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Gay Conversion Therapy Headed for Supreme Court

Gay Conversion Therapy Headed for Supreme Court The lawfulness of gay conversion therapy could headed to the United States Supreme Court for a decision.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which governs appeals for cases arising out of many western states, including California, affirmed a California law that banned “gay conversion therapy,” which prevents counselors and psychologists from trying to change the sexuality of a minor child.

 Liberty Counsel, which represents the conservative groups seeking to overturn the law,  has stated it will ask the Supreme Court to review the case.  Liberty Counsel has filed two similar cases on change therapy in New Jersey after New Jersey passed a similar law  banning state-licensed counselors from trying to help children under 18 reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction.

Similar bills have been proposed in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Virginia and Washington.

ACQUITTED: Not Guilty Verdict Rendered in 2011 Homeless Beating Case

Miscarriage of justice? Yesterday, an Orange County jury found two former police officers not guilty of involuntary manslaughter of a homeless man that occurred in 2011.

ACQUITTED:  Not Guilty Verdict Rendered in 2011 Homeless Beating Case

From the Orange County Register:

SANTA ANA – A former police officer sat with his head bowed Monday as an Orange County jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a homeless man during a 2011 encounter captured on videotape.

Manuel Anthony Ramos, who was a Fullerton police officer for 10 years, then clasped his hands, wiped tears from his eyes and hugged his attorney as the jury also found him not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kelly Thomas.

Some of the more than 100 spectators cried when the verdicts were announced after seven hours of deliberations. But some – relatives, friends and supporters of Thomas – gasped. One spectator yelled, “No!”

And Ron Thomas, the homeless man’s father, sighed several times as the verdicts of not guilty rolled in, and then stood up and said: “What’s wrong with these people?”

Read More: Verdict: Not guilty in Kelly Thomas case – The Orange County Register.
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ACQUITTED:  Not Guilty Verdict Rendered in 2011 Homeless Beating Case

Police Officer Fatally Shot Teen 3 Seconds After Issuing Commands

How long should police have waited before pulling the trigger fatally shooting Andy Lopez, the 13-year old northern California teen who was killed while carrying the toy rifle back to his friend?  Victims who brought a lawsuit are arguing that the police irresponsibly shot Lopez without giving him a chance to respond to the commands asking him to drop what police at that time perceived to be a real firearm.

Police Officer Fatally Shot Teen 3 Seconds After Issuing Commands

“The subject turned toward the deputies, and as he was doing that the barrel of the weapon was rising toward the deputies,” Santa Rosa Police Department Lt. Paul Henry told Reuters shortly after the shooting. The deputy then fired the rounds.

California law and federal law prohibits excessive force by law enforcement officers. Often termed “police brutality,” excessive force victims have legal rights against police officers who use an unreasonably excessive level of force when responding to a situation, whether it involves the seizure or arrest of individuals, or searches. Police officers are legally permitted to use force, but there are guidelines as to how much force is appropriate in a given situation. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that police officers must act in the same way that a reasonable officer would act, in a similar tense and rapidly-evolving situation. Typically, law enforcement officers use verbal commands, soft controls hard controls, intermediate levels of force (such as batons, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds, and mace spray), and lethal force.

Victims of police brutality can bring claims under state law (for assault, battery, and if appropriate, wrongful death), as well as under federal law, 42 U.S.C. 1983, which protects individuals from unconstitutional violations of their civil rights.

SLC represents victims of civil rights abuses, including police brutality matters. For a confidential consultation, please call (213) 403-0130 or email info@soofilc.com.

Read More: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/08/california-deputy-waited-3-seconds-before-shooting-teen-with-toy-gun-lawsuit/

Police Officer Fatally Shot Teen 3 Seconds After Issuing Commands

ACLU Sues School District Alleging Native American Student Abuse

ACLU Sues School District Alleging Native American Student AbuseThe ACLU of Northern California has filed a lawsuit in connection with the harassment, abuse, and discrimination of Native American students.  The allegations involve the principal of a nearby school calling Native American students “a pack of wolves” and other derogatory terms, physically assaulting them, and disproportionately expelling or suspending them based on minor infractions.

“These were schools where students were being subjected regularly to racial slurs and sexual harassment, but nothing was being done,” said Linnea Nelson, Education Equity Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, to Indian Country Today Media Network.  “These adults are supposed to be providing a safe environment for them when they’re at an age when their identity and confidence is in flux.”

Discrimination against certain types of students by school officials can take place overtly, through comments, verbal abuse, or physical assault, but often, it occurs through more subtle means.  In many cases,  students can be targeted by race, national origin, or religion through the imposition of stricter disciplinary measures or higher standards than those comparatively set for other students.

SOOFI | Legal Counsel represents individuals, children, and families in numerous types of bullying cases, including school bullying, cyber-bullying, online bullying, and internet bullying. Bullying can be perpetrated by other students, teachers, or school officials.  For victims of bullying, acting decisively with legal representation is key. SOOFI | Legal Counsel is a Los Angeles, California school bullying law firm that provides aggressive representation to children and families suffering because of bullying at school.   SLC’s managing attorney, Rabeh M. A. Soofi, is a Los Angeles School Bullying Attorney with extensive experience counseling families and children who have been the subject of bullying.

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 For information on retaining SOOFI | Legal Counsel to represent you in connection with a bullying matter,  contact info@soofilc.com or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation.

