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Ohio Supreme Court is coming to Portage County

Ohio Supreme Court is coming to Portage County

For the first time ever, the Ohio Supreme Court will convene in Portage County.
On Sept. 24, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French and William M. O’Neill will hear oral arguments in three cases at Ravenna High S ... (full story)


Cybersecurity for law firms seminar coming Oct. 28

Cleveland-area legal technology consulting firm Accellis Technology Group will present a panel discussion on cyber security issues at the City Club of Cleveland on Tuesday morning, Oct. 28, 2014.
The event is co-sponsored by cyber security firm Barracuda Networks, which will supply one of the panelists.
Accellis (http://accel ... (full story)


National


Ex-Gov. Douglas' memoir tackles gay marriage veto

Ex-Gov. Douglas' memoir tackles gay marriage veto

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Former Gov. Jim Douglas says he was acting on conscience in 2009 when he vetoed a gay marriage law that had been passed by the state Legislature.
In a frank new memoir being released Wednesday, the 63-year-old Douglas said that he had no objection to same-sex couples forming relationships and that he ... (full story)


3rd party candidates could tip key Senate races

3rd party candidates could tip key Senate races

WASHINGTON (AP) — A pizza deliveryman in North Carolina, a "libertarian cop" in Kentucky and an Alaska candidate — but not the one who was expected — hope to do what a Kansas businessman did this week: shake up Senate races as third-party candidates, an often-dismissed lot.
Greg Orman isn't a househol ... (full story)


Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

BANGKOK (AP) — When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.
Wassana, a lifetime resident of the slums, viewed it as a nine-month solution to her family's debt. She didn't ask many questi ... (full story)


Pet-friendly dating sites match up people, pooches

Pet-friendly dating sites match up people, pooches

LOS ANGELES (AP) — On these dating sites, a passion for pets will help you find more than just puppy love.
Sites like PetsDating.com and YouMustLoveDogsDating.com have found a new niche as singles flock to computers and smartphones to find relationships, connecting dog owners to potential mates who enjoy long walks in the ... (full story)


Education Department tries to ease testing worries

Education Department tries to ease testing worries

WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that states can apply for extra time before they use student test scores to judge teachers' performance.
Duncan's decision is an acknowledgement of the concerns by teachers' unions and others that it's too early to make teacher personnel decisions based on how ... (full story)


State


Lengthy prison term is upheld for man who raped 10-year-old

In a recently released opinion, the 12th District Court of Appeals affirmed a 10-years-to-life sentence for a man found guilty of raping a 10-year-old.
Following a two-day trial in the Brown County Court of Common Pleas, a jury found James Liso guilty of rape.
That charge stemmed from allegations that he forced a 10-year-old ... (full story)


Recognition of Ohio's role in Freedom Summer voting campaign sought

House Bill 557 was crafted to memorialize the efforts surrounding Freedom Summer and honor the role Ohio played in the battle for voting equality.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by Reps. Tim Derickson, R-Springboro, and Dale Mallory, D-Cincinnati, would designate June 20 as “Freedom Summer Day” in Ohio.
&ldqu ... (full story)


Man who shot and killed 'close friend' loses appeal

A panel of three judges in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed a petition for habeas corpus from Robert Comer, who says he shot and killed a a man in self-defense.
Comer, appealing the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, argued that he had no duty to retreat inside his own ... (full story)


Democratic lawmakers respond to Hobby Lobby court decision with bill

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, bills have been filed in the Ohio House and Senate regarding health insurer contraceptive coverage.
Senate Bill 355, sponsored by Sens. Charleta Tavares, D-Bexley, and Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, and House Bill 604, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Clyde, ... (full story)


17-year prison term affirmed for HIV-positive man who assaulted heroin addict

In an opinion released recently, the 8th District Court of Appeals affirmed a 17-year prison term for an HIV-positive man found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman and compelling prostitution.
Defendant Donald Reeves was indicted in February 2013 on 20 counts including rape, felonious assault, compelling prostitution, kidnappi ... (full story)


Lawmakers want to establish Buy Local Ohio program

The sponsors of a bill to create a Buy Local Ohio program have said the proposed legislation is designed to boost local economies and support in-state companies.
“Creating a Buy Local Ohio program will directly benefit our state’s local economies,” said Rep. Matt Lundy. “If possible, work done in Lorain C ... (full story)


Hamilton County morgue found negligent after worker has sex with corpses

A panel of judges in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati properly denied state statutory immunity to Hamilton County and its employees in a case involving abuse of corpses at the Hamilton County morgue.
The higher court also ruled that ... (full story)


