Protecting Your Rights Through the SEC Whistleblower Program

If you know of a company or corporation that is in violation of federal security laws, you have a chance to collect between 10 and 30 percent of the total fines if you give information to the government that leads to legal action. Many people are interested in collecting the reward but have a range of questions they would like for someone to answer.

Moving forward and reporting a company for violating these laws can feel intimidating, especially if you fear retaliation. Learning as much as you can about the SEC whistleblower system and how it can protect you is smart. It lets you move forward with confidence and know what to expect along the way.

SEC Whistleblower Explained

Learning about the SEC whistleblower program is a good place to start when your goal is to decide what path makes sense for you. The information in this section paints a clear picture, and you will have no trouble deciding what to do. Implemented by Congress, the whistleblower system exists to reward those who report violations of federal security laws.

The system also defines who is eligible to collect compensation and what the information must contain before the whistleblower can receive payment. Under the SEC whistleblower program, regulations list the legal penalties an employer can face for trying to discourage someone from reporting violations. The system has stipulations in place that highlight the penalties an employer can face for retaliating against an employee for giving information to the government.

Whistleblower Eligibility

At this point, you are likely wondering who qualifies as a whistleblower under the SEC. Reviewing this guide helps you understand when you qualify and when you can expect compensation for your report. What you are about to learn also helps you decide what you should do to increase your odds of filing a successful report. As long as you supply the SEC with relevant information about a violation, you are a whistleblower.

Before you can get paid, the information you provide must lead to legal action against the company that committed the violation. Some people think any relevant tip about a violation can earn them a part of the reward, but that is not the case. The information you offer must be new, meaning you have to tell the SEC something they did not already know. If you work for a company and know about security violations, taking action could be the best choice you ever make.

Reportable Actions

If you are like other people, you are curious about the types of violations that qualify under the SEC whistleblower program. Reviewing the types of fraud covered by the system is a great way to learn what path you should take, preventing you from wasting time on issues that are unlikely to generate attention. Also, you could discover that actions you would have otherwise overlooked fall within the definition.

The SEC welcomes reports about Ponzi and pyramid schemes, and you are free to report the theft of securities. If a company manipulates the price of a security or engages in insider trading, the people in charge of the SEC would like to know about it. Companies that release misleading information about their securities are also a target of the SEC. You can report anyone who tries bribing foreign officials in an attempt to alter the value of securities.

Rewards and Compensation

If you have submitted information that led to action by the SEC, you need to know how to collect your reward. You would otherwise lose your shot at collecting the money to which you are entitled, and you don’t want to face that problem. You must fill out the application form and mail it to the office of the whistleblower to get your money. Some people try rushing through the process to finish it as quickly as possible.

If you don’t want to lose your opportunity to collect a reward, don’t make that mistake. Take your time and ensure you complete each part of the form the right way. As long as you take your time and review the report before submitting it, you will have nothing about which to worry.

Protection From Retaliation

Employees will often want to report a violation but refuse because they fear retaliation. They are worried that the company for which they work will fire, demote or harass them for coming forward, which is a valid concern. But you should know that the SEC whistleblower system has put protective measures in place to safeguard you from that issue.

You can take legal action and seek damages if your employer retaliates against you for reporting information to the SEC. In addition to preventing retaliation, the SEC also stops employers from discouraging staff members from filing complaints. If you believe the company for which you work is trying to stop you from reporting a violation, you can contact the Department of Labor for more information.

Collecting Evidence of Retaliation

You need to know what steps you should take after filing a report if you would like to avoid retaliation. Proving retaliation is not always easy, but you can do it if you use a proven process and maintain your composure. Check the laws in your state to see if you are allowed to record audio at work or over the phone without informing the other person.

If you are, you can use audio recordings as evidence of retaliation. Make a note of the dates and times of any retaliation as well as any witnesses who were present at the time. You can even hire a private investigator to review your case and help you collect the evidence you need to protect your rights. A skilled investigator will gather information from out of sight and do what it takes to reveal the truth, and you will increase your chance of success.

