The UN Calls On China To Release Human Rights Activists

The United Nations has asked China to set free three human rights activists. The UN further demands that the individuals be paid compensation for wrongful imprisonment among other damages. According to the report which was released to the guardian, the rights of the three activists were violated.

Hu Shigen, a Christian church leader, and lawyers Xie Yang and Zhou Shifeng were incarcerated and tried in a nationwide crackdown on human rights activists and attorneys that started in July 2015. The covert operation saw the detention and questioning of 250 people.

The Findings of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

According to the UN report, China has six months to release the activists and compensate them. The UN rejected claims by the Chinese government that the three men had voluntarily confessed their crimes and affirmed that their detentions were not subject to the international standards of the right to fair trials.

The group that reviewed the case, the UN working group on arbitrary detention, is a panel consisting of five experts who fall under UN’s human rights council. China joined the council after running for the seat on August 2016. During this time, it pledged to cooperate with the working group on arbitrary detention and to make unremitting efforts in favor of individual human rights.

The findings of the group was that the trio were denied a host of rights including denying them access to legal counsel, failing to notify their families about their whereabouts, and holding them incommunicado detention.

The Release of Xie

Xie was released on bail in May but his wife confessed that he never lived like a free man. Security agents were stationed blocks from his hall and 12 guards stood guard outside his building. Police would follow him when he was on the move and despite undergoing this surveillance; Xie was required to prepare reports on what he had done and who he had talked to every four hours.

Response of the Chinese Government

The Chinese government has defended its move to incarcerate the trio stating that they were involved in criminal activities. Critics say that Hu was taken into custody for spear heading an underground church that was working against the government. Hu had been previously incarcerated during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Zhou, a well known human rights lawyer, is the founder of the Fengrui law firm that came to the limelight for the 2015 government “war on law”.

The UN previously demanded the release of Liu Xia, the wife of Lui Xiaobo, Nobel peace prize laureate, who died while in detention. Liu Xia has been subjected to house arrest for almost 7 years.

Supreme Court Ruling on Stored Communication Act of 1986

Reports from Washington DC confirm that the United States Supreme Court will rule on whether technology companies can be forced by federal prosecutors to hand in information stored outside the US. This ruling comes at an opportune time where the Justice Department and technology companies in the US have been involved in such battles. The Supreme Court will decide on the emotional issue where technology companies’ desire to protect their customers’ information and the demands of law enforcement. This lawsuit has been made possible by a case known as United States v. Microsoft, No 17-2. This is a case based in the United States and involves federal drug-related charges. Prosecutors, in this case, have demanded emails of the suspect that are stored in Microsoft data center that is located in Dublin. On their part, federal prosecutors demand that they should be given access to the emails as Microsoft is an American company based in Seattle. Back in 2013, a New York federal judge issued a search warrant. He argued using a 1986 law known as the Stored Communication Act. Federal prosecutors were unable to carry out the search as Microsoft challenged the decision in court arguing that they cannot be forced to hand in information stored outside the United States.

The United States Court of Appeal later convened a three-judge panel that confirmed that the warrant could not be used beyond the US borders. They argued that the 1986 law could not be used extraterritorially. One of the judges by the name Gerald E. Lynch asked the Congress to revisit the law and see how it can be used for cases involving data stored abroad. Later on, the Full Second Circuit could not agree whether the warrant could be used as the court judges were deadlocked to a 4-4 vote. The Justice Department has requested the Supreme Court not to be influenced by Microsoft’s decision to store data aboard yet the same information can be accessed domestically by a mouse click. At the same time, the Justice Department has argued that the results of the ruling will affect thousands of investigations in the country. This could range from fraud, child pornography as well as terrorism. They attribute this to the inability of the government to obtain electronic evidence due to bureaucracy. Microsoft has also issued a statement in regards to the case where it has said that it’s upon the Congress to revise the 1986 law.

