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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


'Boy Band' Creator Gets 25 Years
Headline News | 2008/05/21 15:52

Boy band mogul Lou Pearlman, who launched Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Wednesday for swindling investors and major U.S. banks out of more than $300 million.

But U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp gave Pearlman the chance to cut his prison time by offering a one-month reprieve for every $1 million in cash he helps a bankruptcy trustee recover for his victims.

Theoretically, Pearlman could cancel his entire 300-month sentence by repaying the $300 million debt.

His lawyer, Fletcher Peacock, said in a written plea that 25 years amounted to a "sentence to death in prison" for the 53-year-old impresario who lived a jet-set life of mansions and luxury cars before the fraud scheme collapsed.

In an audacious two-decade scam, Pearlman admitted in his plea agreement to enticing individuals and banks to invest millions of dollars in two companies which existed only on paper -- Transcontinental Airlines Travel Services Inc and Transcontinental Airlines Inc.

He won investors' confidence with fake financial statements created by a fictitious accounting firm.

During sentencing, Sharp held up a book with letters from Pearlman's victims, saying they included "his family, his close friends and people in their 70s and 80s who have lost their life savings."

"So the sympathy factor doesn't run high with the court," the judge said.



Supreme Court will not hear appeal of Nazi guard
Headline News | 2008/05/20 16:06

The US Supreme Court denied certiorari Monday in Demjanjuk v. Mukasey, ending the appeals process of a deportation order for accused former Nazi concentration camp guard and Ohio resident John Demjanjuk. Demjanjuk, twice stripped of his US citizenship, had argued that the immigration judge who ordered his deportation lacked the authority to do so. Demajanjuk was appealing a 2005 ruling by then-US Chief Immigration Judge Michael Creppy ordering his deportation. Demjanjuk had previously lost an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Demjanjuk's petition for review in January.

Demjanjuk is suspected of being "Ivan the Terrible," an infamously brutal guard at Poland's Treblinka death camp during World War II. Demjanjuk has argued that the accusation is based on mistaken identity. The case dates back to 1977, when the Justice Department originally asked for Demjanjuk's citizenship to be revoked. He was extradited to Israel and sentenced to death for war crimes, but the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1993 and he returned to the US. In 2002, Demjanjuk again lost his US citizenship after a judge found that World War II evidence showed he worked in the Nazi concentration camps.



Suzuki Scammed Them, 19 Customers Say
Headline News | 2008/05/19 15:50
Nineteen plaintiffs claim a Suzuki dealer offered them a free new car if they drove a promo vehicle for $43 a month for a year, then tricked them into signing purchase contracts for as much as $50,000.

Chad Franklin Suzuki made other promises on which it failed to deliver, the plaintiffs claim in Wyandotte County Court. They claim the dealer said the promo was an effort to get more Suzukis on the road, and that after leasing the cars for $43 a month for 6 or 12 months, they could "return the car and obtain a new car at no cost."

It was a scam, the plaintiffs say. They claim that when they turned in the car for a new one, the defendants subtracted the depreciated value of the old car from the second vehicle, told them "they were no longer in the program," and charged them $16,000 to $26,000 for the new cars, which, financed with "excessive costs," sometimes left them owing more than $50,000.

These defendants are accused of participating in the alleged scam: CFS Enterprise Inc. dba Chad Franklin Suzuki and/or Legends Suzuki, Wells Fargo Bank NA, Wells Fargo Auto Finance, Fifth Third Bank, Americredit Financial Services, and American Suzuki Motor Corp.

Plaintiffs are represented by Charles Kugler of Kansas City, Kan.


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