Archive | Blind Justice

Florida Supreme Court rules against arbitration in nursing-home impairment case


With over 46 million people aged 65 or older in the United States, the issue of quality care for the elderly has reached a critical peak. Nursing homes across the country are having to answer tough questions about their practices, and the courts are starting to turn in favor of the American people.

A recent Florida Supreme Court decision reflects this growing sentiment that the elderly should be well-respected and given their full rights under the law. On Thursday, September 22, 2016, justices on the court ruled that a lawsuit concerning injuries sustained at a nursing home should not go to arbitration and should be heard in a court of law.

The Miami-Dade County case revolved around a contract signed by Juan Mendez Jr. after his father, Juan Sr., started receiving care from the Hampton Court Nursing Center. The contract, signed in 2009, stated that if any legal dispute came up it would immediately go to arbitration instead of going through the courts and having a jury decide the outcome of the case.

However in 2011, Juan Sr. dealt with an infection that forced him to have his left eye removed. His son decided to take legal action and brought a lawsuit against the nursing home in support of his father; however, the nursing home continually delayed going to court by arguing that the contract signed should be enforced. Juan Sr. passed away in 2013, and the case was still being delayed by the Hampton Court Nursing Center.

A circuit judge and the 3rd District Court of Appeal sided in favor of the nursing home agreeing that the contract should be honored and that arbitration be used to resolve the case. However, the Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of the plaintiff and argued that the father was not subject to required arbitration because the son had verified the contract without asking his father’s permission.

Justice James E.C. Perry wrote the majority opinion for the decision and argued that if the courts would not honor a contract that a person signs under serious duress, then they would not validate a contract that was signed in “the absence of the party’s agreement altogether.”

He also disavowed the notion that the son was acting as his father’s surrogate when he signed the contract. Perry believed that the father was of sound mind and could have appointed someone to be his guardian if the nursing home had given him the option.

He also believed that the father’s mental state had nothing to do with the case and that one cannot use “common law contract principles” to avoid complying with Florida legislature laws regarding guardianship.

Attorney Peter Tragos commented, “This case is just one of many around the country that have confronted the issue of allowing arbitration to stand when a resident or family member signs a contract before admission.”

The facts have obviously varied in each case, but Justice Perry believes that appeals courts have been divided when dealing with situations similar to that of the Mendez’ family. He felt that it was his duty to right the wrong that had been done to Juan Sr. and others like him in Florida and proudly helped overturn the decision.


A primer on permanent stalemate: Federal judicial selection, post-election


In the New Yorker’s October 3 issue, Jeffrey Toobin attempts to predict the future in “The Supreme Court After Scalia.” Mr. Toobin devotes much of the piece to discussing how the progressive-conservative balance of the Court might change with a ninth Justice replacing Scalia if Secretary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected, and the ensuing consequences… Continue Reading →

Another crime is live-streamed on Facebook

THE SHARD - Ciobul
After shooting is ex-wife and killing his son, a North Carolina man broadcast a confession of his crime and his intention to murder his in-laws and possibly take his own life on Facebook Live.

The man, Earl Valentine, began recording his confession on his cell phone from his car, stating that his ex-wife, Keisha Valentine, “deserved what she had coming” because she had lied to him and taken out a restraining order against him. Keisha Valentine survived the gunshot wound, but her teenage son, who was shot in the chest after confronting his father, did not. Her restraining order against her abusive ex-husband had recently expired.

It is not the first time evidence of a violent act has been broadcast on Facebook Live since its launch in April of this year.

In June, a man in France live-streamed from the bloody scene of double homicide in the home of a French police captain and his partner as he proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group and urged viewers to go out and kill police officers. In the same month, a young man live-streaming on Facebook as he walked down the streets of Chicago unwittingly recorded his own fatal shooting death.

The most viral of the Facebook Live recordings was that of Philando Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who began live-streaming after a police traffic stop turned fatal when the officer shot and killed Castile inside the car. In the video that sparked outrage across the country after reaching 5 million people, Reynolds sits in the passenger’s seat beside her boyfriend whose shirt is soaked in blood from the wound with her four-year-old watching from the backseat. She speaks with the police officers calmly as Castile is fading beside her and the police officer seems to panic in response.

The video posted to Reynold’s Facebook was removed by Facebook moderators for a few hours because of the sensitive material, but later went back up after people protested. Videos on Facebook that are flagged for having disturbing material now have a disclaimer that prompts the viewer to respond whether or not they want to continue watching.

