Archive for July, 2013

Allegation that Florida Prosecutor in Zimmerman case withheld evidence from Defense – whistleblower fired by state

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Sanford, Florida (CNN) — An employee of the Florida State Attorney’s Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman’s defense team has been fired.

Ben Kruidbos had been on paid administrative leave since May 28 from his job as director of information technology for the State Attorney’s Office.

A spokeswoman for Fourth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Angela Corey said Kruidbos was no longer an employee of the office.

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, is on trial in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.

Watch this videoGet caught up: Zimmerman trial in 3 mins Kruidbos testified before Zimmerman’s trial began that Martin’s cell phone contained images of Martin blowing smoke, images of marijuana and deleted text messages regarding a transaction for a firearm and that those images had not been given to Zimmerman’s defense team.

He received the termination letter, dated July 11, on Friday, the same day jurors began deliberating Zimmerman’s case. The letter states: “It has come to our attention that you violated numerous State Attorney’s Office (SAO) policies and procedures and have engaged in deliberate misconduct that is especially egregious in light of your position.”

Read the termination letter

Kruidbos said that, when he printed a 900-page Florida Department of Law Enforcement report from Martin’s cell phone in late 2012 or early 2013, he noticed information was missing.

Concerned that attorneys did not have all the information they needed to prepare the case, he said, he reported his concerns to a State Attorney’s Office investigator and later to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

Kruidbos said he generated a report that was more than three times the size of the one that had been handed over.

For example, Kruidbos said that 2,958 photos were in the report given to the defense but that his report contained 4,275 photos.

Kruidbos also said that he has been told to not put specific case-identifying information into internal e-mails.

Through his attorney, Wesley White, Kruidbos informed Zimmerman’s defense team that the information existed.

Did investigators blow the Zimmerman case?

In court, Kruidbos testified that he was concerned that he could be held liable if all information wasn’t shared. “All the information is important in the process to ensure it’s a fair trial,” he said.

In a six-page dismissal letter, the State Attorney’s Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit, blasted Kruidbos’ assertions and motivations. Managing Director Cheryl R. Peek accused Kruidbos of having erased data from a laptop in violation of the Public Records Law and derided his concern about being held liable as “feigned and spurious” and “nothing more than shameful manipulation in a shallow, but obvious, attempt to cloak yourself in the protection of the whistleblower law.”

She concluded, “Because of your deliberate, willful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office. Your have left us with no choice but to terminate your employment.”

But the defense said Kruidbos’ testimony supports its claim that the state violated the rules of discovery.

Ex-Sanford police chief: Zimmerman probe ‘taken away from us’

“When it takes me six months to get a color picture of my client, when the first one I get is a black and white, when I look at it and go, ‘This is off a cell phone; cell phones don’t take black-and-white pictures,’ and I ask for a color copy, that takes two months,” defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Martin Savidge.

“And then I get a pastel-colored color copy of it, and it takes me to file a motion and have a hearing set before I get the actual .jpeg, no, that’s frustrating. That should not happen. I’ve done this too long to make believe in my own mind that that’s happenstance.”

O’Mara said he learned about the missing information months after he was to have received it. “The only way that we really found out about it … and the only way that we really found out about the intensity of the failure to give us information was when a person from their own office, a whistle-blower, came forward and said, ‘I gave them that information in the middle to end of January’ and we didn’t get it until June 4th.”

He said he was “beyond” shocked. “It could have derailed the trial,” he said.

The defense said it did not get the complete report until a few days before the trial. O’Mara and co-counsel Don West argued that they needed more time to go through the information found on Martin’s phone and asked for a delay, which was denied.

Judge Debra Nelson said before the trial that the possibility of sanctions — requested by the defense — would be addressed after the verdict.

The defense team declined to comment Saturday.

HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR ALAN DERSHOWITZ SAYS FLORIDA PROSECUTOR IN ZIMMERMAN CASE SHOULD BE DISBARRED

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Below was copied from Real Clear Politics (and was quoted from FOX NEWS CHANNEL Mike Huckabee show):

MIKE HUCKABEE: You have said that you thought the prosecutor ought to be disbarred, that’s a pretty serious type of violation to get a person disbarred. It is that serious to you?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Right, it is. She submitted an affidavit that was, if not perjurious, completely misleading. She violated all kinds of rules of the profession, and her conduct bordered on criminal conduct. She, by the way, has a horrible reputation in Florida. She’s known for overcharging, she’s known for being highly political. And in this case, of course she overcharged. Halfway through the trial she realized she wasn’t going to get a second degree murder verdict, so she asked for a compromised verdict, for manslaughter. And then, she went even further and said that she was going to charge him with child abuse and felony murder. That was such a stretch that it goes beyond anything professionally responsible. She was among the most irresponsible prosecutors I’ve seen in 50 years of litigating cases, and believe me, I’ve seen good prosecutors, bad prosecutors, but rarely have I seen one as bad as this prosecutor, [Angela] Cory. (Huckabee, July 14, 2013)

The Campbell County Circuit Court has a current opening for a Law Clerk/Staff Attorney for Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

. Eligibility: Must be a member of the Kentucky Bar or taking every reasonable step to gain admission. Must have excellent formal writing skills and interpersonal communication skills. Job duties: PERFORM LEGAL RESEARCH AND RECORD ANALYSIS PERTAINING TO CASES BEFORE THE COURT; PREPARE LEGAL MEMORANDA REPORTING RESULTS OF RESEARCH; ASSIST COURT IN EDITING AND RELEASE OF OPINIONS; ASSIST COURT IN PREPARING JURY INSTRUCTIONS; ADVISE COURT AS TO CURRENT CHANGES IN THE LAW AND RECENT DECISIONS; OTHER DUTIES AS ASSIGNED. Salary: $2,185.00 Monthly. Must apply online at http://courts.ky.gov If you have any questions, please contact: Campbell County Courthouse, Circuit Judge – Julie Reinhardt Ward, 330 York Street, Newport, KY 41071 Please also send your writing samples and resumes to: Fax Number: (859) 431-0816 Attention: Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward. State funded full time position. Equal Opportunity Employer.