Technology


Small group collaboration in real time

Team collaborative software/ cloud programs are now a part of many law firms. But there are many smaller collaborative projects that just don’t require a large practice management platform or large, expensive group chat rooms.
Quickly coming over the horizon is the next wave of collaboration tools, that now include several ... (full story)



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                            [headline] => Ohio Supreme Court is coming to Portage County
                            [body] => For the first time ever, the Ohio Supreme Court will convene in Portage County.
On Sept. 24, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French and William M. O’Neill will hear oral arguments in three cases at Ravenna High School.
Portage County Domestic Relations Court Judge Paula C. Giulitto suggested the site after hearing the high court was looking for different venues for its biannual Off-Site Court Program. She is co-hosting the function with the Portage County Bar Association.
“I’m so excited for this event,” Giulitto said. “All high school seniors in the county are invited. It’s a really unique opportunity. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students of Portage County to see how the Supreme Court works.”
Ravenna High was chosen because it’s centrally located among the 11 high schools, and its large size can easily accommodate the estimated 1,200 students attending, she added.
The program was started in 1987 and has gained national recognition as a model for education about the judiciary. Students observe the official proceedings, as well as interact with justices and attorneys, according to Bret Crow, public information officer at the Ohio Supreme Court.
Students and teachers receive curriculum material to study before the event, including summaries of the cases being argued. Local attorneys team up with educators at each school to explain Ohio’s judicial system and to review case materials, Crow said in a news release.
The students will be split into three groups -- each group assigned to watch one oral argument, Giulitto said.
“After each oral argument, students will go into a different room and will be able to ask questions of the attorneys who presented the oral argument,” the judge said.
The cases being heard are a class action suit involving an alleged violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (Felix v. Ganley Chevrolet, Case No. 2013-1746), a criminal case involving a police officer’s warrantless use of a GPS tracking case (State v. Johnson, Case No. 2013-1973) and a medical malpractice suit (Smith v. Chen, Case No. 2013-2008).
“The cases really span the spectrum,” Giulitto said. “It is my hope that the students will have a greater understanding of how the legal system works. Students sometimes have a misperception of the law based on what they see on TV or read. This is turning into a wonderful community event. There are many lawyers in the state of Ohio who have never personally watched a session of the Supreme Court. It’s just a privilege. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
James Masi, president of the Portage County Bar, said more than 22 local attorneys have volunteered to go to the high school to speak with seniors before the event, answer any preliminary questions and help out the day of the event.
“I think this will be interesting for the attorneys too,” Masi said. “I’ve never argued before the Supreme Court or seen a case argued in front of the Ohio Supreme Court, so it will be interesting for me as well.”
This will be the 69th time the Supreme Court has heard oral arguments outside Columbus since the program began.
“Part of our mission as an institution is to educate the public about the court system,” the chief justice said in a news release. “By conducting oral arguments in communities across Ohio, students have the opportunity to observe the court in action and how the judicial branch works.”



