Attorney Faces New Discipline Charges in Second State

In 2005, attorney Sean M. Liles gave up his Nevada bar license. In exchange, Liles avoid discipline proceedings from the State Bar of Nevada. Officials alleged that Liles took part in a scheme to commit insurance fraud by submitting false claims relating to construction lawsuits.

Now, Liles is facing fresh ethics charges. These charges come from the State Bar of Michigan. Officials allege that Liles misused his client trust fund account. They say that he used his client trust fund account to pay his personal home mortgage. Allegedly, Liles transferred funds from his personal account to his IOLTA client trust fund account and then used the funds to pay the mortgage on his home. In Michigan, attorneys must hold client funds in a separate IOLTA account that’s completely separate from their personal accounts. The attorney may remove the money only when it’s earned in attorney fees, spent on court costs or returned to the client.

When Liles submitted his resignation to the State Bar of Nevada, he was already in West Bloomfield, Michigan. From there, he set up a practice in Traverse City, Michigan where he focuses on family law, criminal and bankruptcy matters. The Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission filed the formal complaint against Liles on July 11, 2017. Officials say they first learned of the discrepancies when the bank tipped them off to the unusual transfers.

In his reply to the State Bar of Michigan’s inquiry, Liles claimed that the mortgage payments from the IOLTA account were a mistake. He said, “I did not realize I had accidentally input the Chase IOLTA Account instead of my personal account,” and “I have since corrected the problem.” Liles also tried to excuse the error by saying that “I was/am an idiot with mobile ap[p]s.)” Liles didn’t offer a motive for his behavior.

The Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission isn’t buying it. They say it’s implausible that Liles transferred funds accidentally for several months. Officials say that his conduct involves dishonesty and deceit, and that lawyers have to keep client funds completely separate from personal money. They also say that Liles misrepresented the facts when they asked him to explain his behavior.

There’s no word on what discipline the State Bar of Michigan hopes to pursue in Liles’ case. While the grievance asks for discipline that’s “warranted,” this could range from an informal reprimand to a complete disbarment. Officials may reach a consent agreement with Liles, or they may take the case to a hearing where a commission determines a penalty.

Source: http://www.agcmi.org/formal_disciplinary_proceedings/docs/Grievance%20Administrator%20v%20Sean%20Liles,%20P55377.pdf

Psychic Arrested As She Tries to Flee the Country

One psychic sees a jail cell in her future after the police arrested her on her way out of the country. Police arrested the woman at Miami International Airport. She has open grand theft charges in the State of Maryland.

A private investigator tracked psychic Gina Marie Marks to the Miami International Airport. She was only moments away from boarding a plane to Barcelona. The psychic is 44 years old. Police say that she also goes by Regina Melbourne and Natalie Miller. The private investigator works on behalf of the victim.

Law enforcement officials plan to extradite Marks to Maryland. She says that she doesn’t agree to head back to Maryland to face the charges. That means Florida officials have to win the extradition proceedings before they can try to prove the charges against her. At her bond hearing, Marks told judge Mindy Glazer that she wants to fight the return to Florida, even if that means waiting in a jail cell. State attorneys say that she’s a flight risk.

Because she’s fighting the extradition, the State of Florida can hold marks for up to 90 days. They must follow a procedure to get a governor’s warrant. That order allows them to move her back to Maryland. Judge Glazer says she’s fine with letting Marks sit in a jail cell.

State officials say that it’s not the first time that the law has caught up with the scheming psychic. They say that she has run her scams across the country, and that only she can predict where she’s going to find her next victim. In 2009, Marks landed herself a felony rap after pleading guilty to grand theft. In that case, she cheated five victims out of approximately $65,000.

That conviction wasn’t enough to deter Marks’ efforts. In 2012, she received a conviction for scheming three more victims. She took them for more than half a million dollars. She spent more than a year in prison, and the court ordered her to pay restitution.

In the most recent case, Marks has three victims. She stole more than $82,000 from them by running a scheme that related to fortune telling. She faces charges of grand theft in the State of Maryland. Officials say these are felony charges that could bring a long stint in prison if a jury convicts her of the charges against her.

A private investigator followed Marks’ trail all across the United States. At the airport, he alerted officials to her outstanding warrant. They pulled her aside and prevented her from skipping town. For now, a Florida jail cell is in Marks’ future.

