Archive for courts

Priests To Be Equipped With "Off Duty" Lights On Collars

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Sexual abuse is no laughing matter. It's serious and it's tragic. Yet... of course there's a yet-- the legal defense of an accused offender can be somewhat laughable simply because the crime itself is inexcusable.

As an attorney, you're often charged with defending the indefensible, because the laws of this land provide that all defendants deserve the right to capable defensive representatives. (the Sixth Amendment & the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona case).  And counsel is only limited by their imaginations, at least if the lawyers for the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey are to be taken seriously.

They attempted to get a sex abuse case dropped against the church because, as they claim, they should not be held liable for sexual abuse allegedly committed by a priest because he wasn’t officially “on duty” when he molested a teenage boy.

Personally, I wasn't aware that being a man of the cloth, working for God, was a part time job. Evidently, these holy men are officially on the job only when their "on duty" light is illuminated. From The Raw Story:

Lawyers claim the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, should not be held liable for sexual abuse allegedly committed by a priest because he wasn’t officially “on duty” when he molested a teenage boy.

Chris Naples claimed Rev. Terence McAlinden, who once headed the diocese’s youth group, sexually abused him during church-sponsored trips to Delaware in the 1980s.

Just as an aside, that means the the good Reverend escorted a minor across state lines for the purposes of having sex with him. Ever hear of the Mann Act a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose?" I guess Chris Naples being an underage boy and not a girl meant that law didn't apply here. Or maybe it's because no money changed hands here, huh?

But diocese lawyers told the Delaware Supreme Court that [Rev. Terence] McAlinden was not officially on duty when the abuse took place.

“You can determine a priest is not on duty when he is molesting a child, for example,” the attorney argued. “A priest abusing a child is absolutely contrary to the pursuit of his master’s business, to the work of a diocese.”

And guess what? This defense seems to have worked.

Delaware courts ruled Naples did not have jurisdiction to sue the diocese in that state because he couldn’t prove the trips were church sanctioned, but he did win a $3 million judgment in that state against McAlinden.

Ask yourself this: If these trips weren't church sanctioned, what was Rev. McAlinden doing  as a chaperon on them?

The argument here indicates that if a priest does something wrong, even if it's on a church sponsored trip, the church is not responsible.

Delaware has now coined the phrase, "A priest ain't on the clock if he's playing with an little boy's c***."

During that time, because he's doing something wrong, he's not a priest or part of the diocese. He's just an average Joe. Ergo, the church isn't responsible. So says the Delaware Supreme Court.

This seems a bit specious to me.

priests collar

Is it time for Pope Francis to mandate new collars for Catholic priests? The new one's must come equipped with more than just a white block in the front. They need to  have "good bookend" lights on them, one green and one red, indicating when they're on duty and when their off. Though I thought that when you took your vows to become a priest, you were tied to God on a full-time basis, but I guess I was mistaken.

Once the warning lights are installed, we'll all know who we can rely upon in time of spiritual need.

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7 Dem. Redcoats Join All GOP Senators Turning Their Backs On The Constitution

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GOP

GOP

Its was a sad day in Congress yesterday. As I reported, Darrell Issa demonstrated his immature and perhaps disqualifying behavior in a showdown with fellow committee member, Rep. Elijah Cummings. Issa's behavior has him now mocked and ridiculed everywhere except of course, with his main "employer," Fox News.

Elsewhere on the Capitol Hill, the GOP celebrated in infamy a 50th vote to repeal Obamacare. While there hasn't been enough time to vote on a jobs bill, immigration reform or an extension to jobless benefits, Speaker Boehner was able to squeeze in a futile symbolic vote which came up exactly like the last 49 attempts -- without any chance of forward movement. The cost of this clown show of votes in manpower? Millions of dollars in staff hours alone.

Hard as it may be to conceive, there was a greater affront to justice and our Constitution which took place yesterday. It happened in the Senate. The upper house voted on the president's nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

As Chris Hayes on All In points out, the precedent has been set now. If you have been a practicing attorney and been dealt a high profile case -- and won -- you're not viable for Senate approval as a presidential nominee. By doing your job, and doing it well, you're disqualified.