President Trump Faces A Legal Battle Over His Private Twitter Account

Donald Trump’s Twitter account, @realdonaldtrump, which is not to be confused with the official White House account, @potus, is under fire for the way in which President Trump has been handling the account. The president has been blocking his critics on Twitter from viewing his personal account and, in response, Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute has joined with a group of seven other users of the social media site to sue Trump. The suit contends that the president’s use of Twitter’s blocking feature violates their First Amendment rights.
Is @realdonaldtrump Really a Private Account?
That’s the question that is at the heart of this lawsuit and, in this instance, it’s not easily answered. While Donald Trump opened his Twitter account before he was ever elected, he has since used the account to share official news and his own thoughts as president. For example, he uses the account to promote legislation, highlight supporters, and draw attention to those he views as disloyal.
In light of those kinds of posts, it would seem that, although Donald Trump may have started the account as a private citizen, he now treats it as a public forum. That, essentially, is the basis for the lawsuit from those critics who the president has blocked. They argue that the president treats the account as a public forum, which has risen to amass 20 million more followers than the @potus account, and therefore should be viewed as such by others. In light of that, President Trump’s blocking action is a violation of First Amendment rights.
The Department of Justice Responds to the Lawsuit
The Justice Department is representing President Trump in this matter and has offered an answer to the complaint, arguing that @realdonaldtrump is and always has been a private Twitter account. They assert that the account was initiated by a private individual with a private company and has nothing to do with the office of the president.
“The president does not operate his personal Twitter account by virtue of federal law, nor is blocking made possible because the President is clothed in Article II powers,” the Justice Department stated in the court documents.
Further, the brief admits that the president may make official announcements via his private account, but that doesn’t make the account an official state outlet. They also point out that not every tweet published on @realdonaldtrump is official state business. The Department of Justice argues that Knight Institute and other critics of the president do not have standing to bring their case against the presidency and cannot win the injunction to prevent Donald Trump from blocking Twitter users from viewing his personal account.
The case will move forward on November 3, when the plaintiffs, which comprises the group of blocked Twitter users, respond to the DOJ’s request for summary judgment.

Gatorade Settles Lawsuit Over Anti-Water Sports Game

Gatorade has settled a suit brought by the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for $300,000. Becerra accused the beverage manufacturer of violating the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act after they released a free game advocating against drinking water. The game in question is the 2012 mobile game “Bolt!”, featuring Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt. The game urged players to “keep your performance level high by avoiding water”. It then went on to encourage users to drink Gatorade instead. Water and Gatorade were also built into the gameplay; Gatorade helped players win the game, while touching water in-game lost players points.

Becerra stated that the game was of particular concern because it targeted children and teens. One of the stipulations of the settlement requires Gatorade to refrain from advertising in apps to audiences made up largely of children under 12. According to the settlement, if 35% or more of the market meets this criteria, the company must refrain from marketing to them. Other stipulations include a prohibition on claims that water interferes in athletic performance and a restriction on promoting Gatorade over water.

In a press release, the Attorney General’s office announced that $120,000 of the $300,000 settlement will go towards nutrition research and education.

The settlement has attracted the attention of legal experts, who say it could be a sign that companies need to avoid comparative advertising in their campaigns. In 2013, a similar suit was brought against Abbott Laboratories by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. The company claimed that children who consumed SideKicks and Sidekicks Clear were more energetic and better at sports than those who did not. In that case, Abbott settled for $25,000.

Research compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition shows that most medical professionals recommend that children abstain from sports drinks. According to their 2011 report, the committee found that habitual consumption of sports drinks among children and teens can increase their risk of weight gain and obesity.

Adan Frasch Convicted of Murdering His Wife

Despite the jury finding him guilty, Adam Frasch says that he didn’t kill his wife. The case is posing new questions as allegations arose at sentencing that the district attorney in the case failed to disclose evidence that worked in Frasch’s favor. Frasch and his attorney say that they’ll use the evidence to ask for a new trial.

