Lance Armstrong Settles Federal Fraud Suit

On Thursday, scandal-plagued former bicycle champion Lance Armstrong agreed to pay the U.S. government $5 million, in order to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed that he committed fraud against his former sponsor — the United States Postal Service — when he used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while competing. The news was confirmed by both federal officials and a lawyer representing Armstrong.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis, and it was later joined by the U.S. government. The suit sought $100 million in damages.

Chad Readler, who is the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Justice Department, said in a statement that people like Armstrong are not “above the law.” He further stated that the outcome of the lawsuit proves that the government will hold those who try to cheat it accountable.

Elliot Peters, who is an attorney who represented Armstrong in the case, said that Armstrong was happy to put the entire matter “behind him.” Peters went to say that the government settled because it could not prove its case that Armstrong’s actions caused the Postal Service damage. He also indicated that the parties came to a settlement ahead of a trial that was set to begin on May 7, and that this was the last unresolved legal matter relating to Armstrong’s doping scandal.

Armstrong, who is currently 46 years old, won the Tour de France — which is the most important race in professional bicycling — a record 7 times. In all but one of these races the Postal Service sponsored him.

In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his cycling titles and also banned him for life from the sport. It further accused him, in a written report, of being behind one of the most elaborate doping schemes in the history of sports. A year later — in a television interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey — Armstrong admitted to using PEDs while racing.

Armstrong issued his own statement through his attorney, in which he said that he looks forward to dedicating himself to his children and his wife, as well as to his many ongoing projects, which include a podcast and both film and book projects.

A part of the settlement, Armstrong further must pay court costs for Landis in the amount of $1.65 million. Landis was also accused of doping and was stripped of winning the 2006 Tour de France.

U.S. Prosecutors File New Charges in Basketball Scandal

On Tuesday, U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan filed additional charges in a case involving bribery in college basketball. Prosecutors have accused an executive working for Adidas AG of offering money to American high school basketball players, in exchange for them attending North Carolina State University and the University of Kansas, which are schools the company sponsors.

James Gatto, who is the Adidas executive named in the indictment, was previously arrested in September for bribing high school basketball players to attend the University of Miami and the University of Louisville, which are two other schools Adidas sponsors. Tuesday’s charges were made in a superseding indictment, which were unsealed in New York federal court.

Merl Code, who is a consultant working for Adidas, was also charged of brbery in the cases relating to the University of Miami and the University of Louisville, and so was Christian Dawkins, who had bern working at a sports management company,

In response to the original indictment, the 3 defendants pleaded innocent to charges of conspiracy. The three have subsequently been charged with wire fraud as well. None of the attorneys representing the 3 defendants have yet to make comments. Nor has Adidas commented.

However, Joe Monaco — who is a spokesperson for the University of Kansas — has said that the school will fully cooperate with authorities. He further made note of the fact that the indictment does not accuse the university — or any of its employees — of any wrongdoing. At the same time, a spokesperson for the University of Louisville refused to comment, and the two other schools named in the indictments were unable to be reached.

According to the new indictment, in 2015 Gatto attempted to transfer $40,000 to the parents of a high school basketball player, as enducement for the player to enroll at North Carolina State University. The government further alleges that the player also agreed to sign an endorsement deal with Adidas upon his entry into the National Basketball Association, if such a thing were to occur. The payment was said to be made through a coach at the university, though this person was not named in the indictment.

Prosecutors also assert that Gatto in 2016 further tried to transfer $90,000 to the mother of a player, to induce this player to attend the University of Kansas and eventually sign an endorsement deal with Adidas once he became a professional.

U.S. Attorney General Wants To Prosecute First-Time Border Crossers

On Friday, Jeff Sessions — who is the U.S. Attorney General — said that he wants to prosecute those who cross the U.S. border illegally.

