Washington’s dilemma on taming the tech giants.

According to Forbes magazine report of June 2017, Washington DC was ranked third among the US tech cities, and a leading knowledge hub and innovation hotspot. Due to its skilled workforce, according to the US Bureau of labor and statistics, the metro DC area is ranked number one in high tech, with employment in the sector being 2.5 times more concentrated there than in the rest of the united states.

A controversial debate has been initiated in Washington as calls have been made to the federal government to regulate the giants in the technology industry, citing misinformation and political bias. The giant tech companies namely Google and Facebook have been on the spot for quite some time now, with several accusations being made against them. Google, for instance, has allegedly been promoting information that is either untrue, or distorted with utmost right-wing bias on subjects like spreading fake news to build support for conservative political leaders. Facebook on the other hand has received its fair share of accusations, one of them being that they sell users personal information to political consulting firms and suppress conservative news stories from trending news.

Among these reasons, the legislative and administrative organs in Washington feels that these giants have had a lot of power and influence in the industry and on people’s online activities. Capitol Hill says that big tech is to an extent of sabotaging other online advertising companies that have been struggling to establish themselves on the digital platform as they experience slowing revenue. According to LUMA partners, a leading investment bank that does analysis on digital media and marketing, there has been a fall in the number of independent ad tech companies since 2013 by 21 per cent to 185 in the second quarter of 2018. A wide spread of online advertising continues to rise to more than $88 million in 2017. However, more than 90 percent of that growth went to Google and Facebook as reported by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group in New York.

In the broader picture, we cannot deny that the giant tech companies have become increasingly attractive as more users come on board. As a result, it is going to be almost impossible for other companies to compete and for any government to challenge them. Washington is only the latest state to show its frustrations on these internet firms. France and Germany are already implementing fines on them for not following the rules governing the industry.

California Romeo Dine-and-Dasher

A 45 year-old-California man has been charged with at least 10 felony cases and accused of 16 dining-and-dashing cases. He’s now looking nearly 17 years of prison food. The man personally met at least 13 women on a number of online dating websites, and now, he’s accused of running out on over $1,000 of dinner tabs. Needing to use the washroom or retrieving an item from his car were some of his excuses. After excusing himself for a minute, he’d never come back. His dates were left with the check. Since he never returned to the dinner table with his accusers, the prosecution convinced the presiding judge that he might not return to court either. Accordingly, the judge set bail at $315,000. The man remained behind bars until he could post bail.

The accused dine-and-dasher dater in this case is reportedly charged with 16 counts of extortion, two counts of attempted extortion and one count of grand theft. His scamming allegedly spanned a period of just under two years across southern California. In California, extortion involves obtaining property from somebody else by force or fear. At this point in time, it hasn’t been disclosed on how the prosecution intends on proving extortion. Both lawyers and non-lawyers perceive of extortion as being connected with blackmail. If that’s the case, the man’s defense options might be limited, especially if he left threats on the internet after dining and dashing.

One woman questioned why the man would want to date a woman who looked like her. Another said that he knew all of the right things to say at the right time. In yet another case, he’s accused of leaving an expensive hair salon without paying. Upon dashing on one woman after an expensive dinner, she said she waited for about 10 minutes until such time as she realized what had happened. The restaurant manager realized that both the restaurant and the woman were scammed by the dine-and-dash dater. The restaurant picked up the tab. Another woman said that he didn’t look at all like his pictures that were posted on dating sites.

Apparently the man is unable to pay for an attorney too. He is represented by an assistant public defender who he has already asked to have removed from the case. His request was denied, and he’s now considering acting as his own attorney.

A North Korean hacker has been charged for cyber-attack in the NHS.

The United States Justice Department reported that they had pressed charges on an unproven North Korean infiltrator for assisting to commit cyber-hackings in contradiction of the National Health Service. After the hacking transpired, the NHS canceled its operations, patient records were made unavailable, and all ambulances were diverted to other hospitals. The 2017 Worldwide hack was reported to have affected over 150 computers in more than 150 countries. The South Korean who is aged 34 years, was involved in a cyber-attack on Sony Corporation back in 2014. He was also a mastermind in the $81 million theft from the bank of Bangladesh back in 2016. On Thursday a complaint was released regarding Park Jin Hyok. It wasn’t certain whether North Korean authorities noted the operation on behalf during the Wannacry cyberattack. The United States law enforcement wanted Park available for judgment.