Fransch was tried and convicted of murdering his wife and the mother of their two young children. She was found at the bottom of her swimming pool. The medical examiner couldn’t say how long she had been there. There was testimony that she had head injuries, but the medical examiner also said that those injuries weren’t consistent with the golf club that police say Frasch used to kill his wife.

The district attorney relied on the evidence of a jail house informant. They say that Frasch told the informant that he hit his wife in the head with a golf club. Police say they used that information to find the golf club in Frasch’s house.

Frasch says that the informant received leniency in his own case from the district attorney in exchange for his testimony. They say that the police finding the golf club in the house is both too convenient and scripted. They say that the golf club belonged to the victim.

Frasch plans to ask the court for a new trial based on the statement from the victim’s mother. At sentencing in the case, the district attorney read a letter from the victim’s mother. In the letter, the mother reported a prowler around the home in the days before the victim’s death. Frasch and his legal team say that this is exculpatory information that the district attorney had an obligation to give them ahead of the trial.

The district attorney says that she didn’t know about the contents of the letter until she read it in court. This is despite having to get the letter translated in advance of the hearing. Whether the district attorney purposefully failed to disclose the contents of the letter may not ultimately make a difference. If the courts find that the evidence is substantial enough that it may have caused a different result if it had been presented at the trial, they can throw out the conviction against Frasch. This may be the result even if they find that the district attorney’s actions in failing to disclose the contents of the letter were not intentional.

Michigan Custody Cases Raise Eyebrows

Two Michigan custody cases are creating headlines. In one case, a judge jailed a mother who refused to vaccinate her son despite a court order. In the other, a judge awarded joint custody to a father who raped the child’s mother.

Vaccines and the family court

A Detroit mother served 7 days in jail for refusing to follow a court order that required her to vaccinate her son. The mother says that she doesn’t believe in vaccines. She says that the child’s father didn’t believe in vaccines either until they began fighting in family court.

In addition to the week in jail, the mother lost primary custody of the child. The parents now share custody of the 9-year-old boy. Michigan allows parents to refuse to vaccinate their children. However, the question becomes more complicated when parents in a custody case disagree. In that event, it’s up to the court to decide the best interests of the child. The American Medical Association strongly recommends vaccination for almost all children.

The mother said that she was only protecting her children. The father says the same. The court allowed the father to keep the child while the mother was in jail and until he could arrange for vaccinations. Activists stood outside the Oakland County courthouse to show their support for the mother.

Custody and child support

Meanwhile, in Sanilac County, Michigan, a judge awarded joint custody of a child to a father convicted of criminal sexual conduct against the child’s mother. The judge later reopened the case and said that he didn’t know about the father’s criminal past. Michigan law allows the court to deny a parent access to a child in cases of rape.

The local prosecutor’s office initiated the paternity case on behalf of the mother. Because the mother receives public assistance, Michigan law requires the prosecutor to try and establish paternity and a child support order on behalf of the mother. Usually that means proving paternity and determining the best interests of the child. The father has the option to ask the court for joint custody. The court may consider it.

In the Sanilac County case, the court awarded joint custody. The father had two criminal sexual conduct convictions including one involving the child’s mother. A representative from the Michigan Supreme Court even weighed in to defend the judge. He said that the judge didn’t have complete information when he made the decision. He also said that the father agreed to pay support.

Informant in Case Against Attorney Retracts His Story

The testimony of Dale Fisher once put a former prosecutor and Michigan attorney in prison. Fisher claimed that Clarence Gomery solicited him and paid him to kill a legal rival. Now in prison himself, Fisher is retracting his story. Fisher now says that it was the legal rival that conspired with him to set up Gomery. Based on the information, Gomery has made a motion in the 13th Circuit Court in Grand Traverse County, Michigan to ask a new judge to throw out the conviction against him.