Sessions further said that he was ordering U.S. attorneys who function in states on the Mexican border — which includes Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico — to give priority to cases that involve first-offenders. He did this, he says, in response to the fact that illegal border crossings have risen sharply lately, to the level they were during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Also on Friday, President Trump signed a memorandum that will put an end to a policy that is commonly known as “catch and release.” This policy lets undocumented immigrants be released from detention while they wait for a court hearing on their immigration status. During the 2016 presidential campaign, then candidate Donald Trump promised to end the policy. Though it has remained in effect mainly because there is a current shortage of detention space to house immigrants. In the memo, the president called on both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to compose a list of military facilities that could be used to house undocumented immigrants awaiting hearings.

This week, the president additionally called for the deployment of the National Guard on the Mexican border, to help protect it. He did this, he said, because he has so far been unable to procure sufficient funding for the building of a wall along the border as he promised during the presidential campaign. In response to the memo, Jim Mattis — who is the U.S. Defense Secretary — signed another memo that will deploy up to 4,000 National Guard troops along the border. The memo, though, made a point of stating that these troops will not be engaged in law enforcement, nor will they be allowed to engage immigrants at all.

Next week, around 150 National Guards troops from Arizona will be sent to the Mexican border, as per an order by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Also sending troops to the border this week will be Texas, which will send around 250 of them.

Over the years, the United States on a number of occasions has sent military forces to the Mexican border.

Lohan Loses Appeal in Suit Against Game Maker

On Thursday, New York State’s Court of Appeals rejected an appeal made by actress Lindsay Lohan, who had accused the developer of Grand Theft Auto 5 of having violated her privacy by including characters in the game that resembled her. The court, in its decision, denied Lohan’s claim that the characters resembled her.

In a 6-0 vote, New York’s highest court declared that the game characters created by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. were nothing more than cultural comments, and therefore the company did not owe Lohan any damages.

None of the parties involved in the dispute issued a statement or would comment in response to the ruling. This includes Lohan herself, her attorney Frank Delle Donne or representatives of Take-Two Interactive.

Lohan, who is 31 years old, starred in The Parent Trap made in 1998, and in Mean Girls, which was filmed in 2004. Though she has since had difficulties finding acting roles, largely due to legal and other issues. In the lawsuit, she complained about a number of the characters in the game, which she believes look and sound like her. This includes a character named Lacey Jones, who — while escaping from reporters — calls herself a famous actress/singer. Other game characters that Lohan insists look like her include a blonde woman that police frisk and one who wears a red bikini while taking a selfie.

Eugene Fahey, who was a judge in the case, said that a computer image or an avatar could in effect constitute a portrait, which could support Lohan’s claims of having had her privacy violated, as per New York State civil rights law. But, in his decision, Fahey stated that the characters in Grand Theft Auto 5 depicted a generic woman in her twenties, and that there was no suggestion in the game that these characters were in fact Lohan.

In a separate ruling, the same court dismissed similar claims made by Karen Gravano against Take-Two Interactive. Gravano, who is the star of a reality TV show called Mob Wives, claimed that one of the game characters resembled her, too.

The Grand Theft Auto series of video games has been wildly successful. It has so far sold in excess of 275 million copies.

Lawyer Who Showed Up to Disciplinary Hearing Drunk Gets Disbarred

Call it liquid courage or call it a last resort, drinking alcohol before appearing at a state bar disciplinary hearing is probably a bad idea. Kansas attorney Justin Holstin didn’t get the memo. When he appeared under the influence at a bar disciplinary hearing, bar officials asked him to take an alcohol test. Those tests revealed that he was over the legal limit with a blood alcohol level of a .18 and a .20.

The Kansas State Bar didn’t find it funny, and they disbarred the lawyer. Holstin didn’t fight the suspension. At the time of the bar hearing in February 2018, Holstin faced accusations that he misused client property. Bar officials said that Holstin’s actions reflected on his fitness to practice law.

When bar officials suspected that Holstin was under the influence, they made arrangements for alcohol testing. Holstin agreed to take the test. At one point, the lawyer said that he tested positive because of drinking the night before. At another point, he tried to blame it on drinking while watching the Super Bowl. He later admitted that he exercised poor judgment.

