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Law professor says Uber driver tried to abduct her on ride to the airport

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Law professor says Uber driver tried to abduct her on ride to the airport

Criminal Justice

A law professor said an Uber driver tried to take her to a hotel against her will on her way to the airport.

Nancy Leong, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, described Tuesday’s incident through a series of posts on her Twitter account and called on Uber to take action. USA Today, the Huffington Post and Denver7 also have stories.

Leong said the driver exited the highway saying he was going to take her to a hotel. According to her tweets, when the car stopped at a red light at the bottom of a highway ramp, she started screaming “let me out of the fucking car” and pounded on the windows. The driver did not unlock the doors until nearby construction workers noticed her. She got out and called another Uber to take her to the airport—the construction workers waited with her.

“I think it probably goes without saying that I am uncomfortable with this person having my home address, which is where he picked me up. I’d like to know what you’re going to do about this,” Leong said in a tweet. She added that the driver did not look like the picture in his profile.

Uber has an incident response team to address any urgent issues and contacts the rider and driver when an incident is reported. The company said it has removed the driver’s access to the app and is ready to work with police should they become involved.

“What Nancy described is awful and unacceptable. This driver has been blocked from the app and we are investigating,” Uber said.

Two unnamed women filed a proposed class action suit against Uber in November 2017, accusing the company of poor driver vetting that has led to female passengers enduring sexual harassment, including rape.

Uber announced last week on its website that it will soon include a new emergency button that will allow passengers to call 911 from the app.


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New York’s governor plans to use pardon power to restore voting rights to felons on parole

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on New York’s governor plans to use pardon power to restore voting rights to felons on parole

Criminal Justice

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo/a katz (Shutterstock.com).

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to bypass the state legislature and grant pardons to more than 35,000 felons on parole making them eligible to vote.

Cuomo announced his plan Wednesday, report the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Democrat & Chronicle, the Washington Post and the Times Union.

Cuomo will grant pardons to current felons on parole as well as new felons as they enter the system each month.

Iowa and Virginia already use executive orders to pardon parolees. They are among 18 states and Washington, D.C., that allow parolees to vote, according to the Times, which cites information from the governor’s office. Fourteen of the 18 states currently restore voting rights for felons automatically when they are paroled. Two others never remove the right to vote.

Current law in New York bars convicted felons from voting unless they are on probation or have completed parole. Cuomo said that he had asked lawmakers to change the law, but he did not get needed support in the Senate.

“I’m unwilling to take no for an answer,” Cuomo said. “I’m going to make it law by executive order.”


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Facebook must face class action over facial recognition, judge rules

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Facebook must face class action over facial recognition, judge rules

Privacy Law

1 Hacker Way

Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

Illinois Facebook users may sue the social media giant for collecting their facial recognition information, a federal judge ruled this week.

The lawsuit challenges Facebook under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which was passed in 2008 to prohibit private companies from collecting some kinds of biometric identifiers, including scans of facial geometry, without obtaining people’s written consent.

U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California certified a class in the privacy lawsuit. Donato also rejected Facebook’s concerns that class certification would enable the plaintiffs to seek an unreasonable amount of damages. According to an article in The Recorder, BIPA sets statutory damages of $1,000 for each negligent violation, and $5,000 for those that are “intentional and reckless.” Courthouse News Service also has a story on the ruling.

According to the suit, the plaintiffs allege Facebook “collects and stores their biometric data without prior notice or consent” through its Tag Suggestions tool—a feature launched in 2011 that allows users to identify friends in pictures uploaded to the social media site.

In Monday’s decision, Donato found that not all photos uploaded to Facebook resulted in the collection of biometric data. The judge rejected a proposed class of all Illinois residents with an uploaded photo during the class period as “too amorphous and potentially over-inclusive to be certified.”

Donato certified a more narrowly defined class: Facebook users in Illinois who had their facial data analyzed and collected by Facebook after June 7, 2011.