Pete Nienaber

Staff Attorney – Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward

Campbell County Circuit Court

330 York St.

Newport, KY 41071

Phone – (859)292-6640 Fax – (859)430-0816

Sixth Circuit Overules Judge Danny Reeves in Clay County Vote Buying Case

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Several Clay County residents convicted in a widespread vote-buying conspiracy could be released from prison after an appeals court struck down their convictions.A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that longtime Circuit Judge R. Cle tus Maricle, former county school Superintendent Douglas Adams and six others convicted in the case should get a new trial.The appeals panel said U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves committed errors in his handling of the trial for the eight. Reeves admitted some evidence that jurors shouldn’t have been allowed to hear and improperly made changes to transcripts jurors were given of secret tape recordings made in the investigation, the appeals panel said.The appeals judges noted the trial was exceptionally difficult to manage and commended Revees for his close attention to arguments and his thoughtful opinions. However, the combined effect of the errors meant the eight defendants did not get a fair trial, the appeals panel said.Lexington attorney T. Scott White, who represents Charles Wayne Jones, an election official convicted in the conspiracy, said family members of the eight defendants were elated by the decision.”There are literal tears of joy,” White said.The government could seek reconsideration of the ruling or a review by the entire appeals court, but defense attorneys said the court is unlikely to grant such requests.Defense attorneys said they will ask for the release of their clients on bond pending a new trial. It was not clear Wednesday how long it will take to get a decision on that issue.”It’s something that we’re working towards,” said Kent Westberry, Adams’ attorney.The defendants did not win on every point. The appeals panel upheld Reeves’ ruling that vote-buying was a proper element to use in prosecuting the eight under a racketeering charge often used against organized-crime figures.Adams also argued there was insufficient evidence for a conviction, a motion other defendants sought to join. The appeals panel disagreed, saying there was sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude Adams was instrumental in vote-buying in 2002.Those convicted in the case were Maricle; Adams; former county Clerk Freddy Thompson; former Magistrate Stanley Bowling; Jones, who had been the county’s Democratic election commissioner; William E. Stivers, an election officer; and Bart and Debra Morris, a couple who owned a garbage business that had contracts with Manchester and Clay County.The eight were jailed following their convictions in March 2010, so they have served nearly 31/2 years. The government also has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property from the defendants.”It’s taken a huge toll,” said David Hoskins, who represented Maricle at the trial.If prosecutors decide to put the defendants on trial again, all of them would face a charge that they took part in a racketeering conspiracy to use vote fraud as a means of controlling local politics. Some of them also would face charges of conspiring to buy and steal votes.Prosecutors could decide to pursue a new trial; try to work out guilty pleas with the eight; or decline to put them on trial again, ending the case with the time the eight have served.U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said prosecutors are reviewing the appeals ruling “and will carefully consider how best to proceed with this prosecution.”One factor that might complicate a new trial is that the lead FBI agent in the case, Timothy Briggs, died of a heart attack in June 2011.The case involving the eight capped an FBI investigation that gutted a powerful network of people that held sway in Manchester and Clay County for years. Dozens of people — including a longtime mayor of Manchester, an assistant police chief, city council members, a one-time city administrator, a county clerk, and magistrates — pleaded guilty to drug, corruption and vote-fraud charges during the investigation.In one case, a drug dealer told federal authorities he had burned down a vacant house for the mayor, assistant police chief and 911 director in Manchester so the city could buy the land for a new police station and 911 office.Maricle, Adams and those tried with them were charged with conspiring to use the county elections board as a tool to corrupt elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Participants in the scheme allegedly pooled hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy votes in one of the poorest counties in the nation.The object was to rig elections so the participants could hold on to power and enrich themselves and associates through jobs and contracts, prosecutors argued.”In Clay County, if you’re not in politics or in with the clique, you don’t get nothing,” Kenneth Day, who sold drugs and bought votes while he was the county’s Republican election commissioner, testified.The jury ruled the eight defendants were jointly liable for a judgment of more than $3 million, based on the salaries and contracts they were able to obtain.Attorneys for the eight argued that witnesses were unreliable and that Reeves allowed evidence that was not proper.The appeals court cited a number of errors in the trial involving evidence the jury should not have been allowed to hear.For instance, Reeves allowed Day, Eugene Lewis and J.C. Lawson to testify about their extensive drug trafficking in Clay County, as well as their involvement in vote-buying with Maricle and Adams as early as the 1980s.Prosecutors argued the testimony about drugs helped explain the possible origin of money used in the vote-buying scheme, the opinion said. However, the appeals panel said there was no evidence drug money from the three was used to buy votes during the conspiracy at issue in the trial.Instead, the evidence appeared to serve only one purpose: putting the defendants in a bad light by connecting them to drug dealers, the opinion said.Reeves also improperly made changes to the transcript of audio recordings that informants made in the case, the appeals panel said, though it commended him for his efforts to get the transcript right.In one instance, Thompson supposedly said, “I think I’m in trouble.”Defense attorneys argued the phrase was inaudible, and prosecutors did not include it in their version of the transcript.However, Reeves added the phrase to the version given to jurors, the appeals panel said.The appeals panel said the combined effect of the errors made the trial “fundamentally unfair.” Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/17/2717962/appeals-court-orders-new-trial.html#emlnl=PM_update#storylink=cpy

Department of of Corrections Launches New Enhancements to Kentucky Offender Online Lookup System

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Press Release Date: Monday, July 01, 2013
Revision Date: Monday, July 01, 2013
Contact Information: Todd Henson
(502) 564-4726 (office)
(502) 330-0362 (cell)

Frankfort, Ky. (July 1, 2013) – The state Department of Corrections today launched a newly enhanced version of the Kentucky Offender Online Lookup (KOOL) system.

House Bill 463, the criminal justice reform legislation passed in 2011, called for the enhancements and set an implementation date of July 1, 2013. Over the past year, the department has diligently been working to overhaul the system. KOOL previously included information such as names of offenders, their crimes, sentence lengths, photographs and parole eligibility dates. Now, the system includes all the previous information plus data on the expected time to serve, good time release date, maximum expiration of sentence date and the historic percentage of time served for similar offenders.

KOOL has also been expanded to include not only information on active offenders but also on offenders who are under the supervision of the Division of Probation and Parole (P&P).

The new version of KOOL contains a greatly expanded search function. There are approximately 50 different search parameters including such categories as supervision status, county of supervision, release date, current location (facility or P&P district), and current escapees or absconders.

Newly-added functions allow users to look up statistics on a particular felony offense to see the average time served for that offense, the approximate cost to incarcerate for that offense and the cost of alternatives to incarceration. There is also a function that allows users to determine the likelihood that the offender will be re-incarcerated.

