New Year, New Marijuana Laws

As the new year begins, new laws go into effect across the country. One of the most controversial laws is California’s new law legalizing recreational use of marijuana. If you’re at least 21, when you’re in California, you can walk into a pot shop and walk out with the marijuana of your choice. Marijuana is big business, and now the world’s biggest marijuana sales market is the Golden State.

Marijuana enthusiasts eagerly lined up as early as 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day to begin making purchases. California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control oversees licensing and regulation of marijuana shops. They expect marijuana sales to boom throughout the state.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom welcomes the changes. He says law enforcement officials can focus their efforts on “real crime.” Legalizing marijuana is a matter of economy, he says, because law-enforcement officials can now spend their time on more important matters. He says it’s best to move marijuana out of the black market.

California has always been at the forefront of the marijuana movement. Voters legalized medical marijuana 20 years ago. Voters approved the move to fully-legalized marijuana in 2016. Analysts say that the marijuana economy is worth as much as $7 billion. They say sales will bring approximately $1 billion into tax coffers each year.

Sellers see the legalization of marijuana sales as an opportunity. They expect busy sales. Only eight states allow marijuana use without a medical need.

The world is watching. If all goes well, it could pave the way for more states to fully legalize marijuana. If there are problems, it could be a warning sign to other states.

Analysts expect the industry to thrive in California because of the booming tourism industry. Millions of people visit California each year. Economists expect many tourists to make marijuana a part of their travel plans. Proponents of the legalization of marijuana say it’s a great opportunity to show all tourists that legalized marijuana can work.

Good or bad, California’s marijuana economy is about to take the spotlight. Adults can have as much as an ounce of marijuana. It’s also okay to grow six marijuana plants at home. Just like it’s illegal to smoke a cigarette in public, it’s illegal to use marijuana in public. In addition to these changes, people with marijuana convictions from years past can petition the court to have the convictions removed from the public record. However, some say it’s unfair to remove a record of a person breaking a law even if marijuana is now legal.

Reviewing President Trump’s Inaugural Year from a Legal Perspective

Millions of Trump voters cast their vote for the president out of hopes that he would appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. In that sense, conservative voters got what they bargained for in that President Trump nominated – and the Senate later confirmed – Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s Supreme Court Appointment

Surprisingly, this game-changer of a shakeup on the Supreme Court may have been overshadowed by Trump’s travel ban and the ongoing dispute of whether Trump’s divestments from his business violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause or not. In other words, lawyers and legal experts had their hands full throughout 2017 trying to parse exactly how the Trump administration’s actions fit into an historical and legal context.

The most remarkable aspect of Trump’s Supreme Court appointment may not have had anything to do with Trump per se. Before the 2017 appointment of Neil Gorsuch, there were two dozen individual instances in which a Supreme Court vacancy sprang up in the president’s final term of office. In 21 of those 24 instances (over 85%), the U.S. Senate rushed to confirm the nominee.

Obama experienced something rather unprecedented in the sense that his nomination of Merrick Garland, an erstwhile darling of the Republicans, was blocked around every turning. There were no hearings for Merrick Garland, let along a Senate vote for the nominee. Democrats, though, may have the last laugh in 2018 if they win back one or both houses in the mid-term elections.

Cooper Vs. Harris Case

The Supreme Court voted 5-3 to preclude the use of race in drawing election districts.

Trump’s Ongoing Interaction with the Supreme Court

President Trump has been one of the more vociferous critics of Supreme Court decisions in recent history. The Gloucester County School Board Vs. G.G. case that questioned whether civil rights laws ushered in under President Johnson applied to discrimination against transgender students seemed to inspire a wealth of opinions from President Trump.

Another Supreme Court case was heard vis-a-vis the National Labor Relations Act and its safeguarding of employee arbitration agreements. Trump took a position contrary to Obama’s and essentially sided with management over labor. The resulting division had the National Labor Relations Board on the side of labor and the solicitor general on the side of management. Similar splits are expected in 2018.

U.S. Economy Loses $500 Billion in Economic Output Due to Opioid Crisis

Over the past several years, the opioid epidemic has devastated many parts of the country. According to Reuters, the crisis cost the U.S. economy approximately $504 billion in 2015. The statistics were made public by economists working in the White House. A report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors shows that 2.6 percent of country’s gross domestic product came from costs related to the opioid crisis.

