Tag Archives | Law

British Court Charges The Mormon Church With Fraud Over Its Teachings

mormon churhcIf organized religions solicit money from the public while propagating factually untrue claims, do they amount to illegal marketing scams? A British legal challenge is putting Mormonism to the test, the Telegraph reports:

A British magistrate has issued an extraordinary summons to the worldwide leader of the Mormon church alleging that its teachings about mankind amount to fraud.

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London next month to defend the church’s doctrines including beliefs about Adam and Eve and Native Americans.

A formal summons signed by District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe warns Mr. Monson, who is recognised by Mormons as God’s prophet on Earth, that a warrant for his arrest could be issued if he fails to make the journey from Salt Lake City, Utah, for a hearing on March 14.

The summons suggests that asking members of the church to make contributions while promoting theological doctrines which “might be untrue or misleading” could be a breach of the Fraud Act 2006.

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Canadians Can Grow Tobacco for Personal Use; We Should Be Able to Do the Same with Cannabis

via chycho
cannabis flag

Knowing full well the devastating consequences of America’s War on Drugs, the very same day that Washington State and Colorado legalized the recreational use of Cannabis, the Harper Government introduced “tough new mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana” – a change in the law that even the judiciary is resisting.

The government followed-up this prohibitionist agenda by “changing medical marijuana rules in Canada” so that patients would no longer be able to grow their own medicine, attacking the most vulnerable in our society by turning a health policy into a crime policy.

We won’t go into the details of how Canadians feel about this government, suffice it to say that even before the senate scandal blew up in Harper’s face, a poll from the summer of 2013 showed that 70% of Canadians surveyed wanted the Conservatives gone.

The question we should be asking ourselves as Harper hands out licenses to corporations to grow medical marijuana while prohibiting individual Canadians from growing their own supply, is that; Canadians 18 years of age or older can grow up to 15 kg of tobacco for personal use, so why shouldn’t we be able to do the same with cannabis?

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“My Brain Made Me Do It” Neuroscience Defense Increasingly Used In U.S. Criminal Courts

killerCan someone be punished for what their brain made them do? The Guardian on a growing trend in legal defense:

Criminal courts in the United States are facing a surge in the number of defendants arguing that their brains were to blame for their crimes and relying on questionable scans and other controversial, unproven neuroscience, a legal expert who has advised the president has warned.

Nita Farahany, a professor of law who sits on Barack Obama’s bioethics advisory panel, told a Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego that those on trial were mounting ever more sophisticated defences that drew on neurological evidence in an effort to show they were not fully responsible for murderous or other criminal actions.

“What is novel is the use by criminal defendants to say, essentially, that my brain made me do it,” Farahany said following an analysis of more than 1,500 judicial opinions from 2005 to 2012.

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California Outlaws “Revenge Porn”

revenge pornAs reported by CNET News:
Tempted to post a compromising photo of an ex-lover who spurned you? A bill signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday promises up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for people "convicted of illegally distributing private images with the intent to harass or annoy." Sponsored by Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Senate Bill 255 goes into effect immediately and makes posting "revenge porn" a misdemeanor. Such private photos are posted online, sometimes at multiple sites, without the subject's knowledge or consent. Some sites that specialize in revenge porn photos charge the victim hefty fees to remove them.
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China Criminalizes Spreading False Rumors Online That Go Viral

online rumorsWill the jails of the future be filled with those condemned for trollcrimes? ZDNet reports:

Online users in China who share false information that is defamatory or affect national interest will face up to three years in prison if their posts are viewed 5,000 times or forwarded 500 times.

This is a new judicial interpretation issued Monday by the country’s Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate, which defines the criteria for convicting and sentencing offenders who spread rumors online that defame, blackmail or provoke, China Daily reported.

The judicial interpretation also states that profiting from helping people delete posts is illegal, and anyone who gains more than 20,000 yuan (US$3,270) through this practice will see their case treated as “serious”. So far, prominent Chinese venture capitalist Charles Xue Biqun, investigative journalist Liu Hu, and Weibo users Yang Xiuyu and Qin Zhihui have been arrested and detained for fabricating online rumors.

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Cops Might Use your iPhone Fingerprint Against You

iPhone-5S-Has-Fingerprint-Scanner-Repositioned-Buttons-Analyst-SaysAre you excited about the new iPhone’s nifty biometric fingerprint unlock system? The police might be, too.

Via Wall Street Journal:

Courts have given mixed messages about whether Americans are protected from being forced to divulge passwords or decrypt information for law enforcement officials. Civil liberties advocates argue defendants shouldn’t have to unlock their own computers for the cops.  The logic: Under the Fifth Amendment, Police can’t force you to self-incriminate by testifying, or divulging something in your mind.

It’s unclear if that same protection applies if the password is your fingerprint.

“A fingerprint is entitled to less constitutional protection than a password known in your mind,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.  “If police arrest you and ask you for a password, you could refuse and they’d be hard pressed to force you to divulge the password.”

Of course, police already collect fingerprints after booking a suspect.

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Why The Law Won’t Save Us From The Police State

whistleblowersVia Salon, Chase Madar on the limits of a legalistic outlook:

Law remains our litmus test. Very often the mightiest anathema we can muster for something we oppose is that it’s “illegal” or, even worse, “unconstitutional.” One of the first reasons given for the Iraq War’s wrongness is it’s “illegality”; today, the mass surveillance is denounced as “unconstitutional.”

These condemnations pack all the fierce visceral impact of Ned Flanders trying to curse. Would the Iraq War have been redeemed by a permission slip from the UN Security Council? Were the sanctions against Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands, okay because they were in conformance with the UN charter? And even if the NSA surveillance is ruled unconstitutional is this really the problem with it? And what if the courts determine, as is entirely possible, that the NSA surveillance is legally permissible?

We urgently need to remind ourselves that “lawfulness” is never an indicator of wisdom, efficacy, prudence, or even justice.

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Florida Man Cites “Bush Doctrine” As Legal Defense In Killing Of Neighbors

bush doctrine

Give this man the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Via Gawker:

A Florida man who shot three of his neighbors killing two of them has cited the state’s infamous Stand Your Ground law in his defense, but with a twist: William T. Woodward insists the “Bush Doctrine” of preventive war gives him the right to murder his neighbors before they murder him.

An ongoing dispute between Woodward and his neighbors, Gary Lee Hembree, Roger Picior, and Bruce Timothy Blake, culminated in a Labor Day shooting that left Hembree and Picior dead and Blake badly wounded.

Lawyers for Woodward, 44, have asked the court to dismiss the first-degree murder charges against his client, saying Woodward’s neighbors had verbally harassed him in the hours leading up to the shooting, and could even be heard saying “we’re going to get him, all three of us.”

In their argument, the attorneys mentioned the “Bush Doctrine” as a justification for preemptive attack in the face of a potential threat.

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Contracts With Workers Vs. Contracts With Banks

contracts

When are contracts ironbound, and when are they optional? Via the Center for Economic & Policy Research, Dean Baker writes:

The debate over public pensions clearly shows the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper.

We see this attitude on display currently in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings. It is even more clearly on display in efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to default on the city’s pension obligations.

The basic story in both cases is that the contracts that workers had labored under are being laughed at by the elites because they find it inconvenient to carry through with the terms.

In Detroit, paying for pensions or anything else without outside assistance poses a real problem.

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U.S. Directs Agents to Cover Up Program Used to Investigate Americans

DEAFrom Reuters:

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011.

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