The judge noted that Facebook’s lawyers at Mayer Brown placed “greatest emphasis on their argument that about the meaning of ‘aggrieved,’ ” citing Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment, a decision last December from the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois that said plaintiffs must contend “actual harm” to get the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act claims to stick. But Donato ruled “Rosenbach does not bear the heavy weight Facebook seeks to place on it.”

Donato previously rejected Facebook’s motion to dismiss the suit, finding BIPA left “little question that the Illinois legislature codified a right of privacy in personal biometric information.”

The Illinois law has led to other lawsuits, including would-be class actions against Google and Shutterfly. The Facebook suit is set to go to trial in July.


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Seeking to side with plaintiffs suing New York, city council sues for right to file amicus briefs

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Seeking to side with plaintiffs suing New York, city council sues for right to file amicus briefs

Government Law

New York County Courthouse

New York County Courthouse in Lower Manhattan.

The New York City Council has sued the city’s law department for the right to file amicus briefs in court cases—including cases in which plaintiffs are suing the city.

The case, filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, stems from a court ruling denying five city council members the right to file an amicus brief, the New York Times reports. The council members wanted to support homeowners and renters who sued the city over its property tax system.

Since then, at least three city council members sought to file an amicus brief supporting a suit by public housing tenants, but the law department effectively denied the request by not responding, the lawsuit says.

At issue is whether the New York City charter makes the city council a city agency or a separate and co-equal branch of government. The lawsuit claims that city council members have the right to file the briefs under the principles of separation of powers and free speech.

The law department maintains that the corporation counsel is the sole attorney for the city and its agencies, including the city council. The department says city council members may file briefs as private citizens, but not in their official capacity.


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Lawyer calls murder trial of former Fisher & Phillips partner ‘an accident in search of a motive’

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Lawyer calls murder trial of former Fisher & Phillips partner ‘an accident in search of a motive’

Criminal Justice

Shutterstock.com.

Jurors in Fulton County, Georgia, began a second day of deliberations on Wednesday in the murder trial of former Fisher & Phillips partner Claud “Tex” McIver, who is accused of fatally shooting his wife while sitting in the back seat of an SUV.

Jurors heard from about 80 witnesses during 20 days of testimony in the trial of the Atlanta lawyer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In a separate story on closing arguments, the Journal-Constitution describes the case as a “bizarre, captivating and, ultimately, tragic saga.” Law360 and the Daily Report also have stories.

Defense lawyer Bruce Harvey asserted during his argument that the trial “is an accident in search of a motive,” while another defense lawyer, Donald Samuel, said the state’s asserted motive was based on “speculation and red herrings.”

The defense had asserted that McIver had asked his wife to hand him the gun because he thought the neighborhood they were driving through was unsafe. According to the defense, McIver had accidentally pulled the trigger after falling asleep in the back seat. His wife, Diane McIver, was sitting in the passenger seat while her friend was driving.

The defense had introduced evidence that Tex McIver had a sleep disorder that causes people to act out their dreams and to be in a state of “confusional arousal” when awakened.

Diane and Tex “were in love,” said Samuel during the closing. “You can pooh-pooh that, you can say that’s ridiculous. There was no doubt about it. They were like little teenagers in love.”

Prosecutors countered that McIver killed his wife because he was facing financial problems. The prosecution had introduced testimony that McIver’s law firm income had dropped from an average of $570,000 a year during his first seven years of marriage to Diane McIver to $275,000 for the fiscal year that ended four days before her death.

Diane McIver was already wealthy when she married her husband, and had lent him $750,000 for a half-interest in the ranch they owned, said prosecutor Clint Rucker. After the marriage, there was a disagreement over whether the couple’s godson or Tex McIver’s son should inherit the ranch, he said.

Tex McIver may have wanted “to rely on the sugar mama,” but Diane McIver wasn’t that type of woman, Rucker said. Financially, Tex McIver was “much better off with her dead than with her alive,” Rucker said.

Judge Robert McBurney, ruled Monday that jurors would not be allowed to consider a charge of misdemeanor voluntary manslaughter, according to Daily Report coverage. Jurors are considering felony charges that include malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a pistol during the commission of a felony.