Fisher said that the rival, also an attorney, had blackmail on Fisher that he used to coerce Fisher to be a part of his plan. Fisher says that the rival and alleged victim threatened to report him for having sex with an underage relative. Fisher says that he went along with the plan to frame Gomery, but that the alleged victim had him charged anyways.

To make the case even more puzzling is the timeline of the charges against supposed hit man Fisher. Only a week after Gomery’s original sentence, Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney brought charges against Fisher for allegations of retail fraud for stealing cell phones from Walmart. Fisher’s actions that led to the charges allegedly happened months prior. There’s no explanation for why prosecutor Cooney held off on issuing charges.

As part of the retail fraud case, prosecutor Cooney also agreed not to bring the criminal sexual conduct charges against Fisher that relate to the alleged victim’s relative. Agreeing not to charge a criminal sexual conduct charge in order to secure a retail fraud conviction is enough to raise eyebrows. However, a short time later, Cooney brought the charges anyways. Cooney has not admitted to knowing about any scheme between Fisher and the alleged victim. However, the alleged victim previously served as the attorney for a Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s sergeant defending allegations of use of force.

In his court filings, Gomery also says that 13th Circuit Court judge Philip Rodgers promised him a lighter sentence than he received. Gomery says that his attorney and prosecutor Bob Cooney met with Judge Rodgers in chambers where Rodgers made the promise. He claims that Rodgers promised a harsher sentence if Gomery took his case to trial. If that claim is true, the judge was in violation of Michigan judicial ethics that prohibit judges from penalizing defendants for exercising their constitutional right to a trial.

Self-Driving Cars Expected To Hit The Roads By Mid-2018

It has now been confirmed that self-driving cars will be able to move along California highways mid next year thanks to revised rules affecting the deployment of these vehicles. The new regulations are a result of a compromise with motor vehicle and technology companies.

The Previous Versus The Current Rules on Self-Driving Cars

The California rules may still contradict federal legislation that bars states from authorizing autonomous vehicles. However, they are a break-through for manufacturers of motor-vehicles who want to launch vehicles that operate without human controls in California. Over 40 companies in California are running tests on self-driving vehicles with human controls. Many of these vehicle manufacturers have research centers.

Previous rules required firms to present safety assessment reports to state regulators and to seek fresh authorization for new vehicles. They also required driverless cars to have a backup human driver.

According to the Association of Global Automakers, a trade union representing mostly European and Asian automakers, California had not gone far enough in its new rules. The trade group stated that a special permit was still a requirement for deploying, an issue that raised concerns on whether autonomous vehicles would be able to go beyond state lines.

Companies are still required to have a California permit to test or release their vehicles on state roads. Furthermore, automakers and technology firms would still be required to provide information regarding autonomous sensors that are triggered 30 seconds before a crash. Vehicles must also follow all the state laws, except when the safety of road users and a vehicle’s occupants is at stake.

Opponents of the New Rules

Consumer Watchdog was against the revisions arguing that California’s earlier regulations were much stricter. The group further noted that local communities would not be able to block testing under the new rules.

Implications of the Senate Bill

Last week, a bill was approved by Senate with the aim of fast tracking the deployment of self-driving vehicles without human controls in the U.S.. The bill also bars states against imposing regulatory road barriers for these automated vehicles.

The Bill allows automakers to be exempted from safety rules involving human controls if they adhere to certain standards. States were permitted to set rules on licensing, registration, insurance, liability, and safety inspections. However, the performance standards were regulated by federal laws. According to Mary Barra, General Motors’ Chief Executive, the federal legislation will allow automakers to deploy these vehicles on the road. Barra; however, did not say when the company would be seeking approval for exemption.