A direct link to VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) has also been added to the KOOL system. This link will allow someone to register for VINE notifications on an offender’s change in status, such as upcoming parole eligibility or release date.

The new KOOL system can be accessed at http://kool.corrections.ky.gov/.

Governor appoints Allison Emerson Jones to Ct. of Appeals Court

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

07/12/2013 07:06 PM
•by Ryan Alessi

Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday tapped an administrative law judge from Oldham County as the nect Court Appeals just in the 6th Appellate District that covers Northern Kentucky.

Beshear appointed Allison Emerson Jones to the 6th Appellate District, Division 1, to replace Michelle M. Keller, whom Beshear appointed to the Supreme Court in April. Keller replaced Justice Wil Schroder, who retired.

Jones was among the three finalists for that Supreme Court judgeship.

This time she got the appointment over Mary Kathleen Molloy of Crescent Springs and Justin Aaron Sanders of Fort Wright. Sanders is part of a prominent legal family in Northern Kentucky, including his brother, Rob Sanders, a commonwealth’s attorney.

The appointment of an Oldham County-based judge could set up a contested next election, especially considering the Northern Kentucky area has the bulk of the population in that appellate district.

Appeals Court judges are elected for eight-year terms and will be on the ballot again in 2014.

Florida Supreme Court: Legislature overstepped its bounds in passing a law to resolve the active legal dispute.

Friday, July 12th, 2013

http://twitter.com/bsfarrington By BRENDAN FARRINGTON Associated Press July 12, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature went too far when they created a law on behalf of a developer in an effort to stop a lawsuit filed by a homeowners association, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Scott signed a bill last year that was designed to end a lawsuit filed against Maronda Homes of Florida, Inc., by a homeowners association over defective road and drainage construction that caused flooding and erosion, damaging roads and properties.
The Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Association sued saying the construction problems broke an implied warranty that homes in the Orange County subdivision would be habitable. Maronda Homes’ defense was that once the association took over control of the development, it was responsible for repairs to infrastructure and common areas. A lower court ruled in favor of Maronda Homes, but an appeals court sided with the association.
The construction and design flaws didn’t become apparent until after Maronda Homes turned over the development to the association. That’s when retention ponds began overflowing, storm drainage runoffs began collapsing, roads started breaking apart, lawns became routinely flooded and ground underneath driveways started sinking.
While the case was still pending before the Supreme Court, the Legislature passed a bill that essentially said implied warranties of habitability do not apply to streets and drainage. The bill language specifically cited the homeowners association’s lawsuit and had language that was retroactive in an effort to protect Maronda Homes.
The court Thursday sided with the homeowners association, saying that infrastructure like roads and drainage are part of a warranty of habitability.
The Supreme Court said the Legislature overstepped its bounds in passing a law to resolve the active legal dispute.
“This is a clear violation of separation of powers because the Legislature does not sit as a supervising appellate court over our district courts of appeal,” the court wrote in its opinion.
The court also ruled that the law violated the right to possess and protect property, which is guaranteed in the state constitution.
Gov. Scott’s office defended the decision to sign the bill.
“Gov. Scott signed this legislation to keep the cost of living low. Today’s ruling will raise the cost of buying a home in Florida through the imposition of a litigation tax,” said spokeswoman Melissa Sellers.
Maronda Homes of Florida didn’t immediately return a call for comment. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Frank Artiles of Miami, didn’t return a message left with his district office.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/11/3495607/supreme-court-law-protecting-builder.html#storylink=cpy

NEW BOOK RELEASED ON KY. PENSION ISSUE BY LAWREADER GUEST COLUMNIST

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Kentuckyfriedpensions.com
NEW BOOK KENTUCKY FRIED PENSIONS

Anchorage,KY July 23, 2013 – Kentucky Fried Pensions is one of the most important books to come out on Kentucky Politics and Government in years. It attaches shame and blame to over a 1000 names in a 230 page volume covering both the investment and underfunding scandals related to the Kentucky pension crisis. It not only highlights KERS for State Workers the worst funded state plan in the country, but makes dire predictions for the Kentucky Teacher plan and County Plan as well. The author makes recommendations on how to restructure the plans to increase the odds of solvency.

Quotes from the Author in KFP
The Cause of the Kentucky Pension crisis was too much bipartisanship and too little transparency.

A public pension needs placement agents like a dog needs ticks.

The culture of corruption and cover up was not only reinforced by this APA audit, but it enabled KRS to continue in these practices.

The Kentucky Retirement Systems’ first hedge fund was a disaster from an investment and political point of view. It seemed that the prime objective was to maximize a kickback through a placement agent, not for the investment benefit of the plan.

With non-qualified Trustees, an open SEC investigation, and no regulation from anyone in state government, as of June 2013, there is still no real oversight, leaving a corrupt system that answers to no one.

Quotes from Others in KFP
“The reforms will make Kentucky’s pension system one of the healthiest in the country
Governor Steve Beshear March 2013, 4 days later a major non-profit files bankruptcy to escape this so-called healthy pension KERS which at 27% funded is the worst state plan in the U.S.

The issues confronting state and local pensions, while not trivial, are manageable. Well, maybe not in every case. In Illinois and possibly Kentucky, she says, “they should be hysterical.” Alicia H. Munnell’s in her new book, “State and Local Pensions: What Now?”
“Kentucky’s pension system is a veritable horse-trading operation. Its managers are currently the subject of an SEC investigation of its payments to investment agents with ties to the pension board.” Kevin Williamson in the National Review April 2013
Wow, talk about Kentucky fried pensions! All the pension bonds in the world won’t help Kentucky get out of its pension hellhole.
Pension Pulse- Montreal December 2012 Leo Kolivakis

Chris Tobe, CFA has 25 years of institutional investment experience with a focus on Public Pension plans. From 2008-2012 he served as a Trustee and on the Investment Committee for the $13 billion Kentucky Retirement Systems, but his involvement goes back to 1997 when he worked with Kentucky State Auditor Ed Hatchett and published a 40 page report on the investments of both the Kentucky Retirement Systems and the Kentucky Teachers Retirements Systems. In his consulting practice he has worked with major public plans in Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Missouri, Michigan and the District of Columbia. As a public pension trustee he completed the Program for Advanced Trustee Studies at Harvard Law School and Fiduciary College held at the Rock Center at Stanford University. He has published articles on public pension investing in the Financial Analysts Journal, Journal of Investment Consulting, Journal of Performance Measurement, and Plan Sponsor Magazine. He currently writes a column for the Wall Street Journal Marketwatch Retirement site, and has been quoted in numerous publications including Barrons, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters, Pensions & Investments and the Wall Street Journal print edition.

