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.

Nominee For Federal Judge Can’t Answer Basic Questions

Matthew Spencer Peterson’s judicial confirmation started out painful and then got worse when Peterson couldn’t answer basic questions about the legal process. Peterson flubbed questions about motions, the Daubert standard and abstention as Senator John Kennedy quizzed the nominee on his knowledge of basic legal terms. Peterson hemmed and hawed and then admitted that he doesn’t have a background in litigation. Peterson also admitted that he hasn’t ever conducted a jury trial or even argued a motion in court. The exchange has since gone viral.

Peterson served as President of the Federal Election Commission in 2016 under U.S. President Barack Obama and in 2010 under George W. Bush. He graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia’s School of Law. In addition to his work at the FEC, Peterson has other ties to politics, serving as an attorney for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration. He practiced election law in private practice with a law firm in Washington DC.

Critics say that Peterson’s performance at the December 13, 2017 confirmation hearing calls into question his qualifications to serve as a federal judge. Peterson disagrees. He says that his background as a decision maker should be sufficient even if he doesn’t know basic terms about courts and cases.

Peterson’s case is one example of what critics say is a larger problem about the qualifications of judges. They say that it’s too easy to become a judge without having practical, trial experience to effectively run a court and make wise decisions. Critics question whether it’s a good idea to have a judge deciding motions when they’ve never argued a motion themselves.

Critics say that judges shouldn’t be getting up to speed using real cases. They argue that judges should come to the bench able to do the job effectively from the first day. Some say that it’s a miscarriage of justice to consider political loyalty and experience in politics when it’s time to choose judges.

Members of the public are often surprised to learn that judges don’t have to have a background in the courtroom in order to sit on the bench. They don’t need to have even represented a client in court. Judges are either elected or appointed, and there’s no minimum qualifications beyond a law degree and a bar license. Some local magistrates don’t even need those minimal qualifications. Soon, it’ll be up to the Senate to decide if Peterson’s qualifications make the grade.

 

Harvey Weinstein Sued By British Actress

In what has become an almost daily headline in the news, movie producer Harvey Weinstein finds himself facing another lawsuit from a woman accusing him of sexual misconduct. In New York federal court, British actress Kadian Noble filed a lawsuit against Weinstein accusing him of sex trafficking. In the lawsuit, Noble stated the allegations resulted from a meeting she had with Weinstein while in France in February 2014. According to Noble, in that meeting, which was held in Weinstein’s hotel room, he violated United States federal sex trafficking laws by sexually assaulting her in his hotel room.

According to the lawsuit, Weinstein used his influence in the film industry to force or coerce Noble into sexual activity due to his promising to use influence to help her land a role in one of his upcoming films. However, Weinstein has stated he has never had non-consensual sex with Noble or anyone else, and his spokespeople have also stated he has denied any and all allegations of non-consensual sex. Because of this, it’s important to note that the allegations have not been independently confirmed as of this time.

Considered a civil lawsuit, it seeks unspecified damages for Noble. And for those who wonder about the statute of limitations regarding these charges, federal law allows for a 10-year statute of limitations on sex trafficking charges. Also important to remember is that in this lawsuit, Harvey Weinstein is not the only party named. Noble named the Weinstein Company itself as well as Harvey’s brother Bob, whom Noble alleges was aware of Harvey’s activities in regards to forcing women into having non-consensual sex with him in exchange for movie roles. As of now, neither officials of the Weinstein Company nor Bob Weinstein himself have provided comments on the allegations nor the lawsuit.

As of now, more than 50 women around the world involved in various aspects of the entertainment industry have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, and police in London, Los Angeles, New York, and Beverly Hills are conducting investigations into allegations of sex trafficking, rape, and other related acts that could result in the filing of criminal charges against Weinstein. Due to the allegations, Harvey Weinstein has been fired from the Weinstein Company, resigned from the Directors Guild of America, and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For additional information on this developing story, visit Reuters.

Aerial Fireworks Are Now Legal in Pennsylvania

Legislation that was passed by the state of Pennsylvania now allows its citizens to have aerial fireworks just like in other states. The law will enable residents in Pennsylvania to purchase and make use of fireworks made from high octane. This was a privilege that was previously reserved for out of state residents. Before the enactment of the legislation, residents of Pennsylvania were only allowed to buy commodities that would be referred to as sane and safe.