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Sandy Hook parents sue Alex Jones of Infowars over hoax claim

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Sandy Hook parents sue Alex Jones of Infowars over hoax claim

Tort Law

Alex Jones

Alex Jones. Photo by By Michael Zimmermann, via Wikimedia Commons.

The parents of two children killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School have sued radio host Alex Jones and his Infowars website over claims that the Connecticut mass shooting was “a giant hoax.”

One suit was filed by Leonard Pozner and his ex-wife, Veronique De La Rosa, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, was killed. The other suit was filed by Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jessie, also was killed. Both allege defamation.

Twenty children were among 26 people killed in the shooting. The shooter, Adam Lanza, also killed himself.

Texas Lawyer provides copies of the lawsuits, filed late Monday in Texas state court. Publications with coverage include the Hartford Courant, BuzzFeed News, the New York Times, Gizmodo and the Huffington Post.

Jones has long claimed the shooting was a hoax, according to the lawsuit. Among the examples cited in the suit: In 2013, Jones said the shooting was “staged” and, “It’s got inside job written all over it.” In December of the same year he said, “The whole thing is a giant hoax. How do you deal with a total hoax? It took me about a year, with Sandy Hook, to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake. I did deep research.”

Jones suggested last April that De La Rosa’s interview in front of a town hall with CNN after the shooting appeared to have actually been done in the studio, according to the suit. Jones suggested CNN had used a “green-screen” backdrop to show an image of the Sandy Hook site.

Infowars had also suggested Heslin must have been wrong when he said he had held his dead son after the shooting because the coroner told reporters that the slain children were identified through photographs.

The law firm of Farrar & Ball is representing the parents. Last month, the firm sued Jones for falsely identifying a Massachusetts man as the Parkland. Florida, school shooter, according to the Times.


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9th Circuit appoints special prosecutor to oppose Arpaio; dissenter fears attack on pardon authority

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on 9th Circuit appoints special prosecutor to oppose Arpaio; dissenter fears attack on pardon authority

Appellate Practice

Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio. Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

A federal appeals court has appointed a special prosecutor to argue that former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s conviction for criminal contempt should stand, despite his pardon by President Donald Trump.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order on Tuesday in a 2-1 decision. The court said it was appointing the special prosecutor to defend the conviction because the government plans to side with Arpaio, who argues the conviction should have been vacated. BuzzFeed News covered the order.

Arpaio was the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, for 24 years before losing a re-election bid in 2016. He is now running for the U.S. Senate.

Arpaio is appealing an October decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in which she ruled the pardon spared Arpaio from punishment, but it doesn’t justify vacating the conviction.

Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt last July for violating a federal judge’s order to stop detaining citizens based only on a suspicion they were in the country illegally. His sentencing hearing was pending when President Donald Trump pardoned him Aug. 25.

The 9th Circuit said it had the authority to appoint a special prosecutor under Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides for special prosecutor appointments when the government declines to prosecute a criminal contempt case.

The court also pointed to cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court has made such appointments based on its inherent authority.

The 9th Circuit ruled after Protect Democracy and several other groups filed a brief urging appointment a private lawyer to oppose Arpaio.

Protect Democracy’s legal director, Justin Florence, applauded the 9th Circuit order. “As we and other amici have argued, the court can only resolve this appeal after assessing whether the pardon was constitutional,” Florence said in a statement. “This pardon infringes on the constitutional rights of private litigants and the power of courts to uphold the Constitution, and so is outside the president’s constitutional authority.”

A dissenting judge, Richard Tallman, was troubled by the prospect of arguments on the issue. “I fear the majority’s decision will be viewed as judicial imprimatur of the special prosecutor to make inappropriate, unrelated, and undoubtedly political attacks on presidential authority,” Tallman wrote. “We should not be wading into that thicket.”