For more information about visit www.kentuckyfriedpensions.com or contact Chris Tobe at 502-648-1303 or christobe@kentuckyfriedpensions.com

ATTORNEY ERIC DETERS WINS BIG JURY VERDICT FOR CHEERLEADER….

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Another big jury verdict for Eric Deters, the Campbell county “Bulldog” and radio jock. He has been targeted by the KBA but just keeps surviving. This verdict could have national effects on defamation law and the responsibility of web hosts. Deter’s client was falsely alleged to have slept with “all Bengals players”…and other silly allegations…and the jury finally concluded that even Cheerleaders should have the protection of the law.

THE Associated Press reported:
Appeal expected in ex-Bengals cheerleader lawsuit

July 11, 2013 Updated 1 hour ago
2013-07-12T11:48:45Z
By LISA CORNWELL The_Associated_Press

National Videos By LISA CORNWELL — Associated Press
COVINGTON, Ky. — A gossip website operator who lost a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader plans to appeal, and some First Amendment lawyers warn the verdict could adversely affect other websites.A federal court jury in Covington, Ky., awarded Sarah Jones $338,000 in damages Thursday, finding that posts about Jones on the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based website thedirty.com in 2009 were substantially false. The jury also found website operator Nik Richie acted with malice or reckless disregard in posting the submissions he said were anonymous.One post alleged Jones had sex with every Bengals player, and the other said she probably had two sexually transmitted diseases. Jones said the posts were false and caused her severe mental anguish.Richie denied any malice and said he wasn’t required to fact-check anonymous submissions before posting them.The posts were unrelated to Jones’ 2012 guilty plea to charges she had sex with an underage former student. Jones avoided jail time, but was forbidden from teaching again. She and the now 18-year-old former student have said they plan to marry.Cincinnati attorney Jack Greiner, who specializes in media and free speech issues, said the lawsuit verdict could have a chilling effect on other website operators.”I think it could put some limits on the ability of a website operator to feel free to post comments that might be offensive or controversial or even just critical,” Greiner said. “People might err on the side of caution and not take a risk, even if comments are acceptable.”Richie’s attorney, David Gingras, also believes holding Richie responsible for posts created by a third party will have a negative effect on free speech for other people and websites.Gingras previously asked U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman to dismiss the lawsuit, saying Richie’s website and others around the country are protected under the Communications Decency Act. Part of that law was intended to provide immunity to website operators from liability for content that comes from third parties.The judge ruled that law did not shield thedirty.com from liability.”There’s no question that his ruling is wrong,” said Gingras, who has won similar lawsuits on the same issue.But Jones’ attorney, Eric Deters, said Richie has acknowledged screening submissions, deciding which comments are posted and adding his own comments. That makes the thedirty.com different from other websites like Facebook where people post their own comments.”Judge Bertelsman got it right,” Deters said, adding he is confident of winning any appeal.He hopes the verdict will “reduce the number of defamation comments made on these types of websites.”But Nate Cardozo, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation that focuses on civil liberties and privacy issues in the digital age, told The Associated Press “the judge got it dead wrong.”Jones could sue for false statements but “she can only sue the person who made the statements,” said Cardozo, a staff attorney with the nonprofit foundation.A message left for the judge was not immediately returned.Jones, 28, said Thursday that she was grateful to the jury for hearing the evidence and basing its decision on that evidence.A January trial of the lawsuit produced a hung jury. Jurors in the retrial deliberated over two days.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/11/2711879/jury-finds-website-defamed-ex.html#emlnl=AM_update#storylink=cpy

Procedure for Seeking CR 73.02(4) Damages for Frivolous Appeal

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

By David Kramer | dkramer@dbllaw.com

More Sharing ServicesShare|Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printIn Walters v. Smith, 2011-CA-1026 (7/5/13), the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the trial court does not have authority to award “just damages and single or double costs” as provided for in CR 73.02(4) for an allegedly frivolous appeal of the trial court’s judgment. Rather, the Court (by Chief Judge Glenn Acree, joined by Judges James Lambert and Joy Moore) held that such remedies must be sought from the appellate court to which the appeal is taken.

In the underlying case, the parties had entered an agreed judgment dismissing the appellants’ claims and terminating a trial that was in progress. One of the parties (acting pro se) appealed, asserting judicial bias and other errors. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the agreed judgment. Walters v. Lanham, 2010 WL 4296630 (Ky. App. 2010). However, the appellees in that appeal did not file a CR 76.34 motion for recovery of attorney’s fees under CR 73.02(4). Rather, the appellees subsequently filed a motion in the trial court for recovery of damages, claiming the appeal was frivolous. The trial court awarded them $5,000 in attorney’s fees.

The appellants paid the judgment rather than superseding it by posting a bond but appealed the award of attorney’s fees to the Court of Appeals. The Court found that the trial court generally lost jurisdiction over the case ten days after entry of the judgment, and that the failure of the appellees to seek fees and costs from the Court of Appeals during the original appeal resulted in a waiver of their right to do so. The Court remanded with instructions to the trial court to enter a judgment directing the return of the $5,000 at issue plus pre- and post-judgment interest to the appellants.

In conclusion, the proper procedure to claim damages, attorney’s fees and costs for a frivolous appeal under CR 73.02(4) is to file a CR 76.34 motion with the appellate court that is considering the appeal. Failure to do so will result in a waiver of the right to make such a claim.

Walters v. Smith is not yet final but was designated for publication in the South Western Reporter. Non-final decisions of Kentucky appellate courts should not be cited as authority.

(It is interesting to note that the second appeal named as an appellee one of the appellees’ attorneys who was awarded fees. That is necessary in some cases because an attorney for a party who is awarded attorney’s fees can be an indispensable party to the appeal depending on how the underlying judgment for fees is worded. See, e.g., Neidlinger v. Neidlinger, 52 S.W.3d 513 (Ky. 2001), and Knott v. Crown Colony Farm, Inc., 865 S.W.2d 326 (Ky. 1993).)

