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2nd defendant pleads guilty in 2018 hate crime in Washington
Class Action News | 2022/04/09 21:53
A second defendant has pleaded guilty in federal court to a hate crime and making false statements in connection with a 2018 racially-motivated assault in the Seattle area.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said Jason DeSimas, 45, of Tacoma, Washington, is one of four men from across the Pacific Northwest being prosecuted for punching and kicking a Black man at a bar in Lynnwood, Washington.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones scheduled sentencing for July 8.

According to the plea agreement, DeSimas was a prospective member of a white supremacist group. DeSimas believed that he and his group could go into bars and initiate fights, so that the rest of the members of the group could join in.

On Dec. 8, 2018, the men went to a bar in Lynnwood, Washington and assaulted a Black man who was working as a DJ. The group also assaulted two other men who came to the DJ’s aid. The attackers shouted racial slurs and made Nazi salutes during the assault.

DeSimas also admitted making false statements to the FBI during the investigation of the case.

Under terms of the plea agreement, both sides will recommend a 37-month prison term. The judge is not bound by the recommendation.

Daniel Delbert Dorson, 24, of Corvallis, Oregon, has already pleaded guilty in the case and is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 19. Jason Stanley, 44, of Boise, Idaho, and Randy Smith, 39, of Eugene, Oregon, are also charged in the case and are in custody awaiting trial.


Judge won’t halt execution over intellectual disability
Class Action News | 2022/03/29 22:57
A judge on Tuesday dismissed a motion to declare a Tennessee death row inmate intellectually disabled, a move that would have prohibited his upcoming execution.

Senior Judge Walter Kurtz wrote that federal courts had previously determined Byron Black was not intellectually disabled and therefore was ineligible to have the decision considered once again. The 45-page decision comes despite agreement between Nashville’s district attorney and Black’s lawyers that he is intellectually disabled and should not be put to death.

Black is scheduled to be executed on Aug. 18 for his murder convictions in the April 1988 killings of his girlfriend and her two young daughters.

Black’s attorneys had argued the 65-year-old should be spared under a 2021 law that made Tennessee’s prohibition against executing people with intellectual disability retroactive, pointing out there is a different standard in place now than in 2004 — when the court found that Black didn’t meet the now-obsolete definition of “mental retardation.” Previously, Tennessee had no mechanism for an inmate to reopen a case to press an intellectual disability claim.

However, Kurtz ultimately concluded that the new state law does not apply to death row inmates who had previously received a ruling from a prior court.

“This Court fails to see how the federal courts’ resolution of petitioner’s intellectual disability claim can be seen as anything other than an adjudication on the merits under the legal and medical principles which are embodied in the most recent version of (Tennessee law),”Kurtz wrote. “Given the above, the Court finds that Mr. Black had a full and fair previous adjudication on the merits of his intellectual disability claim.”

Black was convicted by a Nashville court in the deaths of girlfriend Angela Clay, 29, and her daughters Latoya, 9, and Lakesha, 6. Prosecutors said he was in a jealous rage when he shot the three at their home. At the time, Black was on work release while serving time for shooting and wounding Clay’s estranged husband.

Earlier this month, District Attorney Glenn Funk — Nashville’s lead prosecutor — announced that he agreed with Black’s legal team that the inmate was intellectually disabled and should instead face a sentence of life in prison.


Naturopathic doctor sentenced for selling misbranded drugs
Class Action News | 2022/03/24 05:58
A former Port Angeles naturopathic physician was sentenced to eight months in prison and one year supervised release after being found guilty of selling products he claimed could prevent numerous serious diseases, including COVID-19.

Richard Marschall, 69, was convicted in 2021, after a four-day trial, of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, his third conviction, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The jury found that his marketing was false or misleading and because his products were not listed with the FDA.

At the sentencing hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “It is extremely dangerous during the COVID epidemic for people to be engaged in conduct that would lead other people to defer and wait to receive medical care.”

