The FCC Is About to Hang Up On Prison Phone Call Reform

It can cost as much as $14 per minute to make a phone call from prison. Even though the FCC recently made efforts to lower the costs, new leadership at the FCC might mean that those plans are about to be abandoned. That’s because new FCC leaders aren’t willing to carry over the rules made by the prior administration. It’s going to keep the costs high for the 2.3 million people in prison in the United States and their loved ones who depend on phone calls to keep in touch.

In addition to high phone call costs, inmates also pay fees virtually unheard of in the outside world. From fees to put money in an account to high prices for commissary purchases, inmate dollars don’t go very far. An inmate can spend several day’s pay just to talk for a minute on the phone.

Most government contracts come down to who charges the least for services. If your business can do the work for 50 cents less, you’re likely to get the government contract. But that’s not how prison phone call service contract bidding works. Instead, the government awards the contract to the company that’s willing to give the government the greatest kickbacks. Agree to pay the government more money than the next guy, and you can charge prisoners whatever you like. While wireless customers throughout the country talk on the phone 24/7 without incurring additional charges, inmates are at the mercy of the company that agrees to give the government the most.

The FCC banned the practice of charging connection fees for inmates making outgoing calls. However, that wasn’t going to stop the companies who just renamed the fees to call them first-minute charges. Legal efforts to enforce measures to lower the costs have failed. The FCC’s past administration voted to cap the cost of phone calls between 11 cents and 22 cents per minute depending on the specific institution involved.

There are some things that make the prison phone system more expensive than phone calls on the outside. For example, prisoners can’t call judges or 900 numbers. Most calls are also recorded.

Studies show that kids who stay in touch with their incarcerated parents do better in school. In addition, prisoners who are able to connect with loved ones have a smoother reentry to society and lower recidivism rates. Some families with an incarcerated loved one say that they spend more money on phone calls than they spend on food.

Use of Computer Algorithms in Courts

4 years ago in the state of Wyoming, a young man was arrested by the state police for what they described as using a vehicle that had been used in a recent shooting. The man went by the name Eric Loomis. He didn’t object to the fact that he tried to avoid arrest. At the same time, he didn’t object to driving a car without the permission of the owner. On a normal day, he would be hit with a minor fine as few people had been jailed for such crimes. Nonetheless, the judge had other ideas. He cited that his behavior posed a high risk of what he referred to as recidivism. It was further revealed that the decision to sentence him was generated by a computer program known as COMPAS. This is a risk assessment algorithm that has been in use in the state of Wyoming for quite a while now. While the judge refused to offer the man probation, he ordered the man to serve six years in prison and another five years in extended supervision. In total, the man was jailed for 11 years. At the moment, no particular person knows how the COMPAS algorithm works. In fact, the manufacturer of the program has refused to disclose the proprietary on a number of occasions despite pleas from the affected.

Later on, when Mr. Loomis challenged the sentencing, the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out his case. He had challenged the use of the algorithm in his sentencing as it interfered with his right of being sentenced individually. This meant that other considerations were put in place such as his gender. Three months ago, the United States Supreme Court said that it would not hear the case. However, the use of the algorithm will have far-reaching consequences. The question that many people still ask themselves is why these judges are relying on a computer program which, as far as people understand, these judges don’t even know how it works. This results to a bias system where the judges have the higher hand in taking advantage of the unchecked power which involves looking into issues that are not related to the case. This makes the case look serious than it is. Some states such as Colorado argue that having a computer system I place will result in judgments that are not biased. However, some experts in law argue that while it might seem like the computers do away with bias, they compound and delegate it further.

President Trump Faces A Legal Battle Over His Private Twitter Account

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Impeachment?

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

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

Are the Charges Against Trump Serious Enough?

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

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

The Court of Public Opinion vs. the Numbers Game

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

Read More by Sujit Choudhry
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What if Impeachment Happens?

