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June 2014 Archives

The Fourth Amendment Lives Another Day: A Win for Digital Privacy in the U.S. Supreme Court

Washington, DC (June 25, 2014) - In a single unanimous ruling today, the U.S. Supreme Court held in both Riley v. California (13-132) and United States v. Wurie (13-212) that even in the context of an arrest, absent exigent circumstances, a warrant is required for police to search the contents of electronic devices like a cellphone or smartphone.

State v. Johnson

Justia.com Opinion Summary: After a jury-waived trial, Defendant was convicted of failing to provide his correct, name, address, and date of birth; possession or distribution of dangerous knives; and refusing to submit to arrest or detention. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's conviction of failing to give his correct name, address, and date of birth but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not violate Defendant's Confrontation Clause rights at a suppression hearing by admitting testimony of police officers because the testimony was not hearsay; and (2) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain Defendant's conviction of failing to give his correct name, address, and date of birth.

7 Major Auto Makers Issue Recalls for Defective Airbags June 23 2014

Detroit, MI: Seven of the major automotive manufacturers are issuingrecalls for faulty airbags in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota will recall cars sold in places where hot, humid weather can potentially affect the air bags. The automakers all have air bag systems made by Takata Corp., a Tokyo-based supplier of seat belts, air bags, steering wheels and other auto parts.The older-model cars have air bag inflators that can rupture. If that happens, the air bags might not work properly in a crash, and shards from the broken system could fly out and cause injury, the Associated Press reports."Based on the limited data available at this time, NHTSA supports efforts by automakers to address the immediate risk in areas that have consistently hot, humid conditions over extended periods of time," the agency said in a statement.The NHTSA has reportedly opened an investigation this month after receiving six reports of air bags rupturing in Florida and Puerto Rico. Three people were injured in those cases. It had estimated 1.1 million vehicles automakers in the U.S. could be affected, but the total is likely to climb.The following automakers and vehicles will be included in the recall, according to letters sent to NHTSA by the various automakers: (Associated PressBMW: BMW 2001-2005 3 Series sedan, 2001-2006 3 Series coupe, 2001-2005 3 Series sports wagon and 2001-2006 3 Series convertible. BMW has yet to determine how many vehicles are affected. It will begin notifying owners in August.Chrysler: Chrysler is still determining which vehicles are affected.Ford: Ford said it could recall as many as 58,669 vehicles, including the 2005-2007 Mustang, 2005-2007 GT and 2004 Ranger pickup truck. Ford said it is still working on a schedule to notify owners.Honda: Honda will recall vehicles in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. The company hasn't yet determined the number of vehicles, but believes it is more than 1 million. Honda will replace the driver's side air bag inflator in the 2001-2007 Accord (four-cylinder engine), 2001-2002 Accord (V6), 2001-2005 Civic, 2002-2006 CR-V, 2003-2011 Element, 2002-2004 Odyssey, 2002-2007 Pilot, 2006 Ridgeline, 2003-2006 Acura MDX and 2002-2003 Acura TL/CL. The company will replace passenger side air bag inflators in the 2003-2005 Accord, Civic, CR-V, Element, Odyssey, Pilot; the 2003-2005 Acura MDX and the 2005 Acura RL.Mazda: Mazda expects to recall 34,600 vehicles, including the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6 and 2004 MPV. Mazda is still working on a schedule to notify owners.Nissan: Nissan said it is still determining which vehicles are affected.Toyota: Toyota has twice recalled vehicles for problems with Takata air bags. The company says it will recall certain 2003-2005 Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra, Lexus LC and Pontiac Vibe cars not covered in the previous recalls, to repair their passenger-side air bag inflators. It has yet to set an owner notification schedule.

Howe v. MMG Ins. Co. 2014 ME 78

Justia.com Opinion Summary: Janet Howe and Rajesh Mandekar (together, Howe) owed a condominium in the River Knoll Farms Condominium. The condominium association (Association) sued Howe for negligence, nuisance, and keeping a dangerous dog. MMG Insurance Company, which had issued a homeowner's policy to Howe, declined to defend Howe in the litigation. The trial court subsequently declared that MMG had no duty to defend in the suit, concluding that the policy issued to Howe did not provide coverage because the Association's suit sought only equitable relief. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that MMG had a duty to defend Howe in the suit because the complaint alleged facts that would support claims potentially falling within the coverage of the policy.

