Harvey Weinstein Sued By British Actress

In what has become an almost daily headline in the news, movie producer Harvey Weinstein finds himself facing another lawsuit from a woman accusing him of sexual misconduct. In New York federal court, British actress Kadian Noble filed a lawsuit against Weinstein accusing him of sex trafficking. In the lawsuit, Noble stated the allegations resulted from a meeting she had with Weinstein while in France in February 2014. According to Noble, in that meeting, which was held in Weinstein’s hotel room, he violated United States federal sex trafficking laws by sexually assaulting her in his hotel room.

According to the lawsuit, Weinstein used his influence in the film industry to force or coerce Noble into sexual activity due to his promising to use influence to help her land a role in one of his upcoming films. However, Weinstein has stated he has never had non-consensual sex with Noble or anyone else, and his spokespeople have also stated he has denied any and all allegations of non-consensual sex. Because of this, it’s important to note that the allegations have not been independently confirmed as of this time.

Considered a civil lawsuit, it seeks unspecified damages for Noble. And for those who wonder about the statute of limitations regarding these charges, federal law allows for a 10-year statute of limitations on sex trafficking charges. Also important to remember is that in this lawsuit, Harvey Weinstein is not the only party named. Noble named the Weinstein Company itself as well as Harvey’s brother Bob, whom Noble alleges was aware of Harvey’s activities in regards to forcing women into having non-consensual sex with him in exchange for movie roles. As of now, neither officials of the Weinstein Company nor Bob Weinstein himself have provided comments on the allegations nor the lawsuit.

As of now, more than 50 women around the world involved in various aspects of the entertainment industry have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, and police in London, Los Angeles, New York, and Beverly Hills are conducting investigations into allegations of sex trafficking, rape, and other related acts that could result in the filing of criminal charges against Weinstein. Due to the allegations, Harvey Weinstein has been fired from the Weinstein Company, resigned from the Directors Guild of America, and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For additional information on this developing story, visit Reuters.

Aerial Fireworks Are Now Legal in Pennsylvania

Legislation that was passed by the state of Pennsylvania now allows its citizens to have aerial fireworks just like in other states. The law will enable residents in Pennsylvania to purchase and make use of fireworks made from high octane. This was a privilege that was previously reserved for out of state residents. Before the enactment of the legislation, residents of Pennsylvania were only allowed to buy commodities that would be referred to as sane and safe.

They include fountains, novelties, and sparklers. However, they can now throw fireworks in the air at their backyards after the bill was signed into law. Rosemary Brown, the state representative, said that the fact that the law in Pennsylvania only allowed residents to buy some kinds of firework was frustrating as they could not enjoy the festive season or special events in style.

The new legislation now allows residents who are 18 years and over to buy fireworks that belong to class C. This class of fireworks were previously available for purchase by out of state residents only. A license must be issued to stores that supply fireworks so that certificates to sell the product to state residents can be issued. One of the fireworks store owners, Ken Schuchman, said that his three stores had received the necessary licenses on Friday and that residents are buying the commodities in bulk ahead of the festive season. Schuchman said that the permits are only issued after a thorough inspection to ascertain that the necessary store requirements have been met.

The legislation was enacted to generate revenue to fill the huge budget gaps and reduce budgetary deficits for the state of Pennsylvania. On top of the sales tax for the state of Pennsylvania that stands at 6%, fireworks sales will have an additional 12% tax for every purchase. The extra money will be set aside for a first responder’s fund. Certified firework stores are also required by the new law to operate with a stipulated distance from each other. The legislation has offered a big boost to fireworks stores as they will record higher sales in the coming Christmas and New Year season.

Among the beneficiaries is Delaware Water Gap’s Phantom Fireworks. The store is strategically located on the 80 west interstate highway which is one of the primary entries into the state. According to the general manager, Gregg Marino, the store has applied for licensing and certification, and the store inspection is scheduled in a week’s time.

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Keeps Suit Against Alibaba Alive

A federal lawsuit against online retailing giant Alibaba filed by its shareholders was given new life last week in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The complaint had previously been dismissed in 2016 by Judge Colleen McMahon, but the suit has now been remanded by the appeals court and will proceed.

According to documents in the case, Alibaba shareholders argued that the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse had been aware of the many counterfeit luxury goods being sold on its site. It was further alleged that the company had also engaged in fraud against shareholders by failing to disclose a meeting between its officials and China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce. During that meeting, the agency had reportedly warned Alibaba of fines that would be imposed if the retailer continued to permit counterfeiters to engage in transactions on the website.

In the 2016 dismissal, Judge McMahon held that the lawsuit should not move forward because Alibaba did disclose the potential regulatory hazards in its IPO information. The Court of Appeals, however, supported the shareholders’ right to argue that Alibaba had in fact defrauded them.

