Future Lawyer Overcomes Difficult Past

Tarra Simmons will be graduating with a law degree. The road to becoming a lawyer was anything but easy. Five years ago, Tarra was addicted to meth. She also served 20 months in prison for meth possession.

After Tarra got out of prison, she struggled to get custody of her children. She also faced bankruptcy and foreclosure. However, Tarra still enrolled in law school. She will graduate with a 3.7 GPA. She has also received numerous accolades including the Skadden Fellowship. This is an award that is given to people who plan to practice in public interest law.

Tarra stated that there are a lot of things that she is not good at. However, she stated that she is good at academia. Even though Tarra has done everything that she was supposed to do to earn her degree, there are some people who believe that she should not.

The Washington State Board Association recommended that Tarra not receive her law license. The case went before the Washington State Supreme Court. Shon Hopwood is a professor of Georgetown Law School who supports Tarra. He is also a former bank robber. He stated that it is possible for people to be redeemed.

Shon stated that a person’s character is not static. The judges met for four hours and ultimately decided that Tarra could take the bar exam. She passed the bar exam and will be sworn in as an attorney on June 16. She has the support of her husband, son and stepdaughter. She met her husband while she was in drug addiction recovery.

Tarra stated that her husband has stepped up and helped her in many ways. She is $300,000 in debt from student loans. Fortunately, she will work for a non-profit organization for 10 years, and the debt will be forgiven.

Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/lifestyle/character-is-not-static-a-soon-to-be-lawyer-turns-rough-past-into-bright-future/

Parents Who Said God Spoke to Them Through Toy Stuffed Lian Has Child Taken From Them

In an unusual British Columbia case, a couple who was unrepresented by counsel lost custody of their two-year-old child after they were declared unfit parents. They relied on a toy stuffed lion that they said God was speaking from to give them legal advice. The ruling was pursuant to an appeal from November of 2017 when a lower court declared them unfit. The parents claimed that the lower court ruling violated their Christian values. Prosecutors alleged that the parents’ extreme Christian beliefs interfered with their relationships with others in their community. They argued that the couple promised to “purge churches of evil influences.” According to Fox News, several churches had already told the couple that they were no longer allowed in their congregations and had to call police on them.

It was also alleged that the parents tried to “cleanse demonic influences” from their baby when she was born. One court justice stated that “It appears that, due to their strong religious beliefs, they are intolerant of those who do not espouse identical views. This includes other Christians.” The case became increasingly strange after the wife allegedly told a social worker that her husband was raised in a cult. She disclosed that he believes sexual relations between children should be encouraged and that they should “role-play” sins where the girl plays the victim and the boy plays the perpetrator.

The parents also opted to refuse legal aid. In court, they used the stuffed lion to speak to God in tongues. In their cross examination, they allegedly maintained that Jesus was asking questions through them. The lower court justice found that the parents lacked credibility, and the child was placed in protective custody. An appellate court justice stated that placing the child in protective care was not based on religious grounds. Concerns were also raised about the mother’s mental health. In its decision, the appellate court wrote that “The parents obviously love their child and wish to raise her in their home with their Christian values.” It then remarked that there was clear and sufficient evidence to allow the lower court judge to affirm that a continuing custody order was warranted under the circumstances.

Stormy Daniels Files Third Lawsuit Against President Trump

Stormy Daniels recently filed a lawsuit against President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and her former lawyer responsible for representing her in a non-disclosure agreement in 2016. Daniels, a pornographic film actress, has claimed that she had an affair with current President Donald Trump.

The New York Times reported that the suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Daniel’s former lawyer, Keith M. Davidson, and President Trump’s personal lawyer. The claim states that the lawyers acted with malice and breached fiduciary duty along with aided and abetted breach of fiduciary duty. The Times reported that Daniels’ is seeking $200,000 for damages and an unspecified amount of punitive damages.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ current lawyer, has now filed three lawsuits related to the non-disclosure agreement and Trump. The lawsuit alleges that Cohen and Daniels discussed if Daniels would make an appearance on the Sean Hannity show to debunk the accuracy of an article from InTouch magazine regarding her and the current President.

The exhibit includes texts between the two regarding a possible January appearance for Daniels. Cohen wanted her to appear on the show to debunk the rumors, and Davidson replied that Daniels was unavailable. Cohen later texted that Clifford shouldn’t do an interview because the story’s popularity was dwindling. Davidson also agreed to Cohen’s terms not to do an interview or statement unless it was through the lawyer.