Why the Government Started the Whistleblower System

You are probably asking why the government implemented the SEC whistleblower system in the first place. The aim is to ensure fair trading practices and to let investors know what they are buying before they move forward. Fraud related to securities can devastate corporations and impact the economy in ways most people don’t suspect.

As a result of the possible fallout, preventing security fraud benefits the public and maintains a balanced economy, creating a win-win situation. The SEC whistleblower program protects those who report fraud from retaliation, allowing them to come forward with peace of mind.

The Benefits of Remaining Anonymous

Remaining anonymous gives those who report fraud a range of fantastic benefits. Even though the law prohibits employers from retaliating against those who report crimes to the SEC, avoiding negative fallout is often the most desirable path.

Remaining anonymous gives you the chance to do the right thing and collect your reward without anyone knowing what you did. If you would like to file an anonymous report, you must do so with the help of an attorney. Your attorney will submit the report and pass your reward on to you, and the SEC won’t even know who you are.

Confidentiality Agreement Exceptions

If you report fraud or a related offense to your company’s human resource department, they might ask you to sign a confidentiality agreement. Some companies even require employees to sign such agreements at the start of their employment, and management will claim the agreement stops employees from reporting SEC violations.

Luckily, confidentiality agreements that try stopping employees from contacting the SEC are not valid, and those who have signed them can still come forward with information. You can call the SEC for more details if you have signed such an agreement and want more information on how to proceed.

No legal contract can stop you from bringing fraud to the attention of the government, so you can still follow steps to claim your reward as long as you have relevant details. This exception exists to prevent companies from taking advantage of confidentiality agreements as a way to hide illegal actions from the government.

The Importance of Working with an Experienced Lawyer

You might think moving forward on your own is enough to get the outcome you want, but that is not always the wise choice. Having an attorney on your side is the best bet when you want to improve your odds of success and protect yourself from retaliation.

Your advocate can give you SEC tips and show you what steps are right for your goals and current situation. The legal expert you hire will protect your rights and keep your interests in mind from start to finish, and you will be pleased with your decision. You and your legal advisor can work together to find the best way to reach your desired outcome.

Final Thoughts

The government implemented the SEC whistleblower program to give employees the chance to report fraud and other financial crimes without fear of retaliation. Those who provide accurate information that leads to action by the SEC can get up to 30 percent of the damages recovered.

Although the government provides information and offers protection, those who want to enjoy the best results must speak with a qualified legal representative before moving forward. If you have facts about a crime you would like to report, reach out to a caring legal expert the first chance you get, and you will be happy with the outcome.

Trump’s Lawyers May Use The Executive Privilege Card If Mueller’s Investigation Finds Obstruction Issues

Following the Mueller investigation is like watching a modern-day version of Columbo tracking down a cagy criminal who has a plethora of tricks up his sleeves. Mueller and his team of super-sleuths are methodically building a case that could send Donald Trump to Nixonville, the political graveyard where shame and banishment rule.

But anyone who underestimates the power of the president should take another look at history, according to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s main legal attack dog. Rudy told the press the president is above the law.

Giuliani wants Mueller to show his cards. He wants Mueller to finish his report and turn it over to the attorney general. If Mueller finds Trump co-operated with the Russians, and he obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey, Rudy has a plan. The plan is to use the executive privilege card.

Rudy believes anything Trump’s aides say to Mueller during his investigation that wind up in the hands of Congress would violate Trump’s executive privilege. Trump’s former lawyer, Ty Cobb brought that defense up early in the investigation.

Executive privilege is Trump’s ace in the hole. It’s the reason Trump feels confident calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.” Congress would violate executive privilege if they impeach Trump. So in order to get to the bottom of the real meaning of executive privilege a legal battle will be the next Trump reality show. That legal battle could captivate the world for months. Any kind of legal battle will give Trump enough time to sow more MAGA seeds in order to win the 2020 election, according to a Washington Post article.

Mr. Trump knows his acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, and his pick to replace Jeff Sessions permanently, Bill Barr have his back. The president knows Whitaker can decide not to send Mueller’s report to Congress because it violates executive privilege, according to a Daily Beast article. Rudy Giuliani thinks the president has the power to use the executive privilege card, and that means only the executive branch can read Mueller’s report.