The opinion reviving the lawsuit highlighted the relevance of shareholder allegations that the facts concealed by Alibaba were material to investors in that the retailer had been presented with a choice between abandoning lucrative business from counterfeiters and facing massive regulatory fines. Either choice, the court stated, would have impacted company revenues substantially. As such, the lower court had improperly disregarded shareholder arguments, did not construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and erroneously dismissed the suit.

Accusations related to Alibaba’s tolerance of counterfeit goods being sold through its website have long plagued the Chinese retail juggernaut. Company founder Jack Ma has argued that the problem lies with Chinese governmental leniency in dealing with known counterfeiters, urging more stringent legal penalties for those engaging in such activity.

 

 

Dr. Phil’s Son Developing Law School Comedy

CBS is working on a new legal comedy thanks to the contributions of Jay McGraw and his famous father, Phil McGraw. The pair are working on a comedy based on the younger McGraw’s experiences in law school. Jay McGraw is a graduate of SMU Law in Dallas, Texas.

McGraw’s comedy centers on a young law student. The student comes from a privileged background, and he wants an easy experience in law school. Unfortunately, he chooses one of the best law schools in the country. The law school has high expectations. Despite his attempts to slide through school on easy street, the student finds that he has to work hard and represent clients in actual cases.

The show’s developers plan to call the show “Class Action.” Modern Family writer Dan O’Shannon plans to contribute to the project. CBS plans to produce the show. Jay McGraw isn’t new to writing. He previously published “Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies.” He also appeared on the show “Renovate My Family” as the show’s host.

McGraw graduated from SMU’s Dedman School of Law in 2004. SMU Law is located in Dallas, Texas. The school consistently boasts above-average bar passage rates in the State of Texas. Reviewing organizations typically rank the school around the top 50 for law schools in the United States.

SMU Law offers a full-time program that takes three years. They also offer a part-time, evening program that lasts four years. Famous SMU Law alumni include U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Myers and James Baker, a justice of the Texas Supreme Court. The law school sits on the north side of downtown Dallas between Highland Park and University Park.

True of the younger McGraw’s recollection, the school offers law students an intensive clinical experience. Students can choose between participation in the criminal clinic, child advocacy program, innocence project, family law assistance program and civil law clinic. The law school sits on SMU’s main campus. Students may also participate in moot court and law review programs.

The McGraws operate their creative projects through Stage 29 Productions. If the project gathers steam, it won’t be the first time that Dr. Phil has lent his creativity to a law-related comedy. The company has also produced a show called Bull. That show is based on Dr. Phil’s experiences running a trial consulting firm before his years as Dr. Phil. Before he became Dr. Phil, he also appeared on Oprah and contributed to her defense against a defamation lawsuit brought by the cattle industry.

9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski Accused Of Sexual Misconduct

Allegations now exist from six former clerks for the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals regarding sexual harassment from judge Alex Kozinski.

The six accusers say that while performing duties for the San Francisco based court that sexual comments and behaviors resulting in feelings of discomfort were directed towards them by Judge Kozinski. Four of them women also requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

Judge Kozinski has denied the allegations and stated that he would never ‘do anything’ offensive to any employees. The judge expressed regret for any remarks made that may have offended anyone.

One accuser who did go on record in accusing Kozinski is Heidi Bond. Bond clerked for Kozinski for approximately a year beginning in 2006 and now authors romance novels under a pen name. The allegations made by Bond are that on three separate occasions she was summoned by Kozinski to his office and was shown pornography by the judge. Bond says the judge would then ask her questions such as did she think the videos were ‘digitally manipulated’ and if she was aroused by videos.

Emily Murphy clerked for another judge with the 9th circuit court and met Judge Kozinski in 2012. Murphy alleges that Kozinski overheard her making remarks about the gym in the courthouse being rarely used. In response to Murphy’s remarks, Kozinski suggested that she work on in the gym naked. Murphy says that she and two others taking part in the conversation attempted to redirect the conversation but Kozinski would not be deterred.

Another former clerk of Kozinski who wished to remain anonymous said that the judge had also shown her pornography and that he had also shown her a chart detailing the totality of the judge’s sexual conquests.

A former extern told media sources that while sitting at a table with Kozinski that the judge lifted a tablecloth to look at her legs.

Judge Kozinski received backlash in the past for what many believed to be a cavalier attitude toward issues pertaining to sexuality and humor. It was determined in 2008 that the judge had posted sexual materials to his personal website.

More about the allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski can be seen at the abajournal.

End Citizens United Denounces Republican Efforts to Gut The Johnson Amendment

UPDATED December 12th, 2017 – End Citizens United announces their “Big Money 20” for the 2018 elections. The political action committee is targeting these 20 republicans and will spend roughly $35 million dollars to help keep money out of politics.