Along with other streaming platforms, like Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live has become a major player in the realm of real-time video sharing on social media, allowing users to record moments as they are happening. This new format of video streaming personal moments in real-time has thrust Facebook into the spotlight with grisly footage appearing multiple times since the launch.

While Facebook has appointed a team to monitor the live-streams, it is a difficult endeavor to censor violent or obscene content that users post when it is happening. As the Facebook Live moderators are seeing the videos and judging the content, viewers around the world can also watch, too, challenging them to establish rules for themselves as watchdogs and curators and also for the producers and consumers of these videos on Facebook.

Defense attorney Angie DiPietro commented, “Like police camera recordings, these live videos streamed by users add another layer of criminal evidence that can appear in court, incriminating those who opt to record their own confessions or the violent acts perpetrated by others. “

The sharing feature has also led to criminal charges as well. In April of this year a young woman in Ohio went to court with a slew of serious charges against her after recording the rape of her friend on Periscope, which she claimed that she videotaped for evidence. Her lawyer pleaded on her behalf that she was caught up in the moment and its intensity without considering the consequences of the video.
In the case of Earl Valentine, his Facebook Live confession was reposted to YouTube, and local law enforcement agencies in Norlina, North Carolina, just shy of the Virginia border, began searching for him. With the help of the FBI and U.S. Marshals, they found Valentine at a Days Inn in Virginia, where he shot and killed himself upon seeing that he was surrounded by police. He did not harm his in-laws as he had promised in his video.

Had he been taken in custody alive, Earl Valentine would have faced serious criminal charges including first-degree murder and attempted murder. Instead, his confession will continue to live on in the Internet, proof of the muddy waters of social media live-streaming and the new frontier it has created for criminal justice.



Scope of FBI porn sting raises key privacy questions


It’s not just porn, it’s also some of these faux terrorism arrests of dopes who never would have done a thing without an FBI operative egging him or her on. Lots of legal issues to look at:

On the heels of a sweeping federal sting operation targeting individuals involved with the distribution and possession of child pornography, a growing chorus of attorneys and social watchdogs are raising serious questions about the FBI tactics used as part of its “Operation Pacifier.”

Critics suggest that the strategies, which ultimately proved extremely successful, pose a real threat to internet privacy going forward and in actuality produce greater injustices than the crimes they are designed to stop.

Background of Controversial Sting Operation

In the springtime of 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was entrenched in a significant initiative designed to ferret out cyber criminals suspected of distributing and/or possessing child pornography on the “dark web.”
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Judge goes after Texas after they defy previous voting rights order


As most of you already know, the voting suppression tactics have kicked into high gear this year. (Maybe because they’re so worried.) And because recent polls have shown a tiny glimmer of Democratic hope in Texas, why, Greg Abbott is willing to defy a federal judge. He’s not getting away with it:

Earlier this month, the Justice Department informed a federal court that Texas is violating a recent court order that sought to keep the state from disenfranchising voters. After an appeals court struck down the state’s voter ID law, a common form of voter suppression favored by conservative lawmakers, the state agreed to be bound by an order that would permit voters to cast a ballot in the 2016 election if they “cannot reasonably obtain” photo ID.

Despite this order, Texas published press releases, voter education materials, and training manuals for poll workers that effectively stated that a voter without ID cannot vote unless it is literally impossible for that voter to obtain a photo ID. Thus, for example, a voter who had to make multiple day long trips to a government office and make burdensome document requests to obtain an ID would not be able to vote, under Texas’ standard, unless that voter was willing to jump through all of these considerable hoops.

On Tuesday, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, the judge overseeing this case, weighed in on Texas’ defiance of the court order. And, if the order she issued on Tuesday is any indication, she’s pissed.

For one thing, as the Huffington Post’s Cristian Farias notes on Twitter, Judge Ramos’ Tuesday order is stronger than a proposed order drafted by some of the plaintiffs in this case. The proposed order would have largely clarified that the court’s original order meant what it said. Judge Ramos’ Tuesday, order, by contrast, requires Texas to take several specific actions. It also subjects Texas to a kind of federal supervision similar to the oversight it faced before conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The ‘stand your ground’ hotline

Punisher - 00 - MCSG Application

This is really disgusting:

TAMPA — Carlos Garcia lay bleeding on the street in front of his family’s mailbox.

“Yes, ma’am. I just had a man attack me in my front yard,” Nick Julian IV told a 911 operator on Sept. 19, 2015.

“He attacked me and I had to use force,” said Julian. “I was afraid for my life.”

“Well who used the gun?” the operator said.

“I did,” Julian said.

