USA legal system conceptual series - MontanaMontana has had some serious issues with police officers taking the property of its citizens when those citizens are prosecuted. Many citizens complain of being falsely charged with crimes, and then having their possessions taken by local police departments. That’s because current Montana laws allow police and prosecutors to seize property that’s expected to be connected with criminal activity. This essentially means that if you are caught committing a crime, the police can take your belongings and sell them off to generate money.

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Overview of downtown DallasThere’s a new law in Texas that will soon allow teachers and students to carry firearms in schools around the state. That means that people will be able to carry right into a campus or a university. Professors Mia Carter, Lisa Moore, and Jennifer Glass are all concerned about the new law and are working hard to try to keep students from being able to carry firearms into classes at the schools.

The Dallas Shooting

The three teachers put together the injunction after a student shooter in Dallas put on body armor, obtained an assault rifle, and attacked a University. The student managed to kill five law enforcement officers and injured another seven during his attack on the school. The teachers believe that the action of the student will help their case and possibly get the injunction pushed through, but experts aren’t as confident about that.

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dome of us capitol buildingOver the years, there have been many incidents where US citizens have been terrorized in some way by a state sponsored action. For instance, back in 2014, families of two different military members were kidnapped and executed by al-Qaida. There are plenty of other incidents where government or state actions have resulted in bad things for local citizens. Though that case ended with families receiving a total award of $413 million to the relatives of the two families that suffered, most of these cases go without ever reaching the point where citizens are actually compensated. Sure, cases are filed, and all the points are brought up, but often no money is paid out.

No Justice

Without a payout at the end of a long legal battle, any victory against the state government is going to feel pretty empty. Citizens are even left dealing with the legal fees from cases, and they suffer while trying to pick up the pieces and solve the problems that were caused by acts of terrorism.

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arnoldThere are always reported cases of injustice or outright abuse in the media, but there aren’t quite as many cases that involve police officers specifically. According to the NY Daily news, Arnold Black sued the East Cleveland police force over a horrifying incident that happened to him, and he won big with a payout totaling $22M overall that he can use to improve his situation.

The Incident

Arnold Black was taken into custody wrongfully. His car was mixed up with a suspected drug dealer’s vehicle, and a pair of officers were quick to take him in without reviewing all of the facts. This isn’t where the serious issues start though; that part comes a bit later. This gentleman was treated in a way that is quite unbecoming of a traditional police officer.

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Pennsylvania blue map on degraded background vectorSame sex marriage is a bit confusing in states like Pennsylvania, where the unions are expressed through a Commonwealth marriage. This is a different system than a legal marriage between a man and a woman, and that can sometimes complicate things when the couple wants the benefits that come along with a standard legal marriage. One of the major issues is that there is no marriage certificate in a common marriage, which can make things like claiming the assets of a deceased spouse more difficult. That’s exactly what Kathryn Ward found out when her spouse died from an illness.

She was having difficulty claiming the benefits that any other spouse married by a legal license would be entitled to, including Spouse Elaine’s Veteran benefits. The issue had to be taken to court to be decided upon, and it was a time-consuming process.

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East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University

A group of college students joined in protest September 27th by East Tennessee State University to show support for the black lives matter movement. Shortly after protesting began, an unpredictable disturbance made itself known in the form of a college boy wielding a stuffed banana. The young man was wearing a furry gorilla mask, a confederate flag backpack and waving a yellow plush banana at protesters. The freshman, identified as Tristan Rettke is majoring in public safety and had one goal in mind.

The protest was being held to honor the victims of shootings that occurred over the last few months. Three unarmed black men have been shot in as many months, and students are fed up and angered. Grant Madison was talking with a friend and was one of the first to interact with Retke. Madison says that the college freshman handed him a banana. Grant told reporters: “I snatched it out of his hand. I knew what he was trying to say, but I wasn’t going to try to retaliate against him.” Mr. Madison recorded and livestreamed the strange occurrence on Facebook. Tristan Retke reportedly antagonized and teased protesters for almost 20 minutes.