The suit also alleges that Davidson warned Cohen beforehand about her possibly filing a lawsuit against the president and hiring different counsel. Cohen then proceeded to attempt to silence Daniels by attempting to get a restraining order against the actress.

The exhibit shows texts between Cohen and Davidson on March 2nd. The texts state that Davidson informed Cohen about Daniels filing a lawsuit. He never got Clifford’s permission to discuss the matter or give information to Cohen.

The complaint also says that Clifford has requested her complete client file at least five times, and Davidson has yet to return it to her. It also alleges that he was involved in trying to create a fake story for the Wall Street Journal saying Daniels wasn’t cooperative with investigators currently working on the Cohen investigation in the Southern District of New York.

Evicted New York Millennial Calls Cops on Dad About Legos

You might recall the story of the 30-year-old man who was recently evicted from his parents’ home in upstate New York. He had lived there for eight years without paying rent or otherwise contributing to household expenses. At one time he did have a job at Best Buy, but he refused to work on Saturdays, so he was fired. He then sued Best Buy for more than $300,000. That case remains pending. The man hasn’t worked a real job for a single day since.

Alex Jones is the host of InfoWars, and he reportedly aided the evicted man with $3,000 to help him move and obtain a new residence. Now, before finally leaving his parents’ home pursuant to the trial judge’s eviction order, the man called police on his father about some Lego toys that belonged to his son.

Fox News reports that the man was unable to find the Legos. He thought they might be in his parents’ basement, but his father wouldn’t allow him to go down there to look for them. Instead, the father offered to go to the basement himself to look for them. He reported that he offered to bring them up if he found them. That offer didn’t satisfy the son, so he dialed 911. The Legos were later found after police arrived.

In speaking to the local press about the Legos, the son was obviously irritated. He said “This isn’t a game show. I don’t have to guess what’s behind Door No. 1.”

After loading an old station wagon with his belongings, the freeloading son had difficulty starting it. Apparently it has a malfunctioning coolant system. He yelled to reporters, “I got to get going before that thing blows up.” He then honked his horn, waved and drove off.

After being evicted, the son was staying at an Airbnb in Syracuse, but he vacated that temporary residence. He won’t be living alone though. He’s going to be living with a cousin.

Read More: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44337277

Donald Trump’s Regrets Appointing Sessions as Attorney General

On Wednesday, the US president Donald Trump articulated his lament on picking Jeff Sessions as the attorney general. The tweets follow Sessions withdrawal from Trump’s the Russia inquiry and facing public attacks. In one of his tweets, he quoted the Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy curious about the attorney general’s place. In as much as the president cited the critical congressman, he went dumb on his television outward shows.

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, there have been allegations that Russians were involved in his campaigns against his competitor. Following this, an investigation was initiated to look on the matter. Gowdy publicly defended the FBI for using an informant during the Russian operatives and Trump’s campaign investigation. Session backed off from the probe when Trump needed his help but declined involvement in the matter which frustrated Trump. Gowdy, on account of the same, he notes that Trump is disturbed by why Session wouldn’t have shared his reasons before taking the attorney general’s job.

A lot seems to be happening in the office since the investigations on Trump’s campaign with Trump expressing his disappointment and concern on social media through the tweeter. In this tweets, the two – Gowdy and Trump – seem to interpret one another’s thoughts using words against one another as a defence mechanism. In his speech to the press Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney conveyed his repeated advice to the president against firing the Session believing he would follow his counsel. Speaking to Politico, Giuliani puts it that Trump shouldn’t fire Session before the investigation is over.

Though there has been a dispute between the two, Session was the first senator to support Trump’s campaign bid. In fact, he was a surrogate deputy. This feud arose when Gowdy arose to protect the federal law enforcement’s carry out of the Russia investigation on which Trump did not comment on about the debate. Gowdy attended the classified Department of Justice summit to view files linking to the use of the off the record source. In defense of the law enforcement agency, Gowdy said they were justified and defended it against the enraged harassment from Trump regarding the FBI and DoJ’s political objectivity. However, Trump has referred the investigation linking him to the Russian operatives a witch chase.

Following the firing of the FBI director James Comey in 2016 and the documents viewed, Gowdy says the bureau performed its duty of looking into the campaign allegation which had nothing to do with Trump. Giuliani names it a public relations tactic what Trump did to use the informant as a scandal. Trump, during a rally in Nashville, said that his political opponents had infiltrated his campaign.