Holstin isn’t the first attorney to show up for a hearing under the influence of alcohol. Nevada attorney Vo Joseph Caramango forced a mistrial in his client’s criminal case when he arrived at court to try the case while intoxicated. Caramango told the judge that he was in an accident on the way to court. He went on to tell the judge that the other driver ran without calling the police. He said that he had to find a friend to give him a ride to court.

When Caramango’s stories didn’t make sense, the judge asked him to take a breathalyzer test. He initially refused. Caramango finally took the test several hours after the time initially scheduled for the case. Caramango also complained of physical ailments but said he was willing to try the case hurt. The judge said that was unacceptable for Caramango’s client. The judge also questioned why Caramango chose not to call the police after the accident. The judge wondered out loud if it was because of Caramango’s intoxication.

Many states run assistance programs for lawyers who have substance abuse issues. The services often provide a referral for counseling and other treatment programs for lawyers. In some states, even suspended attorneys can take advantage of the programs. Many state programs include a helpline to speak with a person who can make a referral.

Judge Accused of Misusing Recovery Court Funds

Recovery courts are meant to help addicts address substance abuse issues and stay out of jail. A judge oversees the proceedings with frequent court appearances and substance abuse monitoring. The courts that run recovery court programs often get hefty grants from taxpayers in the hopes of reducing the overall costs to run the justice system.

However, one Nashville judge may have used recovery court funds for his own benefit. Authorities say that the judge may have taken over $6,000 from the drug court fund in order to bribe a woman. The woman made allegations against him. The judge offered to pay the money through a third party in order to ask the woman to change her story.

The judge, Cason Moreland, is facing charges of obstruction of justice with bribery and witness tampering. He appeared in a court hearing in handcuffs. He says that he understands the charges that he’s facing.

Authorities say that he had a sexual relationship with the woman. They say that the judge tried to help her avoid paying fines and costs that she owed to the court. The woman told a Nashville television station all about it.

The judge’s mistress leaked text messages between the two. The texts show that the judge helped the woman avoid a traffic ticket and that the judge also had sex with the woman. The judge talked about setting the woman up with planted drugs in order to throw the media off the case and cast doubt on the woman’s story. He also wanted to pay her money in order to change her story. Police say they even saw the pile of money that he wanted to pay to the woman.

The judge went so far as to get a burner phone in order to cover his tracks. He registered the phone under a fake name. An informant with the FBI gathered the evidence. FBI officials say that it’s a terrible miscarriage of justice that a judge tried to use his powers to set someone up with a criminal offense.

His defense attorney says he’s innocent until proven guilty. However, federal authorities think that he’s a flight risk. The judge says that his service has been good for the community in his work with recovery court.

A board of Tennessee judges previously reprimanded the judge for intervening in a domestic violence case by releasing someone from jail before staying the mandatory 12-hour period required under Tennessee law. The judge also admitted to dismissing tickets for friends of the right people. He also used court employees to perform personal work at his home.

Tinder Wages Suit Against Bumble In Court Of Law

Tinder has penetrated – no pun intended at first, but now that I’ve recognized it, I’ll keep it and say the pun was – the dating market as its most popular mobile app in recent years, itself being one of the most popular apps, overall.

On Friday, March 16, 2018, fellow dating mobile app competitor Bumble found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit waged by Tinder executives for robbing it of trade secrets.

The case has been filed in Texas, claiming that Bumble ripped Tinder’s “left-swipe, right-swipe” mechanism off, with Tinder being the first in the dating industry to use the simple, yet popular, technology.

Bumble has also been claimed by lawyers representing Tinder to be nearly congruent to Tinder’s app, itself the most popular in the world of dating services. The suit seems to have a strong basis in United States courts of law, as Bumble was created in 2014 by people who used to work for Tinder.

What sets Bumble apart from Tinder, and, by extension, the rest of the world of dating services, is that only females are authorized to make first moves within the app, meaning only females can initiate contact between themselves and potential dates.

Whitney Wolfe Herd was the first employee to leave Tinder that went on to fund Tinder. Bumble was founded in 2014, the same year Ms. Herd left the large dating app company, immediately after winning a lawsuit for sexual harassment and discrimination for a whopping $1 million.