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

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

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

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

 

Lawsuits Filed Against the Trump Administration

Lawsuits have been filed in federal courts in Maryland and New York to challenge the revised travel ban by President Trump last month. The lawsuits have been filed by a group of Muslim and Iranian –American advocates. The new travel ban restricts citizens of eight nations from entering the United States including Iran. According to the ban, citizens from Yemen, Syria, Somalia, North Korea, Libya, Iran, and Chad would not be allowed to enter the United States. While the ban goes into effect on 18th this month, it also restricts government officials from Venezuela from accessing the United States. This applies even to their children and relatives. One of the lawsuits has been filed on behalf of the Iranian Alliance Across Borders. The lawsuit also represents other individuals and says that banning citizens on religious grounds goes against the constitution. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Maryland on Monday evening. The lawsuit also argues that Iranians and people from Muslim nations have to familiarize with the changing laws from month to month. They claim that the obsessive behavior by the president to harass Muslims should stop. A legal counsel representing the National Iranian American Council known as Shayan Modarres says that this erosion of fundamental values in America needs to stop.

The other lawsuit had been filed earlier on behalf of the Brenna Center for Justice at New York University. This lawsuit, however, was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. This is a lawsuit that is targeting the State Department. The lawsuit wants the defendant to submit to the Freedom of Information Act. As a result, the department should submit the documents that were produced by the Department of Homeland Security to the White House. These are documents that explain how the decision to ban citizens from these nations was arrived at. According to political experts and close aids to the president, the new ban was arrived after a lengthy process that involved a detailed analysis of the security situation of every country. The process was also based on whether these nations were willing to share intelligence with the United States. This ban is the third by the Trump administration from preventing immigrants from accessing the US through its airports. The first lawsuit argues that adding two more non-Muslim nations to the list is a ploy to make people forget that these bans are targeting Muslims only.

Prosecutors Recommend Two Years for Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner, 53 years old, entered a guilty plea with the Federal District Court in New York this past May. The charge was transferring obscene materials to a minor, a 15-year-old girl in this case. The charge usually carries a maximum 10 year sentence, but Weiner may not serve any time at all. Hoping to commit Anthony to prison, even briefly, prosecutors are now asking the court to consider a term of 21 to 27 months.
Anthony Weiner Found His Victim Online
As a former U.S. congressman and the spouse of Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s former advisor, one might think Anthony was already under enough scrutiny, but that didn’t keep him from acting inappropriately online. Prosecutors reported in court that Weiner knowingly propositioned the minor girl online.
“Weiner, a grown man, a father, and a former lawmaker, willfully and knowingly asked a 15-year old girl to display her body and engage in sexually explicit conduct for him online.”
Weiner’s own lawyers say he is a “sick man,” but add that he’s aware of his actions and poor judgment. They say he has made extensive progress through therapy and believe probation is an adequate punishment in light of his recovery. Currently, Weiner is estranged from his wife, so it’s unknown if Huma will attend the sentencing phase of the trial.
Anthony Weiner Sent Lewd Messages
In establishing the case against Weiner, the government stated that the unnamed girl initiated contact with Anthony on Twitter. Moving forward, the two chatted on line about both innocent and intimate topics. Although Mr. Weiner knew the girl’s age, the conversation became more suggestive, as the two communicated over several social media platforms.
As they became better acquainted,the girl told Weiner several times that she was just 15 years old and that she had just gotten her learner’s permit. During these same chat sessions, Anthony asked the girl to get undressed for him. He also asked that she “touch herself” for him.
“I knew this was as morally wrong, as it was unlawful,” Weiner said at his guilty plea. “This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom.”
Prosecutors insist that a considerable prison term is required to serve justice. They believe Anthony Weiner lacks impulse control and needs the rehabilitation supplied by a prison term and they also suggest sending Weiner to be incarcerated would prove to be a powerful deterrent.

OJ Simpson to Walk From Prison in October

After nine years in prison, Nevada’s most infamous inmate is about to walk free. OJ Simpson is making plans for his October, 2017 release. He’s serving time for armed robbery in connection with storming a casino in order to collect sports memorabilia. Simpson claimed that he had a legal right to the items.

Authorities say that they plan to release Simpson on or near October 1. They say that they’ll transport Simpson to one of a number of facilities in order to complete the release process. From there, Simpson has to make arrangements for travel.

Simpson has to complete a plan for his parole. The plan includes declaring a place to live. Simpson says that he doesn’t plan to live with his children. Instead, he plans to stay with friends. He says that he’s on good terms with his children, but he doesn’t want to call attention to them because of his presence.

