Arizona’s Ban On Ethnic Studies Heads For The Courts

Immigration laws have been a source of contention for many decades. Some people argue in favor of laws that are more lax. They say the country needs more people and that all should be allowed to come here. Others argue that the country should have laws that stricter and focus primarily on skills and education rather than merely inviting any given able bodied person to America. In Arizona, this issue has been of particular concern. As a state bordering Mexico, many residents fear being swallowed up by the large neighbor just to the south. In response to this issues, efforts have been put forth to urge those settling in the state from Mexico to assimilate into the broader American culture.

A New Law

In 2010, the Arizona governor and other state officials decided to take action against the perception that perhaps more needs to be done in order to encourage unity. Jan Brewer, a highly popular governor, signed a bill called HB 2281 into law. This law mandates what can and cannot be taught in the local public schools in Arizona. The law states that all state public school districts are not allowed to offer what has been deemed ethnic studies classes to their students. The aim of the law is to prevent teachers from teaching children classes that state officials feel promotes ethnic solidarity rather than suggesting that all pupils are individuals with widely differing needs. The law is actually aimed at a specific part of the curriculum that has been in place in one specific school district.

Tucson School District

The subject of the lawsuit is one that is based on Mexican-American studies program. This program has been taught many Tucson public schools for over two decades without comments. Many of those who are in favor of this program have argued that it enables students in the area to improve their self-esteem and do far better in school. They have also argued that this program should be retained. However, in the last seven years the program has been a source of contention for legislators who feel that it does not help students or the overall goal of the state in regards to assimilation into the broader culture.

Back In The Court System

Since that time, the court system has taken the issue in question under consideration. The issue is back in the court system right now. Federal courts in Arizona have taken up this case and expected to issue a ruling soon. Many Republicans support the legislation as they feel this law is a source of problems in the Hispanic community and teaches Latinos to view those who are not Latinos as their enemies. Others feel that it helps students by linking them to a culture that many find familiar and comforting. They argue that those students who take it have better test scores and a lower high school drop out rate. They also argue that the law is not constitutional and will not stand up in court.

Job Market for Law Students

At one time, becoming a lawyer was one of the best careers that anyone could choose. However, many law students today are graduating into a market that is saturated with new graduates. This is concerning for several reasons. First of all, some people are not going to be able to land jobs in their field. In addition, this is going to prevent people from joining the field in the future as wages go down.

Law school costs a lot of money to complete. With some of the changes that are taking place in the market today, many people are struggling to get to a new level. The worst combination is a bad job market with a lot of debt. Here are some of the issues that law students are facing.

Debt

One of the biggest issues with going to law school is all of the debt that students take on. There are a lot of students today who are graduating with record levels of debt. The good thing about becoming a lawyer is that the starting salaries are usually really high. This makes the payoff process a lot easier in the future.

The problem is that many students are not getting those jobs that they did in the past. Many students cannot afford to buy a home or start a family. There is an entire generation of people who are now stuck financially because of what is going on in the job market. In the coming years, it is vital for law schools to start addressing these issues.

Finding a Job

It can be difficult to find a job in this field. However, there are several things that you can do today to stand out from other job candidates. In the coming years, the jobs problem is only going to get worse. Students should start working in an internship as soon as they can in order to have success landing a job after graduation. Getting practical experience is one of the best things that anyone can do during this time.

Future Trends

The trends in the legal job field look bleak. A lot of students who are currently in school are looking for other careers to take on. With all of the changes happening today, it is vital for students to continue looking for ways to improve their financial position by landing a great job in their chosen field.

Ref: https://www.alanet.org/career-center/career-resources-and-articles/articles-from-robert-half-legal/2017-legal-job-market

Hawaiian Federal Judge Revises Travel Ban

A Hawaiian federal judge recently revised the ‘family relationships’ clause of the President’s travel ban. Less than thirty days ago, the US Supreme Court voted unanimously that the President had the Constitutional authority to use executive orders to impose a travel ban that the administration believed was in the best interest of national security. The travel ban restricts travel from six countries: Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. The only exceptions to the ban are travelers who have what the Supreme Court called a “bona fide relationship” with someone in the United States. The language was intentionally vague and received additional clarity from Hawaii’s Judge Derrick Watson.