 

 

New York City Cracks Down on Airbnb

One New York landlord has some fines to pay after getting slapped with $11,000 in fines for running an illegal Airbnb in New York City. Not only did the landlord rent the nine-bedroom apartment on the home sharing website, but they stuffed as many as 34 guests into the property at any one time. The Bushwick apartment owner charged guests as much as $115 a night for a bunk bed in a room with other guests.

The health department put a vacate order on the door of the property. New York City’s mayor has an Office of Special Enforcement that’s cracking down on the home-sharing website. New York City’s laws prohibit most rentals of less than thirty days. In addition to banning the short term rentals, New York City’s laws prohibit advertising an illegal rental.

Airbnb is worth billions of dollars. However, they resist law enforcement’s efforts to collect information about property owners who rent their properties in violation of local ordinances. They say that they’re just a marketing service. The company generally avoids liability by saying that they don’t give legal advice, and that each owner has to affirm that they’re renting in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Even so, more and more local communities are debating the future of home sharing services such as Airbnb. Supporters say that the service is a great way for renters and homeowners alike to make ends meet and make a few extra bucks. They say that homeowners should be allowed to make their own decisions about how to use their property. They say travelers can find lower pries and more options for an authentic travel experience by using home sharing instead of traditional hotels.

Opponents of the service say that it’s not so simple. They say that the service doesn’t come with the same regulations and protections that hotels have to follow. From fire safety to security, critics say that there are real risks associated with the service that hosts and travelers alike may not realize. Neighbors complain about their homes lying in the wake of noisy travelers who come ready for a good time.

State and local officials around the United States are currently struggling with how to balance these different points of view. San Francisco has increased regulation of home sharing units. The State of Michigan is considering banning regulation of the rentals on the local level. In the meantime, one landlord in New York City has $11,000 in fines to pay while this debate continues to rage around the United States.

Irma Victims Could Be Arrested At Shelters If They Have Outstanding Warrants

Floridians who are in Hurricane Irma’s path could face a double disaster if they have outstanding warrants. Evacuations are being ordered in many places across the state as residents brace for what could be one of history’s strongest hurricanes. Part of the evacuation plan is setting up shelters, which are monitored by local law enforcement agencies. One sheriff used Twitter to warn residents that they would be arrested if they showed up at a shelter with an outstanding warrant.

Why Arrests Will Take Place

According to a recent story from the ABA Journal about the topic, a sheriff defended the controversial tweets by saying that law enforcement officials have a duty to act on warrants. When people enter shelters, they are asked to present photo identification. A driver’s license or a state identification card will be required. Law enforcement officials can search the identification card’s number and instantly see if there are outstanding warrants.

What Will Happen To People Who Need Shelter

Law enforcement officials assured residents that they would still be sheltered if they were in harm’s way. However, they will be transported to a local jail for shelter until they can see a judge. Since failure to appear for tickets or other minor infractions can lead to a warrant, law enforcement officials encouraged Floridians to be sure that they do not have any outstanding infractions that have not been addressed. People who are avoiding criminal charges will likely face longer jail stays.

When the department that issued the controversial warning tweets was contacted, one sheriff said that their main concern was with violent or sexual offenders. He elaborated with an example saying that allowing a child predator who has a warrant for an offense to stay at a shelter where small children are also housed would be irresponsible and would put other law-abiding residents at risk. Officers who check identification cards will only see if a person has a warrant. They will not know the nature of the warrant or if it is for a felony or a misdemeanor. Legal experts in Florida said that people facing misdemeanor charges should turn themselves in before going to a shelter to be released on bond or on their own recognizance. Obeying evacuation orders is a must for everyone. Failing to obey them because of a warrant or for any reason can result in jail time.

The Constitutional Dilemma Revolving Around Physician Assisted Suicide

New York’s court of appeal recently ruled against physician assisted suicide. The claim was made against the Attorney General by three chronically ill patients. The court defined physician assisted suicide as the right of a terminally ill and mentally competent person to acquire a prescription for a deadly medication from a doctor, to be taken for the purpose of causing death. The plaintiff’s argument was that physician assisted suicide was a constitutional right. The court held that there is no right to suicide; however, there is the right to cease relying on life-sustaining treatment. The court’s ruling, based on a rational standard of review, was that the act of criminalizing physician promoted suicide was meant to prevent suicide and protect patients from abuse.