Simpson is now 70 years old. He’s been in prison since 2008. The taxpayers have paid the bill for Simpson’s upkeep in prison. Authorities say that the cost to house Simpson is $58.31 per day. That’s a total of approximately $200,000 for Simpson’s prison stay.

Earlier this year, Simpson’s parole hearing captivated audiences across America. The panel heard testimony and arguments about whether to parole Simpson after serving the minimum nine years of a 30-year sentence. The July, 2017 parole hearing needed extra security. Taxpayers footed the bill for the extra $22,000 in security for the hearing.

Parole officers say that their decision to parole Simpson came because he meets the criteria for release. They say that they’re basing their decision on Simpson’s conviction and sentence rather than on accusations that he murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. A jury acquitted Simpson of the murders, while a second jury held him civilly liable.

Corrections officers say that they do their best to treat Simpson like any other inmate. They say that they keep Simpson in his own cell and near their watch station for his own safety. Simpson says that he leads an athletic league within the prison. Authorities report that he doesn’t cause any problems.

Simpson says that he plans to play golf when he’s released. Simpson says that he plans to live off of his NFL pension. Reports say the pension is worth $25,000 a month. Simpson also has a retirement fund through the Screen Actors Guild.

What is the Future of U.S. Immigrants?

The future of 800,000 young immigrants turned out to be uncertain on Thursday as senior law makers, officials from White House, and President Donald Trump seemed not to agree on whether there was a deal made to protect them.
Speaker Paul Ryan backed with other senior house members reiterated that no deal had been reached to protect immigrants who came to America as little children and were currently living there illegally. However, the No. 2 member of the senate Republican said that there had been a deal to strike a deal.

Trump’s Take On the Issue

Trump said he was in the process of finalizing an agreement that would protect the “Dreamers” and reinforce border security provided his promise of a wall with Mexico was implemented. Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi who were reported to have dined with Trump on Wednesday night stated that there had been a discussion and an agreement on laws that would provide citizenship to these young immigrants.
The DREAM Act, according to Schumer, would allow immigrant who went to the U.S. as immigrants and who were in the U.S. unlawfully to become citizens in a period of five years if they satisfied certain requirements.

However, a source who knew about the meeting denounced claims that the president had consented to the DREAM Act. Instead, they said that the president had agreed to a narrow piece of legislation that was an improvement of Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

Is the Dream Act a Path To Citizenship

The bottom line is that the outcome for the young immigrants is still subject to further negotiation and debate. While the DREAM Act seems like a path towards citizenship, Trump has stated that the legislation was more about amnesty. According to Trump, their main concern is to put up a wall.

Despite Trump’s interpretation of the Act, two people who participated in the Wednesday meeting stated that citizenship was brought up when the issue of the Dream Act was mentioned. On the other hand, Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director, confirmed Trump’s statements that the deal did not involve a means to citizenship.

Trump made a promise to end DACA when he came into office but has since then struggled with the dilemma of the thousands of sympathetic young immigrants. Many immigrants have been alarmed by Trump’s announcement last week that DACA would be withdrawn. The program has granted temporary deportation relief and work permits to many immigrants who went to the U.S. as minors. Trump gave Congress 6 months to come up with a solution before the protections offered by DACA expire.

The Controversial Arrest Of Nurse Wubbels

One of the most trending news stories aside from the recent hurricane devastation is the curious case of the University of Utah Hospital nurse named Alex Wubbels. She was arrested after refusing to let a police officer draw blood from a patient. The patient was unconscious, and the nurse refused because she said that drawing blood from the individual would violate the hospital’s policy. A video showing the nurse’s arrest has been circulating social media sites and has since gone viral.

Why Was Alex Wubbels Arrested?

According to the audio dialog in the video, the nurse was arrested for not cooperating with an officer to collect a patient’s blood sample. In the video, viewers can hear Ms. Wubbels calmly explaining the hospital’s three provisions for police to collect blood, which include:

  • When the patient consents
  • When the patient is under arrest
  • When there is a warrant

The nurse was on the phone with the hospital administrator during part of her conversation with the police officer. She was confused about why the officer was trying to force her to violate the hospital’s policy that she was bound to uphold. At one point, he asked her if he would be unable to collect a blood sample, and she told her colleague on the phone that she had no idea why he was “blaming the messenger.”