The Trump administration’s initial definition of bona fide relationships included only immediate family members, such as parents or brothers and sisters. Pushing back against the administration’s definition, Watson argued that relationships such as grandparents, grandchildren, and other blood relatives like aunts and uncles, should also be exempted if those people already live in the United States.

Hawaii made headlines earlier this year by being the first to oppose travel restrictions brought on by the Trump administration. The state’s Attorney General, Doug Chin, said that the state’s tourism industry would suffer greatly if travel restrictions were levied. Not only is tourism the largest revenue generator for Hawaiian residents and business owners, it also generates huge tax revenues for the state.

Attorney General Chin released a statement following the revisions made to the travel ban that states his opposition to the administration’s scope of the previous version of the plan. “Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this executive order has no basis in stopping terrorism.”

The revised ban will take effect immediately. While the original case addressed whether the White House had the authority to issue executive orders that it believed would protect national security, the Supreme Court will address the Constitutionality of the contents of the travel ban later this year.

Jeremy Goldstein Explains The Mystery Of Severance Pay

In today’s unpredictable and competitive employment market, one common concern among employees everywhere is severance pay. Although many people believe that professional jobs automatically come with severance pay, this is not always the case. For those who are job hunting or are concerned about being fired from a professional job, it is important to understand how severance pay works and when it is applicable.

 

 

Severance Pay And The Law

Not all companies are not required by law to provide severance pay. If an employee leaves a job voluntarily, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that the worker must be paid his or her wages through the date of completion. Also, the worker is entitled to be paid for any vacation accrual. A severance sum is not mandated by the FLSA. Employers may offer severance pay if they choose to do so. It may be offered to employees on a certain level or all employees of a company. If severance is paid, it is often paid through an agreement between the employee and the employer or a union.

 

In the event of a mass layoff, employers are required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to notify workers 60 days in advance. If the employer does not or cannot provide notice within that period, the employer is required to pay the workers their regular salary and benefits for 60 days. For example, a company that is closing in 30 days and must lay off workers would still have to pay the workers for 30 days beyond the closing date. If a company promises severance pay in its employee handbook or through an employment contract, the company is required to honor its commitment. Employees who receive a severance benefit are usually required to sign a contract from the employer that liberates the employer from any future legal claims or liabilities.

 

Another common requirement that accompanies severance release forms is an age discrimination release form. Anyone who is over the age of 40 is usually required to sign this form since some people file lawsuits under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Employees who are over the age of 40 and are presented with a severance option have 21 days to decide whether or not to accept the offer under federal law. However, employees have 45 days to consider the offer if more than one person is being laid off at the same time and at least two of the workers are over the age of 40. This is because more than one person being laid off at a time is considered a group layoff.

 

 

How Severance Is Paid

Most large companies offer severance in the form of one lump payment. In some instances, severance is calculated based on continuing salary for a certain period. When this is the case, severance may be distributed in several payments. A lump sum is the best option to accept if an employer offers multiple choices for payment. When payments are received in multiple increments, some employers provide a larger payment upfront followed by diminishing payments until there is nothing left to pay.

 

One benefit of receiving multiple payments is continuing health insurance. In some instances, an employer will pay the severed employee’s health coverage until severance pay runs out. Employees can ask about this before accepting a payment structure. Although workers are often allowed under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act to continue receiving health benefits from a former employer for up to 18 months, they are usually required to pay the premiums themselves. Many group plans have expensive individual premiums. Some workers who know that they will be laid off may be able to negotiate with an employer to have the company continue paying for health benefits for a certain period.