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Top court in Massachusetts strikes down stun gun ban, says licensing requirement would be OK

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Top court in Massachusetts strikes down stun gun ban, says licensing requirement would be OK

Second Amendment

stun gun

The highest court in Massachusetts followed the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court when it struck down a state ban on civilians owning stun guns on Tuesday.

But the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said possession of stun guns may be regulated, the Boston Globe and Reuters report.

“Having received guidance from the Supreme Court,” the Massachusetts court said, “we now conclude that stun guns are ‘arms’ within the protection of the Second Amendment. Therefore, under the Second Amendment, the possession of stun guns may be regulated, but not absolutely banned.”

The court said the state could require licenses for stun gun possession, could restrict who can own them, and could bar people from carrying stun guns in sensitive places such as schools.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in March 2016 that Massachusetts’ top court misapplied Second Amendment precedent when it upheld a ban on stun guns in 2015. The case was dismissed, so the Massachusetts court did not reconsider its ruling.

The court ruled Tuesday in the case of Jorge Ramirez, who was arrested after police found a stun gun in his pocket after a traffic stop for a broken taillight.


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Gorsuch joins liberal justices to strike law authorizing deportation for some ‘crimes of violence’

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Gorsuch joins liberal justices to strike law authorizing deportation for some ‘crimes of violence’

U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS

A provision in a federal law authorizing deportation of immigrants convicted of a crime of violence is unconstitutionally vague, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a 5-4 decision.

Justice Elena Kagan announced the judgment of the court. Her opinion was joined in full by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotmayor, and partly joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who disagreed with Kagan’s discussion on the standard being used to assess the law.

The court struck down the second of two provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that define a “crime of violence,” which is one of the “aggravated felonies” for which an immigrant can be deported. The provision that was struck down says a crime of violence includes “any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.”

The court had previously struck down on vagueness grounds a similar provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act. Justice Antonin Scalia had written the previous decision, Johnson v. United States.

The court ruled Tuesday in the case of James Dimaya, an immigrant from the Philippines who was twice convicted of first-degree burglary under California law. Since 1992, Dimaya has not had any more scrapes with the law.

In his partial concurrence, Gorsuch said Dimaya was convicted of burglary under a California law that “applies to everyone from armed home intruders to door-to-door salesmen peddling shady products. How, on that vast spectrum, is anyone supposed to locate the ordinary case and say whether it includes a substantial risk of physical force? The truth is, no one knows. The law’s silence leaves judges to their intuitions and the people to their fate. In my judgment, the Constitution demands more.”

The case is Sessions v. Dimaya.

Related article:

Chemerinsky: Some potential blockbusters as new SCOTUS term gets underway”


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New law makes Microsoft case on search warrants moot, Supreme Court says

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on New law makes Microsoft case on search warrants moot, Supreme Court says

U.S. Supreme Court

New legislation allowing warrants to reach emails held on overseas servers has made moot a pending U.S. Supreme Court case involving Microsoft, the high court ruled on Tuesday.

In a per curiam decision, the Supreme Court said the case should be dismissed.

At issue in the case was whether the Stored Communications Act allowed prosecutors to use a warrant to obtain Microsoft emails stored on one of its servers in Ireland.

President Donald Trump signed an amendment to the law, known as the Cloud Act, on March 23. The Cloud Act provides that email providers must comply with court orders for data regardless of whether it is stored within or outside of the United States.

The Supreme Court noted that prosecutors had already obtained a new warrant for the emails under the new law. “No live dispute remains between the parties over the issue with respect to which certiorari was granted,” the court said. “Further, the parties agree that the new warrant has replaced the original warrant. This case, therefore, has become moot.

Microsoft president Brad Smith issued this statement: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s ruling ending our case in light of the Cloud Act being signed into to law. Our goal has always been a new law and international agreements with strong privacy protections that govern how law enforcement gathers digital evidence across borders. As the governments of the U.K. and Australia have recognized, the Cloud Act encourages these types of agreements, and we urge the U.S. government to move quickly to negotiate them.”

See also: Microsoft case underscores legal complications of cloud computing

Updated with Microsoft statement at 10:20 a.m.


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