Monthly Archives:' March 2015

Prosecutor: I was ‘arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic’ in capital prosecution of now-exonerated man

By: Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

Originally published on March 25, 2015

A former Louisiana prosecutor who helped send a now-exonerated inmate to death row in 1984 is condemning the capital punishment process and apologizing for his role in the conviction.

In a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport, former prosecutor A.M. “Marty” Stroud III said there was no exculpatory evidence in his possession, but that didn’t absolve him of blame in the prosecution of Glenn Ford, whose conviction was vacated30 years later based on evidence he did not participate in the robbery and murder. TheAtlantic and the Associated Press have stories on the letter.

Opinion analysis: A small victory for minority voters, or a case with “profound” constitutional implications?

By: Richard Hasen, SCOTUS blog

Originally published on March 25, 2015

It is easy to read the Supreme Court’s five-to-four decision in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama as a mostly inconsequential case giving a small, and perhaps only temporary, victory for minority voters in a dispute over the redrawing of Alabama’s legislative districts after the 2010 census. Indeed, although the Supreme Court sent this “racial gerrymandering” case back for a wide and broad rehearing before a three-judge court, Alabama will be free to junk its plan and start over with one that may achieve the same political ends and keep it out of legal trouble. But Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent sees the majority as issuing “a sweeping holding that will have profound implications for the constitutional ideal of one person, one vote, for the future of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and for the primacy of the State in managing its own elections.” Time will tell if Justice Scalia’s warning against the implications of what he termed a “fantastical” majority opinion is more than typical Scalian hyperbole. And we may know soon enough as these issues get addressed in racial gerrymandering cases from Virginia, North Carolina and elsewhere.

Employees group: Florida environmental manager was punished for uttering “climate change.”

By: Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post

Originally published on March 18, 2015

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says it’s filed a complaintarguing a state employee was reprimanded for speaking about climate change at an official meeting and keeping notes on the subject in official minutes.

The complaint says that on March 9, Barton Bibler, a longtime worker for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, got a letter of reprimand, was ordered to take two days leave and then was told not to return until he had medical clearance of his fitness for duty.

Failed by Law and Courts, Troops Come Home to Repossessions

By: Jessica Silver-Greenber, Michael Corkery; The NY Times

Originally published: March 16, 2015

Charles Beard, a sergeant in the Army National Guard, says he was on duty in the Iraqi city of Tikrit when men came to his California home to repossess the family car. Unless his wife handed over the keys, she would go to jail, they said.

The men took the car, even though federal law requires lenders to obtain court orders before seizing the vehicles of active duty service members.

Sergeant Beard had no redress in court: His lawsuit against the auto lender was thrown out because of a clause in his contract that forced any dispute into mandatory arbitration, a private system for resolving complaints where the courtroom rules of evidence do not apply. In the cloistered legal universe of mandatory arbitration, the companies sometimes pick the arbiters, and the results, which cannot be appealed, are almost never made public.

Whistleblower USDA Food Inspectors on Hormel's Pork Plants: It's "Just Nuts"

By: Ted Genoways

Four U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) meat inspectors, all working in slaughter operations owned or operated by the Hormel Foods Corporation, have come forward this week with shocking allegations in affidavits offered to the whistleblower protection organization Government Accountability Project (GAP). A government-run pilot program experimenting with a reduced inspection protocol in Hormel-controlled plants “is out of control,” according to Joe Ferguson, who retired in September as an on-line USDA inspector inside Quality Pork Processors, an exclusive co-packer for Hormel located in Austin, Minnesota. Calling the program “a sham the career bureaucrats have drafted to get rid of inspectors,” he warned that higher-ups at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are “in bed with the regulated industry. The companies are now calling the shots. Pretty soon the agency will have no authority.”

FDA-Rejected Knee Replacement Device Used in Thousands of Surgeries

Feds: More than 18,000 OtisKnee cutting guides were sold without FDA approval.

Published: February 9, 2015

By: Kendal Gapinski

OtisMed Corp. and its former CEO admitted to distributing knee replacement surgery cutting guides after the FDA had rejected their application for marketing clearance, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. OtisMed — now a subsidiary of Stryker — and its CEO Charlie Chi agreed to pay more than $80 million to resolve its related criminal and civil liability, says the Justice Department.