Marschall was convicted previously and sentenced in federal court for distributing misbranded drugs, both in 2011 and again in 2017.


Brazil police probe environment minister over timber exports
Class Action News | 2021/05/20 00:30
Brazil’s Federal Police on Wednesday carried out searches to investigate whether Environment Minister Ricardo Salles and other key figures within the ministry facilitated illegal timber exports to the U.S. and Europe.

The Supreme Court authorized the search of nearly three dozen locations in Sao Paulo state, the Amazonian state of Para and Brazil’s federal district, according to a police statement.

The operation stems from a decision of the court’s Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who ordered the investigation of 10 officials at the ministry and the regulatory agency.

Nine of them were preventatively suspended from working, including agency President Eduardo Bim — but not Salles — according to a copy of de Moraes’ May 13 decision made public on Wednesday. He wrote that there appeared to be a contraband scheme with Salles’ involvement.

Local media G1 reported Salles told reporters in capital Brasilia that he understood the police operation to be overblown and unnecessary, and said his ministry always acts in accordance with laws. The ministry and regulator didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

The justice’s decision alleged that officials issued several certificates retroactively authorizing specific timber shipments after their seizure abroad and that subsequently, in February 2020, Salles and Bim met with lumber companies and lawmakers about exports from Para state.

Bim soon issued an order retroactively loosening requirements for “thousands of loads exported between 2019 and 2020 without respective documentaion,” de Moraes wrote. The judge’s decision also suspended Bim’s order.



Supreme Court rejects lingering 2020 election challenge case
Class Action News | 2021/04/18 05:18
The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not hear a case out of Pennsylvania related to the 2020 election, a dispute that had lingered while similar election challenges had already been rejected by the justices. The high court directed a lower court to dismiss the case as moot.

The justices in February, after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, had rejected a handful of cases related to the 2020 election. In the case the court rejected Monday, however, the court had called for additional briefing that was not complete until the end of March.

The case involved a federal court challenge to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision requiring election officials to receive and count mailed-in ballots that arrived up to three days after the election. More broadly, however, the case concerned whether state lawmakers or state courts get the last word about the manner in which federal elections are carried out.

The Democratic National Committee was among those that argued the case should be rejected as moot because the 2020 election is over. Those that brought the case said the justices should hear it because the issues involved are important and recurring.

The court had previously rejected other cases that had involved the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots. Three of the court’s conservative justices dissented, saying they would have taken up the cases.

The genesis of the cases were changes Pennsylvania lawmakers made to the state’s election laws in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the changes, lawmakers left in place a Nov. 3 deadline to receive absentee ballots. Democrats sued, and Pennsylvania’s highest court cited the ongoing pandemic and United States Postal Service delays in extending the deadline for mailed-in ballots to be received.

Wanda Murren, the communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said Monday the elections agency is considering what to do about those ballots now, and whether they should be added to the final tally. In all, just over 10,000 ballots were received by elections officials after polls closed on Election Day, Nov. 3, but before 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6.

“We are pleased that yet another court ruling has affirmed the accuracy and integrity of Pennsylvania’s November 2020 election,” Murren said.

More than 600 of the ballots received during those three days had no postmark or an illegible postmark.

The 10,000 ballots would not have altered the outcome of the presidential election in the state, which former President Donald Trump lost by some 80,000 votes.



New Mexico begins construction of new state crime lab
Class Action News | 2021/02/23 12:07
New Mexico is getting a new state crime lab. The state Department of Public Safety announced Tuesday that construction of the new $21.9 million forensic laboratory has begun in Santa Fe and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2022.

The new facility will support New Mexico law enforcement and criminal justice agencies and court systems by analyzing forensic evidence collected at crime scenes and provide testimony in court.

The 44,000-square-foot (4,088-square-meter) lab is being built on a state-owned lot in northeast Santa Fe.

General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz said the replacement project has long been in the planning stages.

The new lab will be over four times the size as the current one, which is 50 years -old, officials said the new facility will have new equipment and space for future growth.


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