Why The Arrest Was So Disturbing

When Ms. Wubbels did not directly answer his question, the officer lunged at her in the video and told her that he was done and she was under arrest. In the video, viewers can see the nurse having her arms forced behind her back and her wrists being cuffed. The officer continues to tell her that they are done as she cries and begs for someone to help her. According to an outline of the story on NPR, the nurse’s attorney said that her client was shocked at the officer’s actions.

Ms. Wubbels was an Olympic skier and a celebrated nurse at the hospital. The police officer who arrested her is facing the possibility of an assault conviction. When interviewed, Police Chief Mike Brown said that he was shocked and saddened by the incident since he values good relationships with the nurses who assist police officers with drawing blood. The accused officer is currently on administrative leave.

U.S. Court Makes Landmark Ruling on the Use of Text Messages as Evidence

For many criminals and suspects, cell phones seized from them by law enforcement agents can easily change from blessing to curse especially if they have incriminating text messages and other evidences. However, in a ruling that is bound to change the law enforcement sector a U.S. Court of Appeals sitting in the District of Columbia held that incriminating text messages cannot be used as evidence if they were obtained in a broadly issued search warrant. The ruling particularly questioned the legality of a search warrant issued with the view of taking advantage of the prevalence of cell phones in homes.

Case Background

The 18 August 2017 landmark ruling whose legal ripple effects will be felt in cities all across the country for years to come stemmed from a court case involving a convicted felon who had been found guilty of unlawfully possessing a firearm. Ezra Griffith, a convicted felon, had been found guilty by a jury for unlawfully possessing a firearm in 2013. This was as a result of a police raid at his residence using a search warrant issued by a judge.

The warrant allowed law enforcement officers to search Mr. Griffith’s residence and take into their possession any cell phones and electronic devices found. The firearm in question had been thrown out of the felon’s window. The search warrant was requested by the police officers who were investigating a 2011 murder case. Mr. Griffith was suspected to be the driver of the vehicle that was used by the suspected murderers to get away from the scene.

From Admissible to Inadmissible Evidence

Following his conviction, Mr. Griffith’s attorneys appealed the ruling arguing that the search warrant was defective as it broadly focused on cell phones instead of a gun that could have been used to commit the crime. They therefore called on the judges to suppress the gun that used as the primary evidence in convicting Mr. Griffith.

In a 2 – 1 ruling, the U.S Court of Appeals held that the warrant was open-ended and based on the assumption that all suspects own cell phones just because cell phones are prevalent in homes across the country. In a majority ruling read by Judge Sri Srinivasan who was joined by Judge Nina Pillard, the court declared that the warrant was unconstitutional as it speculated that Mr. Griffith owned a cell phone and that the cell phone contained incriminating evidence. However, Judge Janice Rogers Brown held that the gun should have admitted as evidence as it was obtained as the police followed the law in obtaining it.

 

 

Read More: http://pittsburgh-litigation-lawyer.com/the-evolving-law-admissibility-of-texts/

Some of Pennsylvania’s Weirdest Laws, According to Karl Heideck

Most legal topics pertain to highly serious matters, but a few exceptions exist. For instance, people often enjoy reading about the strange laws that legislators have enacted in various states. Pennsylvania has its share of odd rules. They regulate activities ranging from paintball fights to fishing. If you need some entertainment or want to make sure that you don’t break one of these strange laws, you’ve come to the right place.

Marriage

A couple of weird rules govern weddings performed in the Keystone State. One law prohibits the public from firing cannons, guns or similar weapons during these events. Another statute only applies to ministers. It bars them from helping inebriated people become married. Perhaps this rule could bring into question the legal validity of a drunken partner’s marriage vows.

Parenting

If they have law-abiding parents, Pennsylvanian children needn’t worry about walking long distances to the bathroom at night. A law states that lavatories must be located within 200 feet of youngsters’ bedrooms. Kids need access to nearby shower stalls or bathtubs as well. Nevertheless, a number of exceptions apply. People with travel trailers or other mobile housing may not need to follow this rule.

