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Hungarian Gypsies Lose Bid For Asylum In U.S.
Top Legal News | 2008/06/02 15:16
The 8th Circuit denied asylum to two Hungarian citizens who claimed they were attacked by skinheads in their native country because they are Roma, or gypsies.

Istvan Beck and Hilda Beckne Aranyi claimed they often ran into trouble in Hungary due to their Roma ethnicity. They were allegedly teased in school, denied employment opportunities and attacked by skinheads.

However, Judge Loken ruled that the plaintiffs did not show a clear probability of future persecution. The Hungarian government did not direct or condone the crimes, and the police had tried to find their alleged attackers.

Loken also cited a report by the State Department stating that the situation in Hungary is improving. The government has been fining companies that discriminate against Roma, and it is even considering an affirmative action program.

Beck and Aranyi have overstayed their U.S. visas by two years.


Louisville Slugger Crippled Little Leaguer
Headline News | 2008/05/30 21:03
Higher bat speed, and the resulting ball speed off an aluminum bat gave a Little Leaguer insufficient time to react, and the boy suffered cardiac arrest when hit by a batted ball during a game, the boy's family claims in lawsuits against Hillerich & Bradsby dba Louisville Slugger, and the Little League.

Aluminum bats have been controversial for precisely this reason, and because some baseball purists say the lighter bats give batters an unfair edge. In this case, the Domalewski family claims Steven, 12, was injured and hospitalized during a June 6, 2006 game in Wayne, N.J., from a ball bit by a Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat. The 31-inch bat weighs 19 ozs., the complaint states. Traditional wooden bats generally weight 30 ozs. or more.

As a result of the blow to his chest, Steven "went into cardiac arrest ... was resuscitated and transported to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Paterson," according to the claim in Passaic County Court. It claims Steven "suffered from anoxic encephalopathy secondary to comotio cordis" and "is multiple handicapped."

The Domalewskis accuse the defendants, among other things, with consumer fraud: minimizing the dangers of aluminum bats, though knowing of them. They demand punitive damages.


Arkansas law firm takes on Austin lawyers to expand locally
Firm News/Arkansas | 2008/05/30 20:29
The law firm of Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard PLLC is ramping up its presence in Austin by acquiring a local boutique insurance law firm.

Mitchell Williams, a Little Rock, Ark.-based full-service firm, has taken all five attorneys from longtime Austin firm Long Burner Parks & DeLargy PC to grow its Austin office.

The Austin office of Mitchell Williams was opened by Bill Bingham, who died unexpectedly last December after opening the office a year ago, says Harry Hamlin, managing partner at Mitchell Williams.

Hamlin says the Austin office will likely add three more attorneys by year's end, and grow to about 15 attorneys within three years.

The 50-year old firm has 60 attorneys in its Little Rock office and eight attorneys in a Rogers, Ark., office.

"Initially, we want at least a lateral litigator and lateral transactional attorney. We have immediate needs for those," says Hamlin. "And if it turns out two or three want to come as a group, we'd definitely look at that."

The firm leases space on the ninth floor of the Littlefield Building at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue.

"We had identified Texas because we have a lot of clients with business interests in Texas," says Hamlin.

Those clients include real estate companies, regional banks and insurance companies.

"Texas was logical -- it was just a question of where in Texas," he adds.

Hamlin says the Austin move was based on the firm's steady work for insurance companies, with attorneys regularly representing clients before the Department of Insurance and other state agencies.

The move is also part of a firm-wide initiative to grow in the southern region, Hamlin says.

"This is the first time our firm has gone to another market and brought on this many attorneys," says Hamlin. "We are looking at other [nationwide] markets to do the same thing--smaller groups of attorneys that complement the work we are already doing."


Harry Potter & The Librarian's Lawsuit
Top Legal News | 2008/05/28 15:24
The Poplar Bluff Public Library constructively fired an assistant because her religious beliefs prohibited her from working on "Harry Potter Night," Deborah Smith claims in Federal Court.

Smith says her Southern Baptist Church prohibits promotion of the worship of the occult. She considers Harry Potter part of the occult.

Smith says she told her supervisor she could not take part in the library's "Harry Potter Night" on July 20, 2007 to promote the release of the latest book in the series. But, she says, library director Jacqueline Thomas told her she would have to work behind the scenes, out of sight of other church members, and questioned Smith's sincerity, the suit states.

When Smith refused, Thomas suspended her without pay for 10 days. Upon Smith's return, her hours were cut and she was demoted to shelving, a more physically demanding job, she says.

Smith says she had to resign due to the physical demands. She claims the City of Poplar Bluff and Thomas caused her to lose income, suffer physical and emotional distress and humiliation and violated her constitutional rights to freedom of religion. Smith seeks punitive damages and is represented by Anthony Rothert of St. Louis. Poplar Bluff is 150 miles south of St. Louis.


Democrats Sue Georgia Over Photo Voter Law
Headline News | 2008/05/27 20:53
The Georgia Democratic Party claims enforcement of the state's photo ID requirement violates the Georgia Constitution by discriminating against hundreds of thousands of registered voters, black voters particularly, who do not have driver's licenses, passports or other state-issued ID.

Unlike the civil rights claims of the 1960s, which appealed to the federal government to override racist Southern laws, this complaint "asserts no claims that arise under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States."

Plaintiffs claim the state's "2006 Photo ID Act" - SB 84 - violates the Georgia Constitution "because it imposes an unauthorized additional condition on the fundamental right to vote."

They claim the bill "discriminates against African-American voters in particular."

And they claim that it is an illegal "retroactive law" because "it applies to citizens of Georgia who were lawfully registered to vote before the effective date" of the law.


Court Nixes Dog-Killing Deputy's Job Transfer
Legal Watch | 2008/05/23 14:46
A sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a dog while on duty should not have been reassigned to the same sheriff's department, the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled.

Deputy David Freeman was bitten by a dog, and the owner refused to help him. Freeman responded by shooting the dog, causing injuries so severe that the dog had to be euthanized.

But the bitten deputy suffered only minor injuries that did not require a trip to the hospital.

Sheriff David Zoellner fired Freeman for violating department policy. Freeman appealed to the Leavenworth County civil service board, which transferred him to a "comparable position in the Jail Division."

Judge Marquardt affirmed the district court's ruling that the board had improperly placed Freeman in a different section of the same sheriff's department.

The district court found that the law's provision for Freeman to go to a different department means a "law enforcement office completely separate and apart from the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office."

The appeals court reversed the board's order to transfer Freeman to a different county, saying the board lacked the authority to do so.


Houston Wins Ruling In Face Off With Phone Co.
Headline News | 2008/05/22 14:32
The City of Houston does not have to reimburse Southwestern Bell for moving its telecommunications equipment out of the public right of way, the 5th Circuit ruled.

A three-judge panel held that the Telecommunications Act protects municipalities when they exercise ownership over public rights of way. Therefore, Southwestern Bell is not entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of moving its equipment.

Southwestern Bell had claimed that a Houston ordinance violated the act by requiring telecommunications companies to move facilities at their own expense.

Writing for the panel, Judge Barksdale ruled that in order for the telephone company to prevail, it would have to prove that the act specifically created a right to be reimbursed for the moving of its equipment.

Also, Barksdale ruled that even the local government protection afforded by the act does not indicate a right for telecommunications companies


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