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Coalition Opposes Canyon Granite Removal
Court Center | 2008/07/29 14:40
The U.S. Forest Service's approval of a plan to remove 1,000 cubic yards of granite from the Lost Horse Canyon in Montana's Bitterroot National Forest violates environmental law and threatens to rob rock climbers of "world-class" climbing, the Lost Horse Canyon Coalition claims in Federal Court.

The coalition and Rick Torre claim the Forest Service failed to analyze the removal project's impact on climbing, local business and sensitive wildlife species, such as the peregrine falcon, bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

The Forest Service allegedly curtailed its analysis based on a categorical exclusion for "minor" projects, but the plaintiffs say the agency "failed to explain how the project would be 'minor' in light of the predominant recreational use in the area."

Timothy Bechtold is representing the coalition.


New York AG files complaint
Court Center | 2008/07/25 14:54
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against financial firm UBS on Thursday for allegedly misrepresenting so-called "auction rate securities" as low-risk despite the actual volatility of such investments. In the complaint, Cuomo alleges that UBS led investors to believe they could easily divest themselves of the long-term securities, and that after the company was aware of market instability, they continued to push the funds even though top executives had moved quickly to sell their own holdings. During a press conference on the lawsuit, Coumo said:

   Not only is UBS guilty of committing a flagrant breach of trust between the bank and its customers, its top executives jumped ship as soon the securities market started to collapse, leaving thousands of customers holding the bag. Today we bring the first nationwide lawsuit against UBS, seeking to recover billions of dollars for customers and sending a resounding message to the rest of the industry that this type of deceptive behavior will not be tolerated.

Cuomo is seeking to force UBS to buy back the securities from investors and to pay restitution for any profits made from their sale, as well as other damages.

On Wednesday, the Texas Securities Board said it is considering banning UBS from selling securities in the state because of auction rate securities misrepresentations. A March New York Times report said the practice of representing the securities as low-risk and highly liquid was widespread and has resulted in large loses and a number of lawsuits around the country.


Monkey See, Monkey Sue
Court Center | 2008/07/22 14:57

Wal-Mart, local health officials and Cox Health Systems discriminated against a woman and her monkey named Richard, Debby Rose claims in Greene County Court. Rose says the monkey helps her with a social anxiety disorder that causes her to have panic attacks in public.

Rose says local heath officials sent letters to area businesses advising them not to let Rose in with Richard, and says she was denied access to Cox Health Systems facilities.

She claims theSpringfield-Greene County Health Department lacks the authority todecide that Richard is not a service animal covered by the Americanswith Disabilities Act.



Jr. College Fired Her For Answering A Student's Question
Court Center | 2008/07/18 14:40
A biology professor says San Jose Community College illegally fired her because a student claimed to be "offended" by her response to a question in a Human Heredity class. June Sheldon, who has a master's degree in biology, says she responded to a question about homosexuality by citing scientific research that indicates it may be related to maternal stress.

Sheldon says the student complained that Sheldon had spoken in class "about something that had no mention in the textbook," and that the student "found many parts of her lecture highly offensive and unscientific," leaving the student "horribly offended."

Be that as it may, Sheldon says, citing scientific literature in response to a question about human heredity in a human heredity class is not grounds for firing, under the college's own rules.

Sheldon says the student who filed the complaint objected to a comment she made in her class of June 21, 2007. She says that student dropped her class at 9:06 a.m. that day. The class met from 9 to 11 a.m.

Sheldon sued the seven trustees of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, and its chancellor and vice chancellor. She is represented in Federal Court by David Hacker of Folsom.


New Jersey court strikes down sex offender residence laws
Court Center | 2008/07/16 14:30

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey on Tuesday struck down two municipal ordinances that prohibited convicted sex offenders from living near schools, parks, playgrounds and day care centers. The Appellate Division ruled that New Jersey's statewide sex offender registry program, known as Megan's Law, preempted the local ordinances and provided the state and all municipalities with a uniform rehabilitation and public safety plan. The court explained:

The far-reaching scope of Megan's Law and its multilayered enforcement and monitoring mechanisms constitute a comprehensive system chosen by the Legislature to protect society from the risk of reoffense by CSOs and to provide for their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. The system is all-encompassing regarding the activities of CSOs living in the community. We conclude that the ordinances conflict with the expressed and implied intent of the Legislature to exclusively regulate this field, as a result of which the ordinances are preempted.

The court added that the ordinances, which prohibited CSOs from living within 2500 feet of a variety of locations frequented by children, had the effect of barring CSOs from upwards of two-thirds of the towns which had enacted the ordinances, and violated provisions of Megan's Law that expressly prohibited disclosing CSO information for the purposes of denying individuals housing and accommodations. AP has more.

Courts in other states have also overturned or restricted laws seeking to limit housing options for registered sex offenders. In May, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned [opinion, a 2006 state law that prohibited sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, or youth center. Last November, the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously overturned a state law that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other areas where children gather. Civil rights groups had criticized the law as overly strict, saying that the state's roughly 11,000 registered sex offenders would have been barred from living in almost any residential area. In February 2007 a federal judge ruled that California's Proposition 83, which prohibited California sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any place where children regularly gather, could not be applied retroactively to more than 90,000 paroled sex offenders because there was nothing in the measure to indicate that intent.



Ibuprofen Strip Search Violated Student's Rights
Court Center | 2008/07/14 14:30
School officials violated the Fourth Amendment of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her for two Advil tablets, a divided 9th Circuit ruled.

Judge Wardlaw, writing for the 6-5 majority, found that officials at Safford (Ariz.) Middle School were not protected by qualified immunity.

While searching for the source of a drug problem at the school, officials received a tip that a girl named Marissa had supplied students with Advil to take at lunchtime.

Marissa implicated another student named Savana Redding, an honor student who had never been in trouble before. Redding was summoned to the principal's office.

Although a search of Redding's backpack revealed no drugs, she was still taken to the bathroom by a school nurse and forced to strip to her underwear. She also had to expose her private parts to prove she had no drugs.

The only link to implicate Redding was the testimony of a student who was caught red-handed, Wardlaw noted. Even the anonymous tip about Marissa's drug possession did not mention Redding.

"Officials who strip-searched Savana acted contrary to all reason and common sense as they trampled over her legitimate and substantial interest in privacy and security of her person," Wardlaw wrote.

Judges Gould, Silverman, Hawkins, Bea and Kozinski dissented.


Court Shields Bloggers From Disclosing Names
Court Center | 2008/07/09 14:22
A group of Internet users successfully fought a subpoena seeking their identities for comments written on a blog, but they are not entitled to attorney fees, a California appeals court ruled.

Mordecai Tendler asked Google for subpoenas to get the IP addresses of Web users who allegedly defamed him on jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com.

When Google refused to comply with the subpoena orders, Tendler requested similar subpoenas for the Blogspot addresses of rabbinicintegrity, jewishsurvivors, and newhempsteadnews. The unnamed Doe defendants fought back with a motion to strike.

Justice Mihara reversed the lower court's award of $42,000 in attorney fees and costs after Tendler ultimately withdrew the subpoenas. Mihara ruled that a request for a subpoena does not fall within the anti-SLAPP statute.

"Even the broadest interpretation of the (statute) cannot stretch it to cover a subpoena," the judge ruled. "A request for a subpoena is not a complaint."

Mihara also noted that the third-party subpoena request was not even served on the Internet users and could "not possibly be expected to initiate a 'cause of action' against that adverse party."


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