Trump and Giuliani are ready for a court battle. Trump knows part of the Justice Department’s duty is to protect executive privilege. Trump may be nervous, but he’s not scared to fight in court.

But the executive privilege card isn’t a Star Wars-type protection system even though Trump and Giuliani think it is. Congress or a grand jury can waive that privilege. Congress can get the Mueller report through a subpoena. Several legal experts think that may happen when Mueller gives his complete report to Matt Whitaker.

2018 Review of Important Supreme Court Decisions

A lot has happened in the Supreme Court of the United States in 2018. The most notable event was the circus-like confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy. SCOTUS continued to make historical decisions during this time that will have an effect all of us. George Khoury looked at five important SCOTUS decisions of 2018 on Findlaw.com.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
Jack Phillips, a devout Christian owner of a bakery in Colorado, refused to create a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding for religious reasons that are backed by the First Amendment. He offered to sell the couple other products in his bakery, but the lower courts found Jack Phillips to be in violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. SCOTUS ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips, citing the CCRC’s hostility towards religion. SCOTUS did not decide on the constitutionality of the CADA, so a case like this will likely appear in front of SCOTUS in the future.

Murphy, Governor of New Jersey v. National Collegiate Athletic Association
This 6-3 decision ruled in favor of states to allow sports betting. States were prohibited from allowing sports betting entities from being created according to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. States were charged with enforcing the PASPA, but New Jersey sued to relieve the state from enforcing the PASPA. SCOTUS ruled that Congress overstepped its powers by making states enforce federal law.

Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis
The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to litigate labor disputes as a class or collective action in federal courts. This 5-4 decision ruled in favor of employers putting in place and enforce arbitration agreements in employee contracts that ban collective action.

Carpenter v. the United States
Wireless carriers can track, collect, and store the location of its users when users cell phones connect to a cell tower site. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies would contact wireless carriers to obtain cell phone information to help find criminal suspects. In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS ruled that law enforcement agencies will have to get a warrant to gain access to this information.

South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.
In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of South Dakota who wanted to collect taxes for out-of-state online sales. Legal experts expect other states to look at this ruling and develop out-of-state online sales tax laws that are in line with this ruling.

Did Trump Campaign In Front Of The Troops During His Three-Hour Visit To Iraq?

President Trump planned to spend the holidays in Mar-a-Lago before Fox News and two conservative talk show hosts gave him a tongue whipping for almost agreeing to sign a funding bill. The tongue-lashing force Trump to put on a show on national television that sent hundreds of thousands of government workers home without paychecks. After tweeting like a schoolboy who didn’t get his way on the playground, Trump decided to get out of town. Instead of going to Florida he went to Iraq.

Traveling to a war zone isn’t Trump’s style even though he says he’s a military man at heart. Past presidents made it a point to visit the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, so in order to show his base he appreciated the men and women in uniform, he and Melania went to Iraq Christmas night to spread a little Trumpism around.

Some Trump critics say Mr. Trump went to Iraq to campaign, and to show military leaders he’s the boss now that former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is home writing his memories. Trump stood in front of the troops, and he acted like the perpetual candidate he is. He told the troops how great he is, and how he gave them a pay raise even though that didn’t happen. He gave them his Make America Great Again speech while trying to act presidential. But that act needs a lot of work, according to the Washington Post.

Some news reports say Trump’s speech in Iraq broke military rules. American troops can’t get caught in the political trap Mr. Trump tried to set. According to the Pentagon, military personnel can’t show political favorites. Trump made it look like the military was his personal fan base, and that undermines the trust Americans have in the military, according to Trump critics.

Trump’s job in Iraq was to spread goodwill not to stage a political rally, according to former general counsel for the Air Force and Army, Charles Blanchard. American saw their military clapping when Trump threw out one of his distorted political messages. And they saw soldiers asking Trump to sign their red hats like true Trump voters.

