Jury awards $15 million in landmark case over embryos, eggs destroyed in fertility clinic tank failure
I remember when the failure happened in 2018. This award surely will be followed by many more.
Excerpts from the Article:
The devastating news landed in the inboxes of the fertility clinic patients early one morning in March 2018.
A tank storing frozen human embryos and eggs at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco had failed, potentially destroying the precious cells that scores of people hoped would one day bring them biological children. Some might still be viable, the clinic told them in the alert, but the full extent of the damage was unclear.
On Thursday, after more than three years of litigation in federal court, a jury in California awarded five of the patients who lost embryos and eggs a combined $15 million in damages — a historic verdict that could have far-reaching consequences for the loosely regulated U.S. fertility industry.
Jurors found that the storage tank maker, Chart Industries, knew about a defect in its equipment that prevented accurate temperature monitoring but neglected to recall the units or warn the public about the problem. When the part malfunctioned in the Pacific Fertility Center tank, more than 3,500 frozen eggs and embryos prematurely thawed, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys. Jurors held Chart 90 percent responsible and Pacific Fertility Center 10 percent responsible for the failure.
The verdict appears to mark the first time a jury has awarded damages in a case involving the destruction of eggs and embryos, according to experts in family law. The outcome could serve as a bellwether not just for the hundreds of other plaintiffs with claims pending against Chart and the fertility clinic but for others whose dreams of becoming parents were dashed by similar errors, they said.
“This is a landmark case,” said Naomi R. Cahn, director of the University of Virginia’s Family Law Center. “In the past, many of these cases have settled, but here, we have a definitive jury verdict, holding the tank manufacturer primarily responsible, but with the clinic also responsible.”
In court papers, attorneys said the eggs and embryos lost represented the only chance for some of the patients to conceive children. Adam Wolf, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said many of them were still struggling with the grief three years later.
“This is the material that helps people have children and start a family. When eggs and embryos are destroyed, it fundamentally alters people’s lives,” he said in an interview. “It should be a wake-up call for fertility clinics across the country that their mistakes can prove very costly.”
Pacific Fertility Center was one of two clinics that in March 2018 separately reported problems in liquid-nitrogen tanks in which thousands of eggs and embryos were kept. More than 4,000 eggs and embryos were lost at the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic in Cleveland, affecting hundreds of patients. More than 150 families settled claims with the clinic in 2019 but other lawsuits are ongoing.
Other accidents and mishaps have plagued fertility clinics around the country in recent years. In some cases, clinics have used the wrong sperm or embryos, leaving patients to discover later that they aren’t a child’s biological parents.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against Pacific Fertility Center and Chart had her eggs retrieved and frozen in October 2016 and was paying to have them stored at the center, according to court records. She, like others in the lawsuit, was identified only by her initials to protect her privacy.
According to the lawsuit, she and other patients received an email from the center on March 11, 2018, about a week after the error was discovered, notifying them of “a very unfortunate incident.” The message described how storage tank No. 4 had lost liquid nitrogen for a brief period, which may have resulted in the loss of some eggs.
The lawsuit says the tank systems made by Chart had for years “been failing in large numbers due to a defect that rendered the controllers unable to reliably detect changes in temperature and liquid nitrogen levels or sound alarms.”
The complaint alleged negligence, product liability and other claims. Hundreds of would-be parents who stored eggs and embryos at the clinic eventually joined the case. A judge rejected a request to certify the lawsuit as a class action but allowed the litigation to proceed otherwise.
In court testimony, plaintiffs described how the trauma of losing eggs made them feel helpless. “It’s really painful to be at a baby shower celebrating someone else’s family being built and knowing inside you’ll never get that,” one plaintiff told jurors. “So you start to pull back. You start to isolate.”
Experts said the verdict could bring closer scrutiny to the multibillion-dollar industry of fertility clinics and equipment manufacturers that has thrived as reproductive technologies have advanced and more Americans have turned to fertility treatments.
No government agency directly oversees assisted reproduction in the United States, and the only federal law that touches the process primarily regulates the manner in which clinics can advertise their pregnancy success rates. Private groups such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine set industry standards for facilities that opt in, but the recommendations are voluntary and the organizations have no real enforcement power. At the state level, most assisted reproduction laws are limited to embryonic stem cell research, with little regulating the fertility industry’s procedures or practices.