Park was believed to have been operating in China. However, the prosecutors later reported that they think that Park had changed his location and that he was currently in North Korea. United States officials thought that the hacker hit in retribution for the Interview. This is the Hollywood spoof movie that had lampooned the isolated nation to a level that its Nation’s media cautioned if it would wage hard-hearted retaliation. The 2017 cyber-attack, which was the largest ever, did hit the National Health Service. It hit their computers that were operational at the hospital and those that were used to undertake surgeries in over 48 National Health Service Trusts. Over 6,900 NHS appointments were canceled, which caused 19,000 patients to be affected. The staff was left with one option than to use their pens and papers to operate as they were locked from their computerized systems.

A succeeding government report discovered that NHS trusts were left vulnerable to more attacks because the basic cybersecurity references were not trailed. None of the 88 of the 236 Trusts that were evaluated by NHS numerical before the hack transpired were discovered to have met the essential cybersecurity standards. It was reported that approximately all NHS trusts were using an outdated version of Windows for which Microsoft firm had halted providing security informs three years ago. It was also recommended that NHS’s 90% of Trusts were operational under Windows XP and 15 year ancient systems. In the intermediate aftermath of the cyber-attack, the then Home secretary Amber Rudd was not in the position to confirm whether the patient’s credentials had previously been backed up.

Kim Kardashian in Oval Office Clemency Talks Again

Kim Kardashian visited President Donal Trump at the Oval Office again. This time, it was on behalf of Chris Young, a convicted drug dealer who was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment by former U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp. Sharp also attended the Oval Office meeting. Both are seeking clemency for Young.

According to channel24.co.za, at the ages of 18 and 19, Young had been convicted in state court of possessing small amounts of marijuana and cocaine. Both convictions resulted in probation with no prison time, but for federal purposes, he was a convicted felon. When he was 22, Young was rounded up with about 30 other people who were involved in the buying and selling of small amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine. As per Judge Sharp, the arrests involved “several low level folks handling small quantities.” Young was one of those people. He was described by the judge as being “barely on the totem pole.” He later rejected several harsh plea offers and went to trial. He was convicted of conspiracy with intent to possess and distribute 500 grams of cocaine, intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of a firearm as a felon and knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Prosecutors asked for an enhanced sentence, and Young was sentenced to life in prison.

Judge Sharp didn’t want to sentence Young to life in prison, but the law required him to do so. According to the Washington Examiner, at Young’s sentencing hearing, Sharp described the sentence as being “way out of whack” compared to what other co-conspirators’ sentences. He said that since he was the judge who heard Young’s case, “Nobody probably knows the case better than I do.” He resigned from his lifetime appointment as a federal judge last year, and he’s now aligned with Kardashian on the Young case. Before this meeting with the president, Kardashian was in the Oval Office in June of 2018 on behalf of drug convict Alice Johnson. Her life sentence for a first-time drug offense was commuted by Trump. To date, he has been far more generous on clemency issues than other presidents before him.

American Bar Association Give Supreme Court Nominee Its Highest Rating

Choosing a justice to serve on the United States Supreme Court is one of the most important decisions that any President of the United States will undertake. A Supreme Court justice is allowed to serve on the bench for life, so a justice could be on the court shaping legal opinion for decades.

Each time that there is a hearing to confirm a new justice, there are a number of individuals and groups that provide their opinion as to the fitness of a justice nominee to serve on the court. The American Bar Association is one of the most important legal bodies in the United States. This organization rates each judicial nominee based on a number of different criteria.

Among the criteria that are used to rate a Supreme Court nominee are the individual’s ethical integrity and legal competency. The individual’s legal experience is also taken into account.