[teaser] => [byline] => TRACEY BLAIR
Legal News Reporter [section] => Local [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => Y [export_date] => 2014-09-02 [created_at] => 2014-09-02 10:10:25 ) [1] => Array ( [id] => 11043 [headline] => Cybersecurity for law firms seminar coming Oct. 28 [body] => Cleveland-area legal technology consulting firm Accellis Technology Group will present a panel discussion on cyber security issues at the City Club of Cleveland on Tuesday morning, Oct. 28, 2014.
The event is co-sponsored by cyber security firm Barracuda Networks, which will supply one of the panelists.
Accellis (http://accellis.com), located in Valley View, was founded in 2001 by company president Joseph Marquette, who will moderate the panel. The company only serves lawyers and law firms. Now employing 15 full time and several part-time people, Accellis provides managed IT services, security and compliance consulting, legal application consulting, and system integration and development.
While cyber security issues have been more to the forefront in the thinking of law firms, Accellis spokesperson Abbie Hosta said that, “the vast majority of small to mid-sized firms still do not fully understand the risks and implications of failing to adequately protect their rich repositories of personal information, corporate secrets, business strategies and intellectual property.”
This seminar is in keeping with a general uptick in law firms’ awareness of the problems of data breaches and cyber security altogether, said Hosta, who noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had organized meetings with top law firms in the U.S. to highlight the computer security threats and the very real risk of cybercrimes against their firms.
The panel discussion will emphasize cyber security issues for firms of any size, Hosta said, although smaller firms are historically underserved in the cyber security realms.
The seminar’s agenda will include discussions on understanding modern security threats, and how those threats have changed through the years; keys to protecting the system from external and internal threats, including discussions about encryption, cloud computing, email security, inventory and testing, passwording among other topics. Also to be discussed are mobile devices, user training and the law firms’ obligations should a data breach occur.
“This presentation,” said Hosta, “will provide a snapshot of the IT security threats facing law firms today, as well as the knowledge and tools you can use to prevent them.”
The event, which includes breakfast, will run from 8 to 10 a.m. The City Club of Cleveland is located at 850 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland, https://www.cityclub.org.
[teaser] => [byline] => RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR [section] => Local [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => Y [export_date] => 2014-08-25 [created_at] => 2014-08-25 14:53:35 ) [2] => Array ( [id] => 11159 [headline] => Ex-Gov. Douglas' memoir tackles gay marriage veto [body] => MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Former Gov. Jim Douglas says he was acting on conscience in 2009 when he vetoed a gay marriage law that had been passed by the state Legislature.
In a frank new memoir being released Wednesday, the 63-year-old Douglas said that he had no objection to same-sex couples forming relationships and that he and his wife Dorothy have gay friends.
"I believe, however, that the institution of marriage is worth preserving in its traditional form," Douglas wrote in "The Vermont Way: A Republican Governor Leads America's Most Liberal State."
Almost four years after he left office and after a string of federal court decisions legalizing gay marriage, Douglas said last week that when he vetoed the gay marriage bill, he was acting on information he had at the time. He said he couldn't speculate about what he would do now if faced with the same decision.
"Initially, I thought I wouldn't write about that at all, but then I thought people would say, 'He's running away from that,'" Douglas said.
In the book, Douglas runs away from little, taking readers from his boyhood in Massachusetts — where as a 13-year-old he stuffed envelopes for 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater — his time as a student at Middlebury College, his election to the Vermont Legislature at 21, his eight years as governor from 2003 to 2011 and his reflections on the current state of politics.
He also writes about how in 2009 the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, offered the Vermont Republican an ambassadorship in a "friendly, well-known established" democracy. Another position that carried the title of ambassador would have been to lead an American effort to combat disease around the world.
After much thought, Douglas declined.
"We'll never know what motivated the president's team to provide me with such an opportunity," he wrote. "I choose to believe it was for virtuous reasons: an effort to be inclusive, to continue to try to reach across the aisle, to be a president of all the people."
Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis said he plans to attend an event with Douglas at the University of Vermont and get a copy of the book.
"I'm looking forward to reading it," Davis said.
Over the course of a political career that spanned 40 years, Douglas only lost one election — his 1992 run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Patrick Leahy, the veteran politician who still holds the seat.
In the chapter "Don Quixote," Douglas said he knew beating Leahy would be tough and noted he didn't launch his campaign until May. He said he was hamstrung by promising to only take campaign donations from within Vermont while Leahy got most of his contributions from out of state.
Fast forward to 2009, when Douglas vetoed the gay marriage bill. The Legislature overrode his veto, and Vermont, the state that in 2000 was the first to recognize civil unions for same-sex couples, enacted a gay marriage law the same year as New Hampshire and Iowa.
Douglas also tells of his decision not to seek election to a fifth term because he felt public officials frequently stay one term too long, and he calls for a return to civility in politics.