Sarah Mick and Christ Gulczynski joined Herd at Bumble prior to its launch in December 2014, with all three claiming themselves to be cofounders of the company. Bumble – effectively Herd and company – executives claim that Bumble is unique because it requires women to make the first move, whereas no other dating app or online service did the same thing at the time, in December 2014, when it was founded.

Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, claims the left-swipe, right-swipe mechanism is now the very first case of Tinder suing over arguably the main thing that makes Tinder, Tinder.

The corporation also owns dating sites like OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Badoo, and Match.com, each of which competes for the top spot in the world of dating services on the world wide web. Dating websites rarely find themselves in such legal fiascos, though the Bumble lawsuit could set precedents for coming cases.

 

California Considers Lowering Marijuana Taxes

California legalized marijuana with the hopes of prompting an influx of tax dollars. Proponents of the measures to legalize marijuana said that marijuana would be taxed and bring in much-needed dollars to the state for public use. They said legalized pot would get pot out of the black market.

Now, they’re saying that legalized marijuana can’t compete with the black market. They say that they need lower taxes in order to stay in business. Two California lawmakers have introduced a measure to lower the marijuana tax from 15 percent to 11 percent for three years. A Republican and a Democrat are working together to sponsor the bill.

Marijuana growers and sellers say that they’ve had a hard time competing in the market. They say that competitors continue to operate under the radar, and it isn’t fair. Becoming a legalized marijuana seller in California requires licensing. Sellers have to understand and comply with a long list of rules and regulations. They say it’s just too much when it’s too easy just to continue to operate underground.

Lawmakers say that they sympathize with those who are trying to do it right, reports Mercury News. They say that lawful sellers have to pay their taxes and make sure that they don’t sell to minors. There are also product safety requirements to comply with. It’s all so much easier just to continue to sell underground, they say. They say that passing the measure to reduce taxes can help bring sellers out of the shadows in ways that ultimately protect the public. It also gives law enforcement more time to shut down unlawful sellers.

Bill supporters say that the tax measure would lower the bill for consumers. They say that prices for marijuana sales would fall by nine percent for marijuana buyers. Sellers say it’s a start. They say the current regulations raise the prices of marijuana products as much as 60 percent above production prices.

Regulations on the industry include a sell by date on products. They say that the sell by date has limited the amount of inventory that sellers have to work with. They also say that because there are so many regulations in place, it’s often easier to give up than to work through the regulations and comply. They also say that marijuana prices are lower in nearby states like Washington and Oregon.

They say that regulations make it too hard for patients to access the medicine they need. Opponents say that the regulations are no different than they are in any other industry. They say regulations keep the public safe and ensure a level playing field.

The Polish question

There is a concern in the European continent of there being a showdown between Poland and the European court of justice. An Ireland judge of the high court has refused to turn over to the Poland judiciary a polish man, Artful calmer, who was arrested in Ireland last year. The polish citizen was arrested on drug charges. However, Justice Aileen Donnelly has refused to turn him over and instead referred him to the European court of justice. She did this over doubts about the integrity of the Poland judicial system. Apparently, recent changes in the legislature of Poland had been too immense. This made the Ireland high court conclude that Poland’s law had been “systematically damaged “and so undermined the “mutual trust “that was in the European warrant process.

Laurent Pech, a law professor in the Middlesex University, gave her views to the Guardian. According to her, the consequences if the ECJ rules the polish judicial system to contrast with the European standards will be high. She said that when the ECJ ceases to recognize the Polish legal system as by the EU law, the commission will be forced to suspend Poland’s EU funding. The commercial arbitration of companies in Poland will significantly impact the government such that it cannot ignore it.

Last year, the Polish government was given direct control over the body in charge of appointing polish judges. Their minister of justice now has complete rights of appointment and release of court presidents. An estimate of about 40% Supreme Court judges has been forced into retiring early. There have also been accusations that the government and president Andrjez Duda, who is a former justice MEP, are in collusion. The allegations say that they are planning to take over Poland’s constitutional tribunal. This is the highest legal court in Poland.