 

When calculating severance pay, employers usually base it on the worker’s salary and invested years. For example, many large companies that employ top-level executives offer about three weeks of severance pay for every year of work. This means that an executive who worked for a firm for 10 years may receive a severance package that includes between 25 and 30 weeks of pay. For lower-level employees, severance pay is usually equal to less than two weeks of pay for every year spent at the company. In many instances, severance pay comes with a year number cap. This varies from one company to another and may also vary based on an employee’s position.

 

Severance pay is taxed. Receiving a lump sum could put a person in a higher tax bracket. Many workers benefit from contacting a tax professional before accepting a payment option when they are presented with more than one choice. When being laid off, workers can also try to recoup reimbursement for travel expenses, sick time or unused vacation time. Additional benefits such as 401(k) contributions and others may be kept by the employee.

 

 

About Jeremy Goldstein

Jeremy Goldstein is a partner at Jeremy Goldstein, LLC. His firm serves the greater New York City area. Mr. Goldstein earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University in 1995. He earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1996. In 1999, he earned his law degree from the New York University School of Law. Jeremy Goldstein volunteers his time as a director at Fountain House in New York. The non-profit organization helps men and women receive treatment for mental health issues.

 

In the past, Mr. Goldstein served as a partner for 14 years with another firm. He gained valuable experience in executive compensation with a focus on issues related to mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, he has extensive experience in executive compensation in relation to corporate governance. Jeremy Goldstein is also a member of several prestigious associations related to corporate governance and executive compensation.

Jeremy has contributed before on our blog. Read his opinions on stock options for employees: https://thereisnoconsensus.com/jeremy-goldstein-explains-knockout-options-help-employers/

Learn more:

https://www.visualcv.com/jeremygoldstein

Follow Jeremy Goldstein on Facebook and @jgoldsteinlaw1

Senator Sends Letter To DOJ About Trump Administration

Senator Amy Klobuchar has sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking them to reject any push by the White House to get politics involved in mergers. She apparently felt the need to bring this up because there have been rumors that the White House has been considering using politics against television network CNN.

The White House has long been battling against CNN because they believe that the network has been a propaganda wing against the White House. They claim that the network makes up stores out them or otherwise creates falsehoods that need to be addressed. As such, people in the Trump Administration have considered pulling some strings in a merger between AT&T and Time Warner. This matters because Time Warner is the parent network of CNN. If the White House were to use the DOJ to reject the merger of those two companies, they could literally punish CNN for not playing ball.

The Department of Justice is the organization that reviews all potential mergers. They are supposed to consider the benefit of the public with these types of things. It is their role to try to break up monopolies and avoid having any one company become too powerful. Now, the White House is considering asking the DOJ to move forward with considerations about these mergers with politics in mind.

An interesting element in this story is that Senator Klobuchar has actually expressed concerns about the merger between AT&T and Time Warner because it is such a large deal. She is worried that it might in fact be the definition of a monopoly. That is what the DOJ is supposed to break up, so Klobuchar had her concerns to begin with. Now, she is just making the point that she does not want to see politics injected into the mix.

Both the White House and the Department Of Justice have declined to comment on the story. Trump has not made any comments to the public about this particular deal so it is unclear what his position may be. Some more Senators are sure to make a big deal out of this if nothing changes going forward, but the politics of how this all plays out is yet to be seen.

Federal Court Affirms Citizens’ Right To Film Police

A U.S. federal court recently confirmed that all U.S. residents have the right to film the police in the course of their duties. Although quite a few legal scholars already held this opinion, this is the first appeals court ruling affirming the right to film for the Third Circuit. After this significant ruling, half of all U.S. states have judicially protected police filming rights. The most recent ruling elucidates that this right is an integral part of First Amendment freedoms. This is a major victory for policing reform advocates. According to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, police officers must accept filming because they are public officials doing their duties in the public realm.

This ruling is particular relevant during a time when relations between local communities and U.S. police departments remain fraught. This Third Circuit ruling may well inspire many departments to conduct their operations with greater transparency. The rise of handheld devices with cameras has made it increasingly common for videos of police actions to make their way online.