A Background on Physician Assisted Suicide Laws

For a long time, U.S. law enforcement agencies have struggled with the right to die. In 2016, a “Death with Dignity” bill was approved by the District of Columbia Council. The bill was passed by an 11-2 vote. The bill permitted patients with terminal illnesses to end their lives without a physician’s help. According to the bill, a patient who is terminally ill, at least 18 years of age, a resident of Washington DC, and capable of making their health care decisions, is eligible to make a request to end their life. The bill does not permit physicians to agree with a patient’s requests. It further prohibits physicians from giving patients medication if they are suffering from mental disorders or depression.

The bill is similar to another passed in 1997, the “Oregon Death with Dignity Act”. In 2006, the Oregon statute was upheld by the Supreme Court. In 2008, the First Judicial District of Montana passed a ruling protecting physicians from prosecution for providing terminally ill patients with lethal drugs. Washington and Vermont followed suit by approving similar initiatives in 2008 and 2013 respectively.

The California Superior Court recently went on record for rejecting a challenge to the state’s aid in dying law. Colorado also approved a proposition to grant terminally ill patients the right to administer lethal medication after the approval of two physicians.

In February 2017, the “Death with Dignity” bill was blocked by the House. During the same time, Montana introduced a bill that would see doctors involved in physician assisted suicide charged with homicide. In May, physician assisted dying was approved by the Nevada Senate.

The Mystery Killings of Women in Uganda

Uganda parliament has suspended its sittings due to a wave of crime that has swept through the country. Members of Uganda’s legislative body have put the government on notice due to a series of murders that are still unsolved. The parliamentarians vowed not to convene any meetings until a government report was issued on the matter. Many fear that these murders are being committed by a serial killer.

A parliamentary session that was conducted on Tuesday decided to delay its meetings for an indefinite period after government officials declined to give an explanation for the murder of women in the capital, Kampala.

Who is Killing Women in Uganda?

According to reports by the police, since June, 20 women have been murdered mysteriously. These killings have caused unrest in this peaceful East African nation. In a statement to the press, the police spokesman, Asan Kasingye dismissed claims that the killings were related. He reiterated that the authorities had no evidence pointing to the work of a serial killer. He implored Ugandan citizens to remain calm and to rest assured that investigations were still underway and that the perpetrators of these crimes would be brought to justice.

Reports by local media have told how a majority of the deceased women were assaulted sexually before being murdered. Many of these women died through strangulation.

The recent murder occurred on Monday. The killing was that of a young woman whose body was found near a car washing bay near Kampala town. This murder brings to 20 the number of women who have been murdered so far. On Tuesday, the police announced they had one suspect in custody. The suspect was found concealing himself at a healer’s shrine.

When the ministers charged with internal affairs and security failed to issue a report on the murders, an opposition parliamentarian raised a motion of suspending parliamentary sessions for an indefinite period. The lawmaker, Mr. Odonga Otto, is reported to have said that lawmakers had no business to conduct in the house up until they were appraised on the reason women were being murdered.

Sam Dalton Passes Away At The Age Of 90

Sam Dalton was a lawyer who recently passed away at the age of 90. He practiced law for six decades. He was known for adamantly opposing the death penalty. He was also known for representing people who could not afford to hire an attorney. Moon Landrieu is the mayor of New Orleans. He is a graduate of Loyola University Law School. He stated that Sam was a good lawyer. He also stated that Sam was also a good person.

Moon also talked about his favorite memories of Sam. He stated that he remembers when Sam would come into the courtroom with lunch stains on his suit. He was totally committed to helping people. In 1992, Sam was given the Benjamin Smith Award. Mary Howell is another attorney who practices in New Orleans. He stated that Sam was the attorney who fought for the little guy.

Sam was known for challenging the 2 percent handling charge. This is a fee that is added to the cost of bail bonds. Sam was opposed to the fee because he stated that it victimized poor people. He has handled over 300 capital cases.

Walter Koon is one of the people that was spared from the death penalty because of Sam. He faced the death penalty after he killed his estranged wife. Sam stated that did not receive the proper counsel at the trial court level. Walter was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of the parole.

Sam stated that he never wanted to portray Walter as the model sinner. However, he still felt that the death penalty was inhumane. Sam was married with children. When he was not working, he was spending time with his family. Sam’s funeral arrangements will be handled by Garden of Memories Funeral Home. A date has not been set yet.

Lawsuits Against President Trump Ban on Transgender People

Two groups of Human rights filed two different lawsuits against President Trump and other administrations on the ban of the transgender rule in the military. Human rights claim that the ban is unconstitutional and will not be accepted. Plaintiff is among the transgender individuals who are now serving in the military, but they are not currently able to serve because of the transgender ban rule.