Last week, the US House Appropriations Committee rejected a proposal to remove a controversial rider from a spending bill that restricts enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. According to End Citizens United, a political action committee that advocates for campaign finance reform, the decision gives a green light for special interest groups to, “manipulate churches and funnel secret political money through the pulpit.”

The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the US tax code that forbids 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, which include most churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It was proposed in 1954 by Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a senator of Texas at the time.

The amendment has long been a sore spot for some conservatives, which is why President Donald Trump made repealing it a campaign promise. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would require an act of Congress, which is hard to come by these days, so opponents of the rule are looking for other ways to undermine its enforcement.

Rather than outright repeal, house republicans have included a rider in a spending bill that forbids the IRS from using funds to investigate churches for violations of the Johnson Amendment. Exceptions can be made by the IRS commissioner, who must report to Congress about all such investigations. Despite attempts from opponents to remove the language from the bill, the committee voted 28-24 to keep the controversial rider.

How is the Johnson Amendment Enforced?

Churches and other similar nonprofit organizations can engage in some political activities, such as voter registration drives, but the Johnson Amendment forbids endorsements of specific parties or candidates. The amendment was famously invoked in 1992 when a church had its tax-exempt status revoked for taking out a full-page ad in USA Today that implored Christians to vote against then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

Today, however, the IRS rarely investigates churches for political activities, and some pastors don’t shy away from voicing their political opinions from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative advocacy group, sponsors a campaign called Pulpit Freedom Sunday that encourages pastors to openly flout the law in protest. Although the IRS has audited at least one of the thousands of participating churches, no penalties have been issued. Nonetheless, the new language would make it almost impossible for the IRS to penalize churches for funneling money from their congregations to political campaigns.

What do Americans Think About the Johnson Amendment?

Among American voters, there isn’t an overwhelming consensus on the issue of religion in politics. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that 66 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with the thought of churches endorsing candidates, but a vocal minority of conservative Christians believe that the Johnson Amendment restricts freedom of speech.

Some religious group are actually adamant about maintaining the Johnson Amendment. Dozens of nonprofit organizations including the Episcopal Church, the American Jewish Committee, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty co-signed a letter to the House Appropriations Committee voicing opposition to the measure.

“Weakening current law would allow politicians and others seeking political power to pressure churches for endorsements,” the letter states.

What do Experts say About the Johnson Amendment?

Charles Haynes, a religious freedom historian at Washington DC’s Newseum, told the Washington Post that the language, “puts a further chilling effect on any attempts by IRS staff to enforce the Johnson Amendment with respect to pulpit speech.” However, the problem doesn’t stop at speech.

“At its worst, the provision keeps IRS staff from doing its job to prevent charitable donations to flow to political campaigns,” Haynes says.

While the Johnson Amendment forbids any nonprofit group from endorsing candidates, the language in the spending bill specifically exempts religious organizations from such oversight. Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, told the Washington Post that giving religious organizations preferential treatment violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Tiffany Muller, who is the President and Executive Director of End Citizens United, released a statement condemning the House Appropriation Committee for restricting enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.

“The Johnson Amendment has been critical to ensuring churches and charities can carry out their missions free from manipulation of Big Money special interests and partisan politics,” said Muller. “Today, extreme House Republicans approved a rider in a must-pass bill that leaves churches vulnerable to being used as tools of political mega-donors looking to push their agenda.”

About End Citizens United

End Citizens United was founded in 2015 to counter the effects of the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case that allowed corporations to make unlimited undisclosed donations to political candidates. It uses grassroots tactics to support candidates who are committed to reforming campaign finance law. By raising awareness of the issue of money in politics, End Citizens United advocates for legislation that will limit the flow of dark money to campaigns.

Read Next:   Online Law Related to Harassment Issues

Tampa Bay Rays Bring Lawsuit Against Concession Company

The Tampa Bay Rays baseball team has always used the same concession company since they were first founded as a team back in 1998. That company is called Centerplate. Recently, the Rays have made the decision to sue that company for breach of contract, and the two have severed ties. The team is bringing the suit for at least $75,000 against the company and claim they have “a long and sad history of failing to meet up to their obligations”.

The Complaints

Baseball management in Tampa Bay have said that doing business with Centerplate has brought bad publicity onto the team, and that the failure of Centerplate to do the work that they were supposed to do in a way they were supposed to do it has turned at least some fans against the team entirely. There are a whole list of accusations brought against Centerplate in the lawsuit according to calltothepen.com. A few of those accusations are as follows:

  • Employees Not Washing Their Hands
  • Black Mold
  • Live Insects

All of these things from a food and beverage company? Well, if the lawsuit is to be believed, then that is exactly the kinds of problems that the Rays have gotten fed up with from their concessions provider.

