations on the defensive including Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars Gymnastics Club which produced 2012 Olympian Jordyn Wieber. Most of the plaintiffs identify themselves as Jane Doe. In addition to Nassar’s abuse, the lawsuit alleges that the other accused organizations failed to take steps to protect the abuse victims and failed to properly respond to allegations about the alleged abuse. The lawsuit calls MSU deliberately indifferent to the allegations against Nassar.

Nassar faces criminal charges in the State of Michigan addition to the civil suit against him. The criminal charges allege sexual abuse as well as possession of child pornography. A preliminary examination bound Nassar over to the Michigan Circuit Court for trial on the criminal allegations.

While Nassar defends the charges against him, witnesses are doing their best to run from participation in the case. One of those witnesses running is former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny. He got the court to postpone his deposition in the matter so that he could attend the Indianapolis 500 and network for job hunting purposes. Attorneys for the plaintiffs shot back that a party isn’t a good reason to skip a court-ordered deposition. Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics amid growing pressure from the gymnastics community and threats from the U.S. Olympic Committee to withdraw funding from the sport’s national governing body. Penny collected a golden parachute of approximately $1 million from USA Gymnastics.

Famed Olympic gymnastics coach Don Peters also wants the court to quash his subpoena for deposition in the case. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case hope that the deposition will provide insight on the matters relating to the allegations against the defendants as well as information about USA Gymnastics’ financial practices. Attorneys for Peters say that the deposition in the Nassar case is an abuse of discovery and an improper attempt to gain discovery for another case.

Sources:

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/deposition_delay_granted_in_sex_abuse_case_so_job_hunting_official_can_atte

http://statenews.com/article/2017/06/nassar-plaintiffs-to-file-amended-complaint

Attorney for banned gymnastics coach Don Peters seeks to quash subpoena

Eric C. Conn Disappears Before Disability Fraud Sentence

The locals called him Mr. Social Security. He drove a Rolls Royce and sat on the United States Social Security Advisory Board. His televisions commercials were almost legendary in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Today, he’s nowhere to be found. Law enforcement is looking for Eric C. Conn, the once-hailed Pikeville attorney. In March, he pleaded guilty to charges relating to a Social Security fraud scheme that cost taxpayers $500 million.

Conn awaited his upcoming sentence on bond but had to wear an electronic monitoring device. As of June 3, 2017, law enforcement has no idea where Conn is. He removed his electronic device and disappeared.

The charges against Conn include stealing from Social Security and bribing a judge to approve disability claims for his clients. He faces twelve years in prison if police ever catch up with him and possibly new charges for running from justice. As part of the plea he agreed to pay $5.7 million to the U.S. government and another $46 million directly to Social Security. He also owes another $12 million and $19 million in damages and penalties because of two Social Security employees who tried to blow the whistle.

Conn’s con used a doctor who agreed to create bad medical reports for his clients. Then, the judge signed off on the fraudulent applications for a cut of the action. The judge and doctor face charges, too. Suffice it to say that Conn’s legal practice, which he began in 1993, is over.

State’s attorney Ned Pillersdorf says it’s not surprising that Conn fled. He expressed surprise that the court allowed him bond in the first place. He even joked about a betting pool as to when Conn would depart.

A coworker of Conn’s reported that Conn said he would head to Cuba or Ecuador rather than go to prison. He had a history of world traveling that the state’s attorney believed made him a flight risk. Conn also moved money to offshore accounts before taking off. U.S. attorneys believe that Conn has the money to hide for a long time.

Conn’s attorneys successfully secured his bond by convincing the court that Conn would have fled when charges were first filed if he was going to flee at all. Conn bragged in his advertising he doesn’t back down from a fight. Today, he’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for white-collar crime.

Sources: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ghost-ship-warehouse-fire-defendant-near-mental-breakdown-lawyer-says-n770551

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyer_disappears_while_awaiting_sentencing_in_550m_disability_fraud_scheme/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=navigation&utm_campaign=most_read

Federal Lawsuit Pending as Crude Oil Flows from Dakota Access Pipeline

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is North Dakota has been protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline for months. The tribe has reservations and water sources lying downstream from the pipeline and fear that leakage could endanger their way of life.

The lawsuit that the Sioux Native American tribe filed in federal court is still pending. The tribe is asking for a federal judge to step in and shut down future extraction from the Dakota Access Pipeline, but so far the lawsuit is still pending.

The extraction of crude oil and transportation through the pipeline has been delayed over the last few months. The most contentious area of the Dakota Access Pipeline for the protesters has been the closing stretch of the pipeline that lied near the Missouri River. More than 700 total protesters have been arrested over the course of the many months that the protests raged.

Native Americans and environmentalist groups have squared off against a variety of oil partners looking to move the crude oil from Stanley, North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco Logistics Partners, Enbridge, Phillips 66, and Marathon Petroleum are all partners in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Construction on the pipeline started in 2016, and extraction and transportation of the crude oil just started.