Sarah McBride is the secretary of Human Rights Campaign National Press. She issued a statement and said that it is an unconstitutional and unconscionable breach of trust for President Trump and his administration to single out the service of transgender people in the military. President Trump announced this ban on a series of the statement in July. He stated that the US Government would not allow or accept transgender people to serve in any capacity or position in the military of the USA.

President Trump appealed the recent administration of Obama that lifted the ban on transgender people. President Trump signed a memo on Friday indicating the implementation of the change of policy that deters transgender individuals from being enlisted. He did not report what would happen to the current transgender people who are still serving in the Department of Defense.

The first law suit was filed in a federal court in Seattle on Monday. The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe, SLDN. He acts on behalf of two people. These include a transgender individual who needs to be enlisted but cannot because of the ban and another transgender woman who has served in the military for 12 years. The second lawsuit was also filed by ACLU in Maryland on behalf of the transgender individuals who wished to be enlisted but failed due to the ban.

Both lawsuits argue the same thing. They claim that this is a violation of human rights. It is also a practice of unequal protection among the members of the society. They also indicate that it is the violation of free speech protection. The lawsuits highlighted what transgender people have contributed in the US military. One of the numerous commendation of transgender service in the military was the Petty Officer. This is a plaintiff who has served the military for 11 years and was among the officers who had been deployed to Afghanistan. The two lawsuits want the ban to be abolished by the federal court.

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.

Public Outrage As Police Arrest Nurse

The tables have turned on the Salt Lake City Police Department after video became public of one of their own arresting a nurse at the University of Utah’s hospital. Law enforcement officer Jeff Payne became irate after nurse Alex Wubbels refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient. The police department didn’t have a warrant for the man’s blood, and the police had not placed the man under arrest.

The trouble began in the middle of a police chase. The man who was later unconscious in a hospital bed was a victim of the chase. The fleeing individual clipped the man’s truck during the chase. The suspect died in the crash.

Even though the police had no suspicion that the unconscious man had done anything wrong, they directed nurse Wubbels to draw the man’s blood. Wubbels explained to officer Payne that nurse protocol and a prior agreement between the hospital and the police prevented them from doing that without a warrant. Wubbels went so far as to show the officer a copy of the written agreement. She also got a supervisor on the phone who confirmed the policy.

At that point, Payne chased the nurse and performed a take down maneuver. He put the woman and handcuffs and dragged her to a police car as she screamed and sobbed. The police accused her of interfering with a law enforcement investigation. More than one officer justified the arrest.

At first, the Salt Lake City Police Department declined to put officer Payne on leave. They took him off the blood draw program. They explained that the incident caused a rift between the hospital employees and the police. It wasn’t until the video became public that they decided to place Payne on administrative leave. They now say that they’re conducting a criminal investigation into the officer’s conduct.

After about 20 minutes of arrest in a law enforcement cruiser, Payne let Wubbels go. She does not face criminal charges. The hospital released a statement commending Wubbels for following policy. In addition, the unconscious man’s employer also issued a statement thanking Wubbels for protecting the privacy of their employee. Wubbels said that she was just doing her job.

Wubbels says that she feels angry and confused. Police claim that they wanted the blood in order to protect the trucker even though they haven’t accused him of any wrongdoing. Wubbels says she hopes the incident can begin a civil discourse and prompt the police to do the right thing.

Legal News: The Texas Bar Offers Pro Bono Assistance to Low Income Disaster Victims

The State Bar of Texas issued a notice on its website on August 31st indicating its legal hotline would assist low income people seeking pro bono legal services in the aftermath of devastating flooding which has impacted many parts of Texas. The organization also requested volunteer assistance from attorneys, law students, or paralegals interested in donating their time on behalf of this effort.

Pro Bono Assistance

The hotline will match callers with pro bono service providers in their local area. The free service offers assistance in English, Spanish or Vietnamese. Last week, Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast several times. It caused some fatalities, and produced extensive property damage. The heavy rains which accompanied the storm contributed to flooding in some locations.

In the aftermath of the disaster, officials anticipate many people will contact the legal services hotline requesting answers to a wide array of questions. Areas of concern will likely extend from the disaster relief process and documentation requirements for obtaining assistance, to inquiries concerning storm cleanup and landlord-tenant issues. Consumer protection issues relating to contractor services may also figure prominently as a topic.