Brett Kavanaugh has just received the American Bar Association’s top rating of well-qualified. Mr. Kavanaugh was chosen by President Donald Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Justice Kennedy was seen to be a so called “swing-vote” on the court coming down on the liberal or conservative side of an issue depending on the case before the court.
Mr. Kavanaugh is seen by many as a much more conservative judge than Kennedy. Many on the political left are opposing his nomination to the nation’s highest court in spite of the high rating given to Kavanaugh by the American Bar Association.

Mr. Kavanaugh currently serves as an associate justice on the Federal Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia Circuit. Before becoming a federal judge, Mr. Kavanaugh served as a counsel to President George W. Bush. He also worked for Ken Starr when Mr. Starr was investigating the conduct of President Bill Clinton.

The hearings in the Senate to confirm Mr. Kavanaugh started on September 4. Mr. Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed along party lines by a very small margin.

Lawyer For Trump Foundation Says Lawsuit Against The Charity Fueled By Bias

A foundation named in honor of United States President Donald Trump has requested that a judge in New York move to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it. The lawsuit was filed by the state’s Attorney General in response to activities of the non-profit. Both Trump and the foundation have characterized the lawsuit as a politically motivated attack.

A lawyer for Donald Trump said that the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Barbara Underwood was no more than an effort on the part of her office to lead a charge against the president. The lawyer claims that the resistance operates by attacking him whenever possible and filing lawsuits when agreements could be reached.

Underwood is a Democrat that inherited the results of a 21-month probe by former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Attorney General Underwood said when speaking in June that the investigation into Trump Foundation affairs alerted her office to numerous unlawful actions that were committed with the attempt to benefit Donald Trump.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer employed by the Trump Foundation, says that funds collected by the Foundation have been completely accounted for and that ‘nearly every penny’ was spent to benefit individuals that were in need. Futerfas went on to say that no one involved with the Foundation committed any illegal acts. This includes three adult children of Trump that are affiliated with the Foundation in various capacities.

Futerfas has also openly questioned the failure of Underwood and the AG’s office to pay any attention to the many allegations of wrongdoings that have been lodged against a foundation associated with former President of the United States Bill Clinton.

A spokeswoman for Underwood, Amy Spitalnick, added to the fray via Twitter by saying that Attorney General Underwood has no intention of backing down in her efforts to assure that Trump and his associates are held accountable for improper practices taking place in the state of New York.

Spitalnick explained that the Trump Foundation in New York amounted to nothing more than the then-presidential candidate’s ‘personal piggy bank’ and was used to further both the political and business interests of President Trump.

The lawsuit by the Attorney General was filed in a Manhattan state court of New York. The lawsuit is asking that the court recoup $2.8 million dollars from the Foundation and force its dissolution. The lawsuit also asks that the three Trump children involved with the Foundation be banned from associating again with a charity in the state of New York.

The Trump Organization May Be On A Collision Course With Manhattan’s District Attorney

Donald Trump likes legal battles. According to a CNBC article, Mr. Trump and lawsuits are close friends. Records show he took part in more than 3,500 lawsuits before he won the 2016 campaign election. But even though that number of legal skirmishes is unprecedented for someone seeking public office, the legal battles facing Mr. Trump now might make that number look like a warm-up round for the legal Olympics, according to some legal experts.

A new Manhattan legal battle could make Trump look for another group of legal eagles to save him. The word is the Manhattan District Attorney’s office may bring criminal charges against the Trump Organization. Two senior Trump officials are in the eye of this brewing legal storm, according to a New York Times article. If the Manhattan District Attorney follows through and wins the case, Trump can’t use a presidential pardon as a get out of jail free card.

The main issue, in this case, is how the Trump Organization handled the reimbursement of the funds his long-time attorney Michael Cohen used to silence two women who say they had affairs with Trump. The Trump Organization listed those reimbursements as legal expenses. But according to recent Cohen testimony, he didn’t do any legal work to make those payments. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion charges, and he is also guilty of violating state tax laws, according to the New York Times Article.