“There is no licensure requirement, there’s no monitoring regime, no data registry for adverse events like this one,” said Dov Fox, director of the Center for Health Law Policy & Bioethics at the University of San Diego. “There’s no system of warnings or disclosures or any other measures to track reproductive facilities or hold the specialists accountable.”
Fox noted the freezer units that store eggs and embryos were developed decades ago to hold livestock semen for breeding. Regulations have hardly evolved since, he said. “These tanks specifically, they’re not regulated any better than kitchen appliances or farm tools,” he said.
Policymakers may be reluctant to start crafting new rules after years of light-touch oversight. But the size and unprecedented nature of Thursday’s jury award may catch their attention.
“After a couple decades of very little action,” Fox said, “it could be the thing that alerts policymakers to the need for change.”
As my friend, great lawyer Steve Hampton, said when he sent me this article: being a federal judge does not mean you are not crazy! This one is scary crazy!
Excerpts from the Article:
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez, a George W. Bush nominee, held that California’s long-standing ban on assault weapons violates the Second Amendment. The ban has been affirmed by the people of California, through both legislation and a ballot initiative, over the past 32 years. Benitez, however, derided the state’s interest in prohibiting these exceptionally dangerous weapons, condemning the ban as a “failed experiment.” His decision began with a now-infamous analogy comparing AR-15s to the Swiss Army knife, praising the semi-automatic rifle as “a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”
But this dubious comparison is just the tip of the iceberg: Benitez’s 94-page opinion is riddled with bizarre and unsupported claims—even more so than his previous decision blocking the ban on the kind of high-capacity magazine used in the Thousand Oaks shooting. Below are five of the opinion’s most alarming and unbelievable assertions, from COVID misinformation to outlandish speculation that AR-15s are necessary to stop rape.
Benitez is widely known as a crank to attorneys who have tried cases in front of him.
1. COVID vaccines are more dangerous than assault weapons. Benitez spilled a great deal of ink arguing that mass shootings involving assault weapons are “infinitesimally rare.” (At the same time, he argued California’s assault weapon ban has utterly failed to limit mass shootings, a contradiction he never attempts to square.) The judge reached his conclusion by discounting experts’ methods of counting mass shootings. In reality, the AR-15-style rifle, the quintessential assault weapon, was used in many of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings, including in Boulder, Las Vegas, Aurora, Sutherland Springs, Pittsburgh, and Sandy Hook; a nearly identical rifle was also used in the Pulse massacre. Notably, the weapon was also used in the 2015 San Bernardino attack, which killed 14 Californians. Despite this record of slaughter, Benitez wrote that “contrary to public misinformation, mass shooting events are rare events.” Benitez added, “More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California.”
As the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported on Monday, this claim is false. There have been, at most, three deaths that may be linked to the COVID vaccine in the entire country. That is just one-third the number of people shot to death in last month’s San Jose massacre. Blake notes that Benitez likely derived this myth from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who manipulated data to misleadingly suggest a link between COVID vaccines and death. Carlson’s lies have now crossed over into a major Second Amendment decision.
It should not come as a shock that Benitez regurgitated Carlson’s misinformation. The judge is widely known as a crank to attorneys who have tried cases in front of him. One told me: “I’ve appeared in front of 30 federal judges in my career. He was the most contemptuous, dimwitted one I’ve ever been in front of. He clearly opposed our case and tried to impeach our experts in front of the jury, but he wasn’t good enough to succeed at it. We won our case.”
2. Wounds from assault weapons are not especially lethal. According to Benitez, California lacks a real interest in banning assault weapons because they are not “unusually dangerous.” (He dismissed the label assault weapons, deeming it an epithet, and suggested “anti-crime guns” instead.) The judge wrote that “the injuries from firearms like the AR-15” are “no different from other firearms that are common and lawful to own.”
The growing number of ER doctors who have treated mass shooting victims know this is a lie. A typical AR-15 bullet travels three times faster than a typical 9 mm handgun bullet, imparting substantially more energy. The result is carnage; AR-15 bullets disintegrate bones, destroy organs, and leave gaping exit wounds that increase the risk of bleeding out. As a doctor who treated Parkland victims wrote in the Atlantic:
The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat traveling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.
Benitez dismissed these wounds as “no different” from injuries incurred by the typical handgun.