Manhattan District Attorney Declined to Prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015

Celebrities are continuing to come forward, either to add accusations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein or to condemn him to the public. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Weinstein has been accused, however. A 2015 complaint might have outed Weinstein earlier, if the Manhattan district attorney handling the complaint, Cyrus Vance Jr., hadn’t declined to prosecute the case.
Harvey Weinstein was Accused of Sexual Misconduct in 2015
Two years ago, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a model and former Miss Italy finalist, accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually accosting her. The incident occurred in Harvey’s office, claimed the model, who stated in her complaint that Weinstein lunged at her, during the interview. He grabbed her breasts and slid his hand up her skirt, according to Ms. Gutierrez.
After filing a complaint with the police, Ambra agreed to wear a surveillance wire for a meeting with Mr. Weinstein at an area bar. At the meeting, the film producer asked Ambra up to his hotel room and she accompanied him, but stopped before going into the room. Ms. Gutierrez took the opportunity to confront Harvey about why he had groped her in his office a day earlier.
In response, Weinstein told Ambra that he was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again, commenting that “I’m used to that”.
While the wiretap produced some incriminating statements against Weinstein, it was Gutierrez’s past that stirred reluctance in District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s to prosecute the case. The police uncovered evidence that Gutierrez had accused another individual, an Italian businessman, of sexual assault, but later refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez Recanted her Allegations
Later, Ambra admitted the alleged sexual misconduct never happened. That recanting of her allegation was stated in a nondisclosure agreement she signed with Harvey Weinstein. Sources report the NDA was a common practice Weinstein employed to ensure women accusing him of misconduct wouldn’t later step forward and reassert their complaints.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo has since issued a statement regarding the 2015 incident, assuring the public that Mr. Weinstein would have been prosecuted, if police had gathered enough evidence. She added that prosecutors weren’t consulted on what exactly was needed in the wiretapped conversation between Weinstein and Ambra Battilana Gutierrez to constitute sufficient evidence for a prosecution.
“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent,” reads Agnifilo’s statement in part.
The Chief A.D.A. concluded her statement by admitting there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with prosecution. As a result, charges against Harvey Weinstein were dropped.

Man Loses Attorney License for Beating Dog

One man has lost his freedom and his law license all in one day. Corporate lawyer Anthony Pastor is a lawyer no more after he was convicted of beating his girlfriend’s dog to death. A jury convicted the 46-year-old of felony aggravated cruelty to animals. The jury also convicted him of other charges.

The dog’s name was Snoopy, and he was 4 years old. The jury handed down the convictions on May 9, 2017. The court said that Pastor showed malice and violence when he beat the dog. Pastor allegedly flew into a rage when the dog went to the bathroom inside. The court also said that their sentence is justified because the dog suffered in pain before dying from his injuries. Judge Robert Mandelbaum also criticized Pastor for going back to work on his computer rather than trying to get help for the dying dog. The judge said that Pastor’s violence in the incident is “almost incomprehensible.”

In his defense, Pastor’s lawyer Gerald Lefcourt says that Pastor suffered trauma as a child. He said that he was the only Jewish child at a boarding school, and that he suffered abuse in the environment. Lefcourt went on to say that Pastor is at a crossroads in his life. He said that Pastor wanted to repair his relationship with his son.

Largely rejecting Pastor’s pleas, Judge Mandelbaum pointed out the cruelty of the crime when handing down his sentence. The two years that Pastor is going to spend in prison is the maximum possible sentence for the crime. He also has to register in the state’s registry of animal abusers. The judge said that Pastor obviously demonstrated that he has the ability to act in a dangerous and violent way. The judge said that it was Pastor’s own actions that damaged his relationship with his son. He also called Pastor a “terrible father.”

Pastor has been the target of some threats. In response, on judge’s orders, law enforcement has given Pastor protective custody since May. The dog’s owner and Pastor’s then-girlfriend Taly Russell found the deceased dog. The dog had severe injuries including nine broken ribs. The dog had internal bleeding and injuries to his kidneys.

Another of Pastor’s ex girlfriends also testified that her dog died under similar circumstances. In addition, a landlord testified to having witnessed Pastor’s mistreatment of animals. Russell said that while she understands the sentence can’t bring Snoopy back, she hopes it will prevent violence against more animals.

