Ann Hopkins, plaintiff in landmark gender stereotyping case, dies at 74

Obituaries

Ann Hopkins./Wikipedia.

A woman who took her gender stereotyping case to the U.S. Supreme Court after twice being denied a partnership at Price Waterhouse has died at 74.

Ann Hopkins died June 23 from acute peripheral sensory neuropathy, the New York Times reports. The Supreme Court ruled in her landmark case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, that the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes discrimination against those who don’t conform to gender norms.

The 1989 Supreme Court decision has been cited in cases contending that the ban on discrimination also bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Obama administration also cited Hopkins’ case to declare that Title VII protects against discrimination based on gender identity, a position that has since been retracted by current Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Hopkins had the most billable hours among her colleagues when Price Waterhouse first denied her a partnership in 1982. Leaders at the accounting firm had complained that she was macho, difficult and aggressive, and she should dress more femininely and wear makeup, the Times wrote. She also failed to obtain partnership the following year.

After winning her case at the Supreme Court, Hopkins persuaded a lower court in 1990 that Price Waterhouse had discriminated against her. She was awarded $370,000 in back wages and allowed to become a partner. Hopkins took the position and worked at Price Waterhouse until she retired in 2002, according to the Times obituary.

Hopkins told the Boston Globe in 1990 she isn’t a heroine. “The only thing that makes me remarkable is that I happened to stand up for a particular principle at a particular time,” she said.

Hopkins’ daughter, Tela Gallagher Mathias, told the Times that her mother could be described as “a reluctant civil rights landmark, a Texan, a constant gardener and an excellent baker of pies.” Though she didn’t like pie, Mathias would bake them to show love, Mathias said.

Her mother could be prickly but she also believed in diversity, Mathias told the Times. “You either loved her fiercely or you couldn’t stand being in the same room with her,” she said.


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Former New York lawmaker Dean Skelos and son convicted again after 2nd Circuit reversal

Criminal Justice

Former New York State lawmaker Dean Skelos/Wikipedia.

Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son have been convicted on corruption charges in a retrial after a federal appeals court vacated their first corruption convictions.

Federal jurors in Manhattan convicted Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos, on Tuesday on charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy, according to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Courthouse News Service and a press release.

Dean Skelos was accused of using his power as a lawmaker to pressure companies to give his son consulting work and a no-show job. The retrial differed from the first in a key way: Dean Skelos decided to testify, telling jurors that he asked many people to help his son, who had a history of substance abuse and behaviorial problems.

The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had vacated the 2015 convictions last September because jury instructions had wrongly defined what constitutes an “official act” that can support a bribery conviction. The appeals court cited a 2016 Supreme Court decision that said an official can’t be convicted for taking bribes unless he or she takes action or makes a decision on a matter involving a formal exercise of government power.

Dean Skelos was disbarred after the initial conviction.


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Top lawyer for state health department is charged with sending threatening emails to herself

Criminal Justice

Oklahoma State Department of Health logo./Twitter.

The former general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health has been charged with sending threatening emails to herself and reporting them to state officials.

Lawyer Julie Ezell, 37, had helped draft regulations for the state’s new medical marijuana industry. She is accused of posing as a medical marijuana advocate in the emails and sending them to herself once or twice a day for four days, report NewsOK, the Associated Press, the Tulsa World, the Norman Transcript and KFOR.

Ezell was charged Tuesday in Oklahoma County with using computers to violate state laws, falsely reporting a crime, and preparing false evidence, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. She had resigned on Friday without giving a reason why.

The emails began July 8, a few days before Ezell presented emergency medical marijuana regulations to health officials. The emails came from an account in the name of “MaryJame.”

One of the emails, which used an incorrect spelling, read: “We will stop YOU and you’re greed. Any way it takes to end your evil and protect what is ours. We will watch you.” Another email read, “You impose laws like a dictator and respect none of them.”

Yet another email provided some advice. “You appear distinguished in glasses,” it read. “Wear them for the camera.”

Ezell had advised the health board as it reviewed regulations to implement a medical marijuana law that had been approved in a ballot referendum. Ezell had urged the board not to adopt a ban on smokable marijuana and not to adopt a requirement requiring pharmacists to work at dispensaries. The board did not heed her advice and adopted the restrictions, spurring legal challenges.

Ezell’s attorney, Ed Blau, released this statement: “Julie Ezell has worked as a loyal and dedicated public servant her entire career as a lawyer. These charges do not reflect who she is as a person, nor do they reflect the type of advocate she has been for the people of the State of Oklahoma. These allegations will be answered, and additional relevant information will be provided by us at the appropriate time.”


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Bull-riding accident lawyer is accused in cyberattacks against websites critical of him

Internet Law

A lawyer in Wichita, Kansas, has been charged in alleged cyberattacks on two websites that posted materials critical of his work, as well as a law firm website.

Brad Pistotnik is accused along with computer software engineer David Dorsett, according to a press release. The Wichita Eagle and KFDI have stories, while KWCH linked to the indictment.

Pistotnik, 62, is known for commercials for his services as an accident lawyer in which he rides a bull, according to the Eagle.