3. Citizen militias are alive and well in the U.S. When the Second Amendment was ratified, its primary purpose was to protect state militias from federal interference. That’s one reason why the amendment begins by explaining that the right to bear arms exists to preserve a “well regulated Militia.” Today, the militia clause is often simply ignored by gun enthusiasts, who prefer to read the Second Amendment as an individual guarantee.
Benitez, by contrast, seeks to have it both ways. “The versatile AR-15 type of modern rifle is the perfect firearm for a citizen to bring for militia service,” the judge wrote. And because assault weapons promote “militia readiness,” California may not criminalize them—just in case citizens need to come together to defend the homeland. “It has been argued that citizens with nothing more than modern rifles will have no chance against an army with tanks and missiles,” Benitez wrote:
But someone forgot to tell Fidel Castro who with an initial force of 20 to 80 men armed with M-1 carbines, walked into power in Havana in spite of Cuba’s militarized forces armed with tanks, planes and a navy. Someone forgot to tell Ho Chi Minh who said, “Those who have rifles will use their rifles. Those who have swords will use their swords. Those who have no swords will use their spades, hoes, and sticks,” and eventually defeated both the French and the United States military. Someone forgot to tell the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents.
It is unclear quite how these examples are relevant to the present-day U.S. Perhaps Benitez envisioned a foreign army invading the country, driven away not by the armed forces but by ragtag bands of civilians carrying AR-15s. Or perhaps he was gesturing toward the insurrectionist theory of the Second Amendment, the anachronistic notion that civilians should assassinate political leaders who descend into tyranny (in the eyes of their well-armed critics). Either way, Benitez’s reverie of 21st century citizen militias rising up, assault weapons in hand, to topple enemies both foreign and domestic lies in the realm of fantasy.
4. Americans need assault weapons for safety, just like they need seat belts and smoke detectors. Reading Benitez’s opinion, one might think that California has effectively outlawed all firearms. In truth, the state permits adults to purchase a wide range of firearms, including semi-automatic handguns. But Benitez wrote that these alternatives pale in comparison with assault weapons, which, he insisted, provide unparalleled protection against crime. He reached this conclusion by rejecting actual evidence on the record and instead developing his own facts, seemingly out of thin air. For instance, Benitez rejected a study that found that most people need just 2.2 shots when using a gun in self-defense. He called this finding “a myth” because it rested partly on news reports of shootings and included incidents when no shots were fired. The study, he wrote, “fails the scientific method.”
Benitez then conducted his own study, which took place entirely in his mind. “Simply brandishing such a weapon may cause an intruder to flee precisely because it appears to be dangerous and fully loaded,” he declared. “It is difficult to imagine the same psychological effect on a home invader (or two invaders) from brandishing a 2-shot derringer. It is a reasonable inference that the visual threat presented by a homeowner holding a modern rifle with a large magazine makes it an effective deterrent without firing a shot.” The judge did not explain why his “reasonable inference” passes the scientific method.
Even if the 2.2 shot figure were correct, Benitez added, it wouldn’t matter. “One could drive 100,000 miles without needing seat belts. But when the unexpected collision occurs, seat belts are really needed,” he wrote. “One could live 100 years without needing a smoke detector, but when fire starts in the middle of the night, a smoke detector is really needed. A person may not need more than 2.2 shots to defend themselves in the average situation. Yet, sometimes more than 2.2 shots—sometimes much more—are needed.”
5. Banning assault weapons leads to mass rape. A key theme of Benitez’s opinion is that “perspective is important”: We pay too much attention to mass shootings and too little to home invasions. “It begs the question,” he asked, “are the lives of home invasion victims worth less than the lives of mass shooting victims?” To illustrate this point, Benitez cited FBI statistics that between 2003 and 2007, 7,700 women were raped during a home invasion. If all those women had “been armed with an assault weapon,” the judge wrote, they “may not have suffered a violent victimization.”
The argument here is that assault weapon bans leave women exponentially more vulnerable to rape. “Imagine calculating these figures” for the entire life span of California’s assault weapon ban, Benitez mused. To his mind, California’s law is apparently responsible for thousands upon thousands of rapes. He does not, however, provide evidence to support this causal link.
These peculiar asides take Benitez far outside the mainstream of the federal judiciary—which, despite Donald Trump’s influence, has not yet deteriorated to this new low. But it’s worth noting that, rhetorical excess aside, Benitez’s bottom line is an outlier, too. Other federal courts have found that assault weapon bans are perfectly constitutional. That is no surprise: In D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court explicitly acknowledged that “M-16 rifles and the like” may be banned, and the AR-15 is extremely similar to the M-16. Benitez presumably hopes that the Supreme Court’s new conservative supermajority will erase this caveat and embrace his radical interpretation of the right to bear arms.
