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United Airlines Takes on Pilots Union
Legal Topics | 2008/07/31 16:18
United Airlines wants to put an end to a pilot union's campaign to pressure the airline into reopening union negotiations by urging pilots to refuse voluntary flight assignments and to participate in an organized "sick-out," which forced United to cancel 329 flights between July 19 and July 27.

"United simply cannot afford a repeat of the summer of 2000 and its impact on the Company's customers and employees," the airline claims in Federal Court, referring to a widely publicized slowdown in 2000 that inconvenienced customers and took a toll on United's reputation.

United seeks an injunction barring the Air Line Pilots Association International and its members "from advocating or engaging in any form of job action designed to put economic pressure on United or disrupt its operations."


Bush Approves Military Death Sentence
Legal Topics | 2008/07/30 16:15
President Bush approved the death sentence of Pvt. Ronald Gray, thefirst execution by the military since 1961. The former Army cook wasconvicted by court-martial of two murders and an attempted murder,among other offenses, while serving at Fort Bragg, N.C., in themid-1980s.
    Gray had been charged with four counts of murderand eight counts of rape, and pleaded guilty to two murders and fiverapes in North Carolina state court.
    In a separateproceeding, a court-martial panel convicted him of two counts ofmurder, one count of attempted murder and a slew of other charges,including rape, forcible sodomy and robbery.
    An appeals courtfor the Armed Services rejected Gray's appeal in 1999, and Bushapproved his death sentence on Monday under the Uniform Code ofMilitary Justice.
    "While approving a sentence of death for amember of our armed forces is a serious and difficult decision for acommander-in-chief, the president believes the facts of this case leaveno doubt that the sentence is just and warranted," White House PressSecretary Dana Perino said in a statement.
    The last militaryexecution was ordered by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957, and wascarried out by hanging in 1961. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld themilitary's use of the death penalty in 1996, but no one in the servicehas been executed since the Eisenhower administration. President JohnF. Kennedy chose to commute a death sentence to life in prison in 1962.
    Currently, six people sit on military's death row at FortLeavenworth, Kan. The president has the final say whether they live ordie.


Actor's Pet Food Co. Sues over Contamination
Legal Topics | 2008/07/29 16:11
Actor and self-professed animal lover Dick Van Patten, owner of Nature Balance Pet Foods, joined the fray of litigants suing over the massive 2007 pet-food recalls spurred by tainted wheat gluten and rice protein from China.

Wilbur-Ellis Co. continued to process contaminated shipments, which Nature Balance unwittingly distributed, the pet-food company claims in Superior Court.

The lawsuit invokes the words of Sir Walter Scott: "Recollect that the Almighty, who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils, hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit." In the next sentence, Nature Balance points out that Wilbur-Ellis "displayed just the opposite nature and as a result pets across the country died and were sickened."

Nature Balance demands actual and punitive damages for its economic losses and severe damage to its reputation.

Van Patten starred in "Spaceballs," "High Anxiety" and numerous television shows.


Latinos Lose Bid to Redraw Ward Map in Aurora, Ill.
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/28 15:56
Latino citizens in Aurora, Ill., are not entitled to have the city ward map redrawn to favor Latino candidates, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Judge Easterbrook upheld the district court's ruling that Latino voters are not deprived of proper voting representation. Two of the 12 city aldermen are Latino, and the city's population is 33 percent Latino. However, only 16 percent of citizens of voting age are Hispanic.

Sam Gonzalez, Maria Crosby, and Mariana Correia asked for the wards to be redrawn so three of them would have predominant Latino populations. Easterbrook ruled that is not the only way for Latino residents to gain representation.

"The (plaintiffs) ignore the fact that several wards contain enough Latino citizens to produce substantial influence," Easterbrook wrote.

The judge also ruled that redrawing the map to favor one ethnic group is not fair, "as surely as a map drawn to maximize the influence of those groups at the expense of Latinos.


Rolling Stones' Copyright Holder Sues Derivative Rapper
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/25 16:28
Dwayne Carter, known as  "L'il Wayne"  to the two or three fans he has, illegally used the Rolling Stones' hit, "Play With Fire," in a "vile ... sexist and offensive" knockoff called "Playing With Fire," ABKCO Music claims in Federal Court.

ABKCO, founded by music mogul Allen Klein, says it owns most of the Mick Jagger-Keith Richards catalogue. The offending ditty is found on "Tha Carter III" album.

ABKCO cites the opening lyrics of the Stones' song: "Well, you've got your diamonds and you've got your pretty clothes / And the chauffeur drives your car / You let everybody know / But don't play with me, cause you're playing with fire" and L'il Wayne's knockoff: "So you've got so many diamonds / You wear all the finest clothes / And your grill is shining / As you're driving down the streets of gold / But you can't blame me if I set this stage on fire."

ABKCO says it hired "noted musicologist" Anthony Ricigliano, who reported that "the similarity [in the music] is apparent to even a layperson's ear." Ricigliano wrote, in a letter attached to the lawsuit, "(M)ost assuredly, the composition Playing With Fire infringes the copyright of Play With Fire."

ABKCO demands disgorgement, an accounting, punitive damages, destruction of the masters and copies, and an injunction. It is represented by Michael Kramer.

Here are the defendants: Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. pka Lil Wayne, Nicholas Mark Warwar pka StreetRunner, Jason Desrouleux, Cash Money Records, Universal Motown Republic Group, Universal Music Group Recordings, Young Money Publishing, Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Warner/Chappell Music, and EMI Music Publishing.


Mother Loses Custody Due To Her Bizarre Behavior
Areas of Focus | 2008/07/24 16:15
A California appeals court affirmed the appointment of a guardian ad litem for a girl whose mother led police on a 12-minute high-speed chase with her 7-month-old daughter in tow, kept feces and urine in jars near the kitchen sink, and told relatives to address her daughter, Esmeralda, as "Andrew," writing the new name on the girl's stomach in felt marker.

Justice McKinster concluded that the San Bernardino County Court violated Marlene G.'s due-process rights by appointing the guardian ad litem, but said the violation was harmless, because Marlene would probably have lost her parental rights, anyway.

After the high-speech police chase, Marlene was arrested, declared competent to stand trial and jailed for child endangerment. She later refused to take antibiotics for a fever that could have spread to her infant daughter.

She told the county Department of Children's Services that "she was hearing voices telling her that others are trying to break into her home and kill her."

She also mentioned Esmeralda likes to eat peanut butter and chocolate, though relatives said she was feeding her daughter peanut butter mixed with feces.

A psychological evaluation revealed that Marlene "feels sad, thinks of death, has racing thoughts, has difficulty understanding what people say to her, has problems understand what she reads, and cannot find her way home from familiar places," the ruling states.

The court ruled that Esmeralda should be kept in state custody, because her mother continued to show signs of mental illness and refused to take psychotropic medications.


Fundamentalist Mormon Leader Indicted
Legal Topics | 2008/07/23 16:06
Six men in the fundamentalist Mormon "Yearning for Zion" compound were indicted Tuesday on charges of sexual assault and bigamy, including the group's leader, Warren Jeffs. Jeffs, who is in an Arizona jail on separate charges, is charged with first-degree felony sexual assault of a child, said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The other as-yet unnamed suspects also were charged with felony sexual assault of minor girls. The indictments were issued by a Schleicher County grand jury.

One suspect faces an additional three counts of failure to report child abuse, Abbott said.

Arrest warrants are still under review, Abbott says, in refusing to provide further information.


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