Note: The foregoing post includes commentary reprinted from the forthcoming 2014 supplement to Rules of Civil Procedure Annotated, 6th ed. (Vols. 6 & 7, Kentucky Practice Series), by David V. Kramer, with permission of the author and publisher. Copyright (c) 2013 Thomson Reuters. For more information about this publication please visit http://store.westlaw.com/rules-of-civil-procedure-annotated-6th-vols-6-7-kentucky/130503/11774808/productdetail.

David Kramer is a Northern Kentucky attorney practicing at Dressman Benzinger LaVelle psc.

Governor Beshear Issues Call for Special Session on Redistricting

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Press Release Date: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Contact Information: Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian
502-564-2611

FRANKFORT, Ky. – “I have today issued a proclamation calling the Kentucky General Assembly into special session on Aug. 19, 2013, to address legislative and judicial redistricting.

Leaders in both chambers have indicated to me a willingness to utilize the same census numbers for legislative and judicial redistricting as were used for Congressional redistricting in 2012. This will make all redistricting plans consistent and avoid having to address Congressional redistricting again. I have therefore not included Congressional redistricting on the agenda for the upcoming special session.

I am confident that both the House and Senate will have their plans drawn and any remaining issues resolved by Aug. 19 so the special session will last only five days and therefore minimize the expense to taxpayers.”

Right Wing Blogger: Justice Dept Backed Trayvon Martin Rallies

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 05:31 PM
By Tom Topousis
A secretive branch of the U.S. Department of Justice was deployed to Sanford, Fla., in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting to help organize rallies, including one headlined by the Rev. Al Sharpton, calling for the arrest and prosecution of George Zimmerman.

Records obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that members of the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service were sent to Sanford in March and April of 2012 to help manage protests, The Daily Caller reported Wednesday.

The 347 pages of documents obtained from the federal government showed that $5,320 in expenses was claimed by the Community Relations Service for workers assigned to protests and marches in and around Sanford after Zimmerman was accused of shooting Martin.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/martin-justice-department-rallies/2013/07/10/id/514423?s=al&promo_code=14223-1#ixzz2Yk0jbZrs

Judicial Nominating Commission announces nominees to fill the vacant Circuit Court judgeship in Harlan County

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Circuit Court judgeship in Harlan County, which is the 26th Judicial Circuit.

The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Sidney Barnes Douglass II of Loyall, H. Kent Hendrickson of Harlan and Henry Stuart Johnson of Baxter.

Douglass has a law practice at Douglass Law Office in Harlan. He served as a Harlan County Circuit Court judge from 1977 to 1984 and was previously the Harlan city attorney. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Hendrickson is a domestic relations commissioner for Harlan County Circuit Court and a partner in the law firm of Rice & Hendrickson and in Hendrickson Properties. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Johnson is in private law practice in Harlan and served as the commonwealth’s attorney for Harlan from 1992 until earlier this year. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

The vacancy was created upon the removal of Russell D. Alred by the Judicial Conduct Commission as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky, effective Oct. 25, 2012

JUDGE IN FLORIDA ZIMMERMAN CASE, FELT TO BE BIASED FOR PROSECUTION BY BLOGGERS

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

George Zimmerman’s Snippy Judge – Debra Nelson – Snapped Again

JoeClarke.Net ^ | 07/10/2013 | JoeClarke.Net

Posted on 7/10/2013 8:23:54 PM by joeclarke

Has the Zimmerman trial judge felt the pressure from her community, her state, as well as the United States government, including Eric Holder? How could she not? The lady prosecutor, Angela Corey, as reported, waited a long, long time, and even bypassed the Grand Jury before she decided to haul George Zimmerman in for the “unjustified” murder of Trayvon Martin.

I have noticed in this trial that Judge Nelson has shown an obvious animosity toward George Zimmerman’s defense lawyers. Her excuse, mostly, for her quick temper, is that she does not want to inconvenience jurors. “Hey lady,” Jerry Lewis would say, there is a MAN ON TRIAL for something that may put him behind bars for a very long time, and he should not even be on trial according to Florida’s own “Stand Your Ground” laws.

I have not kept count of all of Judge Nelson’s errors in judgment, but it was not very respectful for trial judge Nelson to walk out of the courtroom while defense attorney was attempting to make a case earlier in July. Judge Nelson would not allow much evidence of Trayvon Martin’s character including his history of enjoying fights on and off video, as well as his history of belligerent and criminal behavior, and she even denied Trayvon’s incriminating texts and photos to be shown to the jury, yet all of George Zimmerman’s life, as exaggerated by the prosecution, has been allowable.In fact, Nelson, at one time, did approve of Trayvon Martin’s criminal record, and other behavioral problems, but more recently she “changed her mind.”

Another quite insulting and biased move by the judge was that George Zimmerman’s parents were barred from the courtroom, because they might be called as witnesses, yet Trayvon’s mother and father were allowed to view the procedures in the court, and they were also listed as possible witnesses by the prosecution.

More than one person has commented that her court decisions have been “90%” in favor of the prosectuion. We shall see

Zimmerman’s attorneys put together a fascinating, and very expensive, animation of the events that occurred on the fateful night, but Debra Nelson nixed the re-creation, contrary to fact that these sort of explanations have been used in all sorts of cases, including criminal trials. Judge Nelson again embarrassed the defense by directly addressing George Zimmerman, asking if he was going to testify, instead of directing her question to the defense attorneys. Very awkward, even if legally OK. Her entire demeanor in the incident was that of an impatient, snippy woman. Not that men are exempt from being so.

To further exemplify how petty the judge can be, I remember at one point in the trial when Rachael Jenteal was testifying, quite incoherently, defense attorney Don West asked Judge Nelson if he could move to another seating arrangement so that he could, maybe, read her lips, or whatever. Judge Nelson promptly snapped, “Why did you wait until now to ask to move?”

Between State’s prosecutor Angela Corey and Judge Debra Nelson I would not want to meet up with either one at a family reunion.