Beverages

If you want to buy hard liquor in Pennsylvania, state law only allows you to purchase it from a government-run store. The Liquor Control Board’s website lets visitors search for the nearest Wine and Spirits shop. Approximately 600 of these stores exist throughout the state. In 2016, an updated law permitted private restaurants and supermarkets to begin selling wine. It also enabled convenience stores to offer beer.

Paintballs

Be careful when you aim your paintball gun in Pennsylvania. A law forbids people from shooting at anyone who isn’t engaged in the sport. The state also maintains a few other rules involving this game. One law seeks to punish any paintball enthusiast who damages someone else’s property. Another rule describes acceptable ways to carry a paintball gun in a car or truck.

Hunting

If you prefer bullets to paintballs, you’ll need to follow a different set of peculiar laws. For example, the state government doesn’t allow people to hunt animals in graveyards. Another statute only pertains to relatively large beasts. It prohibits hunters from targeting these animals while they swim. If deer could read Pennsylvania’s laws, they’d probably gather in cemeteries near streams.

Fishing

Anglers also face a few unusual rules. When you run out of bait, think twice before reaching into the aquarium. Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Code stipulates that no one may use goldfish, koi, common carp or comets as bait. This rule went into effect in September 2000. Another law lists illegal fishing techniques; don’t let the police find any dynamite in your tackle box!

Local Laws

Several weird rules only exist in certain cities. For instance, Pittsburgh bans trolley passengers from transporting mules or donkeys. It’s not clear how this rule came to be, but the story may have involved some indignant trolley riders and a farmer with livestock. Morrisville, Pa. still has a law requiring women to gain permits before they apply cosmetics.

Some people claim that other strange statutes exist in the Keystone State. However, it’s hard to determine if they truly remain in effect. They include rules against sweeping dust under a rug or sleeping on a refrigerator while outdoors. It’s even possible that Pennsylvania barred anyone who has engaged in a duel from serving as governor.

Keep Reading – The Attorney Behind the Curtain: Karl Heideck

About Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck breaks down some of PA's strangest laws
Karl Heideck breaks down some of PA’s strangest laws

Before he started working as a lawyer, Karl Heideck underwent extensive education. He enrolled in Swarthmore College and successfully obtained a bachelor’s degree. Heideck primarily attended literature and English classes. Six years later, he finished earning a law degree from Temple University. The aspiring attorney received impressive grades while studying at Temple’s Beasley School of Law.

Karl Heideck has worked in and around Philadelphia during the last seven years. After becoming an associate at the Conrad O’Brien law firm in 2010, he served a variety of businesses and individuals. This experience helped him become a proficient litigator. Heideck performed both pre- and post-trial tasks. He eventually left Conrad O’Brien and began working as a project lawyer at Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Heideck has expertise in numerous areas. They include merchandise liability, corporate litigation, research, employment law, risk management and writing. He authored an online guide that explains how small companies can follow the Keystone State’s employment rules. Heideck strives to help business executives understand and comply with intricate government regulations. He also wrote about the best way to become an attorney.

Karl Heideck currently works as a Hire Counsel contract lawyer. He represents Pennsylvanians who face business-related legal action. The skillful attorney persistently works to ensure that each client achieves the best possible outcome. He provides expert consultations on risk management and regulatory compliance as well. Heideck also continues to write blog entries about various law-related news and issues.

More Articles by this Author

Karl Heideck Explains: Effects of the Philadelphia Soda Tax

Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

Former Stockbroker’s Huge Fine Reviewed by SEC After Criminal Case Collapses

A man that formerly worked as a stockbroker who had a guilty plea to criminal charges involving insider trading thrown out is also looking to exonerate himself in a civil matter related to his case.

According to Bloomberg, an attorney for Thomas Conradt argued on Tuesday (August 15th) that Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was supposed to overturn Conradt’s nearly $1 million-dollar civil settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission after the government’s criminal case collapsed.

Conradt and his legal representative additionally claimed that Judge Rakoff’s fine of nearly one million dollars was “massive and disproportionate.” Rakoff slapped the fine on Conradt after ruling that the former stockbroker did not follow the guidelines of the settlement agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The government’s case against Conradt came apart due to the end result of United States v. Newman. In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit made it much for difficult to hold “downstream tippees” (such as Conradt) financially liable in these kinds of cases.