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AGP_WMeric-1

Are you the owner of a condominium that suffered damage from the recent hurricane? It is frustrating when the condominium association points the finger at the insurance company and the insurance company points back at the condominium association. Or maybe they are both pointing the finger at you. Meanwhile, your unit was damaged, it was not your fault, and nobody is fixing it.

Too many times residents along the east coast suffer damages to their condominium units, whether due to spring time storms or more powerful hurricanes. And, too many times, the residents are left wondering who will help them fix their units, make them habitable again and put them back in the same condition as before the storm hit.

The answer is often found in condominium association documents. Each condominium association is required to have a set of Bylaws, Declarations and Covenants that govern the association. hurricane-imageThese documents outline what areas of the units the owner is responsible for and what areas are the responsibility of the association.  If it turns out the damage is your responsibility to repair, you may be able to turn to insurance that covers your unit.

An accurate understanding of the terms of the condominium association documents and any insurance policies is crucial to protect you from being taken advantage of and made to pay for repairs that are not your responsibility.

Many of these documents are lengthy, full of legalese, and difficult to understand. Insurance policies can be long and full of contradictory language that leaves most people scratching their heads. In times like these, it is helpful to have someone on your side who understands the documents the associations rely on to carry out their business, as well as the insurance policies that apply.

If your condominium unit has been damaged by the recent hurricane, you need someone to help you understand your rights. Don’t be left scratching your head while your damages go unrepaired. Contact me with any questions you may have.

entrance to the male and female toilet. Sign in airportA group of activists fighting for the traditional style of men and women’s bathrooms to be maintained, has been in the spotlight recently. They have finally obtained enough signatures to put in a request to annul the new transgender bathroom law in 2018. The activists – Keep MA Safe – have a petition with 50,000 certified signatures, more than enough to be awarded a spot on the November 2018 ballot. The individuals who provided their signatures to this document are adding their voice, without voting on the actual ballot next year.

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Sol Duc rainforest at Olympic National Park, Oregon Coast

Sol Duc rainforest at Olympic National Park, Oregon Coast

Surprisingly enough, law enforcement members are suggesting a new solution for repeat drug offenders: lighter sentences. For years’ drug offenders have been thrown in jail, only to be released and repeat the same cycle of addiction. Realizing that this form of punishment is ineffective, authorities are working together to seek change. Instead of charging addicts with felonies that will further ruin their lives, a new project is in the works.

Kimberly McCullough is a representative for the American Civil Liberties in Union, Oregon and has a strong opinion on the controversial topic. “We know that the drug war has been a failure, and that resources have been spent criminalizing people, instead of investing in things like treatment for drug addiction.” With both the police chiefs and sheriff’s association in agreement with her beliefs, change can be made. They would like to reduce charges to misdemeanors, freeing more resources to fight actual crime. Their next goal is to allocate more money for drug education and rehabilitation services.

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Computer notebook keyboard with Vote keyWith voting season just around the corner, trouble seems to be lurking in the air. The FBI is investigating individuals who have attempted to hack into the voter registration system in not 1, but over a dozen states. With the right software, hacking can be surprisingly easy; so easy in fact, that the culprits haven’t even been tracked down by the government. While there is no conclusive evidence, the United States seems to believe Russia is to blame.

As recent as September 28th, FBI director James Comey provided an update on the active investigation. His team has found evidence of even more attempts to breach the system. While there hasn’t been a successful hack since early in the summer, 2 individuals have illegally entered the voter registration system. Illinois and Arizona are the only states to have been breached thus far. Though nothing has been altered or affected so far, it’s quite clear that security needs to be improved. The FBI is on high alert and are looking for those trying to scan or hack the system. Comey urges states to utilize precautionary measures to secure their voting systems over the next few months.

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017