Abramski v. United States

Justia.com Opinion Summary: Abramski offered to purchase a gun for his uncle. Form 4473 asked whether he was the "actual transferee/buyer" of the gun and warned that a straw purchaser (buying a gun on behalf of another) was not the actual buyer. Abramski falsely answered that he was the actual buyer. Abramski was convicted for knowingly making false statements "with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale" of a gun, 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(6), and for making a false statement "with respect to the information required ... to be kept" in the gun dealer's records, section 924(a)(1)(A). The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the misrepresentation was material and rejecting Abramski's argument that federal gun laws are unconcerned with straw arrangements. While the law regulates licensed dealer's transactions with "persons" or "transferees" without specifying whether that language refers to the straw buyer or the actual purchaser, read in light of the statute's context, structure, and purpose, the language clearly refers to the true buyer rather than the straw. The law establishes an elaborate system of in-person identification and background checks to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of felons and other prohibited purchasers and imposes record-keeping requirements to assist authorities in investigating serious crimes through the tracing of guns tor buyers. The provisions would mean little if they could be avoided simply by enlisting the aid of an intermediary to execute the paperwork. The statute's language is thus best read in context to refer to the actual rather than nominal buyer. While Abramski's uncle could, possibly, have legally bought a gun for himself, Abramski's false statement prevented the dealer from insisting that the true buyer appear in person, provide identifying information, show a photo ID, and submit to a background check. The dealer could not have lawfully sold the gun had it known that Abramski was not the true buyer, so the misstatement was material to the lawfulness of the sale.

Use Of Social Media In Criminal Investigations Tuesday, June 10, 2014 by Michele Finizio

It has been reported that over 80% of 1,200 law enforcement officers surveyed report that they have used social media in criminal investigations. They advise that information posted on the popular social media sites Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Snapchat can be key evidence in any type of criminal investigation.

Lewiston man arrested for owing $50,000 in child support

LEWISTON (Report from WGME) June 13 2014, 06:59 PM -- State Police arrested 43-year-old James Bellanceau of Lewiston for owing more than $50,000 in child support payments to his children in Indiana. According to police, he is wanted in Indiana for felony child non-support. Police say Bellanceau has been living in Lewiston since 2007 and say he has never sent money back to his four children. Bellanceau was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn. 

For Addicts, There May Be Another Road To Wellness by NPR STAFF June 08, 2014

For decades, inpatient rehab has been one of the go-to treatments for substance addiction. Nearly two million Americans seek treatment for addiction each year, but there's a movement in the medical community to change how we perceive the condition - and how to treat it.

Tim Zerillo Wins Relocation Child Custody Case

Tim Zerillo, Managing Attorney of Zerillo Law, LLC, won a relocation child custody case in Springvale District Court this week. This case was after a contested trial. Our client, the mother of two boys, relocated the children to New Hampshire in arguable violation of a previous court order requiring 30 days notice to the father. The father filed a Post-Judgment Motion and a Motion for Contempt. Attorney Zerillo was able to prevail after a vigorous cross-examination of the father at trial, along with a presentation of other witnesses and evidence.

Zerillo Law Associate Brett Gabor Wins a Protection From Abuse Hearing Arguing that our Client's Husband was a Danger

Associate Attorney Brett Gabor of Zerillo Law, LLC, won a contested Protection from Abuse hearing and was able to receive an order for a client against an abusive spouse, as well as an interim order in the divorce letting our client stay in the marital home and have primary residency of the parties' child. The spouse must pay child support and the mortgage payment. Both a police officer and the child's counselor testified against our client. Nevertheless, Attorney Gabor proved that our client was forced to endure physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her spouse, and ought to receive a safe environment for herself and the child.

Access to Justice at Stake with Federal Rules Changes by Arthur Bryant

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure matter. They can determine who wins and who loses. And they have been changing in the wrong direction for some time. Now, proposed rule changes are moving forward and three things are clear: they are much better than what was originally proposed, they are still disturbing, and they demonstrate the critical importance of the Federal Rules process and access to justice advocates' participation in it.