Mr. Trump has a history of responding to legal disputes with a lot of legal force. And if the Manhattan District Attorney does files charges, Trump will try to use his money and influence to win, according to people close to Trump. Trump seems to thrive on legal battles. His older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is an attorney as well as a former United States Circuit Judge. Mr. Trump feels comfortable battling the legal system. He thinks he knows how to win based on his relationship with his sister.

Manhattan prosecutors are trying to determine if the organization used phony business records. And if that’s the case, the Trump group did commit a low-level felony. The last time District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. had his sights set on members of the Trump Organization for misleading buyers, he didn’t pursue the case. But according to some people in the DA’s office, he won’t make that kind of mistake again.

A Solution for the Increased Eviction of Tenants.

According to statistics, the level of wages has stagnated for several years now. The high cost of housing has therefore led to a high eviction rate in the country as most tenants are unable to cater to their rent. This worrying trend is evident all over the country. According to a book written by Mathew Desmond, most low-income earners spend a significant amount of their monthly income on rent. The author estimated the rent and the electricity bill payable by most low-income earners to be over 70% of their income. Even though a majority of the evictions are not done according to the law, most tenants do not seek legal help.
Statistics show that barely 20% of the evicted tenants go to the courts. As a result, some innovators have been developing a program for the tenants to find justice after unlawful evictions. Two innovators from Brigham Young University and the University of Arizona are the brains behind the idea. After the completion of the program, the number of evictions is expected to go down significantly and also the facilitating the acquiring of the appropriate attorneys in cases of unlawful evictions. According to the Dean of the Brigham Young University, Gordon Smith, there was a need for collaborations with other stakeholders in the legal field to develop an appropriate solution for the tenants across the country.
The dean revealed that some of their students carried out a study and discovered that most residents find a hard time when faced with legal battles in areas such as debt collections, evictions, and divorces. Some of the target areas include Arizona and Utah. However, the developers expect to come up with a solution for the whole country soon. The number of daily evictions recorded in 2016 from Utah was estimated at 7.61 while Pima County in Arizona had about 22. The statistics were compiled by the Eviction Lab.
Some citizens find it hard to use the current civil legal system. The innovation is expected to encourage more law students to help in minimizing the number of evictions by helping the tenants to understand their constitutional rights. One of the main challenges to the developers of the program is the variations in the legal guidelines regarding the evictions. Different states have different legislation on the issue. Most eviction laws favor the owners of the residential buildings. In some states, the tenant is issued with an eviction notice and expected to respond in a very short period.

Read More: https://jacobinmag.com/2018/08/ireland-housing-crisis-eviction-renters

Trump’s Legal Team Is Preparing To Fight A Mueller Subpoena

The tension caused by Trump’s refusal to sit down with Robert Mueller’s team of investigators is creating an assortment of what-if scenarios in the legal community. When the Mueller investigation got started over a year ago, Mr. Trump said he would sit down with Mueller because he has nothing to hide. But as the investigation drags on, and more people are facing prosecution for their ties with Russia, and the alleged interference in the 2016 election, Trump is changing his tune. Trump’s lawyers now say he will talk to Mueller, but Mueller can only ask the president softball questions. Talk of collusion and obstruction of justice are off the table if Trump sits down with Mueller.

Rudy Giuliani, the no-holds-barred former New York prosecutor, and mayor of New York City is the legal front man in this comedy of legal maneuvering. Giuliani sent Mueller a message last week, and Mueller didn’t reply. In Rudy’s legal mind that means Mueller is going to subpoena the president. And Rudy and the other members of Trump legal team are ready to do what they do best. They are going to fight like Manny Pacquiao fought when he got hammered by Floyd Mayweather in 2015. Manny had a shoulder injury so his performance was not up to par. Trump has another type of injury that could predict the outcome of this pending legal battle. That injury is his inability to tell the truth.

But truth doesn’t always matter when legal battles enter the courts. Perception takes the place of truth in some courtrooms. And Giuliani and Trump are master perception manipulators, according to people close to the legal titans who are preparing for this legal showdown. Mr. Giuliani and the Trump’s legal team are ready to take the fight to the Supreme Court. But some legal analysts say the fight won’t last that long. Other analysts say a subpoena battle could last several months.