Famous (or infamous) Jodi Arias defense lawyer Jose Baez is quoted as saying this about Judge Nelson – after the first judge chosen dropped out from presiding over the Zimmerman trial. “I don’t think they did themselves any favors,” said attorney Jose Baez, best known for defending “tot mom” Casey Anthony. “She (Debra Nelson) has a reputation of being more pro-prosecution than the previous judge. We have an expression: ‘The devil you know is much better than the devil you don’t.’ ”

She has refused several defense requests for sidebars, but the prosecution seems to have been awarded golden invitations to approach the bench at any time.

http://backfencechat.blogspot.com/2013/07/judge-debra-nelson-is-bias-zimmerman-is.html

http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130710233235AAPSji5

http://www.robeprobe.com/find_judges_result2.php?judge_id=2579&judge_Debra_S._Nelson

http://www.experienceproject.com/question-answer/Do-You-Think-The-Judge-(Circuit-Judge-Debra-Nelson)-In-The-George-Zimmerman–Trayvon-Martin-Case-Is-Biased–/2030300

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/30/2977516/zimmerman-gets-new-judge-but-lawyers.html

http://www.lipstickalley.com/f233/judge-debra-nelson-bias-zimmerman-trail-she-pro-prosecution-536985/

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Judicial Nominating Commission announces Three nominees for vacant No. Ky. Court of Appeals seat

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky., July 9, 2013 – The Judicial Nominating Commission, led by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr., today announced nominees to fill the vacant Court of Appeals seat in the 6th Appellate District, Division 1. The district is composed of 21 counties in the Northern Kentucky area. The vacancy was created when Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Court of Appeals Judge Michelle M. Keller as a Supreme Court justice on April 3.

The three attorneys named as nominees to fill the vacancy are Allison Emerson Jones of Prospect, Mary Kathleen Molloy of Crescent Springs and Justin Aaron Sanders of Fort Wright.

Jones is an administrative law judge for the state Department of Workers’ Claims and previously served as an attorney for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. She received her juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Molloy is a partner in the law firm of Arnzen, Molloy & Storm and is associated with Amelia development as a limited partner in the development of residential real estate in Ohio. She received her juris doctor from Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Sanders is a partner in The Sanders Law Firm. He received his juris doctor from the Pepperdine University School of Law in California.

The counties in the 6th Appellate District are Bath, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Fleming, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Henry, Kenton, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble.

Justice Keller was appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the unexpired term of Justice Wil Schroder, who retired in January due to health issues.

Court of Appeals

The Kentucky Court of Appeals, along with the Supreme Court of Kentucky, was formed after the 1975 enactment of the Judicial Article that created Kentucky’s unified court system. Fourteen judges, two elected from each of the seven appellate districts, serve on the Court of Appeals for terms of eight years.

Nearly all cases heard by the Court of Appeals come to it on appeal from a lower court. If a case is tried in Circuit Court or District Court and the losing parties involved are not satisfied with the outcome, they may ask for a higher court to review the correctness of the trial court’s decision. Some cases, such as criminal case acquittals and divorces, may not be appealed. In a divorce case, however, child custody and property rights decisions may be appealed. With a few exceptions, most cases appealed from Circuit Court go to the Court of Appeals. The case is not retried at the appeals level. Instead, the original trial record is reviewed, with attorneys presenting the legal issues to the court for a decision.

Court of Appeals judges are divided into panels of three to review and decide cases, with the majority deciding the outcome. The panels do not sit permanently in one location, but travel throughout the state to hear appeals. When the Court of Appeals publishes its rulings on cases, those rulings become the governing case law for all such similar cases in the trial courts of Kentucky.

SUPREME COURT DECISIONS IN THE 2012-2013 TERM SHOWS WIN AFTER WIN FOR BIG BUSINESS.

Monday, July 8th, 2013

By Erin McClam, Staff Writer, NBC News
The blockbuster final week of the latest Supreme Court term delivered rulings across the ideological spectrum: The justices extended benefits to gay spouses, upended the Voting Rights Act and preserved affirmative action in college admissions, at least for now.
But as legal scholars take a step back and examine the term in full, they say the court leaned unmistakably to the right — and came down consistently on the side of big business.
The justices made it more difficult to bring class-action suits against companies, raised the bar for workers to win discrimination claims and protected pharmaceutical companies against people who say they were harmed by defective generic drugs.
“This is a court that is making life easier for business,” said Stephen Wermiel, who teaches constitutional law and a seminar on the Supreme Court at American University in Washington, D.C.
The rightward shift follows a pattern set by Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed in 2005 by President George W. Bush and who, at the relatively young age of 58, is likely to lead the court for a generation.
There have been high-profile exceptions, like the court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that blocked federal recognition of gay marriages authorized by states.
But in general, the Roberts court has aggressively moved the law in a conservative direction on questions of business, politics and access to the courts, said Tom Goldstein, the publisher of SCOTUSblog and a Supreme Court analyst for NBC News.
“It’s not that they have an ideological agenda,” he said. “It’s that they have a majority.”
A review of Supreme Court decisions in the 2012-2013 term shows win after win for big business.
The court sided with American Express in a dispute with restaurants and retail stores. The merchants wanted to pursue a class-action antitrust case, arguing that AmEx was leveraging monopoly power to charge inflated fees.
The justices said the merchants were bound by an arbitration agreement with American Express and had to pursue their claims individually that way, even if it was more expensive.
“The antitrust laws do not guarantee an affordable procedural path to the vindication of every claim,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his majority opinion.
In another antitrust case, the justices ruled in favor of Comcast, the parent company of NBC News, and against a group of cable subscribers who said they were being overcharged. Scalia wrote that opinion, too, and found that customers representing “four theories of liability and 2 million subscribers located in 16 counties” had been improperly certified as a class by a lower court.
In a pair of 5-4 decisions about the workplace, with the five most conservative justices in the majority, the court made it more difficult for workers to sue their employers for alleged harassment or bias.
One of those cases involved a black catering worker at Ball State University who said that she had been threatened and taunted by the white woman who oversaw her everyday work.
The court held that the university was not liable because the white woman was a coworker, not a supervisor. To be considered a supervisor in discrimination cases, the court said, someone must have the power to fire, demote or discipline the worker.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reading her dissent aloud from the bench, said that the court had ignored the reality of the workplace and embraced “a position that relieves scores of employers of responsibility for the behavior of the supervisors they employ.”
In the drug case, another 5-4 ruling by the conservative majority, the Supreme Court held that makers of generic drugs cannot be held liable for defects if the federal government approved the name-brand version.
The ruling overturned a $21 million award that a New Hampshire jury ordered for a woman who took a generic drug for shoulder pain in 2004 and suffered a rare reaction. She was blinded, and the outer layer of her skin burned off over most of her body.
In one measure of the strong term for corporations, the Chamber of Commerce was on the winning side for 14 of the 17 cases in which it filed briefs, and a perfect 8-0 in closely divided cases, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal group. The center has found that the Chamber is winning much more often than it did 30 years ago.
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Taken together, the cases heard and decided by the court this term show that business law — specifically, limiting regulation and legal action against companies — is a priority for the chief justice as he leads the court, legal analysts said.
Roberts wrote the opinion in a victory for the Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., ruling against Nigerian plaintiffs who wanted to sue in American courts for alleged human rights violations overseas.
“A lot of this is about the chief,” said Pamela Harris, a former Obama Justice Department lawyer who is now senior adviser at the Supreme Court Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center. “He has real concerns about the over-litigation of businesses. That comes through loud and clear.”
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Sun Jul 7, 2013 6:29 PM EDT