Dovey Johnson Rountree Passes Away

Dovey Johnson-Rountree is a former defense lawyer. She played an important role in the civil rights movement. She also paved the way for other black lawyers.

She died on May 21, 2018 after complications from Alzheimer’s disease according to her cousin. She was 104-years-old. Most of Dovey’s clients were poor black people.People stated that she had free legal clients before many people even knew that there were free legal clinics.

Robert S. Bennet is one of Dovey’s formal clients. He praised the way that Dovey represented Bill Clinton in the infamous Monica Lewinsky. Robert stated that Dovey treated Clinton like he was her own son. Dovey also represented Raymond Crump Jr. He was a black man who was accused of murdering a white woman.

Raymond eventually had the charges dropped. The case was never solved. In 1970, Mayor Walter E. Washington appointed Dovey to the D.C. Board of Higher Education. Marion Berry called Dovey her one of his spiritual mothers.

Dovey Johnson-Rountree mentored many young black lawyers including Charles J. Ogletree Jr. He later became a professor of law at Harvard. She was also a preacher. She spent 35 years preaching at Allen Chapel AME Church.

Katie McCabe is a journalist in Washington. She co-wrote Dovey’s autobiography entitled “Justice Older Than The Law.” She stated that the entire legal world was transformed by Dovey. She stated that Dovey’s work proved that a black attorney could win major cases.

Dovey had an amazing career, but her life was far from perfect. Not only did she grow up during a time when discrimination and racism was common, but she was also raised in a poor family. However, she still defied the odds and had a successful career. She has also inspired many other people to start a career in law and achieve their dreams.

Anthony Kennedy to Retire from Supreme Court?

With the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court winding down, there is intense speculation as to any retirement plans for 81-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although he hasn’t said anything publically one way or another, Kennedy has already hired four law clerks for the upcoming term. That leaves some observers to conclude that Kennedy plans on working through the next term, at least for now. On the other hand, at this point in time, the court has only taken 15 cases for its next term. That might be an indication that the court has been told that Kennedy is retiring. The remaining eight members of the court might not want to take any more cases until such time as a replacement for Kennedy has been confirmed.Kennedy was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Regan in 1988. The Hill reports that regardless of the fact that Kennedy voted with the liberal side of the court on same-sex marriage, he has always been a moderate who might swing a vote on a case.

If Justice Kennedy does retire, President Donald Trump would be given another opportunity to select another candidate for the open seat. Whoever might be confirmed could profoundly shift the balance of the court to the right. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman. If there’s a retirement coming, Grassley appears to want it done sooner rather than later. This might be the last chance for Justice Kennedy to retire under a Republican president and a senate that is controlled by a Republican majority. It’s entirely possible that Chief Justice John Roberts will announce Kennedy’s retirement at the close of this Supreme Court’s term.

It’s also possible that the speculation of Kennedy’s retirement might be better focused on some other justices. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and associated with the liberal wing of the court. One or two other judges are apparently experiencing health issues. We might know more in a few days or a few years.

Pass Rate Falls for California’s February Bar Exam

It’s harder to become a lawyer in California than ever before. California bar officials recently released the results of their February 2018 bar exam. The pass rate is down seven percentage points to 27.3 percent. That means nearly three-fourths of exam takers received bad news about their failing grades.

California offers the bar exam twice per year. That means applicants who want to try again have to wait until July to get their chance. California officials report that 1,282 applicants received passing scores on the exam. There were 4,701 total applicants.

Executive Director of the State Bar of California, Leah T. Wilson, says that she knows that the pass rates are low. For the bar in February 2017, 34.5 percent of examinees received passing scores. The number was 35.7 percent in February 2016.

California has some of the lowest bar passage rates in the entire country. The ABA Journal says that it’s because California has a difficult bar exam. Others say that there are a number of unaccredited law schools in the state. They say that the law schools without accreditation tend to admit less-qualified applicants. They say these applicants are less likely to pass the exam.

If an applicant doesn’t pass the bar exam, they can take the exam again. An applicant can sit for the bar exam as many times as they want to. If an applicant doesn’t pass the bar exam, they can’t practice law, and they are not a lawyer. The bar exam consists of multiple choice questions, essay response questions and an ethics test. The bar exam is administered over multiple days.

