Monday, May 8, 2017

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Houston Judge Accused Of An Array of Misconduct; From Hiring Prostitutes To Drug Use To Ruling In Case Involving Lover

by jonathanturley
Houston Judge Hilary Green is the subject of an extraordinary report from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct.  The Texas Supreme Court was given a detailed account that alleges that the justice of the peace used illegal drugs like ecstasy and marijuana as well as abused the cough syrup Tussionex. Some of the marijuana was confiscated by the court bailiff.  It also alleged that she engaged in extramarital affairs and hired prostitutes.  She is also accused of sexting a court employee. Finally, she is accused of ruling in favor of a convicted conman despite her personal relationship with the defendant.  There is an interesting technicality being claimed by Green to bar consideration of much of her misconduct.


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JUDICIARY

New judges were welcomed into 'career paradise' and told to obey the boss, says judge who quit


“Career paradise” as a well-paid judge in Cook County, Illinois, was short lived for Richard Cooke, who quit 142 days into the job amid a dispute over his court assignment.
Cooke spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times about the “sick culture” of a cushy Chicago-area judgeship that, he says, came with a caveat: Judges, he was told, should never question the boss, Chief Judge Timothy Evans.
At a weeklong training program, newbie judges were welcomed into “career paradise,” Cooke said. “This job as a judge, we were told, came with unbelievable perks: high salary, incredible respect, five weeks’ paid vacation, basically unlimited, compensated sick days, minimal supervision, great health insurance and an outstanding pension.”
The pay was $194,000 a year and the work day ended at 4 p.m., supposedly. But Cooke tells the newspaper he was advised “with a wink, during lunch” how to sneak out early by avoiding the judges’ elevator.
Cooke had refused a traffic court assignment, citing his financial interest in a car wash that had won city contracts to wash police cars and other vehicles. Cooke believed the contracts would pose a conflict of interest when government bodies had cases before him in traffic court. He also told the Sun-Times he has dyslexia, which makes it difficult to read handwritten traffic tickets.
Cooke was transferred in January to marriage court and referred to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board in April for refusing the traffic court assignment. He says he decided to quit rather than wait for a resolution while presiding over weddings in marriage court, where the boredom was “intolerable,” the carpeting was stained, the furniture dilapidated and the cockroaches plentiful.
Evans spokesman Pat Milhizer told the Sun-Times that Cooke is making “statements that are nonsense.”
Evans “works to accommodate judges with any concerns regarding their service,” Milhizer said. “If Mr. Cooke believes that he was being mistreated and is right in his assertions, then why didn’t he allow the [Judicial Inquiry Board] to place him under oath and then make his case? Instead, he resigned.”

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Lawyer who advised client to 'relax' in response to Facebook inquiries gets suspension

May 8, 2017, 7:00 am CDT

ABA expresses concern about border searches of lawyer laptops and other electronic devices

May 5, 2017, 3:35 pm CDT




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CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Lawsuit says Michigan suspends safe drivers’ licenses because they can’t pay fines



Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock
Equal Justice Under Law, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group, has sued several American cities for using bail systems it says benefit the wealthy and punish the poor, irrespective of what danger they might pose to society.
According to The Crime Report at John Jay College in New York reports, the group alleges that the state of Michigan does something similar when it suspends the driver’s licenses of people who can’t afford traffic fines and fees.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday (PDF), Equal Justice Under Law alleges that this practice violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment as well as the constitutional right to interstate travel.
“Although Michigan’s automatic suspension of driver’s licenses is designed to coerce payment, for people who are unable to pay, Michigan’s practice will never accomplish its intended goal,” the complaint says. “Michigan has trapped Plaintiffs in an inescapable cycle of poverty by suspending their licenses.”
The lead plaintiffs in the proposed class action are Adrian Fowler and Kitia Harris, both single mothers from Detroit whose driver’s licenses were suspended for unpaid traffic tickets and associated fees. Fowler owes more than $2,100, stemming in part from tickets she received while driving her infant daughter to a hospital to treat a high fever. Harris owes $276, which she can’t afford because she lives off disability payments due to a chronic medical condition. That condition makes it impossible to use the bus, the lawsuit says, so Harris must pay acquaintances to drive her to medical appointments.
Michigan’s secretary of state has suspended more than 100,000 driver’s licenses for nonpayment since 2010, the lawsuit says, without consideration of whether the driver is able to pay. The lawsuit alleges this violates the due process rights of poor Michiganders—15.8 percent of the state’s residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 numbers—under several U.S. Supreme Court decisions forbidding punishing people who cannot afford fines or court costs. Because Detroit’s public transit system is “woefully inadequate,” the complaint says it also violates plaintiffs’ fundamental right to interstate travel.
And this violates the plaintiffs’ equal protection rights, the lawsuit says, in part because governments may not take advantage of their status as governments to use “unduly harsh methods of debt collection.”
“Losing a driver’s license is an extraordinary punishment that goes far beyond a fine,” Phil Telfeyan, executive director of Equal Justice Under Law, told The Crime Report. “It is an attack on a person’s independence, pride and character.”

