Responding to Martha Deans challenge Tuesday questioning his eligibility to run for attorney general, Democrat George Jepsensaid he has the experience to satisfy any interpretationof a state law that requires candidateshave an active practice of law for at least 10 years
I am and have been a practicing attorney for 26 years. I have made my living from private practice. I have represented clients in courts in this state, from probate courts up to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Jepsen said.
In adeclsion earlier this year that knocked Susan Bysiewicz from the attorney generals race, the courtruled thatcandidates must have activelypracticed law for at least 10 years, The court last week released its writtendecision, which is based on an 1897 law.
Justice Flemming L. Norcott, Jr., concluded that this means an attorney with at least some experience litigating cases in court.
Dean says she is running for office to end the practice of frivolous lawsuits. Jepsen said Dean is grandstanding.
Meanwhile. Ryan McKeen, the young lawyer whose blog post brought down Bysiewicz, thinks Deans lawsuit is from outer space.\
Here is Deans
complaint. Note the lawyer — Wes Horton.
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Legal Minds Vote For Legalizing Pot
Law students around the country argue to pass Californias Prop. 19.
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Its not a bunch of hippies sitting around, said one of the members of the group, who asked to remain anonymous to not draw attention to himself. We all have short hair. Many of us have pretty anti-hippie aspirations after law school. Some of us want to do corporate law, or tax law or even litigation once we get our law degrees, he said. He added that he voted for George W. Bush twice and tends to vote along Libertarian ideologies.
The arguments the members make for legalization all involve economics, law enforcement and legitimizing the legal system. Of course that last point is part of the organizations argument. After all, these people eat, drink and breathe legal issues all day.
The economic arguments the members of SSDP make involve increasing tax revenues and savings in tax expenditures. A recent report on Good Morning America shows how mainstream these arguments have become. The report claims that legalizing marijuana would save the state $1 billion on law enforcement, generate an estimated $350 million in taxable revenue and make marijuana a $14 billion industry, nearly twice the size of Californias dairy industry, the states next biggest agriculture industry.
After a first offseason that was legally embarrassing off the field, Derek Dooleys Tennessee squad has been model citizens in the legal arena even as all first-year hell has broken out between the lines.
And then along comes Jacques Smith to break up that Volunteer above-the-law mojo.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, a warrant for simple assault has been issued for Smith in regards to an early Sunday morning incident at a local imbibing establishment. The school had the following to say regarding the defensive linemans legal pickle:
We had an incident last night involving Jacques Smith, UT associate athletic director for communications Jimmy Stanton said before Dooleys Sunday teleconference. Based on what weve heard from both the police and Jacques, there was an altercation between Jacques and another student regarding a girl. Once the altercation started, members of our team who were present stepped in and diffused the situation.
All parties then walked out on their own accord and without major injuries. There were no further incidents, and several hours later the other student and his mother decided to press charges. Those are the facts as have been relayed to us.
Apparently, any punishment for Smith in regard to this misunderstanding will be handled internally by the school.
And, on a separate note, Matt Simms blamed* Smiths future legal brouhaha for his Saturday benching.
(*no, thats not true. But it is. Totally.)
If the governors race is too close to call after the votes are counted Tuesday night, one
observer has joked that all provisional ballots should just be boxed up and taken straight to court
to decide which ones get counted.
That wouldnt really happen, and there may be no doubt at the end of the night about whether
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland or Republican challenger John Kasich has won.
But with some polls showing the race a virtual dead heat, including the Dispatch Poll on Sunday
and a Quinnipiac Poll yesterday, experts say theres a real possibility of a legal battle if the
vote margin is well within the number of provisional, overseas and uncounted absentee ballots -
which could mean Ohioans wont learn the winner for weeks.
Anything significantly lower than the number of provisional ballots that are cast, it seems to
me, means were probably going to be in for a protracted fight after Election Day to determine the
winner, said Lawrence Norden, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, who led the two
Ohio election summits after the 2008 election.