4 Oil-Rig Workers Win $1.3M Brain-Injury Lawsuit By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on June 4, 2014 8:59 AM

Four electricians who suffered severe brain injuries in a work-related accident on an oil rig have been awarded $1.375 million by a Texas court. Three companies -- Fire and Safety Specialists Inc., Noble Drilling Services Inc., and Keppel Amfels LLC -- will be footing the bill.

How hard should it be for cops to track your location? A new lawsuit revives the debate.

  • BY BRIAN FUNG Privacy advocates sued a Florida police department Tuesday over a controversial surveillance technology that, they say, improperly lets authorities track the movements of thousands of cellphone users without a warrant.  The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and obtained by The Washington Post, revives a perennial debate about the judicial standards law enforcement officials must meet to gather geolocation information - and once they receive a court's permission, how much of that data they can collect and store.

Sentencing Reform This Summer More Info Act Today for Summer Success

Senator Harry Reid recently announced that he wants to bring the Smarter Sentencing Act up for a vote in the U.S. Senate this summer. So far, 24 Senators have co-sponsored the bill, but we need more support. At least 60 votes will be needed to pass the bill in the U.S. Senate. NACDL needs your help in convincing your Senator to co-sponsor the Smarter Sentencing Act. You are receiving this message because your Senator(s) has not signed onto the Smarter Sentencing Act as a co-sponsor. Please take TWO MINUTES today to call and ask that they support sentencing reform. The Senators who need to be contacted are listed below, along with their Washington, DC office phone numbers. Tell your Senator(s) why you support sentencing reform, or follow the script below: "I am a constituent, and I'm calling to express my support for the Smarter Sentencing Act, S. 1410. I support this bill because it will save billions of dollars, reduce overcrowding in federal prisons, keep the public safe, and make our drug sentencing laws fairer and smarter. This is a reasonable, modest bill that will make sure we spend our crime-fighting dollars wisely. I ask the Senator to cosponsor the Smarter Sentencing Act and to vote in favor of it. The U.S. Senate should pass this bill this year. Thank you for considering my views."
Susan Collins (R): 202-224-2523 

Wilkins v. United States - New First Circuit Opinion

Wilkins v. United States

Docket: 13-1637 Opinion Date: June 3, 2014
Judge: Selya
Areas of Law: Criminal Law

In 2012, it was discovered that Annie Dookhan, a chemist at a Massachusetts testing laboratory, falsely certified drug-test results. In this case, the drugs found in Appellant's possession were sent to the state testing laboratory, and Dookhan certified that the drugs were crack cocaine. Appellant was subsequently indicted for possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Appellant pleaded guilty to the offense and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Although there was no direct evidence that Dookhan had committed misconduct in this case, Appellant filed a motion to set aside his conviction and vacate his guilty plea based on the scandal. The district court denied Appellant's motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant did not meet his burden of proving there was a reasonable probability that he would not have pleaded guilty had he known of Dookhan's transgressions.

Maine man's egg company agrees to pay $6.8 million Austin 'Jack' DeCoster's Quality Egg company sold eggs which led to a salmonella outbreak. By Ryan J. Foley The Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa - An Iowa company has agreed to pay $6.8 million in fines for selling old eggs with false labels and the tainted products that caused a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010, according to a plea agreement released Monday.

Quality Egg LLC, once one of the nation's largest egg producers, is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to charges of bribing a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve sales of poor quality eggs, selling misbranded eggs and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. The company's owner, Austin "Jack" DeCoster, and its chief operating officer, Peter DeCoster, are expected to plead guilty to introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor.

5 Things a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) - from findlaw.com

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on May 12, 2014 12:51 PM personal injury case, known legally as proceeding pro se, is pretty tantalizing. After all, how hard could it really be? The answer: pretty darn hard.

Zerillo Law Associate Annie Gregori gets Possession of Hash case Dismissed

Our Client was in Westbrook, Maine when an off-duty cop told her to pull over in a parking lot. When he did, he observed drugs through the window that turned out to be hash. Zerillo Law Associate Attorney Annie Gregori argued successfully today that the stop was bogus, and the case was dismissed.