They include fountains, novelties, and sparklers. However, they can now throw fireworks in the air at their backyards after the bill was signed into law. Rosemary Brown, the state representative, said that the fact that the law in Pennsylvania only allowed residents to buy some kinds of firework was frustrating as they could not enjoy the festive season or special events in style.

The new legislation now allows residents who are 18 years and over to buy fireworks that belong to class C. This class of fireworks were previously available for purchase by out of state residents only. A license must be issued to stores that supply fireworks so that certificates to sell the product to state residents can be issued. One of the fireworks store owners, Ken Schuchman, said that his three stores had received the necessary licenses on Friday and that residents are buying the commodities in bulk ahead of the festive season. Schuchman said that the permits are only issued after a thorough inspection to ascertain that the necessary store requirements have been met.

The legislation was enacted to generate revenue to fill the huge budget gaps and reduce budgetary deficits for the state of Pennsylvania. On top of the sales tax for the state of Pennsylvania that stands at 6%, fireworks sales will have an additional 12% tax for every purchase. The extra money will be set aside for a first responder’s fund. Certified firework stores are also required by the new law to operate with a stipulated distance from each other. The legislation has offered a big boost to fireworks stores as they will record higher sales in the coming Christmas and New Year season.

Among the beneficiaries is Delaware Water Gap’s Phantom Fireworks. The store is strategically located on the 80 west interstate highway which is one of the primary entries into the state. According to the general manager, Gregg Marino, the store has applied for licensing and certification, and the store inspection is scheduled in a week’s time.

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Keeps Suit Against Alibaba Alive

A federal lawsuit against online retailing giant Alibaba filed by its shareholders was given new life last week in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The complaint had previously been dismissed in 2016 by Judge Colleen McMahon, but the suit has now been remanded by the appeals court and will proceed.

According to documents in the case, Alibaba shareholders argued that the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse had been aware of the many counterfeit luxury goods being sold on its site. It was further alleged that the company had also engaged in fraud against shareholders by failing to disclose a meeting between its officials and China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce. During that meeting, the agency had reportedly warned Alibaba of fines that would be imposed if the retailer continued to permit counterfeiters to engage in transactions on the website.

In the 2016 dismissal, Judge McMahon held that the lawsuit should not move forward because Alibaba did disclose the potential regulatory hazards in its IPO information. The Court of Appeals, however, supported the shareholders’ right to argue that Alibaba had in fact defrauded them.

The opinion reviving the lawsuit highlighted the relevance of shareholder allegations that the facts concealed by Alibaba were material to investors in that the retailer had been presented with a choice between abandoning lucrative business from counterfeiters and facing massive regulatory fines. Either choice, the court stated, would have impacted company revenues substantially. As such, the lower court had improperly disregarded shareholder arguments, did not construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and erroneously dismissed the suit.

Accusations related to Alibaba’s tolerance of counterfeit goods being sold through its website have long plagued the Chinese retail juggernaut. Company founder Jack Ma has argued that the problem lies with Chinese governmental leniency in dealing with known counterfeiters, urging more stringent legal penalties for those engaging in such activity.

 

 

Dr. Phil’s Son Developing Law School Comedy

CBS is working on a new legal comedy thanks to the contributions of Jay McGraw and his famous father, Phil McGraw. The pair are working on a comedy based on the younger McGraw’s experiences in law school. Jay McGraw is a graduate of SMU Law in Dallas, Texas.

McGraw’s comedy centers on a young law student. The student comes from a privileged background, and he wants an easy experience in law school. Unfortunately, he chooses one of the best law schools in the country. The law school has high expectations. Despite his attempts to slide through school on easy street, the student finds that he has to work hard and represent clients in actual cases.

The show’s developers plan to call the show “Class Action.” Modern Family writer Dan O’Shannon plans to contribute to the project. CBS plans to produce the show. Jay McGraw isn’t new to writing. He previously published “Jay McGraw’s Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies.” He also appeared on the show “Renovate My Family” as the show’s host.

McGraw graduated from SMU’s Dedman School of Law in 2004. SMU Law is located in Dallas, Texas. The school consistently boasts above-average bar passage rates in the State of Texas. Reviewing organizations typically rank the school around the top 50 for law schools in the United States.