"Government works best at any level when there is a balance. Domination by a single political party stifles the robust debate that is essential to progress," he wrote. "It's not as tidy, but the struggle to find common ground often results in a better outcome."
[teaser] => [byline] => WILSON RING
Associated Press [section] => National [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 2014-10-12 [ap] => Y [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:24 ) [3] => Array ( [id] => 11178 [headline] => 3rd party candidates could tip key Senate races [body] => WASHINGTON (AP) — A pizza deliveryman in North Carolina, a "libertarian cop" in Kentucky and an Alaska candidate — but not the one who was expected — hope to do what a Kansas businessman did this week: shake up Senate races as third-party candidates, an often-dismissed lot.
Greg Orman isn't a household name, but he's getting attention now. The independent Senate candidate in Kansas fared so well in his third-party bid to unseat three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts that the Democrat in the race, Chad Taylor, abruptly canceled his candidacy on Wednesday. With that, conservative Kansas landed on the list of conceivable, if improbable, Democratic gains in the national battle for Senate control.
Republicans must pick up six seats in November to win the majority, and the new uncertainty over Roberts' fate complicates their drive.
Kansas Republicans, worried about Orman possibly consolidating anti-Roberts sentiment, challenged the legality of Taylor's withdrawal. The Kansas secretary of state said Thursday that Taylor's name must remain on the ballot.
Orman's case is unusual. Most third-party candidates have no chance of being elected themselves. But in a handful of extremely tight races, including North Carolina, Alaska, Georgia and Kentucky, third-party candidates could help decide who wins and which party controls the Senate in the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency.
Third-party candidates are chiefly a worry for Republicans. Many of these long-shot hopefuls are libertarians who tend to appeal to conservative voters, who otherwise might lean GOP.
The biggest impact by a third-party Senate candidate thus far came in Kansas. As Roberts was fighting a bitter GOP primary against Milton Wolf, Orman aired ads that declared "something has to change." In one, he looked over at a muddy tug of war between Republicans and Democrats and asks: "You guys accomplishing anything? Didn't think so."
Orman briefly ran for the Senate as a Democrat in 2008, when he says he voted for Obama. And he says he might caucus with Democrats in Washington if elected this fall. These details could help Roberts in a state that has elected only Republicans to the Senate since 1932.
Established Republicans are quick to note that most third-party candidates become nonfactors, winning minuscule portions of the vote.
The notion that Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh could cost Republican nominee Thom Tillis the Senate seat in North Carolina, for instance, "is a story line being created by the media," said Paul Shumaker, a top Tillis adviser. He said Haugh, a pizza deliveryman, doesn't have enough campaign money to identify and turn out his potential supporters on Nov. 4.
"All our modeling clearly shows less than 2 percent" of the vote going to Haugh, Shumaker said. And that's probably not enough to decide whether Tillis will oust first-term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
Thomas Mills, who helped run an unsuccessful Democratic Senate race in North Carolina in 2010, said the campaign had hoped a once-promising libertarian contender would maintain his early poll numbers. "But they just disappeared," Mills said, and the same might happen with Haugh.
Still, Mills said, some North Carolina tea partyers see Tillis as too mainstream and business-oriented and Haugh "gives them a place to go."
The chief problem with third-party candidates, Mills said, is they often attract "cranks" who won't vote for a Democrat or Republican. One cannot assume a vote for Haugh would have gone to Tillis if Haugh weren't running, he said.
In Louisiana, a non-establishment conservative candidate is leading the accusation that Sen. Mary Landrieu, a three-term Democrat, doesn't legally live in the state and has "gone Washington." Rob Maness is a Republican, but he's a tea party-backed alternative to the GOP establishment's favorite, Rep. Bill Cassidy. Maness is doing the heavy lifting on the residency question, letting Cassidy keep his hands relatively clean.
In Louisiana's all-comers election process, Landrieu, Cassidy, Maness and others will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. If no one exceeds 50 percent, the top two finishers will enter a runoff.
In at least a few cases, third-party candidates have played significant roles. In Montana's 2012 Senate race, Sen. Jon Tester faced a tough challenge from Republican Denny Rehberg. National Democrats mailed flyers supporting Libertarian candidate Dan Cox in a bid to steer conservatives away from Rehberg. Cox won 7 percent of the vote, to Rehberg's 45 percent and Tester's 49 percent.
"There's definitely a strong belief among Montana Republicans that Dan Cox had a negative impact," state GOP Executive Director Bowen Greenwood said.
Senate races that might be affected by third-party candidates this year include:
KENTUCKY
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes will need help to beat GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell in this Republican-leaning state, and she hopes a tiny slice might come from Harrodsburg police officer David Patterson.
Patterson, the Libertarian nominee, might appeal to some Kentucky conservatives who resent the way McConnell steamrolled tea party champion Matt Bevin in the Republican primary. Patterson told Kentuckians his goal "is to maximize individual liberty by curbing government interference into your personal daily life."
ALASKA
First-term Democratic Sen. Mark Begich faces a challenge from Republican Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general. Obama lost Alaska badly in 2008 and 2012, and Begich will welcome any votes that third-party candidates can take from Sullivan.