However, the polish government holds that there is no threat to the law in its reforms. They say that the cynicism by foreign bodies is due to misinformation. Poland’s deputy Justice Minister, Marching Warchol, suggests that the Irish Court does not understand Poland’s reforms. Critics, however, are of the opinion that such arguments won’t do them any good in the EU courts. According to Tomasz Koncewicz, who is a law professor at the University of Gdansk, the focus is no longer on the political arena instead of the courtroom with its principles and logic. For Poland’s sake, it is hoped that European judges will recognize the seriousness of this situation and so will the EU at large.

Shkreli Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison

A U.S. district court judge in New York sentenced Martin Shkreli to 7 years in prison for his role in defrauding investors. The judge also fined Shkreli $75,000. Shkreli made headlines year earlier when, as an executive of a pharmaceutical company, he excessively raised the price of a life-saving drug.

In a Brooklyn federal court, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto announced the sentence. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 15 years, while lawyers representing Shkreli had hoped for a sentence in the range of 12-18 months. As the sentence was announced, Shkreli did not appear to react.

Benjamin Brafman, who is one of Shkreli’s attorneys, said that he thought that the sentence was too harsh, and that Shkreli should have gotten less than a 7-year imprisonment. Though Brafmsn also added that the sentence could have been much worse, and that he believes his client will persevere.

Prior to sentencing, Brafman argued that Shkreli was a broken man who was suffering from anxiety disorder and depression. He further said that the government just wanted to throw the man away. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis countered that Shkreli deserved a 15-year sentence because his actions were not momentary lapses in judgement but instead continual patterns of fraud. She mentioned that Shkreli not only committed fraud in relation to the pharmaceutical company he ran, but also in regards to two separate hedge funds.

Shkreli, who is 34, was born to Albanian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, and he received the moniker “Pharma Boy’ in 2015 while running Turing Pharmaceuticals. It was then that he bought an anti-parasitical drug called Daraprim, and he infamously raised its price to $750 per pill, which was an increase of 5,000%.

In December of that year, Shkreli was indicted for an unrelated charge of securities fraud. Then, in August of last year, a jury found Shkreli guilty of defrauding investors in two hedge funds he was running: MSMB Healthcare and MSMB Capital. He was also convicted of scheming to raise the stock price of Retrophin, which was another drug company he founded in 2011.

At the sentence hearing, Shkreli emotionally told the court that he brought himself down through his shameful and disgraceful mistakes.

In addition to the $75,000 fine, Shkreli was ordered to forfeit $7.36 million after his conviction.

Pornography Conviction Stands for Teenager

When teenagers first experience the excitement and freedom of their first cell phone, they’re often unprepared for the dangers that can come with the technology. Among other dangers is sexting. Teenagers might not understand that when they’re sending photos to friends, they might be breaking the law.

Washington’s Supreme Court just affirmed that teenagers can face a conviction for child pornography even when they send a nude photo of themselves. It’s no excuse that they’re underage or that they may not appreciate the law. In the case that the Washington Supreme Court reviewed, a 17-year-old boy sent a nude photo to a 20-year old.

State attorneys charged the boy with sending an image of a minor involved in sexually explicit conduct. The jury convicted the boy of the charges. The boy’s defense attorneys say that he has Asperger’s syndrome.

Bringing criminal child pornography charges against minors is not uncommon. The Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that approximately seven percent of child pornography charges today are because of children sexting.

Because of the conviction, the boy must register as a sex offender. He also received 30 days in jail and an order to complete 150 hours of community service. Because of a juvenile adjudication, the boy already had to register as a sex offender.

The boy’s defense team raised constitutional issues regarding the law. They say it violates the Fourteenth Amendment and Washington’s state constitution. The boy’s legal team argued that there are better ways to protect children than giving young people criminal records that drastically alter the course of their lives. They say that the behavior is innocent and common.