SMU Law offers a full-time program that takes three years. They also offer a part-time, evening program that lasts four years. Famous SMU Law alumni include U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Myers and James Baker, a justice of the Texas Supreme Court. The law school sits on the north side of downtown Dallas between Highland Park and University Park.

True of the younger McGraw’s recollection, the school offers law students an intensive clinical experience. Students can choose between participation in the criminal clinic, child advocacy program, innocence project, family law assistance program and civil law clinic. The law school sits on SMU’s main campus. Students may also participate in moot court and law review programs.

The McGraws operate their creative projects through Stage 29 Productions. If the project gathers steam, it won’t be the first time that Dr. Phil has lent his creativity to a law-related comedy. The company has also produced a show called Bull. That show is based on Dr. Phil’s experiences running a trial consulting firm before his years as Dr. Phil. Before he became Dr. Phil, he also appeared on Oprah and contributed to her defense against a defamation lawsuit brought by the cattle industry.

9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski Accused Of Sexual Misconduct

Allegations now exist from six former clerks for the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals regarding sexual harassment from judge Alex Kozinski.

The six accusers say that while performing duties for the San Francisco based court that sexual comments and behaviors resulting in feelings of discomfort were directed towards them by Judge Kozinski. Four of them women also requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

Judge Kozinski has denied the allegations and stated that he would never ‘do anything’ offensive to any employees. The judge expressed regret for any remarks made that may have offended anyone.

One accuser who did go on record in accusing Kozinski is Heidi Bond. Bond clerked for Kozinski for approximately a year beginning in 2006 and now authors romance novels under a pen name. The allegations made by Bond are that on three separate occasions she was summoned by Kozinski to his office and was shown pornography by the judge. Bond says the judge would then ask her questions such as did she think the videos were ‘digitally manipulated’ and if she was aroused by videos.

Emily Murphy clerked for another judge with the 9th circuit court and met Judge Kozinski in 2012. Murphy alleges that Kozinski overheard her making remarks about the gym in the courthouse being rarely used. In response to Murphy’s remarks, Kozinski suggested that she work on in the gym naked. Murphy says that she and two others taking part in the conversation attempted to redirect the conversation but Kozinski would not be deterred.

Another former clerk of Kozinski who wished to remain anonymous said that the judge had also shown her pornography and that he had also shown her a chart detailing the totality of the judge’s sexual conquests.

A former extern told media sources that while sitting at a table with Kozinski that the judge lifted a tablecloth to look at her legs.

Judge Kozinski received backlash in the past for what many believed to be a cavalier attitude toward issues pertaining to sexuality and humor. It was determined in 2008 that the judge had posted sexual materials to his personal website.

More about the allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski can be seen at the abajournal.

End Citizens United Denounces Republican Efforts to Gut The Johnson Amendment

UPDATED December 12th, 2017 – End Citizens United announces their “Big Money 20” for the 2018 elections. The political action committee is targeting these 20 republicans and will spend roughly $35 million dollars to help keep money out of politics.

Last week, the US House Appropriations Committee rejected a proposal to remove a controversial rider from a spending bill that restricts enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. According to End Citizens United, a political action committee that advocates for campaign finance reform, the decision gives a green light for special interest groups to, “manipulate churches and funnel secret political money through the pulpit.”

The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the US tax code that forbids 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, which include most churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It was proposed in 1954 by Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a senator of Texas at the time.

The amendment has long been a sore spot for some conservatives, which is why President Donald Trump made repealing it a campaign promise. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would require an act of Congress, which is hard to come by these days, so opponents of the rule are looking for other ways to undermine its enforcement.

Rather than outright repeal, house republicans have included a rider in a spending bill that forbids the IRS from using funds to investigate churches for violations of the Johnson Amendment. Exceptions can be made by the IRS commissioner, who must report to Congress about all such investigations. Despite attempts from opponents to remove the language from the bill, the committee voted 28-24 to keep the controversial rider.

How is the Johnson Amendment Enforced?