The Company’s Response

Centerplate strongly denies the claims brought forth by the Tampa Bay Rays. They said that they are “saddened and surprised” by the lawsuit. They do plan to fight the lawsuit in court. As of this moment, there is no sign from the company that they would be willing to settle with Tampa Bay in any way for what has been alleged of them.

Fan Expectations

Fans at a baseball game are generally not very picky eaters. They know the type of food that one can purchase from a concession stand. As long as the food does not make them sick and the beer is cold, most fans are happy with the chance to buy concessions. However, if the claims against Centerplate are true, then it is understandable why the Tampa Bay Rays may feel that the company is bringing a bad name upon the team.

If the fans are willing to pay the very high prices charged at most concession stands, they ought to at least be able to count on no getting sick when they place their order for some nachos and a hot dog.

Harvey Weinstein Comes Under Heat Again For Sexual Assault

Harvey Weinstein has been severally featured in the news, not for his landmark achievements but for allegations of despicable acts while working in Hollywood. Many actresses have publicly accused him of sexual assault, allegations that he has blatantly denied. On Monday, a British actress filed a suit against Harvey Weinstein accusing him of sex trafficking. The actress claims that Weinstein invited her to his hotel room and assaulted her sexually.

Kadian Noble filed the lawsuit at the New York District Court accusing Weinstein of going against the federal sex trafficking laws. She claims the incident occurred in France on February 2014. Noble alleges that Weinstein coerced Kadian to perform sexual favors upon the promise of securing a role for her in a film.

Holly Baird, Weinstein’s spokeswoman claimed in an email that Mr. Weinstein has denied any allegations of sexual assault. According to Weinstein, none of the women who have accused him of non-consensual sex retaliated against his advances.
Noble also sued Weinstein’s brother, Bob, and the Weinstein Company, alleging that they knew about Harvey Weinstein’s conduct. Despite these strong allegations, none of the officials from the Weinstein Company could be reached to comment.

Kadian wants unspecified damages for her claim against Weinstein. The statute of limitation for sex trafficking law suits is 10 years. This means that Kadian’s lawsuit is still valid since the alleged act occurred three years ago.

Weinstein’s Is Disowned For Sexual Assault Allegations

Over 50 women have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault during his Hollywood career which is over three decades old. As a result of these allegations, Weinstein was permanently dismissed from the Weinstein Company. This is despite being the one who co-founded the company with his brother in 2005. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has also expelled Weinstein in an effort to distance itself from his careless and despicable conduct. The Directors Guild of America also confirmed Weinstein’s resignation from the institution.

Law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York, and London are investigating the series of sexual assault claims against Weinstein, and are yet to give a comprehensive report on the same.

Three Dallas Police Officers Charged in Man’s Death

There’s no question that Tony Timpa was high on cocaine on August 10 of 2016 when he phoned 911 for help. He was overdosed, but he was unarmed. He wanted help, but within an hour after the police arrived, Tony Timpa was dead.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a “beefy” Timpa parked his Mercedes Benz in the parking lot of an adult store on West Mockingbird Lane and called for help. Police officers allegedly mocked the 32-year-old Timpa when he died after 14 minutes of an officer’s knee was pinned in his back. Two Dallas police officers aged 48 and 32 were indicted on misdemeanor charges of deadly conduct in Timpa’s death. Another unnamed Dallas police officer has been charged, but he has yet to turn himself in.

Timpa’s mother indicated that she didn’t understand why the officers were only charged with misdemeanors rather than felonies. Misdemeanors only involve the possibility of a 364 day jail sentence. Timpa’s mother said that she wanted to see the accused officers go to jail for so long that they’d “smell the rust on the bars.” Dallas Police Department officials have refused to release body camera footage that was allegedly recorded that night by at least one of the indicted police officers. Timpa’s mother wants to see it. The Dallas Police Department has also failed to comment on whether any of the indicted police officers have been disciplined.

The Dallas Morning News has sought information regarding the death of Tony Timpa for more than a year. Timpa had apparently told 911 operators that he feared for his safety, and suffered from anxiety and schizophrenia and had not taken his prescription medications. He was in shorts and barefoot. No weapons were found on or near him. It’s alleged that Timpa repeatedly begged the police officers on the scene not to hurt him. It’s further alleged that police officers remained on top of Timpa after he had lost consciousness and was rendered harmless. One of the officers reportedly stated on camera that he hoped that he didn’t kill Timpa. Tony Timpa’s death was ruled a homicide due to the ingestion of cocaine and the stress involved in the occurrence.

The whereabouts of the third officer involved in Timpa’s death are still unknown. It’s also unknown whether the misdemeanor charges against the three officers will be upgraded to felonies.