In October, Donald Trump called the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. However, Democrats called Trump’s statements “meaningless” if there is no additional money added to help fight the epidemic. Republicans believe Trump’s statement is important in the fight against the epidemic.

The Trump White House could use the report from the council to request more funds to help fight the problem. The argument to persuade Republicans for more government spending is the economic impact the opioid crisis is having is far greater than additional spending. Republicans have historically been hesitant to increase spending by the federal government.

In 2015, there were 33,000 deaths related to the opioid epidemic, according to the Council of Economic Advisors. Those deaths led to lost economic output, which is estimated between $221 billion and $440 billion. Additionally, there were an estimated 2.4 million Americans addicted to opioids in 2015, which cost the United States another $72 billion in economic output.

The costs include medical treatment, expenses in the criminal justice system and a drop in economic productivity. The loss in productivity is a result of Americans struggling with addiction not being able to find or hold meaningful jobs.

The majority of drug overdoses and non-fatal drug addiction is mostly from prescription painkillers. People who are addicted to painkillers often turn to street-grade heroin if their doctors no longer give them prescriptions. According to Reuters Legal, almost 100 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses.

Always Make Sure You Have Your Marijuana Tax Stamp When Driving Through Nebraska

Christmas has long been associated with extended holiday traveling for many people across the nation. As a matter of fact, sometimes folks attempt driving completely across the nation to get to spend some high quality time with friends and family. And for some, the term “high” is truly the operative word. However, sometimes the best laid plan can still go awry. And this is especially true in Nebraska, which is a state that has just exposed the fact that at least one state still has antique laws.

Sheriff deputies in York County, Nebraska conducted a traffic stop shortly before Christmas that involved an 80 year-old man and his 83 year-old wife who stated they were on their way to visit family in New England. According to their identification, Northern California is their home. The reason for the stop as recorded by the investigating officers is that the operator of the truck was swerving across the lane divider and failed to give a signal when turning. What appeared as a routine traffic stop was about to turn into a full blown drug investigation.

During the traffic stop one of the officers smelled the distinct aroma of raw marijuana, and having a K-9 unit in the police car with them, they decided to let the dog do his magic. What the dog produced was astounding when considering that the suspects who were stopped at first appeared as apparently harmless law-abiding citizens. What the K-9 officer found was 60 lbs of marijuana, along with a significant stash of THC oil extract. According top the elderly couple, the stash was intended as Christmas presents for their friends and family.

Of course, being caught red-handed and admitting to having possession of the contraband, the couple was arrested and received two citations from the officers. The first citation was for possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver for resale. However, the second charge revealed the true state of legislation in Nebraska. The couple was cited for not having a state of Nebraska marijuana tax stamp. Uh, say what?

The issue of marijuana legality has been a confusing and potentially outdated federal statue that has also seen overlapping legislation from the states. While it is federally illegal to even possess any amount of marijuana, several states have also enacted a marijuana stamp tax law. That way, even if you are caught with marijuana and somehow manage to have it returned by the state after excellent aggressive legal counsel can get you acquitted of charges, you still owe the state of Nebraska their claim to taxation for the prospective sale.

There was no information provided with respect to whether or not the couple was carrying a Santa Claus suit as well, but suffice to say someone did not have such a merry Christmas.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/22/572844666/elderly-couple-stopped-in-nebraska-with-60-pounds-of-weed-for-christmas-presents

Supreme Court Mulls Over Same-Sex Cake Decision

Is it unconstitutional to refuse to make a wedding cake if you disapprove of the marriage? That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court is debating right now. After hearing oral arguments on the matter, the Supreme Court justices are debating the issues and preparing a decision. Supreme Court watchers say that the case may come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy. They say that he’s a moderate justice whose vote could make the difference in the case.

It all started when a Colorado bakery declined to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding. They refused to make the cake on religious grounds, saying that they believe marriage should be between only a man and a woman. Lawyers for the bakery say that they should have the right to practice religion on their own terms. They also say that requiring them to make the cake violates their right to free speech which includes artistic expression.