Pistotnik and Dorsett, 36, are accused in attacks in 2014 and 2015 on case information website Leagle.com, the website of law firm Jaburg Wilk and RipoffReport.com. According to the press release, Dorsett filled the websites’ inboxes with threats such as, “Remove this page and we stop.” Another threat said Leagle advertisers would be targeted if the page isn’t removed.

Jaburg Wilk had represented RipoffReport for many years, managing partner Gary Jaburg told the ABA Journal. Partner Maria Crimi Speth told the ABA Journal that the firm’s email server had crashed after receiving tens of thousands of emails demanding removal of a post about Pistotnik on RipoffReport. Speth also said her firm’s email address was spoofed to send emails to some of her business associates and relatives that also demanded the takedown of RipoffReport content.

Dorsett is co-founder of a company called VIRAL Artificial Intelligence.

Pistotnik and Dorsett are charged with five counts of computer fraud and two counts of conspiracy.

Pistotnik is also charged with three counts of making false statements to the FBI. They stem from allegations that Pistotnik:

  • Claimed Dorsett told him about a negative post and offered to remove it. In reality, Pistotnik allegedly told Dorsett about the post and asked him how to get rid of it, prosecutors allege.
  • Said a lawyer for RipoffReport contacted him a week after Dorsett said the post had been removed. In reality, the lawyer contacted Pistotnik during the attack and before Pistotnik paid Dorsett, prosecutors allege.
  • Claimed he received two emails from Dorsett relating to the attack on RipoffReport. In reality, Pistotnik received four emails, including an invoice for the attack and one referencing the method used to make the attack, prosecutors allege.

Stephen Robison, a lawyer for Pistotnik, released this statement: “We have been aware of these allegations for more than two years. We conducted our own investigation and shared our findings with the U.S. Attorney. We have had no request for follow-up, and we consider the matter closed. We are surprised the matter has resurfaced. We denied the allegations then and now.”

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What lessons did you take away from the bar exam?

Question of the Week

bar exam

Ahlapot / Shutterstock.com

Last year, Volokh Conspiracy blogger Orin Kerr took the California bar exam before starting to work in his current position as a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law—and 20 years after taking the bar exam for the first time.

Last week, he blogged about his experience of taking the bar exam as a 46-year-old professor, and shared some takeaways. Among them:

  • The California bar exam has too many topics. “It’s not like you can test lawyerly competence among 20 topics any better than with 10 topics. It just requires more time memorizing, and it’s not obvious what that has to do with lawyerly ability.”
  • Don’t wear school-related clothing to the test. “Given the stress of exam day, don’t wear clothing from your school, especially if you went to a school with a high bar-passage rate. It’s just obnoxious.”

So this week—as time draws near for those taking the July 2018 bar exam—we’d like to ask you: What were your lessons from the bar exam?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week’s question: Is there a place other than your office or home where you go to get work done?

Featured answer:

Posted by Bill W: “I take my iPad to our boat. The marina is quiet, the interruptions are rare except for the swans who come by for snacks. I have learned that getting out of the usual work environment helps me to leave behind the usual thoughts of the many demands. I get to focus and be more creative.”

Do you have an idea for a question of the week? If so, contact us.


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Federal policy changes make it easier to deny visas and remove legal immigrants

Immigration Law

Constantine Pankin/Shutterstock.com.

Two recent policy changes at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will limit immigrants’ ability to come to or stay in the United States legally.

CNN reported Tuesday that USCIS—the federal agency that handles naturalization and some visa functions—is permitting employees to deny visa requests without seeking further information or stating a reason for the denial. This will permit the agency to deny visa applications that were incomplete as submitted. In a memo issued last Friday announcing the change, the agency said it was intended to prevent frivolous filings and incomplete filings intended as “placeholders.” Previously, USCIS would typically have responded to an incomplete visa application with a request for more information.

The memo applies to most visas, but not to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications.

CNN says that decision came about a week after the publication of another memo saying USCIS would start referring people for deportation when it denies them a visa and that denial leaves them with no legal immigration status. It will also start making those referrals when there’s evidence that a visa applicant has committed fraud or a crime.

The two changes have immigration lawyers on alert, CNN says. The network quoted a Twitter thread from immigration lawyer Hassan Ahmed, who said the policies mean “you’d better get it right the first time.”

“This effectively means the system just got a lot more unforgiving,” Ahmed tweeted Sunday. “Even a simple, straightforward application, one that might be considered ‘routine’—can no longer be so considered.”

Both Ahmed and Mother Jones observed that the changes are likely to send more people to deportation proceedings. That’s because USCIS will respond to incomplete visa applications by denying them, and that denial could put the applicant out of legal status. The agency would then refer the applicant for deportation. That will likely add to an already record-high backlog in the immigration courts, which the Trump administration has said it would prefer to reduce.

“These two memos work in tandem and are effectively a one-two punch that will render our adjudication processes even less fair and even more harsh,” Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association tells Mother Jones.

The memos come after a series of other changes that tighten up the availability of visas for legal immigrants. A report published by AILA in April notes that the government is subjecting all visa applicants to stricter screenings, including a requirement to submit their social media identifiers for the past five years; no longer waives the visa or green card interview requirement for certain groups; and is making it more difficult for technology workers to get the popular H-1B visa.

USA Today also notes that the Trump administration reduced the number of refugees permitted in the United States in 2018 by 59 percent, setting the lowest cap since 1980.


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