Thursday, May 28, 2015

Facebook comments calling judges "dumbasses" cost JNC appointment

Whoops.  The Tampa Tribune has the story about "Republican kingmaker Sam Rashid":
Valrico businessman and Republican kingmaker Sam Rashid has never been known to pull his punches.
But the outspoken Rashid managed to go a rant too far in a Facebook posting last week, referring to three unnamed Hillsborough County Circuit Judges as “dumbasses.”
Though he later edited the statement - replacing the word with “dumb mothers” - the posting cost Rashid a U.S. senatorial appointment to the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission nominates candidates for federal judgeships, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals.
The posting also could prove an embarrassment to the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a longtime friend of Rashid who appointed him to the commission.
After accepting Rubio’s appointment on Friday, Rashid had to formally decline it a day later. In a Saturday letter to the senator’s general counsel, Gregg T. Nunziata, Rashid said he was clearly not the appropriate person to fill the commission post.
“I appreciate the Senator’s confidence,” Rashid wrote, “but I actually pre-judged some un-named Circuit Judges in Hillsborough County.”
Rashid credited Chris Ingram, a Republican consultant and columnist for The Tampa Tribune’s editorial page, for calling him out on the potential bias in his comments about the judges. Those same judges Rashid disparaged could someday come before him to seek an appointment to the federal bench, Ingram said.
“What Chris said made a lot of sense to me,” Rashid said. “I sent an e-mail to the senators saying, ‘You know what guys, I am biased. When it comes to these judges in Hillsborough County, I have a really strong bias.’”
HT Glenn Sugameli

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

FIFA = Racketeering Enterprise?

That's what the Eastern District of NY is alleging in this sweeping indictment against nine FIFA executives. The NY Times has this front page coverage:
Swiss authorities conducted an extraordinary early-morning operation here Wednesday to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges.
As leaders of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plainclothes Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get room numbers and then proceeded upstairs.
The arrests were carried out peacefully. One FIFA official, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, was led by the authorities from his room to a side-door exit of the hotel. He was allowed to bring his luggage, which was adorned with FIFA logos.
The charges, backed by an F.B.I. investigation, allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals.
Several hours after the soccer officials were apprehended at the hotel, Swiss authorities said they had opened criminal cases related to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups — incidents that, more than any others, encapsulated FIFA’s unusual power dynamic. “In the course of said proceedings,” the Swiss officials said, “electronic data and documents were seized today at FIFA’s head office in Zurich.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

School's out!

Summer is here and we've hit the home stretch on the school year, but these students have much bigger concerns.  From the Miami Herald:

Caleb Fadet, who grew up in a working-class family in North Miami, seemed to be making all the right moves to get ahead in life.

He graduated with a criminal justice degree from Florida A&M, volunteered as a tutor in the federal AmeriCorps program and earned a scholarship to pursue a vocational degree in funeral sciences at Miami Dade College in 2012.

But Fadet did something really stupid along the way: For a lousy $550 kickback, he let a boyhood friend use his student bank account at MDC to deposit $18,000 in illegally obtained tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service. Federal agents arrested Fadet two years later while he was working at the U.S. Postal Service and applying to join the Army.

On Tuesday, Fadet, 27, will learn his punishment — at best, probation; at worst, up to one year in prison — in Miami federal court. Either way, he will still have a felony record.

“Caleb is a good kid who made a terrible mistake,” his defense attorney, Adam Schwartz, told the Miami Herald. “He had a lapse in judgment, and it’s something that he will have to live with the rest of his life.”

Fadet, who pleaded guilty for his minor role in the fraud scheme, has plenty of classmates from MDC who got caught for committing the same crime, theft of government funds. He was among 18 students charged in November with allowing their Higher One bank accounts to be used for depositing ill-gotten IRS tax refunds.

Collectively, the 18 college students — along with three Target store employees named in one case — were accused of using Higher One bank accounts to receive about $500,000 in fraudulent income-tax refunds between 2011 and 2013. The online accounts are managed by traditional banks, such as Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. In total, the defendants used the stolen IDs of 644 victims while trying to collect $1.9 million in IRS refunds, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Almost all of them have pleaded guilty and received relatively short sentences, from probation up to two years in prison — including a few punished for stealing other people’s names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to commit tax fraud.

It's also the home stretch for the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court is heading into the final month of its annual term.

In a potentially historic ruling, the court will decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide, culminating a two-decade legal and political fight for marriage equality.

Another much-anticipated decision will be whether the Obama administration may continue to subsidize health insurance for low- and middle-income people who buy coverage in the 36 states that failed to establish an official insurance exchange of their own and instead use a federally run version.

If the court rules against the Obama administration, about 8.6 million people could lose their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Ireland is first country to legalize same-sex marriage in popular vote
Ireland is first country to legalize same-sex marriage in popular vote

Between now and late June, the court will hand down more than two dozen decisions on matters such as politics, civil rights, free speech and air pollution. Several of these cases have been pending for months, suggesting the justices have been sharply split.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"A rose by any other name may smell as sweet. See William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet,' act 2, sc. 2. People, not so much."

Lots of awesomeness there by Judge Bloom in this order, which starts this way:
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet. See William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” act 2, sc. 2. People, not so much. The Plaintiff in this matter, who originally filed his action under the name of “Raul Aguilar,” stood before the Court and stated his name to be “Manuel Antonio Aguilar.” Two hours and several iterations later, he identified himself as “Manuel Antonio Aguilar Salazar.” This encapsulates the misinformation and confabulation to which Plaintiff has subjected these proceedings. Now, ten months into the case, after two full length depositions, days before the close of discovery, and only a few months before trial, the Defendants, the Court and Plaintiff’s own counsel are still left wondering if the real plaintiff has stood up. “A trial is not a masquerade party nor is it a game of judicial hide-n-seek where the plaintiff may offer the defendant the added challenge of uncovering his real name. We sometimes speak of litigation as a search for the truth, but the parties ought not have to search for each other’s true identity.” Zocaras v. Castro, 465 F.3d 479, 484 (11th Cir. 2006). Under the standard articulated and for the reasons set forth below, this case is dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).

Have a nice weekend everyone.

H/T SFLawyers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

11th Circuit rejects Don Siegelman again

Here's the opinion by visiting Judge Ebel, a senior 10th Circuit judge.  The Montgomery Advertiser has this report on the former Alabama Governor:

A federal appeals court Wednesday denied former Gov. Don Siegelman's bid for a new trial, saying he relied on arguments that judges rejected in an appeal from his co-defendant in their 2006 trial on bribery and corruption charges.
Siegelman argued that the district court should have considered whether then-U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, who recused herself from Siegelman's investigation in 2002, had honored the recusal. Former HealthSouth CEO
Richard Scrushy made the same arguments in his motion for a new trial, citing emails from a whistleblowers in which Canary suggested a gag order be placed on Siegelman during the trial; forwarded an email on its coverage and approved a staffing decision.
The three-judge panel rejected Scrushy's argument in 2013, writing "there is no evidence that Canary's emails influenced any decisions made by the U.S. Attorney's office in prosecuting Scrushy." In the former governor's case, the court wrote that it had to follow its decision on Scrushy.
"Regardless of whether Canary possessed a stronger conflict of interest with respect to Siegelman, our determination in Scrushy that there was no evidence that Canary influenced the prosecution team , , , binds Siegelman on this appeal," the opinion said.
The three-judge panel also rejected Siegelman's arguments that his sentence had been miscalculated, saying the district court made no error in sentencing him to 78 months in prison.