First-time test takers are more likely to pass the bar exam than repeat test takers. On the February 2018 bar exam, 39 percent of first-time test takers received passing marks. Still, the passing rate for first-time test takers was 44.7 percent in February 2016.

A survey of licensed attorneys reveals that they favor keeping standards the same. Most currently licensed attorneys don’t want bar examiners to lower the qualifying score from the current cut-off point. Law school deans reported that they support lowering the score. Ultimately, the California Supreme Court makes the decision, and they decided to leave the cut-off score at 1440 for all test takers. Examiners say that they plan to continue to evaluate the test to make sure that it’s a valid test. They say that they want to test for skills that are relevant to modern attorneys.

Professor Sujit Choudhry is Signatory on Amicus Brief that Opposes Texas’ Anti-Abortion Law

Professor Sujit Choudhry of the Center for Constitutional Transitions is one of several academics in the field of international and comparative law who are signatories on an amicus curiae brief concerning the improper view of international perspectives on abortion law. The brief, led by Aziza Ahmed, professor at Northeastern University School of Law, supports the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood as co-counsel representing abortion clinics and doctors in a case examining a challenge to a Texas law that bans dilation and evacuation, an otherwise commonly used and safe second trimester abortion procedure. More narrowly, the law seeks to ban the safest, most common method of second-trimester abortions after approximately 15 weeks, and as such Texas is in direct contradiction to the norms recognized in international law. The law was preliminary enjoined by a federal district court as it finds it to be likely unconstitutional. The state of Texas has appealed.


States are required by international human rights law to enable access to safe and legal abortion services. In line with this international norm, the global consensus is such that individual nations with legal traditions similar to those of the U.S. lean towards liberalization of abortion access. This reflects an expanding understanding of the close links between abortion access, gender equality and women’s health. Rather than acknowledging this international consensus, Texas presents a misleading and erroneous analysis of foreign law in the support of the state’s aim to pass a law that restricts access to safe abortion care.


The brief first elaborates international law as a counterpoint to the comparative analysis on which Texas exclusively relies. It then highlights the flawed methodology as well as the irrelevancy of the points mentioned by the expert witness who introduced comparative law evidence in support of Texas as they do not speak to moral or ethical consensus. Professor Choudhry is among the amici who, as international and comparative law scholars, has an interest in correcting this improper view of international law and Texas’s deeply flawed comparative law analysis.



Professor Choudhry is internationally recognized as an expert on comparative constitutional law and politics. He has also been a constitutional advisor for over two decades, and his expertise encompasses 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. Professor Choudhry globally advises on the process of constitution building in a number of countries. He is currently 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.


Choudhry is the founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions that assembles and leads international networks of experts and partners with a global network of multilateral organizations, think tanks, NGOs and universities in order to conduct thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. This is part of the Center’s effort to both create as well as mobilize knowledge in support of constitution building.  To date, the Center for Constitutional Transitions has worked with over 50 experts from more than 25 countries. The Center is partnered with with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, whereby Choudhry co-leads three global collaborative research projects. These include Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions, Security Sector Reform and Constitutional Transitions in Emerging Democracies, and Security Sector Oversight: Protecting Democratic Consolidation from Authoritarian Backsliding and Partisan Abuse.


Sujit Choudhry is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley – School of Law. His previous academic engagements include having been the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University, and the Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. In his research, he focuses on several comparative constitutional law and politics issues. These include constitutional design as a tool to manage the transition from violent conflict to peaceful democratic politics; constitutional design in ethnically divided societies; federalism, decentralization and secession; semi-presidentialism; constitutional courts; official language policy, minority and group rights; bills of rights and proportionality; constitutional design in the context of transitions from authoritarian to democratic rule; constitution building; security sector oversight; and basic methodological questions in the study of comparative constitutional law.


His publication record includes over ninety articles, books, book chapters, working papers and reports. Choudhry is 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. More information regarding the Center can be found on constitutionaltransitions.com.

Legal Technology Has A Diversity Problem

A recent report has shown that minorities and women are underrepresented in the field of legal technology. The report showed that minorities made up 13.6 percent of the people in the field. Women make up 26.5 percent of the people in the legal tech field. Women make up 50.8 percent of the total population. Minorities make up 38.7 percent of people in America.