Justices like Elena Kagan wondered out loud where to draw the line. Kagan pointed out that any business owner could violate the rights of others citing religious grounds. Kennedy worried that voting in favor of the bakery might lead to outright harassment of same-sex couples.

On the other hand, Kennedy also expressed agreement with the bakery owner’s right to practice his own religion. He seemed to agree with the bakery’s lawyer that individuals in a free society must tolerate beliefs that they don’t agree with. If this decision hinges on Kennedy, it’s ironic, because he’s the same judge who wrote the opinion that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. However, experts say that Justice Kennedy is known for taking free speech rights seriously.

Public accommodation laws require places like hotels and restaurants to provide services without discrimination. A hotel can’t turn away an interracial couple, for example. The bakery says this is different because their religion isn’t racism. They say that they don’t make cakes for Halloween, either.

When the bakery refused to make the cake, same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal in Colorado. The men said that their marriage was in another state. When the baker offered to make other goods for them, he said that the men “stormed out.” They made a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission which ruled against the baker. From there, the baker took the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals. For their part, the couple says that the case is about more than just a wedding cake. They say that it’s about equality for everyone.

 

 

Attorney General Rescinds Warning Not to Extort Poor Defendants

Former U.S. President Barack Obama sent a letter to courts across the United States. The letter came from Obama’s Justice Department officials. The letter warned local judges not to assess costs and fees to low-income defendants just to pay the court’s bills and employee salaries. The letter said that court budgets aren’t a legitimate purpose of assessing the fees. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the letter.

Sessions believes that it’s inappropriate for the federal executive branch to give this advice. Sessions calls it executive overreaching. Sessions rescinded Obama’s advice as part of a larger effort to undo some of Obama’s policies and guideline statements on legal matters.

Sessions is taking a closer look at a number of Obama’s guidelines. Some are about the courts. Others are about broader issues like Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms guidelines or even guidelines for individuals with disabilities.

Sessions defends his actions by saying that the statements were unenforceable guidelines. He says that it’s inappropriate for the executive branch to try to assert authority that it doesn’t have. Sessions says that government regulations need to go through the proper channels.

When you pay fines for a criminal conviction or even pay a traffic ticket, you might be surprised to learn where your fees actually go. Some of your fines and costs likely go to operating the court. Fines may even go to things like the pension fund for court employees including for the judge who ordered you to pay the fine in the first place.

Some say that when judges indirectly benefit from the fees that they collect, it creates an inappropriate conflict of interest. Others say that collecting fines to meet operating costs is a necessary evil of conducting court. For now, courts continue to profit from the people they convict.

Rescinding the policy isn’t the only thing that Sessions is doing in public office. Sessions is encouraging prosecutors to file the most serious charges possible. He’s encouraging prosecutors to bring harsh charges without regard for mandatory minimum sentences and without taking into account that prosecutors have charging discretion. Critics say that Sessions is issuing the same opinion directives that Obama’s administration issued only on different topics.

Obama’s letter went to chief judges and administrations throughout the United States in 2016. Obama’s administration said that the purpose of the letter was to make sure that courts protect the rights of citizens. They say that the police and the courts often conduct business with the goal of generating revenue rather than honestly determining guilt and innocence under the law.

Attorney Suspended for Padding Bills

Barnes and Thornburg attorney John F. Meyers is suspended from the practice of law for two years. That’s because officials say he falsified his hourly billing in order to collect payments for work he didn’t do. The Georgia Supreme Court handed down the suspension.

An official reviewing the case recommended disbarring the attorney completely. However, the discipline panel decided on the two-year suspension. The disbarment is the result of Meyers’ attempts to fool a corporate client into paying bills that they didn’t owe for services that Meyers performed for someone else.

Meyers practiced in the areas of labor and employment law with Barnes and Thornburg. Barnes and Thornburg is a large law firm with more than 600 attorneys. Authorities say the events leading to the suspension happened in 2011.

Authorities say that Meyers helped another attorney use the corporation’s money to fund a new, private law firm. The pair didn’t have the authority to siphon the company’s money for that purpose, officials say. They say the pair billed a large corporation for work that wasn’t done for the corporation’s benefit. The other attorney involved in the scheme agreed to give up his law license. Meyers denied that he knew he was defrauding the corporate client. He said that he was just following instructions from the other attorney involved in the scheme.

