In a shocking federal lawsuit, women working for the Harris County, Texas, Constable’s Office detail allegations of wild “Bachelor Party” prostitution stings, where female deputies were assigned to work undercover. The women allege they were then subject to sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, from other deputies, including more senior ranking officers. Their instructions were to act like hookers at a bachelor party, under the theory that sting targets would be more likely to agree to partake in criminal acts. However, the male deputies then proceeded to treat them like sex workers, all while drinking and partying. Real alcohol was provided by the department, and consumed by all, while the assistant chief and others allegedly groped them under the guise of ‘maintaining cover.’
The suit also alleges that during another operation a undercover female deputy was sent to a massage parlor with the instructions to “wait to be sexually assaulted” to give the raid signal. Multiple other allegations, including job retaliation and discovery violations were also reported. The Constable’s Office denies the allegations and claims the suit is “an effort to impugn the good reputation of the hard-working men and women” of his office.
A New York teenager, Ousmane Bah, was arrested at his home in November and charged with stealing from an Apple store. He didn’t do it, and a photo of the the culprit on the warrant did not look like Bah. He was accused of several thefts from Apple stores, including one from Boston on the same day he was attending his senior prom in New York City. He’s now suing Apple, and his suit alleges that Apple’s facial recognition software mistakenly connected the thief’s face with his, possibly from the thief using his stolen identification.
As early voting gets underway in the 5 county 20th judicial circuit, which includes Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties, I though I’d take an opportunity to weigh in on a local race that I feel strongly about. I am writing to endorse James Chandler, who is running for Circuit Judge. I have gotten to know Mr. Chandler well over the last several years, and think he would be an excellent choice for the circuit judge position. Mr. Chandler and I both worked at the State Attorney’s office when we moved to Southwest Florida. After I went into private practice, I had cases against Mr. Chandler and found him to be fair as a prosecutor.
Chandler later went into private practice, where he handles not only criminal defense, but also civil matters such as family law. That’s important, as our circuit judges can end up handling both criminal and civil cases: Mr. Chandler has the background to handle both. Mr. Chandler is someone that I would frequently discuss my criminal cases with, for strategies and legal insight, and I feel Mr. Chandler understands the and will protect the rights and fairly adjudicate the cases of all who would appear before him. He has shown himself to be a skilled courtroom attorney, including a high-profile case we covered here in Crimcourts. Mr. Chandler has the experience, temperament, and the intangibles to be an excellent judge, and I fully endorse him for Circuit Judge.
A Pasco judge found a New Port Richey man in contempt of court for liking a Facebook post: someone had put his ex wife’s picture on a “father’s rights” page alleging that she was abusive. The judge found that he had violated her order against disparaging or threatening the other party in the family law case stemming from their divorce and custody fight. She initially sentenced him to 60 days, but relented a few days later for time served. The limits on social media, and regarding First Amendment ramifications, are something the courts have to grapple with more and more.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but if you use someone else’s work: you need to get permission. The Hollywood Reporter’s legal roundup today included two copyright cases that probably shouldn’t have had to be litigated. The first was in regard to Baby Drive, the excellent 2017 action film from Edgar Wright that makes extensive use of music to drive the story. It’s great, and it’s up for a few Oscars. The main love interest is named Debora, played by Lily James, and so the film naturally included a 1968 song called “Debora” by T.Rex. Except they didn’t clear it first. The oversight was discovered when they went to get permission to use it on the Soundtrack, and the son of the songwriter sued Sony (T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan had passed away). The matter was resolved at mediation, suggesting that his heir received just compensation for using the song.
And further down in that same article, THR reports that Beyoncé settled with the estate of Anthony Barré, whose spoken word recorded under the name “Messy Mya” was used in her hit song “Formation“. Both of these instances are pretty straightforward copyright infringements, and I suspect the fault is not on Beyoncé or Wright, rather it was likely the studios who failed to get clearance and to compensate the original artists before going forward. Both suits have been settled, and you can resume listening to “Formation” and watching Baby Driver” guilt-free.
Seriously, go watch Baby Driver if you haven’t, it’s excellent.
I guess I’ll throw in a little criminal law- if Baby had been charged in Florida state court (the movie is set in Atlanta, GA), he would’ve been facing mandatory life in prison without parole for Felony Murder (even though he didn’t do the shootings). Regardless of the people who spoke up for him, the movie would not have ended on a positive note if it had been set in Miami…
The Tampa Bay Times has uncovered an email from an FHP supervisor instructing his troopers to write more tickets. “The patrol wants to see two citations each our…” reads the email from Major Mark Welch. He and FHP deny this is a quota, which would be in violation of state law: but this is a quota. He sets a minimum number of tickets he expects his underlings to write per hour. That’s exactly a quota. The fact that he says “This is not a quota” does not redefine what a quota is.
To make matters worse, there may be benefits tied to the number of tickets officers write. Troopers in Miami-Dade were given additional weekend passes when they met ticket-writing goals earlier this year. FHP ended that policy when it was exposed. It seems this new quota is tied to ‘SOAR’, an overtime program, though that program appears to incentivize them to work more hours, not to inflate their ticket numbers. Big brother is most definitely watching.
I just did an interview with Stacey Deffenbaugh for ABC-7, discussing why the young man charged with causing a death after failing to stop for a school bus is in civil court and not criminal court. The story will likely air at 4 and/or 5 pm on ABC-7, and hopefully my comments are included.
Here’s an earlier story about the court hearing this morning. The family was understandably angry, due to the tragic loss of their son…
The court was certainly not saying the teen’s life was only worth $1000, that was the maximum penalty permitted. This ruling does not preclude the victim’s family from proceeding on a wrongful death claim, which is likely to be worth many thousands of dollars. Nothing can take away the tragedy of the loss of life in these types of cases.
No matter how rich you are, even if you have a gold fleet of supercars, you still have to obey the rules of the road. A Saudi millionaire who made news when he brought four Gold-Plated cars to London made the news again when they all got tickets where he had parked them on the street. Something tells me the guy who buys multiple cars that cost more than half a million dollars isn’t going to be worried about a couple hundred dollars in tickets.