Disaster Relief For Impacted Attorneys And Law Firms

The Texas State Bar also has sought to help attorneys and law firms within disaster areas obtain ready access to resources such as shelter, cleanup assistance and access to temporary office space. The widespread flooding disrupted many Texas legal practices. The website has posted a lengthy list of courthouse closures and delays in impacted communities.

The recent flooding did not create hardships in some cities in Texas. However, it caused massive disruptions in others. The storm left extensive flooding in its wake in coastal areas. Some estimates indicate the total loss of between 30,000 and 40,000 homes in Houston alone, for instance. In Beaumont, the storm left 120,000 people without water. The full scope of the crisis in some areas may only become fully apparent in coming weeks and months.

A Long Term Recovery Process

While many Texans residing in flood plain areas do carry federal flood insurance, some experts believe 80% of the state’s population lacks this coverage. Some houses sustained water damage in areas which have not witnessed flooding in the past. Attorneys seeking to follow the response of the legal profession in Texas to the natural disaster can find updated information posted by the Texas State Bar.

 

 

How Licensed Texas and Out-Of-State Lawyers Can Provide Crucial Legal Services to Hurricane Harvey Victims

The Texas Supreme Court recently released a favorable emergency order that allows out-of-state lawyers to provide pro bono assistance to victims of the fatal Hurricane Harvey. The order has been enforced for the next six months and is applicable in two main ways. First, legal practice is legalized through a pro bono program that provides crucial services to Hurricane Harvey victims. However, interested lawyers must fill a temporary registration form outlining their intention to the bar.

Secondly, licensed lawyers are allowed to provide legal services to Texas if residents are displaced from their native home due to Hurricane Harvey. The Texas Supreme Court also enforced two other orders in line with Hurricane Harvey. The first order allows for radical changes to procedures and deadlines to courts adversely affected by the Hurricane. The second order focuses on suspending limitation in civil cases in the event claimants can prove catastrophic conditions resulting from Hurricane Harvey. In relation to this, Saundra Brown, a prominent manager at the disaster response unit at Lone Star Legal Aid, insisted that the legal assistance would be beneficial to thousands of victims in need.

While most lawyers from the firm work remotely, senior members from the team are stationed at Texarkana after the company’s Houston headquarters had been damaged in a deceptive fire explosion. In such a situation, lawyers have been tasked with reporting for disaster appeals with FEMA to ensure that people secure income for home repairs, deal with insurance claims and obtain temporary housing.

According to Saundra Brown, the newly drafted lawyers can play an integral role in assisting with the FEMA appeals, while also providing legal assistance to victims at the National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center. To promote service delivery, the Division has provided hotline numbers for both Louisiana and Texas as follows (800)504-7030 and (800)310-7029. The relief webpage contains precise information regarding volunteer recruitment.

As the Director of YLD’s Disaster Legal Service Program, Andrew VanSingel is tasked with selecting competent lawyers from the vast list of emails that has flooded his inbox. Each lawyer selected will be brought up to speed on how they should assist Hurricane Harvey victims.

Before selection can be done, interested lawyers must be referred to the State Bar of Texas to uniquely present their proficiency in handling pro bono legal aid. Furthermore, interested out-of-state lawyers can also donate money to groups such as the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and the Lone Star Legal Aid.

Convicted Killer Hopes To Avoid Execution

Convicted serial killer Gary Lee Sampson is taking one last shot at avoiding execution for his crimes. A federal jury handed Sampson the conviction in 2001. They agreed with federal prosecutors that Sampson carjacked and murdered Jonathan Rizzo.

At the time, Rizzo was 19 years old and a college student. Sampson was 57 years old. The jury believed that it was fair for Sampson to die for his crime. Sampson has spent the last 16 years trying to challenge the execution.

In addition to his 2001 conviction for carjacking and murder, Sampson is also serving a life sentence for killing Philip McCloskey. McCloskey was a 69-year old plumber. The murder occurred in Massachusetts. His third killing occurred in New Hampshire. In that case, Robert Whitney was the victim.

Sampson committed the Rizzo and McCloskey murders using a similar pattern. He coaxed each victim into allowing him to ride in their car. Then, he told the men to drive to a secluded area. Once they were there, he stabbed them to death. In the Whitney case, he strangled his victim with a rope.

The convicted serial killer recently filed a new appeal after previous efforts failed. Most of the substance of his appeal is against the death penalty. Sampson’s lawyers say that he’s not completely culpable for his crimes because he had brain damage at the time of the killings.