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“I Wish They Didn’t Let You In The Country” :Video Shows Woman Allegedly Abusing Muslim In Store Line

by jonathanturley
There is a disturbing video just posted on an encounter of a Muslim woman with another woman at the Trader Joe's in Reston, Virginia -- not far from my home.  On the video below, the rude woman allegedly tells the Muslim "I wish they didn't let you in the country" during their encounter on Saturday.  The Muslim woman is a friend of comedian Jeremy McLellan and he shared the videotape.  He said that his friend was wearing a hijab identifying her as a Muslim.  Since the woman is clearly shown, the question is whether the woman has a case if she is falsely depicted.  Conversely, we have previously discussed whether people should be disciplined by employers for conduct or statements in their private lives.

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Lori









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Brenham, Texas



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JUDICIARY

DA plans to report judge for suggesting $1 fine for each inappropriate touch in harassment case


The district attorney in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is criticizing a judge who suggested a $1 fine for each inappropriate touch in a juvenile’s harassment case.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., says the judge will brought to the attention of “the appropriate persons and, if necessary, the Judicial Conduct Board,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Common Pleas Senior Judge Lester Nauhaus is defending his conduct. He tells the Post-Gazette that he made the suggestion because he wanted the prosecutor to suggest an appropriate penalty.
The case involved an 18-year-old who was fined $300 for a harassment conviction stemming from inappropriate sexual touching when he and the victim were in middle and high school. A lawyer for the youth had challenged the fine as unaffordable.
Nauhaus asked the prosecutor what punishment was being sought, and the prosecutor replied 90 days of probation and a no-contact order. The Post-Gazette says this exchange followed:
Nauhaus: “I’m going to give him a 90-day postponement. He has to do community service. And he has to pay a $3 fine. How many times did he touch?”
The victim: “I’m going to say about six times, maybe.”
Nauhaus: “A $6 fine.”
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Tisak: “It is just highly inappropriate to tell a young girl that inappropriate touching is worth a dollar a time.”
Nauhaus asked what fine was being sought since the defendant had no money. Tisak replied that didn’t care if the fine was “zero dollars.” Nauhaus then said the penalty would be “zero dollars. Ninety days. No contact. Twenty hours of community service.”
Nauhaus told the Post-Gazette he was trying to find some way of punishing the youth and he wanted a suggestion. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “I didn’t mean to mock. I didn’t mean to denigrate. I just wanted somebody to give me an answer. That’s their job.”


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'SNL': Where in the world is Conway


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Probably why I owe our weekly newspaper $16,000 for a $4 want ad I've had to run.


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Sally Yates Tells Senators She Warned Trump About Michael Flynn

By MATT APUZZO and EMMARIE HUETTEMAN

Ms. Yates, the former acting attorney general, gave a dramatic account of an unfolding crisis in the early days of President Trump's White House.


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Ireland Drops Blasphemy Prosecution Of Actor Because Not Enough People Were Outraged

by jonathanturley
As we discussed yesterday, the Irish people have remained committed to holding the ignoble status of a Western country prosecuting people for blasphemy with its sister jurisdictions in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other repressive governments.  Even when the Irish government seeks to avoid the obvious denial of free speech under its blasphemy law, it only makes the entire country look even more ridiculous. That is the case with the decision to drop the criminal investigation of famous actor Stephen Fry.  In a television interview, Fry merely asked why he should  “respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world…. full of injustice.”  He was asked about his view of religion and he answered.  A citizen then said that, while he was not insulted, the comment still constituted blasphemy and should be investigated. Now the police have said that they decided to drop the investigation after concluding an insufficient number of people expressed outrage. So the Irish have the perfect free speech nightmare law: whether you will be prosecuted will depend how many people want you incarcerated.  Sounds like criminal law by plebiscite.
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Jessica







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