KY. COURTS CLOG UP AFTER CANCELLATION OF SENIOR STATUS JUDGE PROGRAM

Monday, July 8th, 2013

July 8, 2013
BURLINGTON — The scrapping of what was touted as an innovative program to relieve backlogged court dockets across Kentucky means it’s taking longer for everything from capital murder cases to civil lawsuits to get through courts across the commonwealth.
The program, which sent retired judges to courts around the state where they were needed, is being phased out.
“We will never catch up. It just gets worse,” said Tony Frohlich, one of two circuit judges for the judicial district that includes Boone and Gallatin counties.
The upcoming death penalty case of Michael Moore is an example of how one case can bring the system to a crawl. Frohlich, the judge presiding over the Moore case, will take breaks from the trial to hear other cases because there is no other judge available.
That means Moore’s trial, set to begin Aug. 12, will take seven weeks – three weeks longer than originally estimated.
The 43-year-old Moore, a former Warren County sheriff’s deputy, is accused of shooting his parents, Warren and Madge Moore, at their Union home in June 2009. The night of the killings, Moore called 911 to report an intruder came into the house and started shooting.
Death penalty cases already take longer than other homicide trials because judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are trying to reduce reversible errors. Of the last 78 people sentenced to death in Kentucky, 50 have had death sentences overturned by appeal, according to a December 2011 American Bar Association study.
Extending the length of trials creates other problems. There are greater risks jurors will talk about the cases or research the facts of the crimes. Jurors’ retention of the facts also becomes an issue.
“That is always a problem,” Frohlich said. “The longer you have it, the more days you are off, the more risk you run.”
Frohlich has taken breaks in other trials to keep cases on his dockets advancing. In October, he presided over a product liability case in Gallatin County that was stretched to three weeks from six days.
(Page 2 of 2)

It’s still not enough to keep things quickly moving in the third-busiest judicial district in Kentucky. The first available trial date for a civil case is already May 2014. Despite taking breaks from Moore’s trial to preside over busy dockets, Frohlich is not holding drug court and postponing 35 or 40 criminal trials, all civil trials and evidentiary hearings.
Frohlich isn’t the only judge taking breaks in long trials to hear other cases. It is regularly done in neighboring Kenton County.
The program being eliminated gave Kentucky’s chief justice a tool to address overcrowded dockets. The chief justice could assign retired judges to hear cases as needed as senior judges and still collect their state retirement.
It was called the Senior Status Program for Special Judges and was created by an act of the General Assembly in 2000. Legislators initially paid for the program through June 2007 but money was later appropriated to keep it running through 2014.
There are 15 special judges still in the program but no one available to help Frohlich. In 2007, there were 45 senior judges.
The program was originally seen as a way to address congested dockets when tight budgets prevented the creation of expensive new judgeships. Kentucky compensated judges in the senior status program through enhanced retirement benefits rather than general fund appropriations.
Why the sunset provision in the senior status program was not extended for a second time is not clear. Controversy erupted in February 2007 when a newspaper investigation estimated the program was costing the judicial retirements system $1.57 million per year. The program’s cost was originally estimated at $420,000 annually.
The program’s current cost to the retirement system wasn’t available this week.
Eliminating the senior judge program means any retired judge tapped to handle congested dockets in the future will have to be paid from the judicial branch’s general budget – and the money isn’t there. Legislators cut $25.2 million from the judicial system last year, forcing the courts to close for three days this year and furloughing employees.
“The chief justice recognizes that the loss of the … program might result in sitting judges handling even greater caseloads and attorneys and parties waiting longer for access to justice without the benefit of senior judges to help alleviate growing dockets,” said Leigh Anne Hiatt, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Frohlich said the pounding he takes trying to manage congested dockets contributed to his decision not to seek re-election next year.
“Just look at these numbers,” Frohlich said in reference to the number of new court filings Boone and Gallatin counties. “You get to the point where it just wears on you.” ■

It’s still not enough to keep things quickly moving in the third-busiest judicial district in Kentucky. The first available trial date for a civil case is already May 2014. Despite taking breaks from Moore’s trial to preside over busy dockets, Frohlich is not holding drug court and postponing 35 or 40 criminal trials, all civil trials and evidentiary hearings.
Frohlich isn’t the only judge taking breaks in long trials to hear other cases. It is regularly done in neighboring Kenton County.
The program being eliminated gave Kentucky’s chief justice a tool to address overcrowded dockets. The chief justice could assign retired judges to hear cases as needed as senior judges and still collect their state retirement.
It was called the Senior Status Program for Special Judges and was created by an act of the General Assembly in 2000. Legislators initially paid for the program through June 2007 but money was later appropriated to keep it running through 2014.
There are 15 special judges still in the program but no one available to help Frohlich. In 2007, there were 45 senior judges.
The program was originally seen as a way to address congested dockets when tight budgets prevented the creation of expensive new judgeships. Kentucky compensated judges in the senior status program through enhanced retirement benefits rather than general fund appropriations.
Why the sunset provision in the senior status program was not extended for a second time is not clear. Controversy erupted in February 2007 when a newspaper investigation estimated the program was costing the judicial retirements system $1.57 million per year. The program’s cost was originally estimated at $420,000 annually.
The program’s current cost to the retirement system wasn’t available this week.
Eliminating the senior judge program means any retired judge tapped to handle congested dockets in the future will have to be paid from the judicial branch’s general budget – and the money isn’t there. Legislators cut $25.2 million from the judicial system last year, forcing the courts to close for three days this year and furloughing employees.
“The chief justice recognizes that the loss of the … program might result in sitting judges handling even greater caseloads and attorneys and parties waiting longer for access to justice without the benefit of senior judges to help alleviate growing dockets,” said Leigh Anne Hiatt, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Frohlich said the pounding he takes trying to manage congested dockets contributed to his decision not to seek re-election next year.
“Just look at these numbers,” Frohlich said in reference to the number of new court filings Boone and Gallatin counties. “You get to the point where it just wears on you.” ■

Job Posting: Circuit Court Law Clerk.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Job Posting: Circuit Court Law Clerk.