Politicizing the troops by wearing a bomber jacket and spewing his version of the world according to Trump is another act from a president who does things his way. He didn’t meet with Iraqi officials, and that was a major blunder, according to his advisors. But Trump doesn’t care about blunders or Iraq. He cares about being reelected, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Respected DOJ Attorney Douglas Letter Is The New House General Counsel

There’s a legal eagle circling around the “President Trump Washington Reality Show.” His name is Douglas Letter. Letter is a respected and long-term Department of Justice attorney. He’s the new House General Counsel. Letter’s impressive DOJ record includes his service under Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as well as Donald Trump. Letter retired from the DOJ in 2018, but he’s eager to assist Congress members and their staff as they start to unravel the political, as well as the financial world, of Donald Trump.

The new Congress is on a mission to get Trump’s tax returns. Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal will be able to get those returns and review them according to an NPR report. Neal is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. California Congressman, Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and a well-respected prosecutor, hired experts in forensic accounting and money laundering so the committee can examine and investigate Trump’s personal finances.

The new House Majority Leader Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer told the press his party plans to hold hearings about ICE’s treatment of migrants. Plus, he plans to watch Mueller’s back and make sure his investigation doesn’t get derailed or shove under a political rug by the Republicans. Doug Letter will be part of that process.

Mr. Letter told the press he’s eager to use his legal expertise to address the challenges and the opportunities that come with the House Legal Counsel’s job. Letter knows how the Department of Justice operates behind the scenes. He understands that government department as well as anyone. He was in the thick of DOJ things for more than 40 years.

Several news reports say the new Congress won’t do any meaningful work in 2019. Those reports say Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer just want to get rid of Trump any way they can. The Democrats think Trump poses a dangerous threat to American Democracy, and they plan to drill down on Trump’s past and present business and financial interest to get a real picture of Trump’s world. Trump is the first president in decades who didn’t release his tax returns. And he hasn’t stopped managing the Trump Organization, according to several news stories.

Mr. Trump likes to fight in court. But what the Democrats have in mind for the president is unlike any legal battle in the past. Some reports say Trump will break under the legal pressure from Mueller’s investigation and what Congress has in store for him. But Trump’s voter base thinks he will be victorious when all the legal smoke clears.

Kim Kardashian Becomes Social Justice Activist

While more well-known for her reality television shows and other business and entertainment enterprises, Kim Kardashian has also recently appeared to embark on a new path, that of social justice activist. Along with her much-discussed Oval Office meetings with President Trump in which the two discussed criminal justice reform, Kim Kardashian has also in recent months taken up the cause of Cyntoia Brown. Serving a life sentence in prison for a murder she has freely admitted to committing, there are nevertheless numerous celebrities, social activists, and organizations such as the ACLU working to see Cyntoia Brown be set free.

Considered a classic example by many of how the criminal justice system can sometimes fail those who may slip through the cracks, Cyntoia Brown’s case is quite complex. Like many young girls, Brown was a victim of sex trafficking. When she was 16, she was arrested for murdering a man, Johnny Mitchell Allen, who had paid to have sex with her. Despite a claim of self-defense, her age at the time of the murder, and the set of circumstances surrounding the case, Brown was sentenced by a jury to life in prison.

Having already served many years of her sentence, Brown will be eligible for parole when she turns 69. However, Kardashian is hoping to see Brown win her freedom well before then. To accomplish this, she has hired a team of high-profile criminal defense attorneys to review the case and work to free Brown, headed by lead attorney Shawn Holley.

Using social media to her advantage, Kardashian has taken her cause of freeing Cyntoia Brown to her large online legion of followers from around the world. As a result, Brown’s case is drawing worldwide attention, with many legal experts believing her case may eventually lead to her winning her freedom.

But along with the case of Cyntoia Brown, Kardashian has also played a key role in using her new-found social justice activism to help win the freedom of another prisoner, Alice Johnson. Given a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug conviction, the now 63 year-old Johnson was recently granted clemency and pardoned by President Trump after a meeting between himself and Kardashian.

With these success stories under her belt, one wonders if Kim Kardashian will continue to use her celebrity influence in future cases of social justice. To learn more details about this story, visit abovethelaw.com.