The midterm elections are approaching, and Trump is playing a major role in those elections. More legal dirt throwing could mean the Republicans will lose their majority in the House and possibly in the Senate. But Trump is willing to take that risk to protect his position. Some legal experts say Giuliani and Trump are waiting for a verdict in the Manafort trial before they do anything. If the verdict is an acquittal, Trump will use that to his advantage, according to Giuliani.

Traverse City Man Found Not Guilty In Bicyclist Accident

On September 27, 2017, Thomas Ray drove his car on Silver Pines Road at 7:30 in the evening. He says that there was a mixture of twilight and wet roads that made it difficult to see. Ray struck and killed cyclist David Owen Williamson. Ray struck Williamson from behind. A second driver hit Williamson after the initial impact.

A jury recently found Ray not guilty for his actions. Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Robert Cooney charged Ray with moving violation causing death. He and assistant prosecutor Kit Tholen said that Ray should have been driving more slowly. The jury disagreed.

Ray was emotional at the favorable verdict. He waited almost a year for the case to go to trial. He said that he still thinks of the victim and their family, but that he doesn’t believe that he is legally liable for what happened.

Cooney stated that he was disappointed with the jury’s verdict. Cooney seemed to think that simply because a crash occurred and someone got hurt, Ray must have committed a moving violation. Cooney said that he spent more than a month investigating the case to determine whether to file charges. However, the jury believed that the accident was just an accident and they declined to hold Ray criminally responsible for the crash.

The charge that Ray faced is a violation of a Michigan state law. The law is committing a moving violation that causes death. The law says that a person who commits a traffic violation that results in the death of someone else is guilty of a misdemeanor. The offender can spend up to one year in jail for their offense. The crime doesn’t require the offender to act intentionally or even with negligence. Just committing a moving violation can be enough to be liable for the offense.

The law is an amendment of an earlier Michigan law called negligent homicide. The law required prosecutors to show that an offender acted negligently in a way that caused the death of another person. The offense was punishable by up to two years incarceration that could include state prison. The law was amended because juries returned verdicts of not guilty in many cases. Although jurors see traffic deaths as tragic, they often see them as just terrible accidents that do not warrant jail and other penalties for the responsible driver. It isn’t clear what motivated jurors to return a verdict of not guilty in Ray’s case.

Ref: https://www.9and10news.com/2018/08/13/man-accused-of-hitting-killing-bicyclist-in-grand-traverse-co-found-not-guilty/

Federal Judge Orders Return Flight For Deported Mother And Daughter

A United States District Court judge gave an order on Thursday for a mother and daughter that were in the process of being deported to El Salvador to be returned immediately to America. The order was issued once the judge was made aware that the pair had been already boarded onto a flight.

Judge Emmet Sullivan was in court to hear a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to have the deportation stayed for 12 immigrants they were representing in a lawsuit. During the course of the proceedings, Judge Sullivan was made aware that the woman and child were already en route to Central America.

Judge Sullivan ordered the return of the pair and then informed all that were present that the action that was taken against the woman and her child could result in a contempt of court charge being filed against United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said that the department is willing to cooperate fully with the order of the court. The spokesman also reported that once the plane had landed, the mother and her daughter were immediately placed on a second plane that would return them to America.

Judge Sullivan also took the action at the hearing to issue temporary stays of deportation for all nine of the women and three children that are being represented in the lawsuit by the ACLU.

The lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia on Tuesday and is in response to what the ACLU characterizes as an unjust tightening of standards for individuals seeking asylum in America. The ACLU maintains that these new policies pose a danger to people attempting to flee violence and persecution against them in their homeland by causing it to be more difficult for them to be approved to stay in the United States.

Attorney General Sessions has been the point man for the Trump Administration’s mission to limit illegal immigration into the country. The Administration has endured much criticism in recent months as a result of the hardline stances that are being taken by them including the separation of immigrant children from their parents.