However, the judges disagreed. They say that the law applies equally to everyone regardless of their age. They say that the boy sent words along with the photo. They say that the words made it clear that the boy sent the photos with a sexual purpose. The court said that stopping and punishing child pornography is a serious and legitimate government purpose. The judges also say that there’s no general immunity for minors from any category of laws.

The court also rejected free speech arguments. The court said that speech is presumably free. However, they said that there’s no redeeming value in sexting. The court said that the State of Washington is fully within their rights as a government to prohibit teenage sexting. Teenagers convicted of sexting may have a permanent, adult conviction based on the rules of the state where they live.

Reference: http://paduladefense.com/Blog/2018/02/Conviction-of-17-Year-Old-in-Sextin

How The Legal Industry Is Being transformed By Blockchain Technology

The advent of blockchain technology is making its way into mainstream use in the legal industry where major law firms are using it to make their day-to-day operations a lot more efficient and easier. Many people have only heard about blockchain technology in its use in cryptocurrency. However, this technology is being used in many industries other than finance and law happens to be one of them. It is not only being used to store client’s issues, it has the potential to become a fundamental way of how the legal practice of the 21st century operates.

The most premium resource that the topmost employment and labor professionals in the country rely on is Daily Labor Report® which give an analytical and authoritative coverage of top employment and labor news. According to Bloomberg, one of the partners in K&L Gates law firm which is based in London and New York, Judith Rinearson notes that you don’t need to be issuing tokens or doing initial offerings for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin so that you can benefit from blockchain technology. Judith is leading her firm in an initiative whose main focus is to eventually have an internal blockchain which could offer utility in handling acquisition and merger transactions, filing deeds and time-keeping.

Blockchain technology allows the user to maintain a digital ledger which is shared by everyone who is connected to that same network. There are a number of blockchain technologies that are currently available in the market with the Ethereum blockchain having a feature known as a smart contract. This feature allows coded programs to act on a certain task upon triggers that have been pre-defined. The blockchain is increasingly becoming useful in the building of infrastructure and tools that assist attorneys draft contracts, do verification of legal documents and record any commercial transactions that may have taken place in the law firm. There are two examples of such infrastructure and tools namely Integra ledger and OpenLaw.

OpenLaw enables attorneys to automate the generation of legal documents and agreements and attack smart contracts that are executable through the blockchain technology. Integral Ledger offers a permission blockchain technology to add more integrity to legal documents. Blockchain technology has the potential to significantly reduce the time taken by lawyers to perform a routine task. It also frees them up to assign more time on other insights in the legal practice. The interest by the law profession in blockchain technology grew exponentially in 2017.

Attorney’s Bill Amounts to Racketeering

When is an attorney’s litigation tactic so outrageous that it’s criminal? One jury said that an attorney made the litigation so costly to the other client that it amounted to civil racketeering. They say the attorney made the custody matter unreasonably long and expensive. They said that it was unfair and even criminal that the attorney took advantage of his position as an attorney in order to make litigation costly. In addition to damages, the jury awarded the victim special damages totaling $243,000.

The attorney, Millard Farmer, represented the victim’s ex-wife in a custody matter. The victim is the opposing party, the ex-spouse and father involved in the case. The jury said that Farmer used his position in order to stir up conflict.

Rather than simply represent his client and work towards a resolution of the case, the attorney tried to keep the litigation going and make it expensive in order to force the other side to give in. Accusers say that Farmer even had a word for it – conflictineering. They say that stirring up conflict was Farmer’s litigation tactic. Farmer said the tactic was fair, and that he was only trying to expose the other side’s immorality.

In addition to trying to keep the litigation going as an offensive strategy, the attorney also allegedly tried to bribe a judge. Court records say he also tried intimidating a court officer. Allegedly, the attorney filed court motions against the court recorder involved in the case. He then promised the court recorder that he’d dismiss the case against her if she got the judge to resign from the case.

Authorities say that he also tried to anger witnesses. He made accusations against them that weren’t founded and threatened to sue them if they didn’t do what he wanted. In at least one case, he made an unfounded complaint against a witnesses’ professional license. He allegedly made false statements against the opposing party and his wife that he knew would likely hurt their professional reputations.