Searching for Legal Problems in Executive Background Checks

 
Every year companies in the United States hire new executives. This is often done as a company grows and expands. The goal is always to improve leadership from a company’s top levels down to its lower levels. There has been research that shows over 40 percent of companies don’t put as much effort into screening their executives as they do their regular employees. Over 30 percent hire executives with no sort of due diligence or screening. Too many times, a lack of executive screening has ended up hurting a company.

Logical Fallacy
Too many people in the business world don’t see a need to screen executives. They assume an individual had to prove themselves to become an executive. It is believed their networks, backgrounds, histories will provide everything a company needs to know about an executive. This is known as a logical fallacy. It is important a company realizes executives can be just as guilty of the many types of issues affecting background checks of all potential employees. Many executives have fabricated their job experience. Some have claimed to have fictional degrees, others provide false work histories and more. There have also been attempts by executives to conceal prior criminal activity so they can gain access to a company.

Consequences
When a company just assumes an executive candidate is being honest with them, they put their clients as well as business at serious risk. Companies often give a high level of power to an executive. When this power is put in the wrong hands, it has the potential to cost a company a significant amount of money. There have been executive candidates who have hidden prior sexual harassment cases, lied about their skills as well as failed to perform up to expectation and more.

Common Lies
Most executive candidates will tell the truth. When the few who tell lies provide information about themselves, there are some lies more common than others. Most of the fabrications are about their education, designations, training, employment history as well as certifications. Many people at the executive level are well-connected. This gives them an advantage when it comes to fabricating references as well as recommendations. When the lies of a company executive leak into the public domain, it can cause serious damage to a company’s reputation.

Public Relations Disaster
When a company hires an executive who has been deceptive with their background, it can turn into a public relations disaster. There will be individuals who know the truth about the executive’s deceptions. This could make them targets of attacks on social media and more. When this happens, companies are often left struggling to overcome what happened even after the deceptive executive has resigned.

Proper Background Check
Properly screening an executive candidate requires a different approach than with other types of employees. These employee screenings must be much more extensive. This involves utilizing all legal options available to confirm the information provided by them. It will begin by thorough basic verification of their identity. The next step will require confirming each previous employment situation. This will include validating the accuracy of the dates. It will also include confirming any information that could be easily fabricated. The verification of education should involve degree, educational awards, certifications, transcription and anything else associated with education no matter how small. Should there be any red flags that arise during this process, it could be an indication of serious issues that would require more intense screening.

Legal Research
Many databases ban electronic distribution of criminal data because of state and federal privacy laws. It is still possible to investigate all court records maintained at the federal, state and county level. This can be done at each location where an executive candidate has lived, worked and owned property. Many individuals have been the subject of civil lawsuits filed against them in jurisdictions where they previously lived or worked.

Financial History
If an executive candidate is being considered for a position where they will have significant authority, a company will want to know about the candidate’s spending habits. This could involve credit issues as well as bankruptcies, the debt they carry and more. A company doing research on executive candidates discovered 10 percent of the candidates they investigated had serious credit history issues. Over 5 percent were debtors in tax liens in their name or for a business they owned and more. These types of falsehoods are common because executive candidates know a company would be reluctant to hire someone with a history of financial irresponsibility.

A company that provides executive background checks, like Corporate Resolutions, could provide important research about an executive candidate. Having the right people in executive positions is essential for a company’s health. Performing proper due diligence is important for a successful recruiting and executive hiring process. The information obtained could confirm or reveal important things that need to be known about a high-level executive candidate.

Government Shutdown May Not End Any Time Soon

The government shutdown may potentially go on for a long time. Congress is currently on break for the holidays. They will receive a 24-hour notice when it is time for them to vote. They are supposed to meet on Thursday, but only a few people are expected to be around for the meeting.

President Trump stated that he was willing to do whatever it took to get border security. The government shutdown started on Saturday December 22,2018. It is estimated that 420,000 workers in the United States are working without pay. Over 380,000 workers have been furloughed.

Mark Meadows is a Republican representative from North Carolina. He is also a Trump ally. He stated that President Trump is firm on his stance and wants to secure the border. He also stated that if anyone thinks that the President will yield, then they are mistaken.

