Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Judge in Hawaii



Bad Return: MSNBC Publication Triggers A Wave Of Responses From Mockery To Criminal Allegations

by jonathanturley
imgresThe build up last night on MSNBC had my phone ringing off the hook.  Rachel Maddow proclaimed "we've got the Trump returns."  It turned out to be just the 2005 filing. Well, not the 2005 filing, the first two pages.  Worse yet, it turned out to be an entirely predictable tax return for a wealthy businessman with tons of deductibles.  It seemed like the tax version of Al Capone's safe with Geraldo Rivera.  What was particularly odd is that MSNBC was "all in" -- even after seeing that there was little there.  Maddow led with a long list of things we want to know from Trump's tax return.  But none of those things were in the return.  They lined  up experts who seemed a lot like the "weather center" reporters the night before covering the major snow storm in D.C.   Reporters literally showed a dusting on cars in parking lots and spoke breathlessly about the possible storm that never came.  The tax experts were left in the same curious position -- discussing what might have been shown.  As a legal commentator, I bowed out.  It was like being called as a seismologists to discuss an earthquake that never happened.  It is certainly true that Trump and Melania paid is a rate of less than 4 percent on their personal income -- $5.3 million. However, they paid an additional $31 million under the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.  They used every loophole and tactic to reduce payments but those loopholes were legal and used by many in his tax bracket.
Having said that, the White House and others went too far in raising allegations of criminal conduct by Maddow and MSNBC in reporting on the story. There was also a return to the mantra of the "dishonest media."  There was nothing dishonest in publishing the return. It was clearly overplayed but it was not dishonest to cover the leak.

A $13.07 Win Could Save Millions for Criminal Defendants in Texas

, Texas Lawyer

Jani Maselli Wood
Jani Maselli Wood

Perhaps no lawyer ever has fought harder to win $13.07 for her client than Jani Maselli Wood.
For years Wood, a Houston public defender, has waged a one-woman battle against the consolidated court fees assessed to convicted criminal defendants — money that is collected and divided up in different government accounts that are supposed to be dedicated to legitimate criminal justice purposes.
Wood argued the consolidated fee was unconstitutional because three of 14 government accounts that collect the proceeds are not related to the court system.
Houston's 14th Court of Appeals rejected that argument in a case she filed on behalf of her client Orlando Salinas, who was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for injury to the elderly. He objected to paying a $133 consolidated court fee, which is authorized by §133.102 of the Texas Local Government Code. The Court of Criminal Appeals eventually reversed and remanded his case for further consideration.

And in Salinas' trip second trip to the CCA, Wood convinced the court, which handed down a 5-3 decision, that two of those government accounts were not related to criminal justice purposes. A majority of the court ruled in Salinas v. Texas that a "comprehensive rehabilitation account" had nothing to do with criminal justice and an "abused children's counseling" account actually deposited money into the Texas' general revenue fund.
"We conclude that §133.102 is facially unconstitutional to the extent it collects and allocates funds to the comprehensive rehabilitation and abused children's counseling accounts," wrote Presiding Judge Sharon Keller in her March 8 majority decision, which ordered that fee assessed to Salinas related to those two funds be eliminated.
"We reverse the judgement of the court of appeals with respect to the issues of court costs, and we modify the trial court's judgment to change the $133 consolidated fee to $119.93," Keller wrote.
Two judges dissented. Judge Kevin Yeary who wrote the majority focused too much on where the funds went instead of examining the constitutional validity of the authorizing statute. Judge David Newell objected that the majority wandered into a political thicket rather than constitutional analysis.
Wood said she was thrilled with the CCA decision, which gives a small rebate to her client but is expected to add up to millions in savings for a whole spectrum of people convicted of crimes in Texas.
The case began five years ago when she objected to the consolidated court fee assessed to Salinas, drawing a puzzled look from the trial judge who'd never heard of a lawyer objecting to the fee. Wood has since challenged to consolidate court costs assessed to many of her clients.
"It offended me that some of these court costs weren't connected to the criminal justice system or anything," Wood said.
"It's just very satisfying," Wood said of the CCA's decision. "I wrote 14 briefs in that case. I know that it seems like a small amount but the consolidated court cost is charged to all defendants — even Class C traffic tickets."
Bridget Holloway, an assistant Harris County district attorney who represented the state in Salinas' appeal, did not return a call for comment.


