The press and the president

CNN has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for revoking the press credentials of Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent. The Washington Post lays out CNN’s legal argument, and points out that the lawsuit is causing the White House to change its tune on why it revoked Acosta’s press pass. An article at Slate supports CNN’s claim, and states that they believe the news organization will win its lawsuit. Politico has posted its own take on the lawsuit, titled “Donald Trump and Jim Acosta: A love story.”

Here’s a copy of the altered video of the incident that was retweeted by Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders alongside unedited C-SPAN video. The video is provided by The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the American Bar Association has posted an ABA Legal Fact Check on the lawsuit:

“With CNN challenging the suspension of the White House media pass for one of its reporters, the American Bar Association posted today a new ABA Legal Fact Check exploring the history and case law of the conflict between the White House and the media over credentials.

A half century ago, the Secret Service periodically denied media credentials for niche or alternative media. This led to federal lower court rulings in the 1970s that tested whether the White House had the authority to deny a “hard pass” for a reporter and on what grounds. While the cases never reached the U.S. Supreme Court, lower court judges cited both First and Fifth Amendment grounds in ruling for reporters and against the Secret Service. CNN’s lawyers cited similar First and Fifth Amendment grounds in arguing on behalf of its reporter.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. For coverage of other timely issues in the news, these prior ABA Legal Fact Checks might be helpful:

  • Click here on the legal history of U.S. birthright citizenship.
  • Click here on what legally constitutes the crime of treason.
  • Click here on whether White House confidentiality agreements can be enforced.
  • Click here for an ABA Legal Fact Check on under what circumstances, if any, would a president be above the law.
  • Click here for an ABA Legal Fact Check on the authority of a president to issue pardons.

The URL for the site is www.abalegalfactcheck.com. Follow us on Twitter @ABAFactCheck.”

California attorney wins $1.6M for bed bugs in apartment

bed bug bites on childAttorney Brian Virag, Esq. of MY BED BUG LAWYER INC. just obtained a $1.6 million dollar verdict on behalf of a family of four that was exposed to bed bugs at an apartment located at 10131 Buford Ave. Inglewood, CA, 90304. This is the largest jury verdict for a single family in the History of the United States.

Plaintiffs Names: Lilliana Martinez (35), Jorge Maravilla (44), Jorge Maravilla JR, (8- minor) and Juanita Maravilla (6- minor)

Defendant: Amusement Six Apartments LLC

Case No.: BC550509

Date Complaint was filed: July 03, 2014

Verdict Reached: April 2, 2018

CASE DESCRIPTION:
On or about September 2010 Plaintiffs and Defendants entered into a standard  Residential Rental Agreement for the apartment located at10131 Buford Ave. Inglewood, CA, 90304. Not long after moving in, plaintiffs experienced rashes, noticed a bed bug infestation and immediately complained to management and agents of Defendants, who did not effectively remediate the problem. Despite Plaintiffs’ persistent complaints about the infestations, Defendants responded ineffectively and the problems continued.The bed bugs were in the Plaintiff’s beds, furniture, and clothing. The bed bugs latched onto the Plaintiffs while they slept and sucked their blood until they were gorged.Plaintiffs suffered from numerous bites/rashes, which caused pain, discomfort, annoyance, sleeplessness, inconvenience, humiliation, anxiety,scarring and severe emotional distress. The youngest plaintiff was just months old when this was occurring.

TRIAL:

Trial began on March 19, 2018 and concluded on April 2, 2018.

VERDICT AMOUNT:
$1,603,000.00

ACLU Sues Orange County District Attorney and Sheriff over Secret, Illegal Jail Informant Program

JailThe American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP today filed a lawsuit against Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, whose departments conducted a secret jailhouse informant operation in violation of the U.S. Constitution, California Constitution, and California state laws.

For more than thirty years, the departments have recruited and placed informants in jail cells with defendants, paying and rewarding informants with sentence reductions for extracting incriminating information from the defendants without their lawyers present. Some informants use threats of violence, including threats of murder, to coerce confessions and other information.

“By running this massive, underground jailhouse informant scheme, the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s department are cheating Orange County out of justice,” said Brendan Hamme, Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Southern California. “They have won countless convictions based on unreliable information — the results of jailhouse informants’ coercion of defendants — that they passed off in court as solid, sound, and legal. Hiding the facts of the coercion from the defense is just one of the many ways they broke the law and endangered justice.”

The scheme has existed at least since the 1980s, and it was first exposed in a criminal case four years ago. Since then, the defendants in at least 18 cases in Orange County have shown that the departments’ jailhouse informants were illegally involved in their cases and won sentence reductions or dismissals. The district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department have consistently denied the existence of the jailhouse operation, sometimes under oath.

“District attorney’s offices and sheriff’s departments have the responsibility to pursue justice and uphold the law. Orange County’s jailhouse informant scam does the opposite, and we’re suing to end it,” said Somil Trivedi, Staff Attorney with the ACLU. “We must hold the departments accountable for more than three decades of secrets and lies that continue to undermine the justice system in Orange County.”

The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, details several cases in which illegal jailhouse informants were involved, including that of Luis Vega. Vega was 14 when he was arrested in 2009 for attempted murder. Two jail informants paid by the district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department produced information without coercion that showed Vega was innocent. By law, the departments were required to relay this information to Vega and his attorney, but they did not, due to the risk of exposing the entire illegal program. Vega remained in prison for nearly two years.