If there is any upside to this decision, though, it is that Benitez’s delusions undermine his own credibility. This Supreme Court is undoubtedly eager to expand the Second Amendment. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the median justice in terms of ideology, wrote that the District of Columbia’s assault weapon ban is unconstitutional while serving on the Court of Appeals. But it is hard to envision the justices using this case as a vehicle to establish a constitutional right to buy AR-15s now that Benitez has tainted it with lunacy.
FBI used encrypted Anom app in international crime bust The FBI secretly ran an encrypted chat network that included 12,000 devices and was widely used by criminal organizations across the globe for various illegal dealings
Here we go again, another “massive bust”! Will this slow the supply of drugs to America’s streets? Of course not. The only way to do that is to reduce supply by warning about the dangers of drugs, not lame “just say no” or “egg in a frying pan” ads! Drugfree.org has some good ads.
Excerpts from the Article:
The FBI is celebrating a massive bust stemming from the global takedown of a popular encrypted chat network.
Known as Anom network, the encrypted chat network had marketed itself to criminals as a service where communications were shielded from the prying eyes of law enforcement. In fact, the network was operated by law enforcement in the U.S., Europol, and Oceania as an organized effort to round up criminals.
Anom was first seized by the police in 2018 following the takedown of encrypted phone provider Phantom Secure. Having seized the network in its infancy, law enforcement opted to let it run for several years and gather a network of what it says are hundreds of organized crime outfits. While criminals thought their conversations were secure, law enforcement was able to view and log all communications.
At the time of dismantling, the police-run Anom network had around 12,000 devices used by criminals, according to the Department of Justice. At its peak, Anom was the preferred communications method for what the FBI reckoned to be more than 300 organized crime outfits, including what the government terms as “Italian organized crime, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, and various international drug trafficking organization.”
The total tally of illicit goods seized in bust, dubbed “Operation Trojan Shield,” is staggering: 8 tons of cocaine, 22 tons of marijuana, 2 tons of methamphetamine, and negligible amounts of firearms and various narcotics ingredients.
While the government has long been against apps and services that provide encrypted communications, in this case an exception was made, as Anom was rigged to allow law enforcement the ability to eavesdrop on communications. The irony of the situation was not lost on law enforcement, which noted their advantageous position.
“This was an unprecedented operation in terms of its massive scale, innovative strategy and technological and investigative achievement,” said Randy Grossman, acting U.S. Attorney, in a DOJ statement. “Hardened encrypted devices usually provide an impenetrable shield against law enforcement surveillance and detection. The supreme irony here is that the very devices that these criminals were using to hide from law enforcement were actually beacons for law enforcement”
In addition to the FBI and DOJ, the international operation (also known as Operation Ironside) included Australian Federal Police, INTERPOL, and local police in the Netherlands, Lithuani, and Sweden.
“Operation Ironside began almost three years ago and is the Australian component of a long-term, international, covert investigation. The FBI and AFP targeted the dedicated encrypted communications platform, which was used exclusively by organized crime,” the AFP said in an announcement. “After working in close partnership on Operation Safe Cracking to take down the encrypted platform provider Phantom Secure, the AFP and FBI worked together to fill the vacuum.”
Supreme Court unanimously backs limits on immigrants with temporary protected status seeking green cards
Bad sad news for those seeking asylum in the U S A.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that immigrants who entered the country unlawfully and were granted a temporary stay for humanitarian reasons do not become eligible to seek permanent residency.
As many as 400,000 immigrants have been granted temporary protected status (TPS) in the United States, which means they are allowed to stay because of unsafe conditions or crises in their native countries.
Many of them would like lawful permanent resident status, usually referred to as a green card. But lower courts divided over whether those who entered the country illegally meet a requirement of the law that says they must have been “inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States.”
Jose Santos Sanchez, who entered the country unlawfully in 1997, contended that being granted TPS in 2001 satisfied that requirement for him. But Justice Elena Kagan, writing for her unified colleagues, said the law was clear that it did not.
“Sanchez was not lawfully admitted, and his TPS does not alter that fact,” she wrote. “He therefore cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”
Sanchez and Gonzalez are somewhat typical of those who seek permanent status. They are natives of El Salvador who have lived as a married couple in New Jersey for more than 20 years. They have four sons, the youngest of whom was born in the United States.