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said that since the 2000 presidential election, the
trend has been to attempt to litigate the results of an election, and it doesnt matter which
The state Democratic and Republican parties dont discuss legal strategy, but both have lined up
observers across the state to watch the balloting and lawyers to be called into service as
The parties and campaigns are looking for any unusual occurrences that could affect vote totals,
such as long lines or machine malfunctions, or strange results that suggest something was
If the governors race – or other races, for that matter – is razor-close, the main focus will
turn to uncounted ballots because they represent a legitimate chance to change vote totals.
Because provisional ballots are held for 10 days while election workers verify voter
eligibility, they are inviting targets for litigation. Ohio has witnessed several disputes about
the rules for casting and counting provisional ballots, as well as whether all elections officials
followed the same procedures.
The 2008 congressional race between Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy and Republican Steve Stivers, for
example, ended up in federal court over provisional ballots. That led to an order that provisional
ballots cannot be invalidated because of poll worker error, which could produce new fights about
what constitutes poll worker error. The race wasnt resolved until December.
Today, the Ohio Democratic Party filed a request for a federal court order to require county
elections boards to provide voter addresses and other identifying information from
provisional-ballot envelopes upon request.
In the 2008 general election, 206,859 provisional ballots were cast statewide and 166,870
counted. In 2006, the last gubernatorial election year, 129,432 provisional ballots were cast and
104,581 counted. That means about 3 percent of the vote still remained to be counted after election
night, when the provisional ballot total is combined with uncounted absentee ballots and those from
Ohioans living or serving with the military overseas.
There could be fewer provisional ballots this year because of the increasing number of people
voting absentee and efforts by Brunner to update the statewide voter-registration database,
eliminating the need for some provisional ballots.
On the other hand, the large number of foreclosures in Ohio during the recession could add to
the number of provisional ballots because voters have moved, said Wendy Weiser, an election
attorney for the Brennan Center.
The deciding factor will be how close the race is. Edward Ned Foley, director of an
elections-law center at Ohio State University, said the margin needs to be as close as 1,000 votes
to trigger a legal fight that determines the outcome.
In Ohio, a statewide recount automatically is required if the difference between the two
candidates is 0.5 percent or less of the total vote for that office, which was 20,115 votes in the
2006 governors race.
Brunner predicts there will be post-election litigation if the margin is within one-half or
one-quarter of a percent.
But Foley, Norden and others emphasize that if there is a legal fight – and both campaigns
inevitably complain about the process – its not necessarily a bad thing if enough time is taken to
ensure that the correct conclusions are reached.
Foley compares it to referees in a football game making sure they get a call right, giving fans
confidence that the right team won.
Its not necessarily a concern if it takes time after the election to sort everything out, he
Added Brunner: The moral of the story is every vote counts.
Brunner, meanwhile, launched an investigation today of potential voter intimidation based on
reports that a McDonalds franchise in Stark County had enclosed a letter with employees paychecks
suggesting that they support three candidates or risk not getting raises and benefits.
Along with the Quinnipiac Polls dead heat, today also saw the final Ohio Poll released, which
showed Kasich ahead by more than 4 points.
Compared to media such as literature, music and film, video games are still in their infancy, and their effect on youth is not yet fully understood.
Therefore, games and their impact on society do deserve thoughtful consideration, writes attorney S. Gregory Boyd in a new Gamasutra feature on the much-debated California violent game law, which would put restrictions on the sale of excessively violent games to minors.
The Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments about the bill this week in Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association.
But with several similar video game laws being struck down in recent years in other states and two lower California courts finding the law unconstitutional, Boyd has his doubts that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the bill.
It would be surprising to the legal community if this case went against all the prior similar cases on content-based regulation, he wrote. The consensus expectation is that this case will fit with the other state cases on this issue (and the two lower court decisions in California). The preliminary injunction will likely be upheld and the statute will likely be held unconstitutional.