Last week, the Senate approved funding that would keep the government open until February. The $1.3 billion in funding is going to provide border security, but it will not pay for the wall. However, the Senate did not have enough votes to keep the government open.

Kevin Hassett is the chairman of the White House’s Council for Economic Advisors. He stated that the government shutdown will not affect 2019 economic growth. He also stated that even if the government is shut down for a few weeks, it will not have any major effects on the economic outlook. They are expecting the economy to be even stronger in 2019.

It is estimated that 52,000 IRS workers have been furloughed due to the government shutdown. Everyone who works at NASA has been furloughed. Eighty percent of the people who work at national parks have been forced to stay home due to the shutdown. Additionally, many of the national parks have been closed.

Justice Ginsburg Works And Wards Off Critics During Recovery From Illness

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery to remove cancerous growths from her lungs on Friday. The 85-year-old justice is expected to remain in the hospital for a few more days. Rest is the only further treatment planned at this time for Justice Ginsburg and doctors say no other illness is present in her body.

The cancerous nodules in Ginsburg’s left lung were found during tests at George Washington University. Ginsburg took the tests after breaking three ribs. The injuries were sustained as a result of a fall Ginsburg suffered in November.

The procedure performed on Ginsburg, a pulmonary lobectomy, took place in New York at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The good health prognosis for Justice Ginsberg has not stopped many analysts and media personalities from suggesting her time on the bench is nearing its end. Most pundits believe she will be replaced with a conservative judge.

One of the most callous responses regarding the illness of Justice Ginsberg came from former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly first pointed out the obvious and relayed the message that Ginsberg was suffering from a serious illness. His next point was the illness of Ginsberg was bad news for liberals.

The conservatives judges on the Supreme Court already own a 5-4 advantage over liberals. The four liberal judges on the court operate under the leadership of Justice Ginsburg.

Meghan McCain is one person that takes particular exception to the words of O’Reilly. McCain was critical of the timing of O’Reilly’s remarks and chastised him for using her sickness as a time to speculate about the political future of Ms. Ginsburg. McCain also enourgaed everyone to pray for Justice Ginsburg to have a speedy recovery from her illness.

Ginsburg has not stopped working during her illness. She recently gave the deciding vote from her hospital bed that effectively blocked efforts by President Donald Trump to deny asylum for immigrants.

Will Donald Trump Legalize Cannabis?

Cannabis advocacy has gained quite a bit of traction recently, as more and more major corporations are backing the nation’s favorite cash-crop. Over the past month alone, some of the biggest cigarette manufacturing and beer producing companies, like Marlboro and Budweiser, have finally invested in cannabis, leading some supporters to believe that federal legalization is just around the corner. In fact, many seem to think that President Donald Trump will fully legalize it during the next year, maybe even before Christmas.

In addition to gaining the support of huge and relevant corporations, Congress signed a bill legalizing the growth and nationwide production of industrial hemp. In over eight decades, hemp is now legal to grow on a large scale. The fact that President Donald Trump personally signed off on the bill is enough to make some believe that marijuana prohibition is almost over.

The belief isn’t that outlandish either. Since Democrats reclaimed control of the house during the United States mid-term elections, by a landslide some might add, cannabis is expected to receive much more attention over the on-coming year. Many representatives who blocked propositions involving cannabis have either resigned or been voted out.
Furthermore, lawmakers have already been pushing for legalized cannabis amendments, believing that if the house is controlled by Democrats, the days of prohibition of numbered.

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence supporting expectations for federal cannabis legalization lies in Donald Trump’s approval ratings and the impact he’s had during his term as President. Many people have been left feeling isolated and abandoned by the Trump administration, forcing many on both sides of the political spectrum to suspect Donald Trump of potentially using the federal legalization of cannabis as a primary platform for reelection in 2020. Whether this happens or not, only time will tell, but advocates and smokers are undoubtedly rejoicing that the fear of jail will no longer loom overhead.

Iowa Man Has Sexual Assault Charges Against Him Dropped When Prosecutor Comes To Court Drunk

A defendant in Iowa had sexual assault of a minor charge lodged against him dismissed after the prosecuting attorney in his cased arrived at the courthouse drunk. The incident happened on the day the defendant was prepared to accept a plea agreement in the case.

