In the News: The Sexual Misconduct Scandals

This fall, Harvey Weinstein,  the Hollywood producer,  was fired after multiple women came forward and accused him of rape and sexual assault.

After this, a series of accusations of sexual misconduct were made on dozens of others. The allegations ranged from inappropriate comments to rape. These allegations have led to multiple high-profile men to be fired or forced to resign. These allegations are continuing to come in.

You can view a full list and read more about the allegations here.

So, what does the law say about sexual harassment? Many companies are examining their current sexual harrassment policies after a barrage of #metoo stories on social media and the conversation on sexual harassment was put front and center on the media.

 

Sexual harassment is defined by the law. According to the University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either: 

  • The conduct is made as a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in a University community.
  • The acceptance or refusal of such conduct is used as the basis or a factor in decisions affecting an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University community.
  • The conduct unreasonably impacts an individual’s employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University community.”

Sexual harassment is a form of Sex Discrimination occurring in the workplace. A key part of the definition is the use of “unwelcome.”

There are two types (generally): quid pro quo and hostile environment.

  • Quid pro quo means “this for that.” Implying that a certain things will depend on the individual submitting to conduct of a sexual nature. For example, implying that a promotion will occur only if the employee goes on a date with their supervisor.
  • Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when the conduct of sexual nature is intimidating, threatening or abusing

 

Learn more about what the law says about sexual harassment here.

 

 

In the News: Double Murder Trial Against Lawyer Accused of Killing Millionaire Father

This case has been deemed one of strangest double murder trials in Missouri (and maybe the United States). Susan Elizabeth Van Note was a well known lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri. It was shocking when she was first charged in 2010 with the murder of her father, a successful business man. She was first charged based on the fact that she forged her father’s signature on a do nut resuscitate order (DNR) to have him taken off life support.

Van Note’s father and his girlfriend, Sharon Dickson were shot in her father’s home in Missouri. Dickson died on the scene and her father was taken to the hospital after being shot in the head where he later died after being removed from life support four days later.

Van Note was the alleged shooter according to prosecutors. Claiming her motive to kill was money. Prosecutors claim she obtained a copy of her father’s will weeks before the shooting and discovered she was only the executor and Dickson was the primary beneficiary.

The case was set for trial January 2015, but mistrial was declared due to jury misconduct. Additionally, problems with the admission of cell phone data also have plagued the case. Van Note’s lawyers argued the subpoenas used to obtain the cell phone data violate her 4th Amendment rights (illegal search and seizure).

Liz’s mother swore to investigators that her daughter was approximately 2 and a half hours away from Missouri with her on the night of the shootings.

The case will be going to trial this week after jury selection begins today.

(Source: Law Newz)

In the News: Harvard Law Students Help 3 Inmates Become Free

Three federal prisoners so far, have won their freedom by young legal advocates from Harvard Law School. This was achieved by filing clemency petitions (they have filed these petitions for more than a dozen inmates) under the guidelines set by the Justice Department.

Clemency is act by an executive member of the government extending mercy to a convicted individual. This can be in three different forms, reprieves, commuting a sentence or pardons.

In 2014, the Obama Administration announced that clemency would be considered for non-violent offenders serving lengthy sentences. This was an effort to reduce the mass incarceration especially for drug offenders serving excessive sentences.

Read the full news story here.

Pokemon Go Players Warned About Crimes

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In just a week or so since its release, Pokemon Go has become a phenomenon. People in the U.S. are attached to their smartphones trying to catch them all. Even if you aren’t playing the game, you may see players running around town or even stepping on your property.

Players, don’t go onto private property in order to catch Pokemon. Trespassing is a crime. Additionally, be aware of your surroundings. Looking down at your phone can put you in danger. Never play while driving a vehicle.

Pokemon Go has also already been involved in a robbery in Missouri. Four youths enticed other players with a beacon used to attract Pokemon and instead they robbed the eight victims. The robbers lured the victims to a “slightly out of the way Pokestop” in a dark alley. Don’t go to dangerous place or unfamiliar areas. Stay with other people if you are going to a Pokestop.

The main point is if you are playing Pokemon Go, be aware and smart with where and how you play. Good luck catching them all!

Source: FindLaw

The Steven Avery Case: Netflix’s “Making a Murderer.”

The 10 episode true-crime Netflix documentary, “Making a Murderer” has been all over social media and buzzing in the news. Have you seen it?

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This documentary surrounds the court case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey. Avery spent 18 years in prison for a sexual assault. His innocence in this case was later proven with DNA evidence and he was released in 2003. Just two years later, he was charged with the murder of a young woman, photographer Teresa Halbach. This conviction happened around the same time Avery was launching a $36 million civil lawsuit against Manitowac County.

During the murder trial, Avery’s defense asserted that the Manitowac County police officers had somehow planted evidence and framed him for murder. In June of 2007, Avery was convicted to life in prison without possibility of parole. He has unsuccessfully attempted to get a retrial.

This documentary shines a spotlight on our criminal justice system. Prosecutors have stated that crucial details and key evidence were left out of the Netflix series. Whether or not Avery is guilty or innocent, the reality is these problems are occurring including government misconduct and false confessions.

 

What do you think about this case?

 

Read more from the Boston Globe here.