Unsafe Practices Alleged At Firing Range
Areas of Focus | 2008/08/14 15:57
Andrews International, which runs a purportedly "lead-free" firing range in Burbank, fired its managers for protesting that company owner Randy Andrews repeatedly allowed lead bullets to be fired there, including a case where actor Brendan Andrews fired a machinegun, the managers claim in Superior Court.

John and Patricia Rives claim Andrews fired them for blowing the whistle on his illegal activities. The Rives claim the defendants, which include Advanced Tech Security, repeatedly violated their permit to run the Andrews International Training Center Indoor Firearms and Shooting Range in Burbank.

After being hired in May 2003, the Rives say, "Almost from the beginning, the plaintiffs realized that the 'lead-free' concept was being ignored by friends of family of owner Randy Andrews."

The Rives say Andrews repeatedly provided lead ammunition and assault rifles for their friends and family to fire, over the Rives' protests.

John Rives claims his blood was contaminated with lead by the unsafe practice, and when he complained, Andrews said he was "not concerned" about it, because it was "cheaper" to use lead ammunition.

"The last incident occurred in July 2007, when Vice President Don Anderson allowed Hollywood actor Brendan Fraser to utilize machine guns at the range using leaded ammunition," the complaint states. "Plaintiff told the weapons handler from the movie studio that only lead free ammunition was to be used, and he responded that he had the permission from Don Anderson to use this type of ammunition as it was cheaper and worked with these types of guns. Brendan Fraser actually complained about the smoke and he was warned to wash his hands, face and clothing before returning home.

"Plaintiff again protested this activity to Mr. Anderson; he also reported new test results which again showed elevated levels of lead in his blood. On August 14, 2007, after the last of these complaints, the plaintiffs were fired and given pretextual reasons therefor."

The Rives demand punitive damages. They are represented by Brian Brown of Tustin.


Woman Says Northwestern Won't Protect Her
Areas of Focus | 2008/08/13 15:50
A student claims that after she was raped by a fellow student, Northwestern University violated its own rules and delayed taking action against her rapist, subjecting her to further, distressing contact with him.

Plaintiff Sarah Poe sued Northwestern under an assumed name. She says she was raped in 2007 and pressed charges against the man, "resulting in Northwestern hearing board findings and sanctions against the rapist, which the rapist appealed. Then, however, Northwestern's administration first unjustifiably delayed proceedings, contrary to the provisions in Northwestern's Student Handbook and other written agreements between Northwestern and Plaintiff. When, after a delay of over five months, a Northwestern appeals board denied the rapist's appeal and the rapist sought another review, Northwestern's president, or his designee, refused to complete the limited review within the reasonable time allowed by the Student Handbook and to provide a decision in writing as Northwestern promised Plaintiff. Instead, Northwestern's president or his designee took no action at all, intending that the entire proceeding should permanently remain pending and unresolved, and that the effectiveness of the findings and sanctions against the rapist would be permanently stayed, thereby effectively denying Plaintiff any resolution of the charge and any assurance that Northwestern would keep the rapist away from her as the hearing board ordered. Plaintiff brings this action to compel Northwestern to complete the disciplinary procedures against the rapist as specified in the Student Handbook by issuing a written decision on the so-called presidential review and thereby to end the prolonged anxiety and uncertainty to which Plaintiff has been subjected by Northwestern's violations of its own contractually promised procedures."

The plaintiff is represented in Cook County Chancery Court by Damon Dunn.


VA Properly Denied Voter Registration, Court Rules
Areas of Focus | 2008/08/12 15:41
The Department of Veterans Affairs was fair in its denial of a Democratic group's attempt to register voters at one of its buildings, the 9th Circuit ruled.

Judge Graber found that the district court erred when it ruled Steven Preminger and the Santa Clara County Democratic Committee lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.

However, the VA prevailed, because the Democrats failed to prove that the VA had violated their First Amendment rights.

A nurse at the VA's Menlo Park nursing home called the VA police after one of the Democrats showed up for the voting drive wearing a John Kerry button.

Since the nursing home building is not a public forum, the VA is allowed to make a "reasonable" restriction on free speech, in this case a prohibition of "partisan activities."


SEC investigating bank over auction-rate securities sales
Areas of Focus | 2008/08/11 15:45
The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. disclosed Friday in its quarterly report that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating possible breaches of procedure by one of the bank's subsidiaries in auction-rate securities sales and purchases. Auction-rate securities are long-term bonds with varying interest rates that change based on weekly or monthly auctions. In the report, bank officials wrote:

   The Company self-disclosed to the SEC that Mellon Financial Markets LLC placed orders on behalf of issuers to purchase their own Auction Rate Securities. The SEC is conducting an investigation of those transactions. MFM is cooperating fully with the SEC in its investigation.