Judge Martha Mertz dismissed all charges against Dennis Simmerman, the 23-year-old man charged with multiple accounts of sexual misconduct stemming from his involvement with a 13-year-old boy. Michelle Rivera, the prosecuting attorney in the case, was arrested in the courthouse for public intoxication.

The incident took place on October 18. A sheriffs deputy working in the court noticed that Ms. Rivera was having trouble maintaining her balance. He could also smell the scent of alcohol once he approached her.

Rivera missed Simmerman’s hearing due to the incident. The court did not seek an extension to allow another hearing to be held after the one-year deadline in his case passed. Judge Mertz explained the incident was one in a long pattern of unexplained absences and inactivity by Rivera.

Robert Rigg, a law professor at Drake University, explains the state could seek to retry Simmerman on other charges to avoid double jeopardy issues. Federal charges could also be used to bring the 23-year-old man to justice instead of state prosecution.

Rivera apologized to the court and the public after her courthouse arrest. Her bid for re-election in November was unsuccessful.

Rivera was arrested a week ago on charges that she was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. She was also charged with child endangerment. She was arrested at the courthouse after a sheriffs deputy received a tip that she was driving in a manner that suggested intoxication. Rivera was charged with child endangerment due to the fact she had dropped her daughter off at a daycare facility minutes before driving to the courthouse.

Observers concerned With Conflict Of Interest Following Vote By Prosecutors To Join Police Union

Investigators and assistant prosecutors in the county of St. Louis recently voted to become members of the police union. The vote is taken at a time when a leader with reform in mind prepares to take control of the St. Louis County Prosecutors Office.

The vote happened on Monday and has raised concerns that a conflict of interest could develop.

Wesley Bell is the new County Prosecutor in St. Louis. He is the first person of African-American heritage to hold the position. Bell will replace Robert McCulloch, who was County prosecutor when a grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The grand jury decision sparked violence among the citizens of Ferguson and protests across the country.

Bell stands in opposition to the death penalty and prefers treatment alternatives for individuals accused of minor drug offenses. He has also been on record promising reform to the cash bail system used in St. Louis County. Another major emphasis Bell expresses is holding police officers accountable for the actions they take while on duty.

The St. Louis Police Association is viewed by some as the most aggressive police union in America. The union regularly donated to the campaign efforts of McCulloch throughout his nearly three decades as County Prosecutor.

Jeff Roorda is the business manager for the union. Roorda caused a stir on social media a few years back when he used a Facebook platform to blame then president Barack Obama for the shooting of five police officers in Dallas, Texas. Roorda also made comments to the media suggesting the happenings in Ferguson amounted to a war being waged on police officers around the country. He also penned a book on the matter entitled Ferghanistan: The War On Police.

One potential conflict identified by the Washington Post is a scenario where a prosecutor files a criminal complaint against a police officer. If that officer then files a complaint with the union, which of the two union members will be backed by the union?

The Post also concluded that the vote to join the union by investigators and prosecutors can only serve to further worsen an already bad relationship between the police and the black community in St. Louis County.

Bell acknowledged that the choice by assistant prosecutors to join the police union raises questions but said he supports their right to join the union of their choice.

Read the full report: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article223264940.html

White House Backs Off Shutdown Stance

With just days before a government shutdown, the White House is signaling that their stance may be changing. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated to the press today that President Trump was “disappointed” by the lack of progress. Much of that disappointment was pointed towards the House and Senate, both of which are still in the process of putting together a passable budget.

This is not the first time Trump has threatened a shutdown, reveals usnews.com. On several occasions, the Commander-in-Chief has expressed a willingness to hinge the border wall on budgetary negotiations. His most recent statement came during the on-camera meeting with top candidate for House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. In the now famous negotiations, Trump expressed a willingness to take credit for a shutdown while squaring off against the Democratic politicians. The unprompted comment left many in politics worried about constituents who might not have been as receptive to the idea. It was enough to leave many offering up no comment instead of a stance on the subject.