Kristan Sunday is the co-founder of Paladin. This is a pro bono management platform. She stated that she did not realize that women and minorities were under-represented in the field. Kristan is also a Latina. She is more concerned about the lack of women in the legal technology field.

Kristan believes that minorities and women who are in the field need to speak out and let their voices be heard. According to ABA Journal, not only are minorities and women under-represented, but many people do not have access to legal services. Eighty-six percent of the low-income people who have legal problems do not have access to any help. In 2005, 80 percent of low-income people did not have access to legal services.

Minorities and women are also under-represented in the entrepreneurial field. Latino founders only make up 2.3 percent of the legal tech founders. Black founders only make up 3.1 percent of the legal tech founders. Middle-Eastern, Indian and Asian make up 21.1 percent of the legal founders.

Kristan stated that increasing opportunities for women and minorities will help more people get into the field. She is doing her part to make sure that everyone is represented in the legal technology field. She will be releasing new data on minorities and women in the legal technology field in the near future. She has raised over $1 million to support her endeavors. There are 269 legal technology companies in the United States.

MS-13 “Child” Gang Member Nabbed at Border

MS-13 was originally formed in Los Angeles as a street gang to protect its members from other street gangs. It’s a horribly violent and brutal international gang that has spread from the Pacific coast of the United States to the Atlantic Coast. It now has a presence in 42 states.

MS-13 prefers machetes and knives to guns for purposes of making an attack more agonizing. The street gang proliferated into Canada, Mexico and Central America. Most members have roots in El Salvador. MS-13 members are known for tattoos covering their bodies, often including their faces. They maintain control of a prison in El Salvador, and it’s reported that guards are so terrified of the prisoners that they won’t enter the prison. It’s guarded from the outside by the Salvadorian Army.

The United States Border Patrol reported that one MS-13 gang member was caught trying to sneak into the United States last week as an unaccompanied child. He was hoping to take advantage of the benefits of United States laws that give unaccompanied minors quick status in the country. The MS-13 member was part of a group of 61 undocumented immigrants that were nabbed in Arizona. Upon being interrogated, the man admitted to being an adult and an MS-13 member. He is from El Salvador and was purportedly trying to leave the gang.

As opposed to children from Mexico, unaccompanied children from El Salvador are given special consideration and treatment. Pursuant to United States immigration laws and policies, an unaccompanied child must be priority processed and released to social workers. Regardless of their unauthorized status of the children, social workers then attempt to match them with sponsors who will support and care for them in the United States.

After deportation proceedings are scheduled for unaccompanied children, most of them just vanish. Some of them simply gravitate into street gangs like MS-13. Others, like the subject apprehended in Arizona are already MS-13 members.

Multistate Bar Exam Scores Reach New Low

In February, a new group of law graduates sat for their respective state bar exams. The results have never been worse. Examiners report that bar exam scores on the Multistate Bar Exam have never been as low as they were for the February 2018 bar exam. They say the average MBE score dropped more than one point.

Even though each state has their own exam rules and scoring guidelines, most states use the Multistate Bar Exam or MBE. The Multistate Bar Exam is a multiple choice test that reveals the test taker’s knowledge of basic legal principles as well as their legal reasoning skills. There are 200 questions on the MBE. States rely on the MBE in order to make their bar exams easier and faster to administer.

States typically combine the MBE with other testing methods. People sitting for the bar exam typically must answer essay questions. There may also be an ethics portion of the test. Each state has their own formula to determine how much weight to give the MBE along with the other portions of the bar in order to determine whether to pass the applicant.

MBE officials say that February test takes did the worst on average of any group that has ever taken the exam. They say that the average score on the MBE for the February 2018 group was a 132.8. They say that last year’s average was a 134.1. The number of test takers was also down. Five percent fewer test takers sat for the exam in February 2018 than took the test in February 2017.

Officials say that even among first-time examinees, average MBE scores fell. They say that last year the average was a 135.3, and the first-time average went down to a 135. Among repeat test takers, the average fell by 1.7 points. Even with a low MBE score, an applicant can still pass the bar exam if they score well in the other test sections. However, the MBE is a major testing component in all of the states that use it.

The drop in MBE scores comes as accrediting agencies continue to debate how law schools should accept students. The American Bar Association says that law schools should only accept students who have a reasonable chance of success in school. They say that too many schools admit students who don’t have a good chance of becoming lawyers. They say that LSAT scores and grade point averages can shed light on an applicant’s aptitude. Others say that open admissions policies encourage diversity and help qualified students have the opportunity to succeed.