The law would require games deemed excessively violent to have a 2 x 2 label on the front of the packaging that displays an 18, signifying the legal buying age of certain titles. Retailers would be fined for selling such games to minors.
…There is a lot of buzz in the legal community about why the case was taken up by the Supreme Court at all, Boyd added. Perhaps this is a case of the High Court stepping in to settle the issue in a more final way.
…The Court could see that, clearly, the states are not getting it with the other cases, and they know this type of legislation has already cost the state taxpayers more than $2 million in reimbursed legal fees.
Boyds review of the law and the measures implications is now available on Gamasutra.
(CNN) — Marijuana makes you slow and raises the risk of addiction, memory problems and cognitive functions, some health agencies warn.
But its enthusiasts counter that in addition to fueling creativity, pot is a natural herb with health benefits, relieving pain and improving quality of life for chronically ill patients.
Medical use of marijuana is legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia. On Tuesday, California voters will decide whether their state will be the first to legalize recreational marijuana use.
The vote on Proposition 19 is being closely watched as the Golden State is often seen as a bellwether. It was the first state to authorize medicinal marijuana in 1996.
Prop 19 would allow people 21 and older to possess, cultivate or transport up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use.
The intense debate about marijuana legalization has caused science to get lost in the rhetorical shuffle, said Alan Budney, professor of psychiatry and a research scientist in the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Arkansas.
The government wants to put things out in sound bites, he said. The pro-marijuana camp puts out sound bites. Its all or nothing.
The medical evidence on marijuana is not black and white, Budney said. When people say one thing, you can bet its somewhere in the middle. Its all pretty gray.
Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
California marijuana vote draws unlikely foes, allies into ring
Proponents for legalizing its use often say that marijuana is far less damaging than alcohol, which is legal.
Have you ever heard of a fight in a bar caused by smoking marijuana? Or killing someone because of marijuana? asked Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist and retired professor at the Harvard Medical School who has published several books and articles in drugs and drug policy.
You probably never will, because number one, alcohol enhances aggressiveness, marijuana does the opposite, he said. People dont want to punch anybody. They want to be friendly and left alone. It doesnt cause the violence. Its a safer recreational drug because of that.
In pop culture, marijuana is often portrayed as an innocuous drug. In a show of support for Prop. 19, actor Zach Galifianakis appeared to light up a joint on HBOs Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday.
Mr. Cowper, counsel to the commission, said there have been a couple of cases in Canada in the past where senior members of the judiciary have been required to give evidence about the charge approval process.
Called to testify this week are Robert Gillen, BCs assistant deputy attorney-general; BC Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen and Provincial Court Judge Michael Hicks, who were both regional Crown prosecutors at the time of Mr. Pauls death; Gregory Fitch, who is now director of criminal appeals and special prosecutions but who was director of legal services at the time; and Joyce DeWitt Van Oosten, who is now a Crown prosecutor but was then on the legal service team of the provinces Criminal Justice Branch.
The officials have been ordered to appear before William Davies, who is trying to wrap up the public inquiry he all but concluded last year when he issued a detailed, but not final, report on Mr. Pauls 1998 death.
Mr. Paul, a 47-year-old Mikmaq man, died of hypothermia in a Vancouver back alley where he had been left by police after his limp body was dragged out of the Vancouver jail on a cold, rainy December night.
The report Mr. Davies issued in March, 2009, made numerous recommendations for the treatment of homeless, chronic alcoholics, and was critical of how Vancouver police treated Mr. Paul and how police later conducted an investigation into the death.
Mr. Daviess report was an interim document because it left dangling one loose end the question of why the Crown decided not to lay any charges stemming from Mr. Pauls death.
In 2000, the Vancouver Police Department concluded disciplinary proceedings against two officers for their handling of Mr. Paul. One was suspended for two days for discreditable conduct; the other was suspended for one day for neglect of duty.
During the inquiry, the Criminal Justice Branch argued Mr. Davies didnt have the authority to inquire into legal advice given or received by Crown counsel.
