Most people agree that keeping weapons out of the hands of hardened criminals is a good thing (I certainly do!). For this reason, lots of states have laws on the books which prevent convicted felons from possessing or owning a firearm. However, a case that is currently pending in Wisconsin reveals the problems that these types of broad statutory prohibitions can create.
A 44 year old Wisconsin man, who was convicted more than 25 years ago for the felony crime of forging checks, was recently arrested for the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm because he used his dad’s hunting rifle to shoot a couple of deer. This, in spite of the fact that he is clearly not a violent offender and has no history of violent acts. The case has been upheld at several levels, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court could still rule in his favor and in the process strike down this unnecessary restriction.
I’m all for keeping us safe by limiting criminals’ access to firearms, but I think this is the kind of case that merits special consideration, and I wish this man the best of luck in his case.
The Justice Department is asking that the Executive Branch use its privilege in relation to the nasty, PR nightmare that “Operation Fast and Furious” has turned into. In a correspondence with Representative Darrel Issa (R-California), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a representative of the Justice Department said that Executive Privilege applies to the explanation of how the department learned about problems in the probe.
“I write now to inform you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the relevant post-February 4, 2011, documents,” wrote James Cole, the Deputy Attorney General and technology law expert. “We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the Committee’s concerns and to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious.”
The White House made the move after Darrel Issa and the Attorney General conferred Tuesday night for around half an hour in an effort to head off today’s hearing to consider whether to hold him in contempt. Mr Holder informed reporters following the meeting that he offered to provide the documents on the condition that Issa gave his assurance that doing so would satisfy two committee subpoenas and resolve the issue.
Ok, so there aren’t too many things that get me angrier than child sexual abuse, and an appeals court in New York has just made a decision that, honestly, is one of the worst I can think of in relation to this topic. According to this story, the case, which occurred in the state of New York, involved a professor at Marist College in Poughkeepsie who was found to have hundreds of different pornographic images of children in his browser history. The court ruled that, under New York’s child pornography laws, he couldn’t be held accountable for any crime, as he was never technically in possession of any of these images.
I understand the court’s reasoning, I really do; after all, they are beholden to the law, and they’re not supposed to make decisions that exceed the authority of the law. However, it’s extremely clear that the intent of this law is to prevent people from supporting any type of child pornography, and providing internet traffic to these sites does exactly that. And promoting the sexual performance of a minor, which is a part of the law, is clearly what this guy was doing. So, no, I can’t support this type of judicial discretion, not in a case like this.
Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of George Zimmerman, the man on trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, was arrested on June 12th on charges that she lied to the court in her husband’s bond hearing. This comes after Zimmerman himself was ordered back to jail for providing false information at the bond hearing as well. Both individuals are accused of lying to the court about their financial resources. According to authorities, Zimmerman’s bond of $150,000 (making his bail payment $15,000) was set in response to claims that the family did not have the financial resources to provide a high bail amount. However, it was later revealed by Zimmerman’s attorney that the family had access to as much as $135,000 at the time of the bond hearing. The funds were acquired from a crude PayPal website set up by the Zimmermans to collect money for George Zimmerman’s defense. George Zimmerman’s next bond hearing is set for June 29th.
On Friday June 15th, a Federal judge ruled that JetBlue pilot Clayton Osborn was fit to stand trial after an incident in March that forced flight attendants to restrain Osborn and the co-pilot to make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas. According to witnesses, Osborn was flying the JetBlue flight from San Antonio to Las Vegas when he suddenly began running through the plane and yelling about Iraq, Afghanistan, and al-Qaida. Osborn was declared sane and fit to stand trial after a government appointed psychologist examined him and concluded that he would be able to participate in his own defense and trial. Osborn faces both criminal and civil charges. Ten passengers on the JetBlue flight have filed a civil suit against JetBlue for negligence. As passengers of JetBlue, they were put in a frightening and potentially life threatening situation due to JetBlue’s retaining of an unfit employee. As plaintiffs I certainly hope they find a proper lawyer, because the passengers of JetBlue have a rock solid case against the company. Airline safety is incredibly important. The fear and anxiety surrounding flight in America is well justified, and a breach of any sense of safety by an employee of an airline is a serious offense. The ten passengers filed suit two days prior to the declaration of Osborn as fit to stand trial.
On June 13th, the New York State Assembly voted 90 to 50 to send a bill to the senate for the legalization of medical marijuana in New York. Unfortunately, the more conservative Senate has blocked the bill. Had the bill passed and been signed by the governor, New York would join fifteen other states who have legalized medical marijuana. The law would have permitted individuals who are approved by the state to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana at one time.
The approval by the New York assembly is a step forward, but it is still not enough. According to Jason Volet, a well known New Jersey criminal lawyer, thousands are suffering from symptoms of ailments that could be relieved by medicinal marijuana, many others are being arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Both U.S. and New York State drug policies regarding marijuana put innocent individuals in jail and deny those who need medical assistance one of the few remedies to their pain, nausea, and other complications.