The State Of Pennsylvania Has Made Gaming History

Tom Wolf, governor of Pennsylvania, signed a bill a few months back to allow ten mini-casinos to be established in Pennsylvania. This project is almost underway. Governor Wolf believes opening these casinos will help add money to the state budget. In one interview, Governor Wolf discussed using some of this money to assist veterans with their daily needs and to renovate inner-city housing establishments. Governor Tom Wolf hopes these ten gaming facilities will be up and running within the next 12 months.

There are currently 12 casinos in the state of Pennsylvania. The mini-casinos must be built at a minimum of 25+ miles from any of the 12 casinos. Investors do not see this as a problem because Pennsylvania is one of the Largest states in America. Each mini-casino will be allowed to have approximately 25 slot machines and several card tables. These mini-casinos are also expected to have a game room for children in order to make these establishments family-friendly.

In addition to investors, restaurant owners are happy about these new casinos. Several restaurant owners have already signed deals to have their food sold at these establishments. Many restaurant owners are expected to do the same thing over the next few months.

In addition to restaurant owners, entertainers are also signing contract deals with these new gaming establishments. Each establishment is expected to have live entertainment every night of the week.

The citizens of Pennsylvania are also thrilled about these establishments being built. The main reason for this is due to transportation. Though there are a number of casinos in Pennsylvania, most of these casinos are hours from busy Pennsylvania cities, and Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of people who do not drive. Citizens will be able to take their local buses to the new gaming establishments, and Pennsylvania bus companies are expected to run daily specials to these facilities.

Sujit Choudhry and Geography’s Threat to Democracy

Sujit Choudhry is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions and an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law and politics. The focus of his research spans across a wide variety of comparative constitutional law and politics issues. In 2014, he and his colleague, Michael Pal from the University of Ottawa – Common Law Section; Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, published an article in the Canadian Political Science Review. The article, Still Not Equal? Visible Minority Vote Dilution in Canada, discusses voting power for visible and non-visible minorities for the 2004 federal electoral map as well as for provincial electoral districts in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The major conclusion was that the concept of vote dilution is prominent in regions of visible minorities.

Sujit Choudhry’s Address at the Semi-Presidentialism Round-table in Ukraine

The democratic political power path is bifurcated. One side is demography, or satisfying interests and beliefs of the largest group of people and winning their votes. The other path is geography, referring to securing voters in the many regions that are scarcely populated. In other words, by focusing on the geography principle, this bifurcation enables the adoption of public policies that are not always appealing to the majority. At the moment, the majority of the democratic world is largely based on geographic rather than demographic politics.

 

The most famous example of this is the situation in the United States, where both the presidency as well as the Senate can be won via geography rather than demography. The effect of geography is especially evident in the fact that despite a strong majority of the American people having liberal, racially tolerant and international-minded views, they have been overpowered by a faction of the Republican Party that is associated with U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

Even back in 2010, at a time when the broad center-left voting coalition under the former U.S. president Barack Obama seemed to dominate U.S. politics, Joel Kotkin of the conservative American Enterprise Institute prognosticated that, “Demographics may seem a long-term boon for Democrats,” he wrote, “but geographic trends tilt in the opposite direction.” This became evident in the victory of President Trump who was favored by the increasingly non-diverse, older populations residing in the underpopulated center. Even though the vast majority voted against him, out of the 592 counties that supported him, 520 were populated by fewer than 50,000 individuals, and won almost every county populated by fewer than 10,000 individuals.

 

This problem spans beyond the American borders, too. Europe is affected by fringe parties of intolerance and in some cases a parliamentary majority via the geography approach. The extreme-right Alternative for Germany that had a strong showing in October’s national election was in large part due to focus on the sparse and depopulated regions of former communist East Germany. Poland is another example, whose Law and Justice Party governs after appealing more to rural areas by turning nationalist and xenophobic. France, too, played the geography card when its National Front made it to the first round of presidential elections.

 

Canada is also not immune to this threat to democracy when leaders with fringe ideas take power by appealing to underpopulated regions of the country. The Canadian democratic system is most vulnerable due to the great imbalance between rural and urban as well as suburban ridings, the latter two of which are more densely populated. While the 2011 Fair Representation Act added equality to Canada’s provinces by introducing 30 new ridings, rural overrepresentation remained unaddressed.

 

This is where the study by Choudhry and Pal is of such importance. According to their findings, introducing new ridings had two downsides. Not only did those rural ridings have more voting power, but Canadians from racial-minority backgrounds living in metropolitan areas were severely underrepresented. The researchers found that for every Canadian’s vote power of 1, those in ridings that are more than 99% white have a voting power of 1.37. Canadians who reside in ridings that are more than 30% non-white have a voting power of 0.88. This means that the electoral clout of voters residing in all-white ridings is 55% higher than that of voters in diverse ridings. The scholars refer to this concept as vote dilution that is present among the diverse ridings. It carries particular demographic, policy and constitutional considerations significance, and the scholars conclude their study by highlighting that a reform is critical.