When the fraud came to light, the corporation fired the attorney involved. Meyers resigned as in-house counsel. Meyers repaid the money. The disciplinary panel said that because Meyers quickly repaid the money he took fraudulently, a suspension was more appropriate than complete disbarment.

Meyers leaves the practice of law after 34 years in practice. His professional accomplishments include defending NFL quarterback Jameis Winston. Meyers hasn’t had any other discipline charges in his entire career. Meyers had legal representation during the disciplinary proceedings. The state entered the opinion and its order of suspension on December 11, 2017.

Despite ethics rules preventing dishonesty in billing, honesty in billing is often hard to enforce because of a lack of oversight and accountability for attorneys who own their own practices and bill independently. Many attorneys still bill for services by the hour. Some say the business model discourages efficiency. With attorneys under pressure to be profitable for their firms, they might exaggerate their hours in order to meet billable hour requirements or earn bonuses. Some say there aren’t enough checks and balances for clients to catch dishonesty and outright fraud.

A US Court directs that the Travel Ban by Trump Should Not Affect Citizens of Friendly Countries

The United States courts of appeal has said that the ban on immigration by the Trump administration to citizens of six nations that have a Muslim majority should not apply to individuals with close ties to the United States. The 9th US circuit court of appeals based in San Francisco said that the Friday ruling would be put on hold. The court of appeals which has jurisdiction in some west coast states noted that the latest version of Trump administration travel ban that was ruled by the United States Supreme Court would be put on hold.

Since Trump took the reins of power in January, he has struggled with the enactment of a federal ban that qualifies for court muster. A previous decision from a subordinate court was narrowed by a bench made up of three judges from the 9th US circuit of the court of appeals to favor those people who had close ties with America. The court of appeals defined the condition for exclusion as any individual who had bona fide relations that were credible with the United States.

The court of appeals also stated that although the US president had a broad array of powers to restrict immigrants into the US, those powers also had limits. The three-judge bench said that the issuance of the immigration proclamation by President Trump exceeds the scope of his powers of delegation.

The Trump immigration ban has targeted citizens from Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Chad who want to travel to the United States. President Trump argued that the ban was applied to protect American citizens from the threat of terrorism. The state of Hawaii, however, challenged the travel ban in court and a federal judge in Honolulu ordered that the ban exceeded the powers of the US president under the US laws of immigration.

The travel ban by the Trump administration also includes citizens from Venezuela and North Korea. Lower courts have given an order that allowed the law to be implemented. The travel ban issued by the US president in January to ban citizens of Muslim majority nations from entering the US sparked protests and chaos in immigration offices and airports. After courts of the law blocked the first travel ban, President Trump issued a revised version of the ban in March. The March version would expire in September this year after numerous court battles and be replaced by the current version of the travel ban.

Convicted Sex Offender Teacher Exhausts Appeal Rights

Abigail Simon wasn’t thinking about prison time when she began having sex with her 15-year-old student. The Grand Rapids Catholic Central school system hired Simon to tutor struggling athletes. Instead, she had sex with one. A jury convicted her. Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected her final appeal.

Rather than accept a plea agreement that would have kept her in county jail, Simon claimed that she was the victim. She claimed that the 15-year-old scared her and slapped her. It wasn’t consensual, she said. Simon claimed that the only reason she kept communicating with the boy was that she was the victim of abuse on a prior occasion and she feared for her safety.

Simon’s maximum sentence is 25 years in prison. The jury found her guilty of having sex with the child as well as with accosting a child for immoral purposes. Despite Simon testifying at trial, the jury didn’t believe her account. The jury looked at text messages between the pair that included a photo of Simon in lingerie. Simon also violated a police order not to have contact with the child.

Because of Simon’s status as a sex offender, she’ll have lifetime monitoring once she’s released from prison. She says that a lifetime punishment is unfair. Prosecutors say that the sentence is appropriate given the allegations of the offense. The Court of Appeals agrees with the prosecutor. They say that lifetime monitoring doesn’t unduly restrict Simon’s ability to work or travel.