In its unanimous decision, the Third Circuit affirmed the positive value of filming the police. The court argued that as long as those filming do not directly interfere with the police, such filming helps ensure that the local government is held accountable for its actions and policies. The court also argued that this ruling does not create winners and losers. On the contrary, the ruling stated, the filming of police fuels a dialogue that can ultimately benefit police officers themselves. After this historic ruling, as many as 60 percent of U.S. residents live in states where the right to film police is judicially protected. Though no federal court has contradicted this right in any state, the question of filming remains unaddressed in half of the states.

The Supreme Court has not had yet its say on this specific legal issue. However, a number of legal scholars have noted that in the past decade, the Supreme Court has adopted a fairly expansive view of the First Amendment. Indeed, the Roberts Court has consistently defended the First Amendment vigorously. It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court specifically address the recording of police officers. If this does happen, legal scholars believe it could be one of the most momentous judgments in the recent history of the nation’s highest court. For now, people across the nation have been emboldened to record the police in a variety of different settings.

President and Pope Battle to Save Baby’s Life

Charlie Gard who turns 1 year old on August 3, 2017, was born with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Despite the fact that he is unable to move or even breathe on his own, this child who is blind and deaf has ended up at the center of a global political debate.

Courts Rule to Remove Lifesaving Medical Care

Ever since, Charlie was born, he has been hospitalized. Three courts in Europe and the European Court of Human Rights have denied his parent’s permission to bring the child to the United States where lifesaving treatment may be available. They feel that they have the right to give their child a chance to live, but the courts have determined that the hospital has the right to turn off the breathing machine. The courts have ruled that Charlie must stay in the London hospital where he is currently a patient.

Pope Francis Supports Parents

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis has been following the case with sadness and affection. Officials at the Vatican say that the pope hopes that the child can be brought to the United States as the parents’ wish. Italy’s top pediatric hospital has said that they will take the sick infant giving him a chance to continue to live. While there are only 16 children in the world believed to have this debilitating syndrome, some experts believe that nucleoside therapy could help save the infant’s life. In light of the new evidence that this therapy might help, the London hospital will return to the High Court on July 10, 2017.

Help From United States

President Trump recently tweeted that the United States was prepared to do everything possible to help this family. An online campaign has raised more than $1.7 million in hopes that the child can be brought to the United States. Members of the United States Congress have proposed that the family could receive permanent residency if it would save the child’s life. The United States has also said that they are willing to ship the medicine to London if Charlie is unable to travel.

Supreme Court Limits Where Companies Can Be Sued

There is an interesting article on the Reuters website about how the Supreme Court of the United States has made an important ruling concerning in what states plaintiffs may file injury lawsuits against corporations. The court made an 8-1 decision to put limits on where lawsuits can be filed, which is good news for companies that want to prevent plaintiffs suing them from picking the most advantageous state. More specifically, the case involved out-of-state plaintiffs suing Bristol-Myers Squibb in California although the alleged injuries by the pharmaceutical company did not all occur there and the company is based elsewhere.

The ruling was good news for the Johnson & Johnson company, which is being sued in Missouri state courts despite the corporation being headquartered in New Jersey. Furthermore, a similar ruling by the Supreme Court on May 30th regarding out-of-state plaintiffs suing Texas-based BNSF Railway Co. will likely make corporations more secure that they won’t be sued in states where they are not based. As always, however, plaintiffs retain the right to bring cases against corporations in whatever state they are located. Therefore, the ruling limits the ability of plaintiffs to “shop around,” but it is still very possible to hold corporations liable in court when they are at fault.

The lone dissenting justice was Sonia Sotomayor. Essentially, she feels that the ruling puts too much burden on people who have suffered at the hands of negligent companies. She appears to believe that, because corporations sell products all over the country and not just in the states where they are based, they should be held accountable wherever their products do harm. In the Bristol-Myers Squibb case, the company actually sold nearly one billion dollars of their drug Plavix – the drug alleged to have done harm – in the State of California, so the suit was brought in that state.