 

Overall, it is the moderate parties that must work on winning back geography. The inherent struggle that America’s Democrats are facing is the discrepancy between geography voters in the northern states, who felt that their candidate while too liberal on social issues, and those who are in safe Democratic urban districts thought the opposite. As the term ‘too liberal’ has many meanings, the solution to this may be in delivering different election-year messages and not focusing on changing policies. However, the overall conclusion of the 2016 U.S. election is that the in-between places must not be ignored as there is a method to win for a party that is ready to bet on symbolic resentments and fears of residents in scarcely populated areas.

 

Sujit Choudhry is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions and I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He works as constitutional advisor to emerging democracies across the world. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and was a consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

 

Choudhry has also been a constitutional advisor for over two decades. He has expertise in facilitating public dialogue sessions with civil society groups and other stakeholders, leading stakeholder consultations, performing detailed advisory work with technical experts, training civil servants and bureaucrats, engaging party leaders and parliamentarians, and drafting technical reports and memoranda in the field. He is currently also a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster and consultant to the World Bank Institute at the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program.

 

His publication record includes over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. He is author of several books and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Public Law, the International Advisory Council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Editorial Board of the Constitutional Court Review, the Editorial Advisory Board for the Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law, and is an Honorary Member of the Advisory Council of the Indian Constitutional Law Review. More information on Sujit Choudhry can be found on his personal website sujitchoudhry.com as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter (@sujit_choudhry), Instagram (@sujitchoudhry) and on Facebook.

Corruption Uncovered in Manhattan’s DA Office: Steven Canady’s Wrongful Prosecution

Imagine running your own company and you’re going about your day conducting business as usual and then you get the news that you’re being arrested for crimes that you yourself are a victim of and had reported to authorities several years earlier. While this seems extreme, wrongful convictions happen more often than you think – here’s Steven Canady’s terrifying story.

The District Attorney of Manhattan, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., is no stranger to recent news coverage. His decisions not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein on sexual assault charges nor members of President Trump’s family on fraud charges has sparked concern.

On the surface, it appears that Vance is influenced by campaign donations. Why? Take the baffling case of Steven Canady of Alliance Warburg Capital.

Vance elected to prosecute Canady over a simple civil dispute which arose between Canady and a disgruntled fashion designer. After Canady advised the designer in January 2014 to withdraw from the Mercedes Benz “Winter Fashion Week” to focus on closing a complicated round of financing for the fashion designer’s operations, the fashion designer called Canady a “dumb ni**er”. Next, one of Vance’s campaign donors close to the fashion designer approached Mr. Vance requesting Canady be “taught a lesson.” Three days after the racially charged incident, the Manhattan DA’s office launched an investigation against Canady, which lasted for one year.

Despite the lack of any criminal activity found by the DA’s office on Canady during the investigation, Steven Canady was arrested on grand larceny indictment charges in January 2015.

This is where the abuse of power gets really perplexing.

In a hard-to-believe twist of events, Vance charged Canady with taking millions of dollars that Canady himself reported as stolen to Vance’s DA office years earlier.

In August 2010  Canady reported to Vance’s office that $2.4 million was stolen from his firm, Alliance Warburg. Canady claimed it was stolen by a company engaged to provide financing for its client base and some of its targeted acquisitions while waiting for its financial commitments from institutional investors to materialize. Although Canady clearly demonstrated that the firm had been defrauded – he provided Vance’s DA office with over 1,000 pages of evidence, which included the wire transfer confirmation of funds to the third party and a written demand for the return of the monies – Vance’s office chose not to prosecute for reasons that the matter was a “civil dispute between two parties.”

Vance’s decision not to prosecute the party reported by Canady may have been tied to Canady’s failure to make a campaign donation to Vance. The decision “not to prosecute” by the Manhattan DA’s office resulted in the evaporation of over $100 Billion USD in “irrevocable commitments” from institutional investors that Alliance Warburg had secured prior to the incident and ultimately led to Mr. Canady being investigated in Georgia on a related matter, which involved the company that defrauded Alliance Warburg.

Canady eventually entered an Alford Plea in that matter, which did not result in a criminal conviction. This was done in part at the advice of Canady’s legal counsel from Patton Boggs due to the law firm becoming insolvent during that period, and as a consequence, could not adequately represent him if he went to trial.

Now, it should be noted that the disposition of the Georgia matter allowed Steven Canady to continue with his career in the financial industry as there was no wrongdoing found on his part. In fact, Canady was steering the firm in its quest to acquire a major global investment bank and asset management firm for $52 Billion and a sale of one of its technology portfolio companies for $25 Billion.