Farmer maintains his innocence. He says that he was just doing his job in order to represent his client. He said the racketeering charge was retaliation because he did his job representing his client. He said he took the case pro bono because it was unfair that the other party had so much money to spend on the case. Officials say they offered to drop the racketeering charge if Farmer agreed to resign his law license, and he refused.

Texas Judge Interferes With the Jury

One Texas judge is under fire after he barged in on the jury and told them to find the defendant not guilty. The judge tried to take over the jury’s deliberation process in order to make sure the jury entered a verdict of acquittal. The judge said that God told him the defendant was not guilty and told him to go tell the jury.

Gloria Romero Perez was on trial in Comal County, Texas. The charges against her related to human trafficking and the sale of a child. Allegedly, the defendant helped a relative come to the United States from Honduras. Once the relative was in the United States, the woman arranged for the child’s sale to a man.

Believing he had been sent by God, judge Jack Robison entered the jury room and told the jury that God said the defendant wasn’t guilty. He went further to instruct the jury to find Perez not guilty based on God’s opinion of the matter. It was too late for Judge Robison and the defendant. By the time the judge barged in on the jury, the jury had already reached their verdict of guilty. Jury foreman Mark House told the judge that they already had their verdict.

The jury wasn’t swayed by the judge’s revelation. They upheld their conviction. However, the judge said that he didn’t have a choice but to speak to the jury. He said God told him to speak with the jury, and he had to do what God told him to do.

Before the unusual interaction with the jury, the attorney for the defendant asked the court for a directed verdict. That means they asked the court to dismiss the charges without sending the case to the jury for deliberation. The judge refused.

If the judge had granted the motion, the case would have ended and the judge would have entered a not guilty verdict as a matter of law. However, because the judge refused to grant the motion for a directed verdict, the case went to the jury. Once a case goes to the jury, there’s no way for the judge to lawfully intervene or interfere with the jury’s deliberation process or decision. If the jury can’t reach a verdict, the judge can declare a mistrial. Otherwise, it’s up to the jury alone to decide the defendant’s innocence or guilt.

Judge Robison recused himself from sentencing in the case. The judge who is now overseeing the case refused to grant a mistrial. A state ethics committee is looking into the judge’s actions.

Marijuana Maybe Legal in California, but There Is a Catch for Non-Citizens

The progress that has been made by the state of California in the legalization of pot has not been all a bed of rose. The new commercial structures that had been put in place to supply and grow cannabis have been burnt out in the recent wildfires that raged throughout the state of California from December last year.

However, the most significant milestone was achieved when adult recreation use of pot became legal on January 1, 2018. Some of the few premises and store that had completed the bureaucratic paperwork and earned their licenses to sell marijuana have already begun what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar business in the most affluent state in all of America. For more than 20 years, stores that sell medical marijuana have been operating legally throughout the state, but no one must get new licenses to continue with their operations which many haven’t got yet.

Moreover, there are a significant number of immigrants who reside in the bright lights of the golden state from all over the world including countries such as Australia. There is a legal catch in the new state legislation that saw the legalization of recreational marijuana. Non-citizens who are found to be indulging in recreation marijuana may find themselves on the wrong side of the law. The law will have serious implications if you are a non-citizen who have plans to reside in California long-term. One of the articles that were published by the San Diego Tribune warned that residents who are not American citizens would find themselves in trouble if they were caught indulging in the recreational pot though it was legal in the state.

One of the lurking legal technicalities is that while recreation use of cannabis may be legitimate in California and a host of another state, it is strictly a felony to use marijuana for recreation under federal law. The Trump administration has not made any significant moves to prosecute or interferes with any state that has passed laws regarding cannabis since it came not office early last year. One of the immigration officials said that it does not take the recreational use of marijuana for non-citizens to have a legal implication.

The official added that if a customs official found anyone entering the United States in possession of marijuana could have them banned from entering America for the rest of their lives. For instance, if a green card holder is caught traveling with pot, the certificate for permanent residence could be canceled and have them deported back to their countries.