Donald Trump Jr. Under Investigation

The New York Times recently reported that the Trump administration had changed their defense against a recent accusation. The Trump legal team had been accused of meddling with Clinton’s effort to become the president of the free world. The recent change of defense agrees that some part of his legal team, his son and top campaign members had met with a well-known lawyer in Russia exactly one year ago. The Russian lawyer goes by the name Natalia Veselnitskaya while the top officials from Trump’s legal team include Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer who had been accused of fighting the Magnitsky Act of the year 2012. This is an act that was meant to blacklist Russians who had been linked or suspected of going against human rights. In reaction to this campaign, Russian President, Vladimir Putin blocked the law and even refused Americans to adopt children from Russia.

However, few people knew about this meeting and only came to light after Jared Kushner decided to get a new security clearance. This came after Jared Kushner was accused by New York Times for refusing to talk about the contacts that he had with Russians before he was invited to work with President Trump. Donald Trump Jr. insisted that the visit to Russia was not based on his father’s campaign. He further insisted that it was focused on adopting Russian children and he had asked both Jared Kushner and Paul to drop by to help him with the issue. As for the New York Times, they reported that the meeting took place because young Trump had promised some damaging information to ruin the presidential bid of his father’s opponent Hilary Clinton. However, Donald Trump’s legal team responded to these accusations terming them as a way of undermining the campaign efforts of their boss.

The team, later on, changed their stand after the Times published another story telling about the meeting. The team said that their boss was not aware of the meeting between his son and the Russian lawyer. Reports said that Veselnitskaya had been hired by a person named as Denis Katyv. Denis, on the other hand, happens to be connected to Pyotr Katsyv who is a senior government official in Russia. Other than this position, Pyotr is connected to Prevezon which is a real estate company from Cyprus. This is a firm that has been under the radar of department of justice for laundering charges.

The Gig Economy is Harmful to Consumers and Workers

Unpredictability in the work place has become harsh reality for many workers. We now have a gig economy, and it is growing rapidly and changing the nature of the employer-employee relationship. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, gigs now comprise 40 percent of these nontraditional jobs.

In a report by Entrepreneur.com, the emergence of the gig economy is the result of changes in the work environment. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, millennials wanted to focus more on satisfying themselves, having more free time and having more control and flexibility over their work schedules. As a consequence, employers cut back on medical coverage, retirement plans and many other benefits from social safety nets.

The recession from 2007 through 2009 brought another reality problem. Employers began to hire more people as independent contractors to save money. These jobs did not offer vacation days, workers’ compensation, paid sick leave, retirement programs or death benefits for anyone killed on the job. As the unemployed scrambled for jobs, these temporary gigs were often the only jobs available.

The Department of Labor regulates employers to make sure they are in compliance with federal and state labor laws. There are minimum worker safety standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These regulations protect workers by defining safe workday time limits, creating mandatory rest breaks and obligatory reporting of accidents. Violations of these regulations will subject employers to serious penalties.

Gig employees are not provided with these same safety protections. There are no limits for hours at work and no mandatory rest breaks. The absence of these controls can subject gig workers to exhaustion and fatigue.

Employers do not like to train gig workers because this could be construed as exercising too much control over them, and they could become reclassified as full-time employees entitled to all benefits. This absence of training can lead to an unsafe work environment.

Employers do not get to decide who is an independent contractor and who is a full-time employee. There are laws and court rulings from cases that define the characteristics of a gig worker.

The case of S.G. Borrello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations established the criteria in 1989 for determining which workers are independent contractors. This case considered who controlled the details of the work, who provided the tools needed for the job, the form of payment and the length of the term of employment. These factors have become the tests applied to gig workers to determine whether the employer is obligated to provide benefits or not.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296693

Sarah Palin’s Lawsuit Against The Times Progresses

The lawyers for the New York Times took an aggressive public stance recently, declaring that they intend to seek an early dismissal of Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against the Times. If this legal maneuver succeeds, it will put an immediate stop to this legal drama. Palin initiated the suit when the Times published an article that explicitly linked Palin with a tragic mass shooting. According to the lawyers representing the newspaper, the Times did not intentionally act with actual malice when it published the editorial. Although pushing for early dismissal is a fairly common move for civil defendants, experts believe that in this case, there is a good chance that the maneuver may have teeth. U.S. law says that in order for Palin to win, a preponderance of evidence must show that the Times acted with malice.