A named plaintiff in the lawsuit filed today, People for the Ethical Operation of Prosecutors and Law Enforcement (P.E.O.P.L.E.), is a nonprofit association based in Orange County.

“Both agencies’ misconduct has devastated the Orange County community and led to a complete loss of faith in their ability to deliver justice,” Tina Jackson, a member of P.E.O.P.L.E. who also is a named plaintiff, said. “They claim to represent the people of Orange County, but we are here to say that, as long as they’re breaking the law, they don’t represent us.”

“The scope and duration of Orange County’s illegal informant program is breathtaking,” said Jacob Kreilkamp, a partner with Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. “The defendants’ efforts to deny its existence — and, when forced to confront reality, to minimize and excuse it — make it clear that this lawsuit is necessary to restore integrity to Orange County’s criminal justice system.”

The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice — an unprecedented effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system — has launched a new multi-year initiative to make sure that prosecutors who break the law are held accountable for fueling mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system, through legislative advocacy, voter education, and litigation. Today’s lawsuit joins Singleton v. Cannizzaro, filed in January by the ACLU and co-counsel over misconduct by the Orleans Parish district attorney, such as issuing fake subpoenas to coerce witnesses into submitting to interrogations.

For the complaint filed today and information about P.E.O.P.L.E. v. Rackauckas, go to:https://www.aclu.org/cases/people-v-rackauckas

For a video about the lawsuit: https://youtu.be/mPXEz0WJbRM

For more information: ACLU of Southern California https://www.aclusocal.org/

ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice https://www.aclu.org/issues/mass-incarceration/smart-justice

Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP https://www.mto.com

This press release is available here: https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-sues-orange-county-district-attorney-and-sheriff-over-secret-illegal-jail-informant

 

Plaintiffs’ joint statement on lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein

Joint statement by plaintiffs Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller and Nannette Klatt:

“On October 8, 2017, The New York Times published an article that outed Harvey Weinstein as both an abuser of women and an aggressive bully. By week’s end, the entire world knew what we have silently known for decades: Harvey Weinstein serially abused us and many other women, using his vast wealth and power to threaten, intimidate, stalk, harass and silence us.

We are but six women representing hundreds. Dozens have come forward so far, and many more remain in the shadows, still trying to find their courage. They are watching us defend ourselves for not coming forward sooner. They are reading internet comments, assessing the risks of coming forward and hoping that a few of us can obtain justice without them having to add their names to the list and go down in history as having been ‘Weinsteined’. That is not a label any of us wish to wear. But we will, if we can transform our horror stories into a cultural shift.

Harvey Weinstein is a predator. Bob knew it. The board knew it. The lawyers knew it. The private investigators knew it. Hollywood knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it.

Soon after the Weinstein story broke, the world learned that individuals, companies and an entire industry knew about the pattern of abuse we suffered, but covered it up and turned a blind eye. It has been two months and the world is still asking how this could have happened. How could so many women have been violated? How could so many people have covered up for him? How could so many people have done nothing to help?

Money.

One thing is clear: to create a permanent change in the culture, we need to send a message to the powerful and wealthy individuals, companies and industries that fêted their Harvey Weinsteins, instead of protecting the victims. These individuals and companies chose to put ad revenue and movie sales, profits and ledgers before compassion and integrity. If money is the language they speak, then so be it. Let them learn that it is costlier to cover up assault, harassment, rape and violence. Let them learn the hard way: wallet first.

If this is happening in Hollywood, it is happening at the hospital, the supermarket, the accountant’s office, the mechanic’s garage, the school… everywhere.

The decision to publicly reveal our painful stories was not an easy one. We fully expect Mr. Weinstein, his surrogates, and his legal team to fight mercilessly. But we are still here, still signing up for this, because it matters. We come to this decision anticipating the worst and hoping for the best. We are afraid, but we are determined. We are, collectively, a very small David challenging an enormous Goliath.

We hope Mr. Weinstein’s legal and PR teams decide to change their tactics and submit a full mea culpa and admission of the wrongs perpetrated by both him and his enablers. We hope the board—particularly Robert Weinstein—feels the full weight of the secrets they kept. It is our fervent hope that these men will choose to go down in history as redemptive characters, not as men who helped cover up rape culture.

We intend to see this matter through and help create a new world for our children in which the workplace is safe from both sexual predators and those who would keep predators’ secrets and allow them to flourish. We hope this case sends a message to all companies sheltering abusers and their secrets: the tide has turned.

Today we stand together, united in one cause, to stop systemic sexual abuse in the workplace and the silencing of victims with NDAs and threats to their careers and wellbeing.

We have watched with horror, amazement, pride and gratitude in the last two months as women (and men) the world over have come forward and named their abusers. We stand with all those brave people who have had the courage and temerity to shine a spotlight into the darkness. Predators thrive in the shadows. It is only by keeping their secrets for them that we allow them to get away with it.

That stops today.

Harvey Weinstein is a predator. Bob knew it. The board knew it. The lawyers knew it. The private investigators knew it. Hollywood knew it. We knew it. Now the world knows it.

Let’s finally do something about it.”

Download the Complaint
Read the Press Release

Visit the Case Page