The Administration relented to the public outcry regarding family separations and ended the policy in June. However, it does not seem the Administration is willing to relent on many other stances it has taken as parties on both sides of the issue are preparing for a long legal battle.

Border Agent Could Face Civil Liability For Shooting Mexican Teenager Across Border

A United States Border Patrol agent that was acquitted by a criminal court in the shooting death of a Mexican teenager learned that he was not exempt from facing civil litigation in the matter. The shooting took place while the teenager and agent were on opposite sides of the U.S.- Mexican border in Arizona.

The ruling originated from the 9th United State Circuit Court of Appeals and the dissenting judge in the 2-1 decision expressed his belief that his colleagues were ignoring all legal precedent with the decision.

The decision has paved the way for the legal allowance of Araceli Rodriguez, to file for civil damages against Border Patrol agent Lonnie Schwartz in response to the 2012 shooting of her son Jose Rodriquez.

The boy was reportedly walking along the street in Nogales, Mexico when Schwartz, while working in an official capacity with the U.S. Border Patrol, fired at Rodriquez while standing on an embankment located on the U.S. side of the border. Rodriquez was shot ten times and died as a result of the injuries.

Schwartz said his actions were in self-defense from a group of individuals that hurled rocks at him from the Mexican side of the border. Araceli Rodriquez maintains that her son was walking peacefully along his way when he was killed.

Schwartz was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder by a federal court in Tuscon, Arizona that was also unable to come to an agreement on lesser included charges of manslaughter. The case is set for retrial on October 23.

A lower court judge rejected a claim by Schwartz in the civil proceedings that he should be extended the status of qualified immunity and ruled that Rodriquez could seek civil redress for the loss of her son through the violation of his constitutional rights.

Judge Andrew Kleinfeld penned the majority decision and expressed that it was ‘inconceivable’ that any officer would take the action that Schwartz took against Rodriquez. He went on to say that Schwartz was on American soil when he fired his gun and that he is, therefore, subject to the laws of the United States. Judge Kleinfeld ended by characterizing the action taken by Schwartz as “shocking.”

A lawyer acting on behalf of Schwartz, Sean Chapman, did not provide the media with a comment. The Justice Department, who had also advised Schwartz on this matter, also gave no response to any requests for comments.

Source: https://www.newsweek.com/border-patrol-agent-who-killed-teenager-cross-border-shooting-must-face-1062983

Judge Rules Against Trump Administration Ban On Transgendered Military Personnel

A U.S. Court decided on Monday that the administration of President Donald Trump will not be allowed to enforce s policy that would ban some transgendered individuals from serving in the United States military. The ruling is the second of its kind by an American court since the policy was introduced by the administration in March.

The announcement was made by President Trump on March 23 that he would support a plan proposed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that would disallow military service of transgendered individuals that are diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This distinction replaces a previous ban to all transgendered people that was announced by the president via Twitter and said to be due to increased medical costs and reduced military focus that result from their service.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of the United States District Court in Washington, refused a request by the administration to consider lifting an injunction she previously issued against the Trump ban.

A similar ruling occurred in Seattle last April when another federal judged refused to allow the president’s ban to go into effect. The administration has appealed this ban to the Court of Appeals in the 9th District.

The argument made by Trump and his administration is that the updated ban no longer constitutes a categorical ban on all transgendered individuals wishing to serve the nation’s military.

Kollar-Kotelly expressed her disagreement with this assertion in her opinion in which she says the president’s ban does effectively amount to a categorical ban by making proxies of the transgendered status its focal point. The judge also singled out an aspect of the president’s policy that seeks to have all individuals serving the military to serve in the capacity of their ‘biological sex.’

Gender dysphoria is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as ‘clinically significant distress’ resulting from an individual’s conflict with their gender identity and their birth sex. The association holds the view that not all transgendered people are suffering from gender dysphoria.

The ruling on Monday stems from a lawsuit filed on behalf of several current members of the armed forces as well as aspiring service members. Kollar-Kotelly ruled in the original proceedings that the ban violates the Constitutional provision that all citizens are to be guaranteed equal protection under the law.