Palin filed this lawsuit in response to the newspaper’s June 14 editorial, which linked a 2011 shooting in Tucson with Palin’s pro-gun stance. According to the editorial, Palin’s political action committee had produced an ad that showed Democratic lawmakers beneath crosshairs. In reality, the ads in question only showed crosshairs superimposed over Democrat-held districts. Experts are divided about whether the alleged defamation represented a deliberate attempt to cause Palin harm. If the court rules that the defamation statue does apply in this case, Palin might win compensatory and punitive damages. Sources report that Palin’s team is seeking at least $75,000 in damages. Few believe that this case will settle out of court under any circumstances.

According to the lawyers defending the Times, the alleged offense was nothing more than a simple mistake that was corrected within 12 hours. Generally, newspapers are not held legally liable for honest mistakes. In this matter, the Times is represented by the law firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz. This is a serious firm with a long history of courtroom success. The presiding judge in this case is Southern District Judge J. Rakoff. Most commentators on both sides of the issue agree that Rakoff is an impartial force that should decide the case in a fair, dignified manner. Although defamation suits are fairly common, evidentiary standard for success is quite high for suits such as this. Therefore, most legal experts believe that Palin’s legal team will have a tough time succeeding. In any case, it could take quite some time before this civil legal matter is fully resolved.

Enacting Every Child Succeeds Law Proves Difficult

United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has shocked her critics on the feedback she has given states who have already submitted their plans under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Unlike the previous No Child Left Behind Act, this new law passed under President Obama allows states to set their own benchmarks.

Power Returned to Locals?

The new law is designed to return most of the power to state boards of education. The law, however, requires each state to submit a plan to the federal government on how they plan to measure success. Each state must also identify the process they will use if a school fails to meet the required goals.

Delaware’s Plan Returned for Revision

One of the first states to submit a plan was Delaware. An assistant secretary with the United States Secretary of Education returned the plan to the state saying that the plan was not ambitious enough. The plan called for up to 25 percent of students to not meet state requirements each year without a school district receiving any punishment.
Another early state to submit was Tennessee where they claimed that all students spoke English. The United States Department of Education recommended that Tennessee rethink their policy because an estimated 50,000 students in the state speak English as a second language.

Betsy DeVos Overzealous According to Some

Yet, another state to submit their plan early was New Mexico. While the United States Department of Education has not given the state any feedback on their plan yet, the acting superintendent of schools says that he sees Betsy DeVos as being overzealous in maintaining control in Washington D.C,

States May Feel Defeated

The Council for Chief State School Officials says that the United States Department of Education has put states in a hard place. Many states had assured educators and parents that the plan they developed would receive approval in Washington D.C. but now that does not seem to be the case. He says he is very concerned that residents in states who had looked forward to local control would feel defeated because of the federal government’s actions.

Gorsuch Shows Conservative Tendencies by Voting 100 Percent with Fellow Conservatives

The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its most recent term this week, and it is fair to say Justice Anthony Kennedy is probably not ready to retire. However, it is a reach to say that Kennedy will remain on the bench for the full four years of Trump’s tenure as president, according to NPR.org. In cases where the outcome is divided, Justice Kennedy is often the tie-breaking vote.

However, with each day that passes, it is becoming abundantly clear that the new Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, is a hardline conservative. Some legal experts say that Gorsuch is more conservative than the late Justice Anthony Scalia. The Scotus.org blog states that Gorsuch voted with his conservative counterparts 100 percent of the time. Experts who follow the court say it is unusual for a new justice to immediately show their ideological footprints.