The Campbell County, Kentucky, Circuit Court Division II has an opening for a full-time law clerk for Judge Fred A. Stine, V, beginning July 29, 2013. The position is unpaid.

The Court’s law clerk will have an active, hands-on role as a member of the Court staff.

Specifically, the law clerk will attend criminal and civil conferences, motion arguments, and trials; research and draft orders; participate in weekly staff meetings; prepare case analyses; review appeals from the district court; meet and interact with members of the bar; and otherwise assist the judge as needed.

he law clerk will work directly under the judge and the Court’s staff attorney and will be given ongoing training and mentoring. This is an excellent transitional position for a recent law graduate who is looking to gain exposure to a wide substantive area of trial practice.

The Court is looking for a highly motivated individual with the following attributes: strong writing and analytical skills, high attention to detail, excellent professional deportment, a sense of humor, and a stubborn competitive streak when it comes to Jeopardy.

The J.D.is preferred, but the Court will consider second and third year law students who are available for a full-time position during the day.

To apply, email the Court’s staff attorney with a personal letter, resumé, and short writing sample at elizabethmccord@kycourts.net.

Supreme Court’s Decision On Voting Rights Bill Harms Minorities

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

By Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) – 07/01/13

With its ruling on the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court has taken the country back to a time when racial minorities were unable to participate equitably in the voting process. The Court’s unprecedented decision is disgraceful to civil rights leaders and legislators who have fought to preserve equal voting rights in this country. It reminds me of a time in our history when minorities were prevented from voting because they had to pay a “poll tax” before they could vote. The tax represented a mean-spirited and vicious way of keeping hundreds of thousands of people from voting. The objection to eliminating the poll tax was that it would allow people of color to “flood the polls.”

I recall having to pay a poll tax to vote in Texas. The practice began in 1902. It did not end until 1966. During those sixty-four years, hundreds of thousands of our citizens were denied the right to vote, an opportunity to participate in American democracy. The federal government prohibited the use of a poll tax in national elections in 1964 with the passage of the 24th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Court’s current assault on the Voting Rights Act prevents the federal government from ensuring that states with a history of racial discrimination will not enact voting methods and procedures that will deny a very significant right and duty.

Prior to that time nine states, mostly located in the southern United States, had to receive clearance or prior approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before they could institute changes in voting methods or engage in redistricting.

In its ruling, the Court did not alter Section Five. Instead, it ruled that the formula, detailed in Section Four, used to determine which states should be covered by Section Five went beyond constitutional limits and used data that was outdated. The effect of that ruling is to mute Section Five, and allow states to amend voting procedures and practices as they see fit without fear of federal intervention.

Those who advocated for radical changes in the Voting Rights Act said that increasing numbers of racial minorities participated in state and national elections. They even pointed to the election of President Barack Obama as a reason for the elimination of federal oversight and intervention.

The reality is that since 2010, eight southern states passed laws designed to make voting more cumbersome for racial minorities. Various civil rights organizations and entities such as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have consistently opposed the elimination of federal involvement in local elections.
Recently, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge said that without Section Five of the Voting Rights Act minority voters would suffer.

Efforts to lessen the impact of the minority vote in Texas have been egregious. Last summer, a federal court in Washington stated that a redistricting map enacted by the Republican controlled legislature was “purposefully discriminatory.”

In the spring of 2012, the Texas NAACP and Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives went to federal court to stop the state from requiring a photo ID in state elections. A federal court agreed, finding that the law violated Section Five of the Voting Rights Act.

Bipartisan coalitions of members of both the House and Senate have historically supported the Voting Rights Act and its provisions. In 2006, the Act was renewed for twenty-five years. The vote in the House was 390 to 30, while the vote in the Senate was 98 to zero. President George W. Bush signed the measure.

Simply stated, the Voting Rights Act is the perpetuation of our democracy. We are a great country because all of our citizens have the right to exercise the right to vote without fear of intimidation.

Congress must now come together to do what we all know is the right thing to do. We must once again make the Voting Rights Act a principled piece of legislation that protects all of our citizens, regardless of race, class or religious preference. This is why we are Americans. This is fundamental to our freedom.

Johnson is in her 11th term representing Texas’ 30th congressional district in the House of Representatives. She is Ranking Member on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and also sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/judicial/308487-supreme-courts-decision-harms-minorities#ixzz2Xu1VcqLd
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Ohio Judge’s blog aims to educate

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

: July 1, 2013
COLUMBUS––Medina County Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler is combining his love of the rule of law with his passion for teaching by blogging about court cases.
“I do enjoy teaching, and because I get a lot of interaction with people, the blog is a way for me to teach,” Judge Kimbler said.
In 1986, Judge Kimbler started serving on the Wadsworth Municipal Court bench. Around 10 years later, he became a Medina County Common Pleas Court judge, a position he’s held ever since.
Judge Kimbler started his blog in 2006, but it wasn’t until the past few months that he’s focused his interest on the 9th District Court of Appeals. Judge Kimbler writes summaries of the appeals court’s cases about once a week. He also adds short video clips of lectures he’s given or other observations about the court system.
Judge Kimbler said his blog is primarily for attorneys wanting to know more about Medina County courts, the appellate courts, and the Supreme Court.
“I hope they read something they didn’t know before,” Judge Kimbler said. “I hope that it’s a positive experience going to the blog and learning something that they didn’t know before.”
Judge Kimbler said he also benefits from the blog because he reviews all decisions that come out of the Ninth District. Besides satisfying his curiosity, Judge Kimbler said it’s a great way to share what he’s read.
“I’m a trial judge, and I’m interested in evidence rules, civil rules, and criminal cases,” Judge Kimbler said. “I hope this blog makes the court look more accessible and makes me look more accessible.”
Judge Kimbler is in the minority when it comes to court personnel using blogs. In 2012, the Conference of Court Public Information Officers released a nation-wide study where it found that only 1.8 percent of respondents used a blog for court interaction. CCPIO is currently working on the 2013 survey where through July 3 judges and other court employees are encouraged to answer questions about social media and the courts.
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger is one Ohio judge who also blogs like Judge Kimbler, but her posts have a different focus. The Justice Judy blog is an educational tool mostly used to educate middle and high school students about the judicial system.