At least he was; until New York City’s top prosecutor ordered his arrest on the indictment charges.

Seven months after Steven Canady’s initial arrest, Cyrus Vance Jr. ordered his re-arrest allowing the fashion designer to be included in the indictment through a “back door” process over advisory services that had been successfully rendered by Alliance Warburg.

Additionally, despite posting bail for a second time, Canady was never released from custody.

While building a case against him, prosecutors threatened his clients with indictments if they did not agree to testify alleging to be victims. When clients insisted they were satisfied with the performance of Mr. Canady and the firm, law enforcement agents were deployed to their homes by Mr. Vance’s troops as a form of intimidation to convince the clients to capitulate.

Possibly the most horrifying detail though, is the violence. Prosecutors purportedly coerced an inmate to cause bodily harm to Canady in the form of a head injury in exchange for a reduction of the inmate’s sentence. This deliberate violent act was carried out in December 2016.

During the pendency of Steven Canady’s trial this year – which lasted for almost two months – Vance’s prosecutors were involved in corruption. The team altered emails and bank records and forged documents. This was done as a sign of their commitment to winning at all costs, even if that meant breaking the law they themselves once swore to uphold. The prosecutors routinely encouraged witnesses to deviate from the truth, committing perjury. Unfortunately, though, this went uncontested because of Vance’s strategic move to keep Canady’s testimony and any evidence exonerating him far away from the courtroom and out of the presence of the jury. This was achieved by violating his constitutional rights by not allowing him to testify or present any evidence or to call any witness on his behalf.

The one witness that was permitted to testify, who was one of Mr. Canady’s former attorneys, was contacted by Mr. Vance’s office and threatened that “her life would be ruined” if she testified on his behalf. The threat met its objective and the witness did not appear in court to testify.

Had the jurors been made aware that;

  • Canady reported the matter that he was being prosecuted for to the Manhattan DA’s office in August 2010;
  • during the period of the alleged crime the firm secured over $100 Billion in “irrevocable” financial commitments from institutional investors including Rock Financial owned by Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers;
  • Canady was a part of a team based in Geneva, Switzerland that managed one of the world’s largest private portfolio of assets after selling his biotechnology company that 
created implantable closed-loop artificial intelligent drug delivery systems;
  • Canady was cleared by the Secret Service and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission four year and seven year investigations respectively for this very matter;
  • Canady negotiated with the former Chairman and CEO of a major global bank who was close to President Obama to spearhead the firm’s acquisition of the global investment bank for $52 Billion USD;the outcome of this trial may have been different. But the jurors did not have an opportunity to hear these justice-changing details. Unfortunately, and unfairly, Steven Canady was not permitted to testify or present any evidence.

What weighs heavily in this odd case is the question: what if? What if Canady made a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance? Could this whole trial have been avoidable altogether?

Instead, Canady sits in a maximum security New York State prison serving an indeterminate sentence of 6 to 18 years pending appeal. To put this in perspective, Samuel Hiller received a sentence of 1 to 3 years after pleading guilty to embezzling $12 Million from special needs students ages 3 to 5 years old.

To add insult to injury, the day after Mr. Canady was sentenced, his attorney, Daniel DeMaria was forced by Cyrus Vance Jr. to submit an unauthorized letter to the court stating that Mr. Canady did not oppose paying for restitution in the case.

The day following the submission of this letter, Vance Jr. had DeMaria’s license to practice law in the state of New York revoked for up to one year as a strategy to delay Mr. Canady’s appeal efforts.

Cyrus Vance Jr.’s actions throughout this case and his calculated efforts to impede a fair trial for Steven Canady again poses the question, “what if Canady had simply made a campaign donation?”

Ongoing Support Efforts for Steven Canady

To show your support to Steven Canady, please visit his Facebook page to call for justice.

If you would like to contribute a donation, please visit the following site:https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/a-wrongful-conviction-justice-for-steven-canady

 

Trump’s Travel Ban Is Upheld By the Supreme Court

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court offered its consent to a travel ban
proposed by President Donald Trump. The travel ban is aimed at people from six
Muslim-majority nations. Despite legal challenges in lower courts, the ban is
expected to go into full effect.

The Supreme Court was divided on the matter with two liberal justices
dissenting. The court allowed the government’s request to lift injunctions
imposed by the lower courts that had blocked the travel ban. This is one of the
contentious policies that Trump first sought when he took office in January.

A Victory For The Trump Administration

Attorney General Jeff Sessions lauded the action by the Supreme Court and
declared a significant victory for the American people. The ban had been
challenged in several lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union and the state
of Hawaii. The argument in these lawsuits was that the ban was an act of
discrimination against Muslims which amounts to a violation of immigration
laws.