Our constitution has made clear that as Americans, we have certain rights, though the interpretations vary and that's what drives the religious right and the ultra-right Republicans. They love to hide behind, twist and turn their interpretations of these, especially the right to bear arms,  to freedom of speech and religious beliefs. What they did yesterday was abridge the Bill of Rights -- the sixth amendment. The part of that amendment that I'm referring to "... to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence [sic]."

HuffPo:

All Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted to sink Debo Adegbile’s nomination to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. The overriding reason for their opposition was that he once represented Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death row inmate convicted 30 years ago of killing a Philadelphia police officer.

Adegbile did not make the decision to take on the case. When he became the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in 2012, the group was already representing Abu-Jamal, and Adegbile continued to do so on a narrow constitutional issue. In other words, he was just doing his job by advocating for his client.

Using this litmus test to disqualify people from high government office, we'd have to veto Conservative hero Chief Justice John Roberts and the late President John Adams. They both defended and successfully gained acquittal for their clients accused of heinous or treasonous crimes. All Adegbile did was seek justice as was his obligation under the law. And he didn't get a guilty man freed, he got the sentence moved from death to life -- both would keep him off the streets. I pause to wonder if this victim of this murder was a black carpenter instead of a white cop if we'd even be having this discussion.

As Chris Hayes commented on the Republicans and Democrats who voted down this nomination based on providing adequate legal defense (and by the way, winning) to a defendant in court, "Shame on you, senators!"

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If Corporations Are People, Too, So Are Chimpanzees. New Scopes Monkey Trial

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Scopes Money Trial plaque

A lot lately has been made over the slippery slope quickly approaching the Supreme Court. In the first quarter of next year, they will hear arguments over religious freedoms guaranteed "we the people" and now seemingly "we the corporations" of America as it relates to healthcare. That is surely to be a wonderful case to watch and their June decision will be landmark level.

But before SCOTUS takes up that battle which will help define corporations status as "people", there's some other monkey business to be heading to the courts. Did I say monkey? I meant to say, "chimp." And now that I think about it, what follows might give the true meaning of a monkey court.

In a string of landmark cases to be filed this week, four chimpanzees will fight for the right to retire to humane sanctuaries. Stop snickering. This is real.

It seems chimps are people too, my friend. And if that's the case, it must mean that evolution is real as well. Think about it. Is this the next Scopes Monkey Trial?

Chimpanzee client

Here's the story of the law suits that are being waged.

A man named Pat Lavery and his wife had first came across Tommy the chimpanzee ten years ago. At the time he was believed to be around 16 years old and was a long time veteran of the entertainment business. Who doesn't like a show biz vet? So the Laverys took Tommy in along with other members of the Chimpanzee family. They sheltered them, fed them, and took care of them.

That was going smoothly until last Monday when Lavery discovered that Tommy, the chimpanzee to whom he has extended his hospitality and an endless supply of bananas for the last decade, had sued him in New York’s Supreme Court.

The Daily Beast picks up here:

The first-of-its-kind lawsuit seeks a writ of habeas corpus, a legal tool used to challenge a person’s imprisonment or detention. It demands Tommy’s immediate release from “illegal detention” and transfer to any of the seven refuges that form the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance—making the 26-year-old chimp the first non-human animal to demand legal rights under common law.

Look, as I prefaced, if a corporation that can't breath, eat, give birth, swing on a vine or peel a banana can be considered a person, why not a chimp?

Acting on Tommy’s behalf is The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), an organization on a mission to have animals recognized in law not just as “things,” but as “persons” with the right—among others—to “bodily liberty.”

Lest you think Tommy's alone in feeling his rights have been infringed upon,

Tommy’s lawsuit, in which the animal is named as a petitioner represented by the NhRP, is the first of three such cases being filed in New York county courts on behalf of four chimps.

The lawsuit claims:

“Chimps are autonomous, they self-determine their own lives, they are extraordinarily social, self-aware beings—behaviors and characteristics that qualify them as persons with a fundamental right to freedom.”