Accordingly, the Crown cannot be subpoenaed to testify either at trial or at an inquiry about why a charge was laid, or not laid, in any given case, nor can documents relating to this function be ordered disclosed, the Criminal Justice Branch claimed in an application at the time.
Mr. Davies disagreed, however, stating: I am satisfied that the individuals who made charge assessment decisions in the Frank Paul matter can be required to testify as to what they did, what materials they reviewed, what decision they made and the reasons for it, and any other matters that do not constitute communications between themselves and the Assistant Deputy Attorney General respecting his exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
That led to a legal battle that didnt end until last April, when the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application by the Criminal Justice Branch for leave to appeal.
Mr. Davies is now clear to pursue an investigation into how the Crown handled the matter.
Joshua Vandiver, a Colorado native who is earning his PhD in politics at Princeton University, said he is the studious type who has rarely embraced activism. But now, just months into his legal marriage to Venezuelan Henry Velandia, he is fighting to save his husband from being deported.
Had the couple been straight and not gay, Vandiver would have been allowed to apply for permanent residence status for Velandia, who could then later apply for citizenship.
But their dream to build a life together is been derailed by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman under all federal laws, including immigration.
I am a scholar of ancient Greek political thought and the Renaissance and politics, said Vandiver, 29. I never intended or wanted to be an activist. But I have to do what is necessary to save my marriage and to keep the one I love in this country. I think that is my right as an American citizen.
On Nov. 17, the couple will go before a federal immigration judge to ask that deportation proceedings be halted until legal challenges or a Congressional repeal of DOMA have been resolved.
Vandiver has applied for a petition to allow Velandia to stay in this country, an application that will surely be denied. And with that rejection letter, the couple will consider a lawsuit.
I see that as discriminatory, said Vandiver.
I am really frightened thinking that I will have to live without my other half, said Velandia, a salsa dancer. But we have faith and are doing the best we can.
The United States is home to about 24,000 same-sex couples in which one partner is an American citizen and the other is not, according to an analysis of 2008 census survey data by the Williams Institute, University of California Los Angeles Law School. About 25 percent of those couples have children.
No one knows how many of these couples are with immigration problems. Some obtain legal residency through work visas, applying for asylum or getting green cards on their own. Others leave for countries that have more favorable laws.
We are bringing this to light to help policy makers understand exactly how it impacts lives and to find a remedy and to consider whether its a high priority to deport a lawfully married spouse, said their Los Angeles lawyer, Lavi Soloway.
Soloway is representing the couple and 11 others around the country who face deportation of a foreign-born spouse.
At the time [DOMA] was passed, gay couples in the US didnt have the opportunity to be married, he said. Now, we finally have a critical mass of same-sex couples who are seeing the impact of DOMA.
Velandia immigrated to the US in 2002 on an employment-sponsored visa, founding his own dance school, HotSalsaHot. He has appeared in the Spanish-language television show Mira Quien Baila.
Vandiver and Velandia have lived together in New Jersey since 2006. Princeton recognized them as domestic partners in 2007, and this summer, they married in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage is legal.
I started from zero in this country new language, new culture, said Velandia. Its been like the American Dream.
But when his visa expired, an application for a green card was denied. In 2009, Velandia received a notice of deportation. If deported, he could be barred from entering the US for 10 years.
According to the New York-based advocacy organization Immigration Equality, thousands of these gay couples one American and one an immigrant leave the US each year for countries where gay immigrants are welcome.
Vandiver and Velandia say neither wants to leave the United States.
My training is to be a professor and teach political theory in an American context, said Vandiver. I really need to stay in America to pursue my studies and my work. I dont think I should have to leave America.
Velandia said he cannot imagine going back to Venezuela, where he lived a closeted life.
With my relationship with Josh in America, I found the love of my life. I can actually be myself, he said. Its ridiculous to try to go back to Venezuela being a gay man. I was repressed by the culture and religious beliefs. Going back would be like going into the past.