A Legislation that Would Control Guns in the USA

The National Rifle Association did the unexpected last week when it agreed to embrace new restrictions towards a new device that would prevent converting riffles into automatic weapons. While this might sound like an unfamiliar territory, it seemed like it was a calculated move as the association through its leaders said that it would draw a line on how far they would go to making these restrictions into law. While talking to CBS’s Face the Nation, the chief executive and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said that if it was possible to legislate morality, it’s something that the United States would have done years ago. He referred to the issue as interpretive. He further said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives, and Firearms should take up the challenge and look into the issues at hand. This is a device that few people knew before the Las Vegas Shootings. This is a device that the shooter, Stephen Paddock fitted to the 23 guns that he used to shoot people on Sunday last week. With this device in his semiautomatic weapon, he was able to fire automatically from the 32nd window of his hotel room. At the end of the ordeal, he had killed 58 people.

This has led to the emergence of a rare interest from both parties where the legislators want to pass a law that would make the sale of the bump stock illegal. The NRA decided to wait until the issue had cooled down before they issued an official statement. Since the Obama administration decided that the device was legal, some people in Congress and some members of the NRA have this belief that they can settle the issue without making legislation. At the moment, Democratic Senator from California Dianne Feinstein has said that no one has agreed to co-sponsor her bill that is aimed at making it illegal to sell the bump stocks. This will include other materials that make the gun fire like an automatic weapon. The California Democrat said that the regulation was not going to work this time. The only way to address the issue was through law. Senator Chris Murphy has also been vocal about gun regulations in America. He has taken this stand since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in 2012. He tried a clean bill but failed in garnering enough support. He, however, spoke on Sunday saying that he would support any legislation seeking to control guns.

High-Powered Attorney Lisa Bloom Steps Down from Harvey Weinstein’s Legal Team

Attorney Lisa Bloom announced at a scheduled press conference this past Saturday that she will no longer be serving as a defense attorney to Harvey Weinstein in his current legal battle surrounding sexual harassment charges. Weinstein is best known for his Oscar-winning films and is highly regarded in the film industry as one of the most talented and sought after producers. He has catapulted numerous Hollywood stars to almost instant fame and is considered one of the wealthiest and most connected producers in the business.

Several actresses have spoken publicly about their encounters with Weinstein and have accused him of acting inappropriately. Many of his accusers have said that they did not feel empowered to come forward until now because Weisntein carries so much clout in the film industry. They feared for their careers, reputation and credibility in going after such a prominent producer with these types of accusations.

Although Bloom has previously stood by Weinstein and has even worked with him on several projects, she announced that she is no longer able to go forward with representing him. Other members of Weinstein’s team as well as members of the board of Weinstein’s production company have been highly critical of Bloom because they say she has a conflict of interest in representing Weinstein. Bloom is in the middle of a production deal for her book to be turned into a television series through Weinstein’s and Jay-Z’s production companies.

Bloom was most sharply criticism from Weinstein’s team for her suggestion that Weinsten release pictures to the press of all of his accusers appearing comfortable around him and laughing with him after the alleged harassment incidents took place. Bloom was mocked for her efforts to sway the press and avoid having Weinstein deal with what most observers are commenting is a serious problem. Weinstein has acknowledged publicly that he has a problem and is seeking guidance on how to improve his behavior around women. Bloom has described Weinstein as a dinosaur adjusting to new ways of thinking as a way to explain his unacceptable behavior towards women.

It has also come to light that Weinstein has settled up to eight other sexual harassment cases with female accusers and has worked to bury the outcomes of the settlements for years. Many analysts say that female artists and writers are set to back away from deals with Weinstein as a result of this scandal.

A Constitutional View of Impeachment: Is Donald Trump at Risk of Losing the Presidency?