The future of the border wall is still up in the air with the possibility of a shutdown. While some Republican lawmakers see a path towards getting a wall into the budget, others are skeptical. With the house turning over control to the Democrats in January, the prospects may be now or never for the party. All of this, along with limited budgetary options partly fueled by large tax cuts put the shutdown situation in perspective for politicians. With the White House indicating their positions could be shifting, Republicans may be looking at a budget compromise that removes the wall altogether or significantly reduces it in size as well as scope. According to some long time insiders, it may be the only way to prevent a shutdown as both parties save face with their core constituents.

Supreme Court Clarifies Burglary Definition Under the Armed Career Criminal Act

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) was designed to require harsher sentences for convicted felons who use a gun in the commission of a crime. It was passed during the Reagan Administration as a deterrent against violent crime. Defendants must have three or more prior convictions on their record in order to fall within a category of felons who must receive a minimum sentence of 15 years if they are convicted again of using a gun in a crime. It has engendered plenty of controversy because criminal defense advocates see the law as too draconian in that it deprives the court of opportunities to evaluate the individual circumstances of a case before sentencing defendants to long terms in prison.

In United States v. Stitt, the Supreme Court just issued a unanimous decision that clarifies how burglary offenses will be treated under the ACCA. Even if a state law definition of burglary is more expansive than the generic understanding of the term, it will still count in terms of including prior convictions in a defendant’s sentencing review. In this case, the defendant argued that the applicable state court definition of burglary for one of his prior convictions included the invasion of a vehicle that had been turned into a living structure. He pointed out that the generic definition of burglary did not include a vehicle at all. The Supreme Court overruled the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and held that the state court definition of burglary was allowed to stand for the purpose of imposing a sentence under the ACCA. Therefore, the defendant should receive at least 15 years for his conviction of threatening to kill someone with a gun pointed in her face.

What makes this case particularly noteworthy is that it signals that the ACCA is not going anywhere soon. While there has been plenty of talk of criminal justice reform in the news lately, the Supreme Court unanimously closed the door for plenty of future appeals from defendants with state law convictions on their record and facing sentencing under the ACCA. The fact that the decision was unanimous also indicates that the justices may be trying to project a unified image to their approach when possible. Following the controversy surrounding the confirmation of the most recently appointed justice, this show of unanimity could help squash rampant rumors that the Supreme Court is more divided now than ever before.

Bump Stocks Now Illegal to Own or Possess

Bump stocks are now legally dead. The Trump administration has now made it illegal to sell or even possess the controversial gun attachments.

What is a Bump Stock?
Depending on what type of rifle that a person is shooting, a bump stock can help a shooter achieve a firing speed of a minimum of 400 rounds per minute. A bump stock was used in the 2017 massacre in Las Vegas when 58 people were murdered and injuring 851 others. It is estimated that more than 1,100 rounds were fired at the scene by a lone gunman.

How They Work
Bump stocks operate to make a semi-automatic rifle into something resembling a machine gun. They replace the rifle’s standard stock which is the part of the rifle that is held against the shoulder. According to the New York Times, when shooting a semi-automatic rifle, the shooter pulls the trigger once for each shot fired. When a bump stock is used, the shooter pulls the trigger and leaves the trigger finger stationary. The recoil action that results from firing a shot allows the rifle to slide back and forth in an instant against the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger until such time as the ammunition in the rifle’s magazine is empty. Then, another magazine can be affixed to the rifle quickly.

President Trump is circumventing any legislative effort at making possession of bump stocks illegal. The new regulation is being promulgated by the U.S. Department of Justice. Even the National Rifle Association is in agreement with the elimination of bump stocks, but Gun Owners of American says that it will be seeking an injunction against the new regulation. Its position is that the Department of Justice is attempting to re-write existing laws, and that will result in similar regulation of other weapons and accessories. The Department of Justice advised that it was prepared for any such lawsuit and confident of the outcome. One bump stock manufacturer has already notified the public that it has stopped direct sales of the accessories. Another leading manufacturer did not comment on the regulation. Prior to the new regulation, bump stocks were perfectly legal to own on the rationale that they did not make a weapon fire automatically.