A U.S. District Court judge shot down Sampson’s previous request to overturn his death penalty conviction. Judge Leo T. Sorokin based his ruling on the brutality of the crimes. He said that the murders of the three men were incomprehensible, and that Sampson’s death sentence was not unjust given the seriousness of the crimes.

Although Sampson received his conviction in 2001, the courts didn’t hand down the death sentence until 2003. Since that time, Sampson has engaged in a serious of appeals. At one point, a judge reversed his death sentence. However, court procedures then remanded the matter for a second trial. Sampson then chose to plead guilty. That’s when a federal jury decided to sentence Sampson to death.

The court overturned the first death sentence because of a jury irregularity. They said that the juror should have disclosed more information about her personal history in order to make sure that the jury was fair. If Sampson continues to pursue his case, the matter could end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Richard Posner’s Jury Instructions Reversed on Appeal

Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit learned the hard way that writing jury instructions is more difficult than it looks. In February of 2016, Posner presided over the United States of America v. Enkhchimeg Uliziibayar “Eni” Edwards, a criminal trial heard in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District. Edwards, a naturalized U.S. citizen, faced two charges each of witness tampering and making false statements on an official questionnaire for federal employment.

The jury convicted Edwards on all four counts. Edwards subsequently appealed all of her convictions. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the two making false statements on an official questionnaire for federal employment convictions. The appellate court overturned Edwards’ two witness tampering convictions.

Edwards challenged her witness tampering convictions based on the fact the jury instructions omitted an element of the offense. Witness tampering requires a finding by the jury that the defendant acted corruptly. Before the start of the trial, prosecutors presented Posner with jury instructions that substantially followed extant Seventh Circuit witness tampering instructions. Posner objected to the inclusion of the standard language stating that it had too much “legal jargon” and insisting, “You don’t need ‘corruptly.”

Defense counsel objected, stating, “by eliminating some of this technical language which has been approved by the Seventh Circuit … it will weaken the burden that the government must meet in a criminal case.” Posner overruled the objection and presented the jury instructions without the corruptly element to the jury. A required element of the crime was therefore absent from the jury instructions.

The appellate court overturned the defendant’s two witness tampering convictions due to the court’s failure to adequately instruct the jury on the intent element of the crime. According to the appellate court, the instructions,”failed to inform the jury about an essential element of the witness tampering charges—the corrupt mental state that distinguishes unlawful from innocent interference with an investigation.”

Posner often writes his own jury instructions when sitting as a trial judge in the Seventh Circuit’s district court. He’s a strong proponent of appellate judges getting experience with the demands placed on trial judges. It turns out being a trial judge might be a bit more complicated than Posner expected.

Pakistani Refugee Victimized in Michigan

A teenage girl who escaped abuse and oppression in Afghanistan and Pakistan suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her Michigan foster father. Walker resident Nathan Bosma faces several counts of abuse and criminal sexual conduct charges as they relate to the teenage girl. Although he maintains his innocence, he’s reached a plea agreement with prosecutors for the State of Michigan.

The victim lived in dire conditions in Afghanistan before fleeing to Pakistan. There, her father arranged her marriage to a 70-year-old when she was only twelve. The girl fled her family and ran to the Benazir Bhutto Center for Women in Islamabad. They arranged to send her to foster care in the United States. Bethany Christian Services was the U.S. social service organization that arranged for her travel to the United States and placement with Bosma in his upscale home.

42 year old Nathan Chad Bosma said he believed the girl initiated the contact herself. Even so, Bosma accepted guilty pleas to two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree. This is a much lighter pair of charges than Bosma faced initially. State prosecutors first charged Bosma with eight different criminal sexual conduct counts each relating to unlawful sexual conduct with the teenage victim.

He finds out his sentence on September 19. He faces no more than one year in a county jail. The victim’s new foster mother says that the sentence is too light for the crime. She says it amounts to a “slap on the wrist.”

The victim’s new foster mother criticizes Bosma for his hypocrisy. She says that he claimed Christian values and forced the child to pray. Allegedly, he even assaulted her once during what was supposed to be prayer time. She said that Bosma went through Bethany Christian Service’s screening process and was well aware of her history when he chose to abuse her. Despite the organization’s screening process, they approved Bosma and sent the girl to her home.

The girl’s new foster mother says that the girl is emotionally traumatized by the abuse especially since she was sent to the United States for her safety. She said that despite Bosma’s claims that the girl may be older than 16, the girl is emotionally a child, and she was put in Bosma’s care for her safety and well being. The girl’s new foster mother said that she can live safely in her home for as long as she needs to.