We expect DOMA to be defeated in a few years and be history, said Soloway. We want people like Henry to be here.
DOMA Tears Apart Legal Gay Marriages
Soloway is also helping Carry Tucker, 59, of Sacramento, Calif., who has been separated from her legal wife since they were married in Canada in 2007.
Claire Pollard, 49, is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
We tried every legal way to get Claire into the country to live with us, said Tucker, an Air Force veteran who calls herself a patriot. We looked into everything.
The couple was prepared to move to Canada where Pollard had applied for legal residence under the skilled-worker program, but the economy went sour in 2008.
Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California recognizes legal same-sex marriages, but DOMA stands in their way.
They have now been separated for five years and Tuckers 18-year-old daughter is a stranger to Pollard.
All of her teen years, my daughter did not have her loving stepmother in her life, said Tucker. They are the two loves of my life, and they dont know each other. That is the most painful part for me.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, in the District of Columbia and in one Indian tribe in Oregon.
In California, same-sex marriages were performed for five months until voters enacted Proposition 8. A federal judge has ruled the ban unconstitutional, and a court of appeals has issued a stay on the ruling, which is expected to work its way to the Supreme Court.
In New York, Rhode Island and Maryland, same-sex marriages cannot be performed, but they are legally recognized.
Groups opposed to same-sex marriage say DOMA is in the best interests of children.
There will always be exceptions, but the definition of marriage affects all American children, said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for CitizenLink, a policy arm of Focus on the Family.
A compassionate society promotes what is in their best interest, and that includes policies that would give every child a chance for both a mother and a father.
She said these couples know that legislative efforts to overturn DOMA will fail. Theres a reason theyre not doing that they dont have the votes.
Polls have tended to overestimate voter support for redefining marriage, but the national discussion gives thoughtful Americans the opportunity to consider the purpose of marriage whether its most valuable as validation for adult relationships, or as the only family structure that attempts to give a mother and father to every child, said Horne.
President Obama has made it clear DOMA should be repealed. The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced in Congress in 2009, seeks to repeal the law.
His administrations willingness to defend the letter of the DOMA law, and not the spirit of it, is an open door for those who want to redefine one-man, one-woman marriage by any means possible, said Horne.
Many states have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, while others have passed laws through their legislatures.
A majority of Americans support marriage, including voters in 31 states who have defended the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage at the ballot box, she said.
But for the first time, more than half of all Americans (52 percent) said they would support the federal government giving legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, according to a recent poll from the AP-National Constitution Center.
Only 46 percent supported such marriages in 2008.
We are at a historically significant moment, said lawyer Soloway.
The Constitutional problem with DOMA is that states have historically controlled family law in issues of marriage, parenting and inheritance, according to Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal and director of the National Marriage Project.
Congress should not be interfering in the way that DOMA does, she said.
So far, two cases have challenged DOMA as a violation of the 10th amendment that honors the authority of states and prohibits intrusion by the federal government.
Ultimately, say advocates, the courts will intervene when they determine state laws against same-sex marriage violate the Constitutions respect for individual liberties and state rights.
Congress missed its power, said Pizer.
Same-sex couples are not like a generation ago, when they consigned themselves to unhappy heterosexual marriages because following their own dreams was not possible, she said. Now there is a visibility of gay people in all walks of life who can follow their heart and lead a fulfilling and not a miserable life.
Such was the case with Vandiver and Velandia, who created a Facebook page Save Our Marriage that in just one week has more than 6,000 supporters.
Its sad how many people are affected by DOMA, said Velandia. But its pretty nice we can help.
Vandiver is optimistic that equality and fairness will win, but he said, No one should lose a spouse when a law is in dispute for being unconstitutional.
I never imagined it was possible that a spouse could be taken away by the government and deported to another country and forced to leave, said Vandiver. They threaten to take away the thing you love the most.
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