Sanchez and Gonzalez entered the country separately in 1997 and 1998. They applied for and received temporary protected status in 2001 because of conditions in El Salvador. It is among 12 nations on a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services list for TPS eligibility.
Sanchez has worked for Viking Yachts while he has been in the United States, and his company was enthusiastic about him receiving a green card. Sanchez then applied on behalf of his wife. But the immigration agency denied them the change in status because they had not been “admitted” to the country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit agreed.
Lawyers for Sanchez argued that that was a constrained reading of the law. But Kagan said it was not up to the court to decide that what the law does “is not enough.”
She noted that it does not mean that everyone with TPS is barred from seeking permanent lawful status. For instance, she wrote, a foreign national who entered the country legally on a tourist visa but stayed on after the visa’s expiration would meet the requirement that he entered the country lawfully.
And Congress can change the law to help people like Sanchez, she said: “Legislation pending in Congress would do just that.”
The case is Sanchez v. Mayorkas.
YOU can make a difference. YOU can easily rally support, get a crowd assembled, to implement a needed change or call attention to an issue or problem.
- It varies from town to town, but check with City Hall about a month ahead of time to see if a permit is required, and if one is, fill out the forms and do what you need to do to get a permit. Offering free music and/or free food will draw a bigger crowd, but the permit may require you to make preparations for that.
- Start promoting it about two weeks b4 your planned event.
- Get busy on Social Media – FB, LinkedIn, MeWe, Instagram, Twitter, and any others. Post your prepared announcement of the event, which will include the place (details, such as the 400 block of Main Street in Dover, DE), date, and time of the event, and its purpose … “Lets Cause some Good Trouble on July 17th by calling for the legalization of Pot NOW!”
- Remind all to prepare some neat, brief, easy to read hand held signs on the topic …. such as “Tell the Legislature to LEGALIZE POT NOW!”
- Send your prepared announcement of the event, which will include the place (details, such as “the 400 block of Main Street in Dover, DE”), date, and time of the event, out as a PRESS RELEASE to the top 10 newspapers in your state! Sample: PRESS RELEASE xxxxx (your name or organization) is pleased to announce a rally/demonstration at 10:00 am on Saturday, July 17, 2021, at the 400 block of Main Street in Dover, DE, to urge our Legislature to vote YES to legalize marijuana now. Everyone is invited to participate, causing “Good Trouble”, and free music and free food will be available (if this is the case). Any questions, call XXXXX XXXXXX at xxx-xxx-xxxx.
- Remind everyone to obey the law – do not litter, do not block the sidewalk or the street, and obey all lawful police commands. What did I forget? CALL me at 302-423-4067 with your suggestions on how to improve this Practical Tip!
This would be just relocating the problem: the offenders.
Excerpts from the Article:
A prosecutor and a defense attorney in Nebraska have been reprimanded for a scheme reminiscent of the Wild West in which they told two convicted criminals to get out of town and never return.
On Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued public reprimands for Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers and Broken Bow defense attorney Christopher Wickham for carrying out the “banishment plan.” The high court said Bowers and Wickham violated rules of professional conduct and their oaths as attorneys.
Under the plan brokered by Wickham and Bowers, the defense attorney advised his clients, who had been charged with felonies, to plead guilty then flee the state before sentencing, with the understanding that they would not return.
Bowers, the prosecutor, agreed that if the men skipped out on their sentencing hearings and left the state, he would direct the county sheriff to not seek extradition to have them returned to Custer County, the high court said. Wickham and Bowers also schemed to seek a low bail for the men, so they could be freed before the sentencing hearings.
The court’s reprimand orders don’t reveal the names of the men who were charged, what charges they pleaded to or when the scheme was carried out.
In the reprimand order against Bowers, the high court said at least one of the men fled Custer County before his sentencing hearing and was later arrested about 200 miles (320 kilometers) away near Omaha. Bowers did not seek to extradite the man to Custer County, and he was released from custody, the court said. The court did not say what happened to the other man.
Bowers and Wickham both filed responses with the Nebraska Counsel for Discipline conditionally admitting the violations and waiving any challenges to the accusations in exchange for the reprimands.
The reprimand does not affect either attorney’s ability to practice law but does require them to disclose the reprimand if they seek to practice law in another state where they’re not licensed.