When Trump was vying for office, he promised to shutdown Muslims entering
the U.S.  According to ACLU lawyer, Omar Jadwat, Trump has repeatedly shown his anti-Muslim prejudice. His latest anti-Muslim sentiments were expressed in a post on Twitter where he shared anti-Muslim videos posted by a British party leader.

The lower courts had recently limited the extent of the ban to people who
had no family connections in the U.S. or former relationships with U.S. based
entities like resettlement agencies and universities.

Trump’s ban is not restricted to Muslims but further applies to North
Koreans and government agents from Venezuela. The high court declared in a one-page order that the rulings by the lower courts that partially blocked the latest travel ban would be put on hold under the federal appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia, and San Francisco review the cases.

No Hope For A Reversal Of the Ruling

Monday’s action was a strong sign that the court was going to uphold the ban
even after it returns to the appeals courts. However, there are exceptions to
this ban. Some people from each of the targeted nations may still be allowed to
apply for a visa for business, tourism, or education purposes.

Trump’s first travel ban targeted Muslim-majority countries in January. In
March, Trump issued a revised the initial ban after the federal courts blocked
the first one. In September, the second travel ban expired and was later
replaced by the current version.

North Carolina New Law Limits Judges in Waiving Fines and Fees

A new law in North Carolina, believed to be the first of its kind nationwide, took effect on Friday, Dec. 1, curbing the state’s judges’ ability to waive fees and fines for poor people.

The General Assembly, controlled by a Republican majority, passed the law to circumvent a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1983 according to which judges are allowed to waive costs for the poor and cannot jail individuals for the sole reason they are too poor to be able to afford fines and fees.

The law goes against a general nationwide tendency for reform that looks to alleviate the burden on poor people, enabling them to pay in small installments and enabling judges to reduce or waive fees altogether.

According to the new law, judges are allowed to waive fees and fines but are required to give a 15 days’ notice to all affected agencies before the waiver. This requirement can prove a considerable obstacle, as the state imposes 52 different fees for a vast array of infractions including a $50 fee for failing to pay a fee. Court costs in the state can easily surpass $1,000. These fees are routed to four different state agencies and 611 counties and municipalities, making the notice requirement a potentially expensive exercise that can cost the state’s counties thousands of dollars in extra postage every week and further burden their often-understaffed offices.

Some Democrat state representatives are making an effort to mitigate the new law’s impact by alerting all agencies to it and to their open option to send counsel to any court session and be heard on any fee waiver. Nevertheless, as courts rely on fees for half of their budget, the new law is in the interest of those who hold budget considerations above other concerns.

Supreme Court Case May Pave The Way For Sports Betting

A federal law, known as The Bradley Act, has previously prohibited sports betting throughout the country. Now, New Jersey is seeking to have that law deemed unconstitutional, arguing that the federal mandate infringes on state sovereignty. If New Jersey wins the case, which is set to be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court, it may pave the way for sports betting throughout the country.
What is the Bradley Act?
Named for New Jersey’s own democratic senator Bill Bradley, the Bradley Act established that sports betting would be illegal across the nation. There are four exemptions, however. Sports gambling is still legal in Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. At the time the bill was passed, sports betting was already legalized in those four states, which is why they were exempt from the new federal law. The law also provided for a grace period for the other states, granting one year for any of the remaining 46 states to legalize sports gambling, before the law went into effect.
Senator Bradley recently spoke about his reasoning for introducing the law. He said he viewed sports betting as something that would monetize professional sports and take the competitive edge away from the game. Instead of playing for the love of the sport, players would be playing for greater monetary stakes. Mr. Bradley, a former New York Knicks player himself, aid sports betting cheapens the skill and dedication of high-level athletes.
New Jersey Wants to Allow Sports Gambling
At the time the bill was passed, New Jersey didn’t take advantage of the 12 month window to legalize sports betting. Decades later, however, the state recognizes a missed opportunity. According to the American Gaming Association, illegal sports gambling rakes in over $150 billion annually. Even without considering the revenue to be raised through taxing sports betting, legalizing the activity would generate sizable resources for cash-strapped states.
Chris Christie, current governor of New Jersey, recently expressed his determination to allow sports betting in the state, regardless of the Bradley Act.
“We intend to go forward to allow sports gambling to happen,” said Governor Christie at a 2012 Atlantic City event. “If someone wants to stop us, then they’ll have to take action to try to stop us.”
Previously, New Jersey has appealed the federal ban in two separate filings, but the issue is now going before the highest court in the land. Ted Olson, representing New Jersey’s interests in the hearing, said he plans to argue that the federal government has no authority to tie the state’s hands. Olson adds that two previous Supreme Court cases pave the way in establishing that the federal government cannot use state resources to enforce federal laws.
The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision in the case later this year.