Cohen Reveals That Sean Hannity Is a Client

On Monday in a New York federal court, the personal attorney of President Trump was made to reveal that, in addition to representing the president, he has performed legal work for Sean Hannity, who is a TV host on Fox News who outwardly supports the president.

Michael Cohen, who represents the president on a variety of personal matters, was forced by a judge to name Hannity through his own attorney. Watching all this from the gallery was Stormy Daniels, who claims that she was engaged in an adultrous relationship with the president a decade earlier.

Daniels is currently engaged in a separate lawsuit, in which she is disputing a non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2016, in which — in exchange for $130,000 — she agreed not to discuss the alleged affair, which the president claims never happened. Cohen represented the president in the settlement.

Hannity, who is 56 years old, insists that Cohen has never officially represented him in a legal capacity, nor has he ever paid for his legal services. Though he says that he once did seek confidential legal advice from him. Not only has Hannity strongly and publicly defended the president and his policies on his popular television show, he has also received praise from the president because of it.

Cohen was in court so that he could ask a judge to limit the ability of government prosecutors to review documents that the FBI took from both his home and his office in connection to a criminal investigation relating to possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

The White House is said to be frustrated with the investigation, which has ensnared some of the president’s closest aides.

According to CNN, during the proceedings, Kimba Wood — who is the judge in the case — listened for more than 2 hours to arguments from attorneys representing Cohen, the federal government and the president. She is expected to rule in the case at a later time.

Though on Monday she did rule that federal prosecutors must provide the attorneys representing Cohen copies of all documents that they have seized from Cohen before the next scheduled hearing happens.

Major Prison Fight In South Carolina – 7 Dead

Just short of 2.5 million Americans are locked away in the so-called “big house” – in other words, prison, which houses convicted perpetrators of serious crimes whose sentences last at least one full year.

Unfortunately, the United States of America is home to more prisoners than anywhere else on planet Earth, though that’s not to say that Americans are downright evil. Rather, American culture has dictated for at least the past 40 years that locking people in cells for years at a time is an effective means of rehabilitation.

Either way, whether you’re for or against the extremely high rate of imprisonment and alarming lack of true rehabilitation, here’s an alarming news story that’s certain to scare even the hardest of people.

Widespread prison riots in South Carolina took several lives

At roughly 3:00 a.m. Eastern Savings Time, in the rural, Southeastern state of South Carolina, a massive prison riot broke out at what’s supposed to be a maximum security prison.

Although it might sound as if maximum security prisons would have fewer fits of violence and other illegal activity, it’s actually the other way around; these prisons house the gnarliest criminals in all of the Southeastern United States of America.

Jeff Taillon, an official spokesman for the prison system there in South Carolina, made public the fights that broke out in the wee morning hours at Lee Correctional Institution.

According to TheGuardian.com, a whopping 17 inmates were injured, most of which required immediate medical attention, whereas seven others were found dead upon the arrival of emergency services.

Fortunately, no law enforcement officers or correctional officers are harmed, despite fights that took place from roughly 7:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, April 15, 2018, through roughly 3:00 a.m. on Monday – that’s today – April 16, 2018.

Lee Correctional Institution takes its home in the tiny town of Bishopville, South Carolina. The prison has a history of violence, some major events of which include a 2015 fight that features two correctional officers being non-fatally stabbed.

As recently as February 2018 – just two short months ago – an inmate was convicted of the murder of another ruthless criminal locked away in prison.

It took how long to resolve those fights?

Official reports indicate that law enforcement personnel fought for eight consecutive hours in attempts to stop fighting among prisoners there in Bishopville.

End Citizens United Issues Statement on Retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan

Since its founding in 2015, End Citizens United, a political action committee that is supported through grassroots efforts, has focused its efforts on unseating candidates who are known to be bought and paid for by special interests. As a vociferous and persistent opponent of campaign finance reform, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been in the organization’s cross hairs since day one. With the 2018 midterm elections looming on the horizon, Ryan threw his party for a loop by announcing his retirement on April 11, 2018. Although he will serve out the rest of his term, the congressman won’t seek reelection in November.