In the background, Garcia’s ex-wife screamed: “Why would you do this?”

” ‘Cause he charged me and I was in fear of my life,” said Julian, then 26.

He said that he needed to call his lawyer. It was 2:05 a.m.

Before Garcia, a 37-year-old father of three, had even been declared dead, the man who shot him was already on the phone with the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

The association offers a 24-hour hotline, an attorney on retainer, bail money and a wallet-sized card instructing members on what to say after a shooting — starting at just $13 a month.

It’s one of a handful of organizations that says they can help its members strengthen their claim of self-defense from the moment they pull the trigger.

“This is basically preparing people: You’re going to kill someone and you need to know what to do,” said University of Miami law professor Mary Anne Franks.

Prosecutors: Gov. Chris Christie knew about Bridgegate all along

State of the Leaf: Will Anti-Cannabis Chris Christie OK Medical Marijuana for PTSD?

“Lock him up, lock him up!” For the first time since the Bridgegate scandal began, Gov. Chris Christie has formerly been implicated in the illegal lane closings of the Washington Bridge that was punishment for those who refused to help Christie’s reelection campaign. NY Times: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey knew that his close associates… Continue Reading →

New PA bill to pay reparations for wrongful incarceration

I guess I just assumed this wasn’t a problem:

In Pennsylvania, people who have been wrongfully incarcerated for crimes they did not commit do not receive any reparations for the damages that resulted from years spent in prison.

This was the case for a former inmate named Tony Wright who served twenty-five years in jail for a murder he did not commit. He was wrongfully convicted in 1991, just avoiding the death penalty in a jury trial that voted 7 – 5 against it. On August 23, 2016 he was finally able to return to his life after the charges were dropped during a retrial in which the jury’s deliberation took under an hour to decide he was innocent.

The National Registry of Exonerations found that Wright’s case is one of fifty-four in Pennsylvania in which prisoners were later acquitted of criminal charges after serving out part or all of a prison sentence.

PA is one of only a handful of states that provide zero compensation to exonerated prisoners upon their release and is one of twenty states that requires a person to go through the judicial process of a civil lawsuit for hardships and damages that resulted from the years spent in jail.
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Scott Walker’s dark money runs deep

The Koch Brothers walking their dog, Scotty.

Two years ago, prosecutors investigating Scott Walker for illegal campaigning, alleged that he was the center of a “criminal scheme”: Prosecutors allege that Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and those of Republican senators fend off recall elections during 2011 and… Continue Reading →

“Textalyzer” legislation proposed in New York to combat distracted driving

Texting Concentration

This is interesting, isn’t it?

Is distracted driving the new drunk driving? Numerous studies in the past few years have warned motorists of the dangers of driving while distracted – the most common distraction being texting.

Distracted driving kills over eight people per day and injures another 1,000, a phenomenon that has gradually increased over the last 10 years. Some even claim that texting while driving is just as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In New York alone, texting while driving tickets have increased exponentially from 9,000 in 2011 to almost 85,000 in 2015. In light of recent efforts by anti-distracted driving activists, New York legislators have proposed a bill called Evan’s Law, named after young car accident victim who died in 2011 because the driver of the vehicle that hit him was distracted by his phone.

The new law would give police officers the authority to use new technology called a “Textalyzer” when they pull motorists over for suspected distracted driving.

Commonly referred to as “the new breathalyzer,” the Textalyzer was developed by the mobile forensics company Cellebrite, which uses a series of new technological developments to determine whether or not a motorist had been texting while driving.

In real time, an officer can plug a motorist’s phone into a laptop and use the system’s operating logs to determine whether or not the person was typing or tapping the phone’s screen at the time of a crash. The use of this new technology, legislators hope, will force motorists to think twice before pulling out their phones while driving.

The main concerns over the Textalyzer legislation surround privacy laws. Proponents of the Textalyzer insist that the device is programmed to only show if the phone was in use for texting at the time of an accident, not to access the owner’s photos, conversations, contacts, or other personal information.

However, some civil liberties groups, including the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), acknowledge the public safety issue regarding distracted driving, but say that the Textalyzer is “fraught with legal and practical problems.”

Other opponents of the bill say that there are less intrusive measures already in place to determine phone usage at the time of accidents, such as encrypting the phone or scanning the phone’s metadata.

Defense attorney Karin Riley Porter commented, “The proposed legislation and the advent of the Textalyzer are proof that distracted driving has become an enormous public safety issue in recent years. However, privacy laws are still a concern, and maintaining the balance between reducing distracted driving fatalities and protecting individual privacy will continue.”

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