This really boils down to what does a chimp know, feel, smell, sense and experience. If you subscribe to Darwin's theory, they are endowed with all those abilities. We know that Corporations don't contain any of those. Their inanimate. But with a chimp, there seems to be some recognized qualities to their existence which makes you want to give out a Tarzan yell.

Chimpanzees possess a sense of self that developmentally emerges in a manner similar to humans and is highly stable over time. They recognize themselves in mirrors and on television and can use a flashlight to examine the interiors of their own throats in a mirror. Adult chimpanzees recognize photos of themselves as youngsters,” the papers state, citing affidavits from multiple scientists.

Like humans, chimpanzees have a concept of their personal past and future and suffer the pain of not being able to fulfill their needs or move around as they wish,” the court papers state, adding: “Like humans, they experience the pain of anticipating never-ending confinement.

Show me one corporation that experiences those feelings.

I'm not going so far as the suggest chimps qualify for Obamacare, but they do qualify to be treated humanely. And that's what this is all about.

So Mitt Romney and SCOTUS with your Citizen's United finding, you might want to pay special attention to these upcoming chimp cases. As you approach hearing the corporations arguments for religious freedoms, consider Tommy's case could ultimately be kicked up to your court on appeal, or a banana peel. If you give corporations religious rights, what's next? Will you determine whether Tommy's eligible to demand Kosher only foods. Oh, and let's not forget these show biz chimps were paid when employed. Maybe they qualify for social security and unemployment benefits.

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Parents & Courts Condone and Encourage Child Bullying And Harassment

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Levi Null

So this is what society has  come down to. Encourage bullying and terror.

Say you're blessed enough to become a parent. Sadly, your child is born different -- with a disability. Perhaps autism, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Tourettes or one of many other afflictions.  Wish, will and pray as you might, you hope that by the time they reach school age, they'll be well enough to attend. To be as much like one of the other kids as possible.

You get to the point that you believe this will be a solution. Perhaps integration into a social environment of school peers will be the panacea. At least, you figure your child will be protected, be kept safe.

But what happens when you realize your prayer isn't answer and hope is not a viable option? You find yourself up sh**s creek without a paddle. You've been deserted. And not just by the kids (who we know can be cruel) but by the teachers and the school officials as well.

How do you stand by when you report your child's abuse to the school and they side with the bullies? How about when they even blame your abused child as bringing it on himself?

Then you, as the heartbroken parent find you're faced with public ostracism over Facebook, blaming you for your child's behavior. Does this seem fair? Just? Right? How do you think you feel when you find the bully kids posting videos on the Internet of  their abuse which also shows teachers in the background witnessing this harassment and just turning their backs?

The cherry on this disgusting sundae comes when the parents of the bullies defend their kid's offensive actions on TV news, and they get hundreds of responses, applauding their support of their bullying kids.

Watch this story of 13 year old Levi Null, from the Melcher-Dallas school district in Texas.

The message here is that sadly, ignorance and inhumanity is passed down from generation to generation. What we do as parents matters. As the parent of both a boy and a girl, I know how hard it was to reprimand them, and I did it sparingly but judiciously. I did it to make them better children. But not doing anything or worse, condoning such bad behavior leads to a total deterioration of society.

Just over a month ago I reported on a 12 year old girl, Rebecca Sedwick in a post on how cyber bullying led her to climb up a grain silo and jump to her death.

HERE'S AN UPDATE on this related story. The two kids who drove Sedwick to her suicide were suspended from school but just yesterday, the court made their determination on any charges, reported by the New York Daily News:

Charges against two Florida girls accused of bullying a 12-year-old former classmate to her eventual suicide will be dropped, local authorities announced Wednesday.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd confirmed Wednesday evening that two of Rebecca Sedwick's accused cyberbullies, 14-year-old Guadalupe Shaw and a 13-year-old girl, will have their charges of aggravated stalking dropped.

Is this the fair signal to send in addressing an epidemic of harassment and bullying?

Parents condone it. Courts refuse to condemn it? Buckle your seat belts. We're in for the proverbial bumpy ride.

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