Read more here:  http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/12/24/lawsuit-against-california-districts-allege-abuse-native-students-152853

Judge Rules Against U.S Government in First Ruling on NSA Mass Surveillance Lawsuit

Judge Rules Against U.S Government in First Ruling on NSA Mass Surveillance LawsuitA federal judge in Washington, D.C. has issued the first ruling on the issue of mass-surveillance conducted on Americans’ telephone records by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The opinion comprises the first judicial ruling on the issue of the lawfulness of the NSA’s data-collection activities, and represents a significant setback for the NSA and Obama administration’s justifications for the activities.

School Sued Over Yoga Classes Alleging Violation of “Separation of Church and State”

School Sued Over Yoga Classes Alleging Violation of Separation of Church and State

San Diego School District Sued For Yoga Classes

Does this one pass pass the straight-face test? A San Diego family, Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, have sued their Encinitas school district for teaching yoga to their children and other students, alleging that the classes violate the “separation between church and state.”

According to their lawyer, ”

EUSD’s Ashtanga yoga program represents a serious breach of the public trust.” “This is frankly the clearest case of the state trampling on the religious freedom rights of citizens that I have personally witnessed in my 18 years of practice as a constitutional attorney.”

The legal position taken by the Sedlocks has also been strongly advocated for by conservative non-profit group The National Center for Law & Policy (NCLP). According to the NCLP’s white-paper, the yoga life skills taught in the classes are “

inherently religious”

and “conflict with the beliefs of Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Jews and others.”

Encinitas school district is one of the few in the nation that has full-time yoga teachers at its schools, to help students de-stress before tests. The classes were funded by a $533,000, three-year grant from the Jois Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Asthanga yoga.


$1 Million to be Paid in “Casual Pepper Spray” UC-Davis Lawsuit

$1 Million to be Paid in Casual Pepper Spray UC Davis Lawsuit

$1 Million Awarded to Victims of Pepper Spray

A California federal judge has approved the $1 million settlement of the lawsuit brought against University of California – Davis by students who were the victims of the shocking “casual pepper spray” incident at the Occupy protests that took place on the campus back in November 2011.  The students were videotaped being saturated with pepper spray at close range by UC Davis police officer John Pike, as they sat on the ground with their hands under their seats.

According to the ACLU, “What happened on November 18 was among the worst examples of police violence against student demonstrators that we’ve seen in a generation. The early resolution to this lawsuit means that the students can begin the process of moving on and we can work with the University to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again at the University of California.”

In the wake of the incident, UC-Davis formed a task force to investigate the incident and analyze the police officers’r esponse to the protests.  Their report stated that “The pepper spraying incident that took place on November 18, 2011 should and could have been prevented,” and determined that the police force as well as University administration were all responsible for poor handling of the incident.

As part of the settlement:

  • $730,000 will be paid to the students who were arrested and pepper-sprayed;
  • $250,000 will be paid to the attorneys for fees and costs;
  • $20,000 will be paid to the ACLU for future work with UC-Davis to develop new policies on student demonstrations, crowed management, and the use of force;
  • $100,000 has been set aside to compensate other students or individuals who were pepper-sprayed or wrongfully arrested;
  • A formal written apology will be made by the UC-Davis Chancellor to each student or alumni who was pepper-sprayed or arrested;
  • UC-Davis will assist students who were negatively affected in their academic performance to apply for an academic records adjustment.

U.S. Supreme Court to Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin Residents: Go Ahead and Record Police

U.S. Supreme Court to Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin Residents: Go Ahead and Record PoliceYesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling refusing to hear the Illinois state government’s appeal of a court decision that blocked the state from prosecuting citizens who record the police.  For citizens under the jurisdiction of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin), the Supreme Court’s decision means that it is basically unconstitutional for residents to be prosecuted for recording police in the performance of public duties, for example, when citizens are pulled over, arrested, or otherwise stopped, at least under any law that resembles the one at issue in this case. Continue reading

UC-Berkeley Asks Court to Dismiss Multi-Million Dollar First Amendment / Excessive Force Lawsuit Brought by Student Protestors Beaten by UC-Police

UC Berkeley Asks Court to Dismiss Multi Million Dollar First Amendment / Excessive Force Lawsuit Brought by Student Protestors Beaten by UC Police

Photos of the UC-Berkeley Protests of November, 2011

The UC-Berkeley police, officials, and other administrators who were sued in  a multi-million dollar First Amendment and excessive force lawsuit by student protestors during the Occupy protests of 2011 are now asking the Court presiding over the case to throw out the lawsuit. 

The suit was filed on behalf of 24 protesters against 17 defendants, including four UCPD officers and detectives, three Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies, Chief of Oakland Police Department Howard Jordan, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and five other campus administrators.

The lawsuit arose out of the Occupy protests in Berkeley in November, 2011. In videos of the altercations between students and police, police used batons to beat with batons some protesters who refused to leave tent/encampment areas. UC-Berkeley had  forbidden students, some of whom were protesting the rising cost of tuition at UC schools, from protesting in the area. 

The UC-Campus’s motion to dismiss will be heard by the Court next week, on Nov. 13.

 Sources: http://www.dailycal.org/2012/11/05/campus-files-motion-to-dismiss-bamn-lawsuit-claiming-police-brutality/

The Case for Ending the Death Penalty, by a Former Supporter

The Case for Ending the Death Penalty, by a Former Supporter

Prop. 34 will replace California’s death penalty with life without possibility of parole.

 I once supported the death penalty.  But as an attorney now representing individuals who have been deprived of civil rights in California’s prison system, I am compelled to speak out about why the death penalty must be eliminated in California, and throughout the nation. Continue reading

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