On Thursday, the SEC agreed to a preliminary settlement with financial firm Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. over the firm's auction-rate securities practices, and Friday the agency entered into a similar settlement with the firm UBS. UBS is also facing a lawsuit filed late last month by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for allegedly misrepresenting auction-rate securities as low-risk despite the actual volatility of such investments.


Former Bush Assistant Sues over 'Swing Vote'
Areas of Focus | 2008/08/08 16:08
Bradley Blakeman, a former member of the Bush administration, claims the movie "Swing Vote" is based on a copyrighted treatment he gave to actor Kelsey Grammer, who passed it along to Disney's Touchstone Pictures without his knowledge or permission.

Blakeman sued for copyright infringement in Federal Court, claiming the newly released "Swing Vote" - a comedy about an incumbent president and his challenger vying for the deciding vote of a man named Bud Johnson - is so similar to his "Go November" treatment that it "can only be explained as a deliberate copying on the part of the defendants."

Blakeman's script allegedly features a "down-to-the-wire" presidential election that hinges on swing voters.

The plaintiff claims he pitched the idea to Grammer in 2006, and the "Frasier" star agreed to develop the movie and play the incumbent Republic president.

Instead, Grammer allegedly pitched the idea to Touchstone and Treehouse Films, and was cast as the incumbent president in "Swing Vote."

Blakeman is a former deputy assistant to President Bush and is a regular political commentator for Fox News, MSNBC and others. He also played a prominent role in the 2008 HBO movie "Recount."

He seeks a declaration that "Swing Vote" infringes on "Go November" and an injunction barring the defendants from exploiting Blakeman's work. He also demands proper credit, along with actual and punitive damages. He is represented by Todd Rubenstein of Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger LLP.


Pakistani woman alleged to be al-Qaeda appears in US court
Legal Topics | 2008/08/07 16:06
The first woman scheduled to stand trial in the US on charges related to suspected al-Qaeda ties has been extradited to the US and appeared before the District Court for the Southern District of New York Tuesday on terrorism charges. Aafia Siddiqui, who comes from Pakistan, was charged with assault and the attempted murder of a US officer after allegedly opening fire on agents at the Afghan detention facility where she was being held last month. According to the complaint:
   AAFIA SIDDIQUI, the defendant, who will be first brought to and arrested in the Southern District of New York, unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly did use a deadly and dangerous weapon and did forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, and interfere with a person designated in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1114, namely, officers and employees of the FBI and the United States armed services, while engaged in and on account of the performance of official duties, to wit, SIDDIQUI obtained a United States Army Officer's M-4 rifle and fired it at officers and employees of the FBI and the United States armed services.
If convicted, she could face 20 years in prison on each charge.

Siddiqui's family has insisted that she is not an al-Qaeda agent and that the FBI has publicized misleading information about her. They say that Siddiqui, a former student at Brandeis University and MIT in Boston, may have been a victim of extraordinary rendition after she vanished from Karachi, Pakistan in 2003. Family lawyer Elaine Whitfield Sharp alleged that Siddiqui may have been wrongly detained and tortured at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.


ICE launches voluntary deportation program
Legal Topics | 2008/08/06 17:41
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a new program Tuesday that allows certain illegal immigrants to coordinate their removal from the US with ICE without the risk of home raids, arrest or detention. The Scheduled Departure Program, a pilot program that will run through August 22 in five major cities, is designed for illegal immigrants without criminal records who have ignored official removal orders. According to the ICE press release:
 
The agency recognizes there are those less inclined to accept the intentions of such a compassionately conceived enforcement initiative, but remains committed to providing sensible alternatives that balance the welfare of the individuals and families in question with its clear obligation to uphold the law.

   The Scheduled Departure Program will not alter a participant's immigration status or provide any immigration benefit. The program is not a form of voluntary departure or voluntary return. Participants will continue to have a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion.

ICE stressed that illegal immigrants without formal removal orders, those with criminal records and those who pose a threat to national security would not qualify for the program and would be detained, but said that participation by those who qualified would ease the transition process and the impact on the immigrants' families. ICE also began an ad campaign in the five participating cities, but critics have said the program will be ineffective because eligible immigrants will not voluntarily surrender.

ICE maintains a number of additional initiatives [fact sheet] to combat illegal immigration. In May, 270 illegal immigrants arrested during an ICE-led raid at an Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Iowa were each sentenced to five months in prison and 27 more received probation after pleading guilty to the use of false immigration documents. ICE also carried out a raid in California the same month targeting 495 people who had ignored deportation orders, resulting in the arrest of more than 900 illegal immigrants. In general, US immigration prosecutions continued to increase in March 2008, jumping nearly 50 percent from the previous month and nearly 75 percent from the previous year, according to a report released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.


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