Statement by End Citizens United

End Citizens United, or ECU, didn’t waste any time issuing a press release regarding the senator’s announcement. Later that same day, in fact, the organization issued an official statement about Senator Ryan’s impending retirement. In its release, Tiffany Muller, president of ECU, stated: “As Speaker, Ryan pushed his party to respond to the will of mega-donors and corporations, including an effort to strip health care from tens of millions of Americans and a tax bill that raises taxes on middle class families while giving benefits to the richest Americans.”

Paul Ryan’s Dark Money Track Record

It doesn’t take a lot of sleuthing to figure out why Paul Ryan has been a chief target of ECU since its inception. Ryan started serving as senator for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in 1999, and he quickly aligned himself with big money and special interests. In particular, he has allied himself with the Congressional Leadership Fund, or CLF, a Super PAC that has accepted more than $8 million in dark money–including more than $6 million in 2017 alone. Through these alliances, Ryan has placed top priority on keeping big money and special interests happy while throwing his Wisconsin constituents under the bus.

Again and again, Paul Ryan appeared in the news through the years to vocally oppose any and all efforts in support of campaign finance reform. While in office, he championed a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ACA–a move that would leave countless of his constituents without health insurance. More recently, Ryan worked tirelessly in support of the $50 million tax reform bill. Given that the passage of the bill was a top priority for Republican mega-donors, it makes sense that it was so important to Ryan. More than half of the benefits derived from the bill would go to the top 1 percent while more than 13 million middle-class Americans would see their taxes go up over the next 10 years.

ECU’s Big Money 20

To understand what a pivotal role Paul Ryan has played in the aftermath of the disastrous 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision, it helps to understand why ECU has made getting him out of office a top priority. The organization, which was founded in 2015, maintains a list called the Big Money 20. Paul Ryan has held a spot on the list since its inception, and that says a lot.

For a politician to land on ECU’s Big Money 20 list, they must be an incumbent whose voting record reflects that they work for special interests and not for their constituents. Paul Ryan was a natural choice for the list when it was initially developed because his voting record has long reflected a bias toward big money and against hardworking Americans. Besides, Paul Ryan was a major opponent of enacting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United vs. FEC, and he has consistently voted against campaign finance reform measures throughout his political career–including the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.

The Race for Paul Ryan’s Seat

ECU had already been gearing up to try to vote Paul Ryan out of office in the 2018 midterm elections. Randy Bryce, the likely Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District seat, had enjoyed support from ECU for some time. Unlike Senator Ryan, Bryce, a former ironworker and U.S. Army veteran, does not accept donations from Super PACs or other dark money sources. Instead, he relies solely on grassroots efforts and an average donation of $25. During the first quarter of 2018, Bryce’s campaign outraised Ryan’s campaign by $1.75 million.

Now that Bryce will no longer be facing the powerful incumbent, he has an even better chance of winning the coveted seat. Winning the seat is just one part of ECU’s overarching effort to turn congress from red to blue during the midterm elections. Although there has been some speculation about who the Republicans will nominate to run for the seat, the filing deadline isn’t until June. As for who will replace Ryan as Speaker of the House, a few names have been floated around lately. They include Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Does ECU Have Paul Ryan Running Scared?

The timing of Ryan’s announcement and impending retirement is interesting. Naturally, Republicans claim that the senator sincerely wishes to retire only so that he can be around more for his family, which includes three teenage children. However, it might also be that Ryan is feeling the heat from efforts of groups like End Citizens United and isn’t up for the kind of work that would be needed to retain the seat for another term. Whatever his true motivations may be, there’s no question that his retirement is a positive development for the country.

Even though Paul Ryan is out of the race in November, ECU will continue to support Randy Bryce in his efforts to win the exiting senator’s coveted seat. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization seeks to elect candidates who support campaign finance reform generally and the overturning of Citizens United vs. FEC specifically. Bryce may have an easier time running against someone other than Ryan, but he still faces an uphill battle. The district voted for Trump by a margin of 10 percent in 2016, and it is still regarded as leaning more Republican than Democrat.

Campaign Finance Reform in a Post-Paul Ryan World

As exciting as the news of Paul Ryan’s impending retirement may be for supporters of campaign finance reform, it is far from enough to incite real, lasting change. Since the disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision, which famously argued that corporations are people, the very democracy of the United States has been thrown into jeopardy. More than ever, special interests and dark money hold the strings, and congress people are mere puppets doing their bidding. With any luck, Paul Ryan’s former opponent will emerge victorious in November along with many other campaign finance reform champions, and we will be that much closer to overturning Citizens United once and for all.

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