Simon’s family cried out in court as the jury read its verdict. The jury found Simon guilty on several counts and not guilty on one count. Simon appeared upset even before the jury read its verdict. Michigan’s criminal sexual conduct laws apply equally to both men and women.

The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the State of Michigan. The refusal to hear Simon’s appeal exhausts Simon’s appeal rights. She may still ask for relief on other grounds such as newly discovered evidence. However, for now, it’s a prison cell for Simon.

At her sentencing, Simon said that she regretted not accepting the plea offer that would have kept her in only the county jail. She appeared unsteady on her feet. All she wanted was to crawl into her mother’s bed and stay there, she said. She also said that she would miss out on her sister’s wedding because of the conviction. Simon’s father is an attorney. Both of her parents are graduates of Notre Dame.

 

 

President Trump is set to Press the Brake on Immigration Laws

Since he took office in January, President Trump and his administration have pursued his agenda on immigration noticeably and loudly. This has led to undocumented or illegal immigrants being arrested by the federal authorities and even some being deported to their countries. One of the most critical immigration policies has been the ban on travel for citizens from most Muslim nations and pressing that a wall should be built on the international border between the United States and Mexico. However, Trump’s immigration policies have slowed many ways in which non-citizen could immigrate to the United States legally.

This has happened with very little resistance and very quietly. Officials from the state and immigration departments have been instructed to be more stringent on the scrutiny of eligible immigrants or for tourists who wish to visit the US. According to attorneys who represent a class of foreign businessmen, the strict immigration laws have become a hurdle on the free flow of both goods and human resources. Foreign nationals working in the United States who wish to have their working contracts extended are also having a rough time. The President-elect for the African Immigration Lawyers Association, Anastasia Tonello says that the immigration policies enacted by the current administration are a real wall built against foreigners.

The implementation of these changes in the immigration department show the commitment by the administration to fulfill the President’s agenda on immigration. During his campaigns tours and the acceptance speech after clinching the presidency, Trump promised that his government would put America first. He also pledged to curb on the number of foreign nationals entering the United States for commercial purposes and taking jobs that were meant for American citizens. The administration has implemented the Executive Orders that were signed by President Trump soon after taking office. The executive orders were intended to protect American workers from the competition by foreign nationals and reduce the risks posed by terrorism.

One of the Executive Orders, the Buy American, hire American, has the H-1B visa program singled out. Proponents of the order say that it is critical to promoting American products and innovation. However, H-1b has also disguised as a way that American workers are replaced by cheap labor from foreign workers. According to the limits that have been set out by Congress, 85,000 H-1Bs are available to American firms annually. When the economy is in a state of health, the demand is far higher than supply which prompts the US government to organize a lottery.

Olympian Sues USA Gymnastics Over Alleged Coverup

Famed Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney has filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, accusing the organization of trying to cover up abuses perpetrated by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Earlier this month, Dr. Nassar pleaded guilty to charges of criminal sexual conduct and child pornography, and he was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Many gymnasts, including Gold Medal winners Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, accused the doctor of sexually assaulting them under the pretext of providing medical care. USA Gymnastics, which is the governing body for American gymnastics, fired the man in 2015, but he continued to allegedly abuse patients at his Michigan State University practice until his arrest.

Maroney’s suit asserts that USA Gymnastics attempted to silence her abuse claims against the doctor by having her sign a nondisclosure agreement. This, the suit states, came after more than 100 athletes had come forward with stories of abuse. The suit also claims that the organization failed to protect her and other athletes.

Her complaint states that the monetary settlement between her and the organization contained a confidentiality clause so that they could continue to conceal the doctor’s crimes. She further insists that she only agreed to settle the claim in order to pay for “lifesaving” psychological treatment and care for the alleged abuse. According to the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, Marroney received $1.25 million as part of the settlement.

The purpose of Maroney’s lawsuit is to nullify the settlement agreement, on the grounds that it violated California law. In addition to USA Gymnastics, the suit names as defendants Dr. Nassar, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University, which employed Nassar for more than 20 years.

Two months ago on social media, Maroney posted details of her alleged abuse at the hands of Dr. Nassar. She stated that, under the guise of “medically necessary treatment,” the doctor abused her from the age of 13 right on through to the 2012 Summer Olypmics in London. She further stated that Nassar abused her even during competitions.