The Dakota Access Pipeline’s viability was helped along by President Trump. Overturning a call made by the Obama administration, President Trump decided to speed up the approval process for contentious sections of the pipeline in order to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline project to fulfillment.

Native Americans from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe still feel as though their water sources and sacred grounds could be endangered if the pipeline starts to leak. Although some leaks have already been reported, leaks just far have been minor and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s water sources are not known to be imperiled.

The federal lawsuit calling for a shut down of extraction and transportation of the crude oil is still pending in federal court. In the meantime, a federal judge in March of this year denied a motion for preliminary injunction that would have delayed construction on the final stretch of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

One of the oil partners associated with the pipeline – Energy Transfer Partners – found that the pipeline is more environmentally conscious that sending the same crude oil by train or truck. The federal lawsuit is still pending.

Muslim Students Temporarily Barred from Entering Public Courtroom

A New York judge briefly barred a group of Muslim students from entering a public courtroom.

Judge Katherine Forrest of the US Southern District Court of New York stopped the trial upon the arrival of 16 students dressed in uniforms and hijabs (head coverings) from the Razi School, an Islamic private school in Queens. The judge called the student’s presence “gamesmanship” and held a conference with the trial lawyers while the students were forced to remain outside the court.

The unusual incident occurred last week at a civil trial of U.S. government against the Alavi Foundation. The U.S. government alleges that 650 Fifth Avenue, an office tower which is 60% owned by the Alavi Foundation, is clandestinely owned by the Iranian government.

Judge Forrest expressed concern that the presence of the Muslim students was a ploy by Alavi’s attorney, John Gleeson, to garner undue sympathy with the jury.

“The judge is out of line here,” said Sayyed Musawi, a social studies teacher at Razi who chaperoned the Muslim students. According to the Associated Press, Musawi said he convinced the school to approve the field trip in order to provide a venue for his students to better learn about the legal system. He denied knowing the lawyers in the case. He also said he was not trying to sway the jury in any way on behalf of the Alavi Foundation.

The students, including some who had participated in mock court sessions, were told that the judge was allowing them into the public courtroom.

“We were shocked,” said Eman Osman, the other social studies teacher. Osman said the students were very disappointed not to allowed into the courtroom.

Attorneys representing the U. S. government reminded the judge that it was a public courtroom and they were not opposed to having the students enter the courtroom.

After the lunch recess, the judge allowed the youngsters into court, all ten girls with white head scarves which are part of the private school’s uniform.

The U.S. Government is pressing for forfeiture of 650 Fifth Avenue and the trial has been contentious. Last week, Judge Forrest publicly scolded a former judge for making statements in court which she considered politically charged.

Have You Been Ordered to Use an Ignition Interlock Device?

If you have been ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car because of a DUI, did you know that you can choose which device to have installed based on a number of options available, all approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)? You must beware, however, as the state does not regulate fees for installation and maintenance, which means companies that provide these services can charge anything they like.

This doesn’t mean you have no control. You can still make the best of a not-so-desirable situation. With a little research, you can make the choice that is right for you. Here are some of the fees to ask about when choosing an IID.

Installation and Monitoring Fees

Depending on your location, fees for monitoring an ignition interlock device can vary. You can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $200. These fees can include the cost for downloading software and updates. Having a luxury vehicle or a difficult installation can prolong the procedure and drive up fees even more.

Monthly Rental Fee

You do not own the IID, which means that you will have to pay anywhere between $50 and $100.

  • Often, companies that provide monthly fees will waive installation costs. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

You will need to calibrate your ignition interlock device periodically.

This is important, as a device that is left to decalibrate could register false positives. In plain English, the device could think you are not fit to drive even though you had one drink three hours before you blew. California law requires that you do not go more than sixty days without calibrating. However, different manufacturers have different specifications, and may recommend a monthly calibration appointment. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that six times a year is better than twelve times a year.

Violation Fee

IID manufacturers realize that some drivers who know that they are in violation may get a friend to blow into the device and start the car for them. They’ve safeguarded against this possibility by installing a random “running retest” function in the device. This means that the device will without warning ask you to blow into it while you are in the middle of driving, or else run the risk of shutting down. If you blow an unacceptable level, this constitutes a violation. Some manufactures will charge you for every violation. Some have a flat rate. Others have rates dependent on the time of violation–that is, whether they have to reset after hours.

Removal fee

They charged you for putting it in, they might charge you for taking it out too.

  • It is also important to remember that some devices are more sensitive than others. Ask the manufacturer if any other substance on the breath (e.g. mouthwash, breath mints, etc.) is capable of registering a false positive.

It’s no picnic having to drive around with an Ignition Interlock Device

The unexpected breakdown of your vehicle, an accident, or any other pitfall only makes matters more difficult. Nevertheless, understanding your right to choose the device that best suits your bank account can make all the difference in the world.