In the case of United States v. Newman, the appellate court dismissed criminal convictions of insider trading, which were leveled against two executives who worked in the hedge fund industry. The federal court of appeals determined that whoever received the insider trading information did not personally benefit from it.

If the U.S. government would have been able to prove such an occurrence, the convictions in the United States v. Newman case would have able to stand.

“This is a very important opportunity for the Second Circuit to clarify the ‘knowledge’ standard for tippee liability with respect to matters such as ‘conscious avoidance,’ and to address the differences in standard of proof in civil as opposed to criminal cases,” Donald Langevoort told Bloomberg.

Langevoort is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He has thoroughly studied insider trading and many of the landmark cases surrounding it. John Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School also spoke with Bloomberg about his knowledge of case law involving insider trading as well.

However, Coffee said in his Bloomberg interview that Conradt’s case provided limited guidance as it pertains to United States v. Newman. “This case may largely duck the insider trading issues and go off on procedural issues about the plea agreement,” Coffee told Bloomberg.

Attempts by Bloomberg to interview a spokesperson for the Securities and Exchange commission were unsuccessful.

Sanctuary in the Lone Star State

The issue of the existence of sanctuary cities has been a long-standing issue since the first few days of President Donald Trump’s administration. Since the beginning of the year, cities across the United States have been divided on what actions to take when it comes to sanctuary cities. Some states, like California, have begun the process of passing bills that, according to Jurist “will strengthen protections for undocumented immigrant students in public schools from kindergarten through college by preventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from entering a school site without a valid judicial warrant.” Others, like Mississippi and Alabama, have enacted policies that prohibit sanctuary immigration policies and stop funding for sanctuary universities. The state of Texas is no different in this regard, and has become one of many states to face this issue.

The Texas senate approved a bill in February that targets sanctuary cities. The bill requires these cities to comply with federal immigration law. In addition, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that bans sanctuary cities in Texas.

Because of these actions, a case was filed against Senate Bill 4, which is the bill that requires law enforcement to “cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and prohibit local agencies from enforcing policies that bar officers from inquiring as to an individual’s immigration status.” The concern was the state of Texas trying to have Senate Bill 4 declared constitutional before it was scheduled to take effect. The case was promptly dismissed, as the court found that “there was no “justiciable injury” to Texas as there was not yet a challenge to the bill’s constitutionality.” Since there was no injury to be had, the case was rendered as moot and thus dismissed. Time will tell whether this issue will further spread to other states.

Five Key Roles of Legal Aid

Five Key Roles of Legal Aid
Legal aid is the assistance that is given to a person when they need legal help. Legal officers play a great role in the society. Individuals in the legal profession are entrusted to maintain law and order. This is achieved through ensuring that justice is served without fear or favor. Justice ensures that the two parties are satisfied. Legal officers offer different kinds of justice with regards to the cases that they handle. Justice is given in the light of the group that is affected and the issue of justice at hand. The following is a list of different kinds of justice that are offered by legal officers;
• Criminal justice
• Child justice
• Land justice
• Justice for the vulnerable people

The cases that are handled by legal officers involve any issue in the community. The government has introduced policies that highlight the role of legal officers in the society. The policies include;
1. Ensuring justice for people
2. Ensuring legal proceedings in various instances
3. Insulating people against loss.
4. Ensuring that justice is served in all dimensions

Ensuring justice for people
This is the primary objective of all officers in the legal fraternity. They fight to make sure that justice is served. This brings about peace because people get to understand the role of justice in the society. It creates equality. People are able to live in peace and unity with one another. It also ensures that there is a balance in the society.

Ensuring legal proceedings in various instances
Various laws are developed for various processes. These processes include buying a car, buying land, and joining some of the educational institutions. This ensures that the legal proceedings run smoothly. People who embrace legal aid have an easy time acquiring what they need from the right sources.

Insulating people against loss
Involving legal aid when one undertakes various decisions ensures that they are safe from economic loss or emotional loss. An agreement that is signed by individuals who get married at the lawyer’s office is honored by the two parties if they divorce. A will that is written by a person using legal assistance is followed to the end. A legal officer has the power to implement it. This ensures that justice is served in all dimensions. It creates an inclusive society that benefits all members of the society.