Back then, USA Gymnastics applauded her decision to come forward, calling it courageous, and it expressed outrage at the actions of Dr. Nassar. Though the organization has so far not commented about Maroney’s latest allegations.

Cooley Law School Loses Bid to Hide Criticism

Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow denied Cooley Law School’s recent request for a gag order preventing the American Bar Association (ABA) from criticising the law school. Cooley representatives asked the federal court for an order preventing the ABA from claiming that Cooley’s admissions policies fall below ABA standards. Judge Tarnow said that not only did the ABA not break any rules by publishing the opinion, but they have to publish the opinion in order to comply with Department of Education rules.

The ABA says that they’re happy with the judge’s decision. They say that their opinion is important so that students can have the information they need in order to make the best decisions about their education. They also say that most students are going to make the same decision about their education whether or not they read the ABA’s opinion.

Cooley Law School has undergone significant changes in the past decade. They recently joined up with Western Michian University to call themselves the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. They expanded to locations in Grand Rapids and Auburn Hills. On their website, they say that it’s their goal to give students the tools that they need to succeed.

The ABA disagrees. They say that Cooley doesn’t admit students that have a reasonable chance of passing the bar. Cooley graduates are quick to point out that sometimes, students with low GPAs and standardized test scores make great lawyers. Authorities say that’s not enough. They say that for every student who beats the odds, there are other students that leave with a mounting pile of debt and no diploma in hand. They also say that graduates of Cooley Law fail to find employment in the legal field at a high enough rate to justify Cooley’s high tuition costs.

At this point, the ABA hasn’t taken any formal action against Cooley Law. They have the option to revoke Cooley’s status as an ABA-approved school. The opinion might be the first step in that direction. Critics say that the revocation would be a welcome first step to ensuring that aspiring lawyers with poor credentials aren’t taken advantage of for tuition dollars.

On the other hand, many Cooley grads say they’re fortunate that Cooley was willing to admit them when other law schools wouldn’t. They say the school provides minority access to a legal education and helps expand the reach of legal services to the poor and underprivileged. Judge Tarnow says that his decision is final.

Anita Hill to Head Sexual Harassment Task Force

The wave of sexual misconduct allegations brought about by Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace has revealed a larger, widespread problem in Hollywood. The unceasing parade of accusations has forced Hollywood to face the seedier side of filmmaking. Hoping to deal with the issue of sexual assault and harassment in their own houses, studios have come together to form a task force to shed a brighter light on the guilty. Heading up this task force will be Anita Hill.
A Committee to Expose Sexual Misconduct Once and for All
Filmmaking powerhouses throughout Hollywood have come together to work towards putting an end to the sexual misconduct behind recent allegations. A committee has been formed to look into allegations, headed by Anita Hill, and will also work towards creating greater gender equality in the industry.
Kathleen Kennedy, the notable Star Wars producer, recently called for a meeting that included other celebrated female film producers in Hollywood. The meeting was intended to address the surge of sexual misconduct allegations flooding Hollywood and to come up with a solution to the growing problem. As a result, the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace was formed, naming Hill as the commission’s chairwoman.
Speaking about the formation of the task force, Ms. Kennedy said the goal would not be to just address any one particular problem. Instead, the organization is charged with developing a strategy to prevent future instances of sexual misconduct. She said the nature of inequality that exists between producer and actor gives the former a degree of power over the former that’s too easily exploited. The committee hopes to level that playing field with new policies and a greater interest in promoting gender equality.
Hollywood Rivals Came Together to Form the Task Force
Involved in forming the new commission were executives from every major film studio, television network executives, and even music label producers. Disney CEO Bob Iger, Universal Music Group CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, Paramount CEO Karen Stuart, and CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves were among those willing to participate in the group and aid its function with financial backing.
Additionally, academies and unions throughout the entertainment industry also pledged support to the commission.
“The fact that so many industry leaders — across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies … and guilds — came together, in one room, to explore solutions speaks to a new era,” Ms. Kennedy said of the milestone accomplishment.
It’s noteworthy that Anita Hill was chosen to lead this commission. In 1991, she was responsible for bringing sexual harassment issues to mainstream attention. At the time, she shared her own experiences, when she testified about her encounters with Clarence Thomas at Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Of the new committee, Ms. Hill said she feels hopeful that the silence can now come to an end.
“I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.”