This is good, smart, policing. Obviously, Texas’ tRumpian governor does not get it!
Excerpts from the Article:
Despite being the capital of the nation’s largest Red state, Austin, Texas, is as liberally Blue as a city can be, proudly sporting the motto “KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD.” Whether weird or empathetic, Austin has made great strides toward diverting money from its police department to improve law enforcement-related functions and to address and alleviate one root cause for criminal behavior. The key here is diversion of some funding rather than actual defunding.
One major beneficial step is the diversion of about $11.9 million to fund a new forensics lab independent of the Austin Police Department (“APD”). The lab will still serve law enforcement needs – but in a neutral and unbiased manner.
While a part of APD, the forensic lab had accumulated a backlog of 4,000 sexual assault kits. When the Texas Forensic Sciences Commission discovered the lab was using unacceptable scientific practices [CLN, January 2019, p. 40], it was closed. The Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”), the state police, has been performing all needed lab services for APO since then.
In 2019, the city began to allocate funds for mental health professionals from Integral Care’s Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team to staff APD’s 911 call center. Additional funds diverted from APO will enable a fourth first-response platform separate from EMS, fire and police departments to care for citizens experiencing mental health issues. Similar programs in New Orleans, Louisiana; Eugene, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington, have had stunning success at de-escalation and costs less than armed police response. [CLN, October 2020, p. 38]
Austin’s new reformist Travis County district attorney José Garza has announced plans for bail reform and diversionary programs to assist citizens in avoiding arrests and jail time. He believes active diversion programs will help to identify and correct some root causes of crime. Garza also is creating a “do-not-call-to-testify” list to prevent untrustworthy cops from testilying at trials. This is similar to the “Brady Lists” prosecutors across the country maintain with the names of over “5,000 lying, cheating or perjurous cops … prosecutors dare not use … if they want to win their case.” [CLN, September 2019, p. 29]
Diverted funds are being used to purchase hotels to provide permanent housing for homeless people in Austin. The city council’s goal is to have permanent housing in the form of these hotels in each district. The lone dissenter is newly elected Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, who also is the president of Take Back Austin, a community organization that’s pro law enforcement.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott is threatening to have DPS patrol Austin’s streets. He also is threatening push-back measures against Austin and any other Texas cities that defund or divert funding from their police departments. In legislation labeled as an emergency bill, he proposes “freezing property tax revenue and removing annexation powers” from these cities.
I wonder how many Americans were killed by Swiss Army Knives.
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge Friday night overturned California’s longtime ban on assault weapons, saying the state’s law was unconstitutional and that prohibiting such firearms for decades was “a failed experiment.”
In a 94-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California said that sections of the state ban in place since 1989 regarding military-style rifles violate the Second Amendment. Benitez characterized the assault weapons Californians are barred from using as not “bazookas, howitzers or machine guns” but rather “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
The judge then compared an AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife.
“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Benitez said in the ruling.
In addition to issuing a permanent injunction Friday, Benitez granted a request from California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) for a 30-day stay of the ruling, which will bring about an appeal from the state.
“Today’s decision is fundamentally flawed,” Bonta said in a news release. “There is no sound basis in law, fact, or common sense for equating assault rifles with Swiss Army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities.”
Benitez’s ruling comes at a time when the nation continues to grapple with gun violence and pushes from lawmakers to ban assault weapons. After pushing for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, President Biden announced in April a series of executive actions to help curb gun violence. Last month, the Justice Department released a proposed rule that would put new restrictions on “ghost guns” — kits that allow buyers to assemble firearms without a serial number.
The California ban has been revised multiple times over the past three decades. The state has argued that assault weapon restrictions have also previously been upheld by several federal district and appeals courts.
The judge’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed in 2019 by a state resident and a political action committee for gun owners. The lawsuit against California said the state is “one of only a small handful of states to ban many of the most popular semiautomatic firearms in the nation because they possess one or more common characteristics, such as pistol grips and threaded barrels” that are frequently used with detachable ammunition magazines.
The AR-15, a lightweight, customizable version of the military’s M16, soared in popularity after a 10-year federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. It has also been slammed by lawmakers and gun-control advocates for its use in mass shootings.
The state has previously argued in a court filing that a spike in sales in the past year of more than 1.16 million other types of pistols, rifles and shotguns “has not prevented law-abiding citizens in the state from acquiring a range of firearms for lawful purposes, including self-defense.”