While the 2016 presidential campaign was one of the most heated in history, the drama didn’t stop when President Trump was sworn into office. In fact, there have been an unprecedented number of controversies since Donald Trump became the Commander in Chief, and it seems that there is a new storm every few weeks.

From the travel ban, to allegations of Russian collusion, to not taking a hard enough stand against the incident in Charlottesville, Trump is getting hit from all directions with serious accusations, and there has even been talk of impeachment. While that can sound quite alarming to the average citizen, impeachment is a legal and constitutional issue, and many people don’t understand how it works and what it may mean for Trump’s presidency.

What is Impeachment?

The process of impeachment is widely misunderstood. In layperson’s terms, impeachment is a specific power given to Congress to try government officials for certain crimes and potentially remove them from a federal office. It is much like a court trial, except that it is political and the trial and verdict are all carried out in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress. Any member can put forth Articles of Impeachment which are much like an indictment in the criminal court system. The House of Representatives then views the evidence and hears witnesses about the specific charges made. If the House agrees that the government official has committed sufficiently serious crimes, it can decide to impeach this person.

A trial, however, is needed in the Senate to determine whether the impeached party should be removed from their office. These are two separate questions, and both are long and drawn out processes. In very few instances is the official removed even when the impeachment itself is successful.

Are the Charges Against Trump Serious Enough?

The House of Representatives can impeach the president if he has committed bribery or treason, and these are relatively straightforward charges if there is sufficient proof. There is, however, a more gray area known as high crimes and misdemeanors, and these categories are open to quite wide interpretation. When it comes down to it, what is considered an impeachable offense is really up to a particular House of Representatives at the time of the proceedings. In the case of Trump, the current makeup of both the House and Senate are largely conservative, so the deck is stacked in his favor when the rubber hits the road on this issue. While Donald Trump’s more liberal colleagues may be throwing everything they can at him, successfully impeaching a president is difficult.

In fact, only three presidents in the history of the United States Constitution have been faced with Articles of Impeachment and, of those, none were formally removed from office. President Andrew Johnson was narrowly acquitted in 1868, while the Watergate scandal of 1972 led President Richard Nixon to resign rather than face impeachment hearings. In late 1998, the only successful presidential impeachment occurred when former President Bill Clinton was tried for lying under oath about his relationship with his intern Monica Lewinsky. He was not, however, ultimately removed from office by the Senate.

The Court of Public Opinion vs. the Numbers Game

If impeachment is unlikely, then why does it seem to be so talked about with each new accusation made against President Trump? Politics is based on polling and perception, and anything that implies that President Trump is in legal hot water has the potential to make his approval rating tank. Liberals understand the numbers game and knows that getting enough conservatives to jump ship all the way to impeachment is unlikely. However, they may plant seeds of doubt in Trump’s constituency base, leaving liberals with a better political position at the end of the day. Even if nothing sticks, enough much mud in the water could sully Donald Trump in the eyes of American citizens.

Read More by Sujit Choudhry
Sujit Choudhry’s Address at the Semi-Presidentialism Round-table in Ukraine
Constitutional Law Expert Sujit Choudhry Presents an Analysis of Freedom of Speech

What if Impeachment Happens?

While it is not clear at this point whether Trump has committed any impeachable offenses, it is always possible that he will find himself subjected to Articles of Impeachment for a current or future incident. However, even if impeachment does happen, President Trump will have plenty of options to decide how he wants the situation to play out. Even if impeachment looked likely, Trump could emulate Richard Nixon and resign rather than allow the proceedings to continue to his ultimate removal from office.

Due to the heavily Republican Congress, the odds of there being enough support for an impeachment process, let alone a removal from office, are not high unless there is a significant change in the balance of power in Washington. President Trump continues to enjoy considerable support from Republican voters. Regardless of whether Trump’s Republican colleagues support him, partisan calculations still matter in D.C. and will probably shape this debate in the end.