Most new Supreme Court justices are hesitant at first to leave an immediate footprint. Other new justices understood that any ruling the Supreme Court makes is final and understood the lasting implications of their decisions. Unlike past new inductees to the court, Gorsuch has painted a clear picture of how far right he plans to go in both his opinions and his votes.

An example is the modified version of Trump’s travel ban that recently went into effect. If Justice Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch had their way, the full version of the travel ban would have taken effect. Instead, Chief Justice Kennedy and the other five justices comprised on a revised version of the modified travel ban. The compromised version of the travel ban is now in effect.

Another example of Gorsuch’s far right views is an Arkansas law banning same-sex married couples from putting both their names on birth certificates. When the Supreme Court voted to strike down the law, Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas dissented.

Despite International Pressure, Virginia Man Executed

Supporters who tried to convince Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, that a man sentenced to die suffered from mental illness failed in their attempts as the convicted double murderer was put to death last Thursday. Governor McAuliffe did not grant clemency to William Morva, a Hungarian national convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy and a security guard in 2008.

According to Jurist.org, a psychiatrist appointed by the courts diagnosed Morva with a delusional disorder. Supporters who wanted the governor to grant clemency said Morva was not mentally fit when he committed his crimes. The psychiatrist stated that Morva may have been suffering from delusions at the time the murders occurred.

Human rights workers from the UN pleaded with Governor McAuliffe to grant clemency, stating Morva did not receive the “proper accommodations” during trial, and that the courts nor the prosecution did not notify the jury Morva was mentally ill. Although McAuliffe opposes the death penalty, he released a statement saying Morva was given a fair trial and there was substantial evidence presented to the jury regarding Morva’s mental health issues. The governor concluded by saying in the statement that there was not enough evidence to justify overturning the decision of the jury. Dozens of members of Virginia’s General Assembly and three house representatives from the state opposed the execution of Morva.

The death penalty remains a hot topic of conversation nationwide. The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, recently scheduled the execution of a man convicted of murder, which will be state’s first execution in over 18 months. The state had halted the death penalty when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the way Florida handed down death sentences was unconstitutional. A new Florida law took effect in March that only allows judges to sentence defendants to the death penalty if there is unanimous consent by the jury.

Facebook Law passed in Germany

Lawmakers in Germany recently passed a new law that intended to curb the hate speech on social networks. Social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook will pay fines of up to $50 million if they fail to remove hate speech content. The German parliamentary body passed the Network Enforcement Act on Friday. The “Facebook Law” as it is commonly known will go into effect later this year. The law stipulates that these companies would be fined if they failed to remove content that is illegal. This content includes incitements to violence, hate speech, and defamation. The law states that the companies will have to do so within 24 hours. This period extends to one week if the case is more complex to handle. The law sets an initial fine of $5 million. This could increase to fifty million depending on the case.

Supporters of the bill including the Minister of Justice known as Heiko Maas say that the bill is a huge step in curbing the spread of hate speech. Maas said that experience had shown them that large corporations would not take initiatives if political pressure was not applied. He responded to questions about the freedom of expression and said that it ended where criminal law started. Critics and digital rights activists say that the law could infringe on free speech. This is because it could be abused by the government if the content is not pleasing to officials. It also gives technology companies a lot of power in deciding the validity of content on their platforms.

This is not the first time that Germany has asked large technology companies to remove hate speech content. The country entered into a deal with Facebook, Twitter, and Google in 2015. The deal directed the companies to delete this content within 24 hours. This was done to control the anti-migrant sentiment that was developing in the country because of the refugee crisis. The effectiveness of this pact was questioned after a report released earlier this year showed that the companies were not fulfilling their obligations. Social media companies have come under fire from the public and the media to remove terrorist propaganda and fake news. It is expected that the fines will give them more incentive to regulate the content on the platforms. It is important to note that the European Union fined Google for anti-trust policies with regards to shopping results.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/30/15898386/germany-facebook-hate-speech-law-passed