But Benitez pushed back on that notion in his ruling. Despite the ban, there are an estimated 185,569 assault weapons registered with the state, the judge said.
The judge made another mention of knives in his ruling, claiming that “murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle” in California.
It’s not the first time Benitez has ruled in favor of gun rights since he was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate in 2004. Benitez has previously ruled the state’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional and also struck down the restriction on remote purchases of gun ammunition. The state is appealing both of those decisions.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) lashed out at the judge’s ruling in a late-night tweet, saying that Benitez comparing an AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife was a “disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.”
“This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians,” Newsom said. “We won’t stand for it.”
This should be done in every department in every state!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware could soon require police to record interrogations of suspects in custody.
Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill to create the requirement, which would apply to criminal allegations against adults and children. The recording could be audio or video with audio.
House Bill 215 by Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle South, is the latest proposed law change to policing in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests that seeped through Delaware in 2020 following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The bill has the backing of the police.
The bill would allow some exceptions, including pressing circumstances, if someone refuses to be recorded, if the interrogation is done in another state or if the recording would reveal a confidential person’s identity or jeopardize someone’s safety.
The recordings would not be accessible to the public. Investigatory and criminal files are already exempt from state public records laws.
It’s unclear how much the state would have to spend on the proposal, should it become law. As of Tuesday, state financial analysts have yet to release a cost estimate.
In a statement, Minor-Brown likened the proposal to body cameras — which Democratic lawmakers also want to require — because they increase transparency and accountability while also adding protection for the officer and the person being questioned.
“Interrogations are a critical component of the law enforcement process, but too often, there are questions about what actually was said or what happened in that room,” Minor-Brown said. “It will reduce false accusations and help restore trust in the process.”
The Delaware Police Chiefs Council, which represents all police departments in the state, supports the bill, according to the head of the council Patrick Ogden. He said that electronic recordings may increase the likelihood of successful prosecution.
“When I began my law enforcement career, there was a general understanding that if information was not documented appropriately in the report, the information would be of little use in the courtroom,” Ogden said in a statement. “I think the same expectation extends to video recordings at this point.”
Nearly one year ago following the initial wave of peaceful racial justice protests that turned violent in Wilmington and Dover, Democrats in Delaware promised to make the interrogation process more transparent.
At the time, they promised to require all police in the state to video-record all interrogations of juvenile suspects and defendants, except under certain circumstances.
You have got to wonder how so many people could be so stupid as to think they would not get arrested because of the way they were doing things! With their social media posts they might as well have been saying “please come lock us up for at least 10 years”!
Excerpts from the Article:
Federal prosecutors announced the indictment of 15 alleged members and associates of a Baltimore gang in connection with 18 killings, 27 attempted killings, witness intimidation and running street-level drug distribution “shops.”
The racketeering indictments unsealed Wednesday detail how the Triple-C Gang’s “enterprise relied on extreme violence,” acting U.S. Attorney Jon Lenzner said at a news conference Thursday. Triple-C stands for “Cruddy Conniving Crutballs” and the gang was formed in 2014 as an alternative to the Black Guerilla Family Gang, prosecutors said.
The gang’s shops in east and northeast Baltimore sold heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances, prosecutors said. The alleged members and associates were involved in witness intimidation, shootings and killings of rival gang members and carjackings.
“The amount of criminal activity perpetrated by one gang is pretty staggering and alarming,” Lenzner said.
Members and their associates promoted the gang on social media and through rap music and also sold clothes and jewelry with its logo. Triple C members and associates posted photos and rap videos, flaunting guns, boasting of the gang’s superiority and threatening to kill those who stood in the gang’s way. Members also used social media to identify and locate victims, prosecutors said.
Triple C members supported rap artists who mentioned the gang in their lyrics and some were artists themselves. One music video on social media included lyrics saying “ain’t no Crip or no Blood, I’m Triple C baby” and featured several alleged members and associates of Triple C dancing and waving firearms, prosecutors said. Members allegedly wore clothing promoting the gang and warning against “snitching.”
The indictment is the second related to the investigation and seeks the forfeiture of any proceeds the gang made from their alleged criminal activity. If convicted, the defendants charged with racketeering face a maximum of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. They all face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Ten defendants charged in the previous indictments have pleaded guilty. Officials say 14 of the 15 suspects are already in custody. The 15th is on pre-trial release and was expected to surrender Thursday.