As a constitutional law expert, Sujit Choudhry provides a broad range of legal opinions about current events and politics both in America and abroad. He operates the Center for Constitutional Transitions, an organization that provides research and education in support of constitutional transitions worldwide. 

Follow Sujit Choudhry on TwitterLinkedIn or Facebook for more information, or visit his website at www.constitutionaltransitions.org.

 

Georgia Sheriff Charged for School Lockdown

One Georgia sheriff is getting a taste of his own medicine. He’s defending himself against allegations that he falsely imprisoned and wrongfully searched hundreds of high school students. Sheriff Jeff Hobby of the Worth County Sheriff’s Department faces multiple charges because of the allegations.

Students at Worth County High School arrived at school for what they expected to be a normal school day. But Hobby had other plans. He and his entire department arrived at the school and locked the doors. They ordered students up against the walls in the hallway. Then, they started touching.

The officers say they were looking for drugs. They say they suspected drug use from as many as 12 students at the school. However, they searched approximately 900. The search took half the school day. Only three of the suspected drug users came to school that day. The search yielded no drugs and no arrests.

Whether the school consented to the events is a matter of contention. Sheriff’s officials say that the school worked with them to plan a date for the search. School officials say that they were told, not asked, about what was going to happen. When the sheriff’s deputies locked the doors, teachers weren’t even in on what was about to unfold.

The disagreement matters as several students have filed lawsuits about the events of the day. Many of the students say that they were sexually assaulted by deputies performing searches. They describe being touched in their private areas, in some cases multiple times. Students said that they knew the behavior wasn’t right, but they were powerless to stop it.

On his part, Hobby says that he’s not guilty of the charges. He says that he personally didn’t take part in the search. He also says that the deputies went beyond what he asked them to do. However, in an interview with a media outlet, Hobby said that he believed the actions of the day were valid, because school administrators were there during the searches. He says that he was just responding to citizens who wanted him to do something about drug use at the school.

Local prosecutors say that they want to see Hobby removed from his duties. To do that, they need cooperation from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has already revoked Hobby’s law enforcement certification. They’ve also taken certifications from some of the deputies involved in the actions of that fateful day.

DACA Recipients and Immigrant Groups File a Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration

Immigrant groups on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its efforts to terminate a program that protects the youth who come into the U.S. illegally. According to a report by abajournal.com, CASA de Maryland, flanked by eight other groups and over a dozen individuals presented their claim to a Maryland federal court. The main targets of the lawsuit were President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and four government agencies- the agencies involved with immigration, citizenship, customs, and homeland security.

The Issues Presented in the Lawsuit

The lawsuit against the Trump administration argues that terminating the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program was against the legally stipulated procedures and an act of discrimination against Central Americans and Mexicans. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the Trump administration has offered no guarantees that it will not use private information contained in DACA applications for enforcement purposes. This is tantamount to a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses enshrined in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. constitution.

Rescinding the DACA program will cause about 800,000 immigrants to lose their work permits and protection. The suit continues to say that the decision to withdraw the program is a double cross. It is unjustified, arbitrary, capricious, and offensive to the law and basic values of the U.S.

Termination of the DACA Program

The DACA program affects thousands of youth across the country. These young people have commonly been referred to as “Dreamers”. Many of these dreamers came to the U.S. unlawfully as young children while others came legally but remained even after their visas had expired. On Sept 5, the U.S. Attorney General announced the termination of the DACA program. However, the Trump administration promised to continue renewing existing 2 year work permits for six months. This additional time has been created to allow Congress to pass a replacement program.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include states where DACA participants range from hundreds to several thousands. These include Hawaii, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. Besides CASA de Maryland, this latest suit also includes lawyers from the Howard University law school, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Willke Farr & Gallagher, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

The world will be watching the Trump administration keenly to see how they react to this lawsuit. Will they back down to pressure or will they add more time for the dreamers? It will also be interesting to see the initiative that Congress will introduce as a replacement of the DACA program.