A trio of other judges has also demonstrated their disagreement with the ban which has forced the U.S. military to allow openly transgendered personnel within its ranks.

Arrested and Sued For Sending a GIF

We’ve probably all been bullied at one time or another, and some of us might have even been cyber-bullied. Some examples of cyber-bullying might include text messages, emails or social media posts that operate to threaten, harass, intimidate, embarrass or otherwise harm a recipient.

Facing an Enhanced Charge
According to the American Bar Association Journal, one Twitter user recently sent another user a GIF with a strobe effect. It was accompanied by the message, “You deserve a seizure.” The sender knew that the recipient was an epileptic. Strobe lights can cause seizures in a small minority of epileptics. Indeed, the recipient went into a seizure. The sender has now been arrested on federal cyberstalking charges. That charge was dismissed, but the sender still faces another charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in state court. Prosecutors are calling the bullying an enhanced hate-crime.

A Physical Tool
There’s still another case that’s pending against the sender in federal court, and that’s a lawsuit based on the civil tort theory of battery. In its simplest sense, battery involves harmful or offensive contact with the plaintiff’s person coupled with the intent to do so. That definition dates back before the Mayflower. In the 21st century, battery isn’t always thought of as a violent physical blow or groping though. As per the strobe case, it was held that the GIF was a physical tool that would have “the same effect as any person with the plaintiff’s condition.” In support of his decision, the federal judge stated that past cases involving second-hand smoke, electrical shocks or loud noise can also constitute a battery. Much like a laser causing blindness, or a deafening noise, direct harmful or offensive contact need not be made.

What the sender never realized is that battery is an intentional tort. Intentional torts are generally not covered by insurance or dischargeable in bankruptcy. On top of that, punitive damages are allowed in personal in cases involving intentional torts. The sender is likely to learn a lesson from the school of hard knocks in this case. He’s likely to be in for a long payoff.

Read More: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/sending_a_flashing_gif_to_provoke_a_seizure_can_constitute_battery_federal

California Supreme Court Rules Yelp Isn’t Required to Remove Negative Review of Law Firm

The Supreme Court of California made a decision by overturning a ruling made by San Francisco Superior Court, stating that Yelp Inc. does not have to delete negative consumer reviews from its website.

According to legalnewsline.com, the case dates back to 2012, when Ava Bird went to Yelp to leave a negative review about the law firm that represented her in a personal injury case. Hassell Law Group attempted to sue her after discovering the review.

Managing partner of California law firm Haight Brown and Bonesteel, David Evans, stated that the court was divided on the matter in spite of the final ruling, which took place on July 2, 2018. He explained that three judges believed Yelp should win the case, while another three disagreed.

Bird and the law firm had reached an agreement. However, there were emails back and forth between Dawn Hassell, the owner of Hassell Law Group, and Ms. Bird that resulted in the revelation that Bird was dissatisfied with the way the firm was handling her case. As a result of the exchanges, the law firm withdrew its representation.

Subsequently, the law firm discovered a review on Yelp from someone who had rated it one out of five stars. According to the Supreme Court, that review was posted by a user called “Birdzeye B” and that the individual said in the review that the law firm is not even worthy of one star and urged others to avoid it.

According to the opinion, Hassell believed that Bird was the person who posted that review. She then sent her an email and accused her of slander and trying to intentionally damage the reputation of the business.

This was not the only one-star review the law firm received on Yelp. In early February 2013, there was one from a user called “J.D.” from Alameda.

Two months later, the plaintiff Hassell filed a lawsuit against Bird in San Francisco Superior Court, claiming that she authored both negative reviews and that she was being libelous. Dawn Hassell also claimed emotional distress. Yelp was not named as a defendant in the case.

The opinion stated that, in the event that the plaintiffs later decided to add Yelp as a defendant, Yelp could claim immunity under section 230. Section 230 exists for the purpose of promoting free exchange of ideas or information on the Internet.

Evans stated that protecting websites like Yelp is a priority, but that the other side should also be considered. He said Yelp doesn’t want to be sued every time a user posts a negative review about a company and that was why section 230 was enacted.