Churches and other similar nonprofit organizations can engage in some political activities, such as voter registration drives, but the Johnson Amendment forbids endorsements of specific parties or candidates. The amendment was famously invoked in 1992 when a church had its tax-exempt status revoked for taking out a full-page ad in USA Today that implored Christians to vote against then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

Today, however, the IRS rarely investigates churches for political activities, and some pastors don’t shy away from voicing their political opinions from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative advocacy group, sponsors a campaign called Pulpit Freedom Sunday that encourages pastors to openly flout the law in protest. Although the IRS has audited at least one of the thousands of participating churches, no penalties have been issued. Nonetheless, the new language would make it almost impossible for the IRS to penalize churches for funneling money from their congregations to political campaigns.

What do Americans Think About the Johnson Amendment?

Among American voters, there isn’t an overwhelming consensus on the issue of religion in politics. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that 66 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with the thought of churches endorsing candidates, but a vocal minority of conservative Christians believe that the Johnson Amendment restricts freedom of speech.

Some religious group are actually adamant about maintaining the Johnson Amendment. Dozens of nonprofit organizations including the Episcopal Church, the American Jewish Committee, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty co-signed a letter to the House Appropriations Committee voicing opposition to the measure.

“Weakening current law would allow politicians and others seeking political power to pressure churches for endorsements,” the letter states.

What do Experts say About the Johnson Amendment?

Charles Haynes, a religious freedom historian at Washington DC’s Newseum, told the Washington Post that the language, “puts a further chilling effect on any attempts by IRS staff to enforce the Johnson Amendment with respect to pulpit speech.” However, the problem doesn’t stop at speech.

“At its worst, the provision keeps IRS staff from doing its job to prevent charitable donations to flow to political campaigns,” Haynes says.

While the Johnson Amendment forbids any nonprofit group from endorsing candidates, the language in the spending bill specifically exempts religious organizations from such oversight. Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, told the Washington Post that giving religious organizations preferential treatment violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Tiffany Muller, who is the President and Executive Director of End Citizens United, released a statement condemning the House Appropriation Committee for restricting enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.

“The Johnson Amendment has been critical to ensuring churches and charities can carry out their missions free from manipulation of Big Money special interests and partisan politics,” said Muller. “Today, extreme House Republicans approved a rider in a must-pass bill that leaves churches vulnerable to being used as tools of political mega-donors looking to push their agenda.”

About End Citizens United

End Citizens United was founded in 2015 to counter the effects of the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case that allowed corporations to make unlimited undisclosed donations to political candidates. It uses grassroots tactics to support candidates who are committed to reforming campaign finance law. By raising awareness of the issue of money in politics, End Citizens United advocates for legislation that will limit the flow of dark money to campaigns.

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Tampa Bay Rays Bring Lawsuit Against Concession Company

The Tampa Bay Rays baseball team has always used the same concession company since they were first founded as a team back in 1998. That company is called Centerplate. Recently, the Rays have made the decision to sue that company for breach of contract, and the two have severed ties. The team is bringing the suit for at least $75,000 against the company and claim they have “a long and sad history of failing to meet up to their obligations”.

The Complaints

Baseball management in Tampa Bay have said that doing business with Centerplate has brought bad publicity onto the team, and that the failure of Centerplate to do the work that they were supposed to do in a way they were supposed to do it has turned at least some fans against the team entirely. There are a whole list of accusations brought against Centerplate in the lawsuit according to calltothepen.com. A few of those accusations are as follows:

  • Employees Not Washing Their Hands
  • Black Mold
  • Live Insects

All of these things from a food and beverage company? Well, if the lawsuit is to be believed, then that is exactly the kinds of problems that the Rays have gotten fed up with from their concessions provider.

The Company’s Response

Centerplate strongly denies the claims brought forth by the Tampa Bay Rays. They said that they are “saddened and surprised” by the lawsuit. They do plan to fight the lawsuit in court. As of this moment, there is no sign from the company that they would be willing to settle with Tampa Bay in any way for what has been alleged of them.

Fan Expectations

Fans at a baseball game are generally not very picky eaters. They know the type of food that one can purchase from a concession stand. As long as the food does not make them sick and the beer is cold, most fans are happy with the chance to buy concessions. However, if the claims against Centerplate are true, then it is understandable why the Tampa Bay Rays may feel that the company is bringing a bad name upon the team.

If the fans are willing to pay the very high prices charged at most concession stands, they ought to at least be able to count on no getting sick when they place their order for some nachos and a hot dog.