A United States Prosecutor Makes an Apology for Discussing the Justine Damond Investigation publicly

After reporting the possibility of a crime, Damond from Australia was shot dead by a police officer near her home in Minnesota. The prosecutor from the Minnesota police departments who criticized the investigating agents for the Australian woman publicly has made an apology for discussing the work of the agency in the public domain. Justine Damond, an Australian woman, was fatally shot by police in cold blood after reporting a possible crime. Mike Freeman, a Hennepin County attorney, on Monday, issued both videotaped and written statements in which he made an apology to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The bureau was tasked with investigating the shooting of the Australian woman that took place in July.

Freeman noted that he did not realize that he was being recorded criticized the investigators who were charged with bringing the matter into conclusion. He said that whatever comments he made regarding the investigators under whatever circumstances were ill-advised and that he was very sorry about the whole issue. While at a union holiday reception last week, Freeman was questioned about a charging decision against the officer who committed the murder, by the name Mohamed Noor. As he expressed lots of frustration, Freeman noted that at the time, no compelling evidence could be sustainable in a court of law to charge the officer with murder. He said that the investigators had failed to do their job and that it was not his fault.

Freeman also made suggestions that the fact that Noor had refused to talk to investigators had put the prosecution between a rock and a hard place. Just last week, Freeman said that he could not yet prove beyond any reasonable doubt that before the police officer fired his gun at the woman, his life was in danger. He also said he could not state definitively on whether the officer thought that he was going to be harmed or even killed before he shot at Damond.

However, Freeman refused to comment on whether he still thought that his previous statement s were misguided and inaccurate or he always harbored the thought that the investigators had failed at doing what they were paid to do. On Monday, Freeman said that although the investigators were following every lead and working day and night trying to gather evidence that could hold in a court of law, police cases were complicated and needed the thorough investigations. However, Freeman said that he had a duty and responsibility to tell his constituents about how he carried out his job.

What’s Next After the Net Neutrality Defeat?

The nation is in turmoil over the future of the internet, following the decision made by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to terminate net neutrality. The rules have been in place since 2015, when they were instituted to ensure the internet remained freely available to everyone without interference from service providers eager to push their own products and services.
Changes Won’t Be Immediate, But They Will Come
The greatest fear sweeping the online community has been that changes would be immediate, following the defeat of net neutrality. The assumption was that service providers would charge for access to individual websites, such as social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While that hasn’t been the case, internet service providers have hinted that they may use their new-found power to push their own interests.
All legal content will still be available on the internet, but companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Comcast are likely to prioritize their own content. This means smaller start-up companies, or those with no service provider affiliations, will experience greater difficulty in reaching consumers. The larger service providers assert that the unregulated internet prior to 2015 functioned well and even provided better user experiences.
FCC Commissioner Mike O‘Rielly supported the decision to do away with net neutrality, suggesting new technologies, such as self-driving vehicles, can now be given priority over the flood of “cat videos” seen on social media. He added that making extreme changes to service wouldn’t serve providers well with their customers and would only attract negative attention from lawmakers. By attempting to block or discriminate against certain kinds of content, internet service providers would only be hurting their own interests, O’Reilly said.
“It is simply not worth the reputation cost,” added the FCC commissioner.
The Fight is Far From Over
While the public feels defeated by the repeal of net neutrality, congress isn’t giving up so easily. Democrats in particular are committed to protecting the rights and freedoms granted by net neutrality, whether that means working through the courts or establishing new laws in congress. Already, Senator Edward Markey claims to have the backing of 15 other senators in a move to undo the net neutrality repeal.
Meanwhile, another FCC commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, released a dissenting opinion in which she warned of the new overreaching powers now granted to internet service providers.
“They have the technical ability and business incentive to discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic,” Rosenworcel stated. “And now this agency gives them the legal green light to go ahead.”
A recent poll, conducted by the University of Maryland, found that 80% of participants opposed the repeal of net neutrality rules. The poll was conducted prior to the ruling, between December 6 and December 8.