South Koreans Hunting River Rats As A Source Of Bile For Traditional Medicine

by jonathanturley

At first I thought it was really gross that people in South Korea were wiping out 


river rats for food. Then I found out that the rats are being sought for their bile.  With bear bile in the short supply due to the overhunting of bears and new national protections, Koreans are turning to river rats as a source of ursodeoxycholic acid.  Rats have an even greater amount of the acid than bears.


Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser and son-in-law of President Trump, in February. If Mr. Kushner's family's stake in the building were sold, Anbang Insurance Group would would commit to spending billions on the tower.
Kushners, Trump In-Laws, Weigh $400 Million Deal With Chinese Firm


A potential agreement to sell a stake in a New York skyscraper would be extremely lucrative for the family of Jared Kushner, and could protect the Chinese buyers from scrutiny.

A scanning machine illuminating a bottle of Roundup, a weed killer, as it moved along a production line at a facility in Antwerp, Belgium, owned by Monsanto.
Unsealed Documents Raise Questions on Monsanto Weed Killer


A lawsuit contends that the main ingredient in Roundup, the world's most widely used weed killer, can cause cancer.



Lawyer may be sued under attorney deceit statute for lawsuit misrepresentation, federal judge says

judge gavel
A lawyer and his law firm may be sued under New York’s attorney deceit statute for alleged false statements in a lawsuit, even if there was no pattern of misrepresentation, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty ruled Feb. 21 that a “sufficiently egregious” action motivated by an intent to deceive a court is enough to support a claim under the statute, the ABA BNA Lawyers Manual on Professional Conduct reports.
According to the Lawyers Manual, “the ruling highlights the potential for big claims against New York lawyers who file court papers that make factual assertions directly contrary to facts stated in other materials prepared for the client.”
According to a story published last year by Law360 (sub. req.), judgments under the statute are not covered by professional liability insurance, “thereby imposing considerable pressure on the unfortunate practitioner sued for such claims to dispose of them.” The story reports that the statute “provides a potent weapon for retaliatory lawsuits and has become increasingly popular among litigants seeking to target their adversary’s counsel.”
The statute makes it a misdemeanor for an attorney to use deceit or collusion with an intent to deceive a court or any party. Injured parties can recover treble damages in a civil action.
Crotty’s decision allowed Canon USA to add an attorney deceit claim to its lawsuit claiming a lawyer and his law firm helped their clients defraud Canon to obtain a business equipment dealership.
Canon had refused to grant a dealership to the clients because of prior arrests in an alleged fraud scheme, then granted a dealership to a corporation that concealed their involvement, the Canon lawsuit alleged.
Though the lawyer had prepared papers revealing corporate stock was being held for the two clients, the lawyer filed an affidavit by the corporation’s nominal president denying the fact, Canon alleged. The affidavit had been filed in a lawsuit seeking restoration of the dealership.
The case is Canon USA Inc. v. Divinium Technologies.



Opposing Trump Is The New Article Of Faith For Lawyers

by jonathanturley
HK_Central_Statue_Square_Legislative_Council_Building_n_Themis_sBelow is my recent column about a type of new article of faith for lawyers in opposing President Donald Trump and his Administration.  Here is the column:



Federal Judge In Hawaii Enjoins Second Executive Order

by jonathanturley
donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedDerrick_Kahala_WatsonLast night, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a
temporary restraining order
 that prevents the second immigration order of President Donald Trump from going into effect on Thursday.  The 43-page opinion is scathing and relies not only on the statements of President Trump but the recent statements of his chief aide Stephen Miller.  While I respectfully disagree with Judge Watson and view his decision as contrary to the weight of existing case law, the opinion again shows the perils of presidents and their aides speaking publicly about litigation.

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