Help conceivably could come from Libertarian candidate Mark Fish. Like many third-party candidates, however, Fish has a dubious record. In 2012 he left Alaska's Human Rights Commission when it was learned he wrote a poorly spelled blog that said "radical" feminists wanted to "eliminate men from the face of the earth."
Sullivan got a big break when Joe Miller, Alaska's 2010 Republican Senate nominee, agreed not to run as a third-party candidate this year.
GEORGIA
Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue want the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Nunn hopes Libertarian nominee Amada Swafford will pull some votes from Perdue.
Swafford, a paralegal, supports the "fair tax," which would replace all federal income taxes, including those earmarked for Social Security and Medicare, with a broad sales tax.
[teaser] => [byline] => CHARLES BABINGTON
Associated Press [section] => National [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 2014-10-12 [ap] => Y [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:24 ) [4] => Array ( [id] => 11157 [headline] => Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies [body] => BANGKOK (AP) — When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.
Wassana, a lifetime resident of the slums, viewed it as a nine-month solution to her family's debt. She didn't ask many questions.
In reality, there was no couple. There was instead a young man from Japan named Mitsutoki Shigeta, whom she met twice but who never spoke a word to her. This same man — reportedly the son of a Japanese billionaire — would go on to make surrogate babies with 10 other women in Thailand, police say, spending more than half a million dollars to father at least 16 children for reasons still unclear.
The mystery surrounding Shigeta has riveted Thailand and become the focal point of a growing scandal over commercial surrogacy. The industry that catered to foreigners has thrived on semi-secrecy, deception and legal loopholes, and Thailand's military government is vowing to shut it down.
Wassana's story, which she shared with The Associated Press on condition that her last name not be used to protect her family and 8-year-old son from embarrassment, offers clues into an extraordinarily complex puzzle that boils down to two questions: Who is Shigeta and why did he want so many babies?
Shigeta is being investigated for human trafficking and child exploitation, but Thai police say they haven't found evidence of either. The 24-year-old, now the focus of an Asia-wide investigation, has said through a lawyer that he simply wanted a big family.
He has not been charged with any crime and is trying to get his children back — 12 are currently in Thailand being cared for by social services. His whereabouts are unknown; he left Bangkok after police raided his condominium Aug. 5 and discovered nine babies living with nine nannies. Police say he sent DNA samples from Japan that prove he is the babies' father.
Key to unraveling all of this are the women Shigeta paid to bear his children. And Wassana, whose account has been corroborated by police, was his first.
___
AN ANSWER TO EVICTION
Wassana's Bangkok is not the city of skyscrapers and spas that most visitors see. The petite, soft-spoken 32-year-old with a ninth grade education has spent her life in a trash-strewn slum, scraping by selling traditional Thai sweets from a food cart and sharing a mildew-stained tenement with seven relatives. At $6 a day, it was affordable until her late father's medical bills drained the family's savings. They couldn't pay rent for a year and faced eviction.
So when her sister stumbled upon an ad seeking surrogates in 2012, Wassana didn't hesitate.
"I thought that any parents who would spend so much money to get a baby must want him desperately," she says. "The agent told me it was for a foreign couple."
She assumed it was customary to keep the biological parents' identities confidential. In a country where deference to authority is expected — especially for poor, uneducated women — she didn't probe.
She wondered, though, who the baby's mother was.
"I don't know if the doctor used my eggs or another woman's," she says. "Nobody told me."
During the pregnancy, she developed pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes dangerously high blood pressure. She was rushed into the delivery room two months early and on June 20, 2013, she underwent a cesarean section, giving birth to a boy. Wassana's family came to visit, but, she says, Shigeta did not.
The infant was placed in an incubator and after six days, Wassana returned home. She's not sure when the baby was released from the hospital to Shigeta's custody.
Two months later, she finally met Shigeta for the first time at the New Life fertility clinic, which had posted the Internet ad.
He was tall, with shaggy, shoulder-length hair, and was dressed casually in jeans and a wrinkled, button-down shirt he left untucked. His lawyer had accompanied him to the meeting, where he and Wassana signed a document granting him sole custody.
He wasn't personable. There was no "thank you" for carrying his child, she says. There was, in fact, no communication at all.
"He didn't say anything to me," she says. "He never introduced himself. He only smiled and nodded. His lawyer did the talking."
___
PERJURY ALLEGATIONS
A month later, the same lawyer, Ratpratan Tulatorn, called and told her to go to the Juvenile and Family Court to finalize the custody transfer. Under Thai law, a woman who gives birth is the legal mother, and, if she is married, her husband is the legal father. A court approval is required to transfer custody, which experts say often involves perjury.
Police Col. Decha Promsuwan, who has questioned five of Shigeta's surrogates, said several of the women told police Ratpratan had instructed them to tell the court they'd had an affair with Shigeta, resulting in a child their husbands did not want.
Ratpratan said he is no longer Shigeta's attorney and declined to comment on the women's statements, saying, "I don't want to touch that point because it's a legal matter."
During the hearing, Shigeta told the judge he owned a finance company in Japan.
His story is being intensely followed in Japan despite legal threats against the press. After his case made headlines, a group of prominent lawyers sent letters warning Japan's mainstream media not to report Shigeta's name or the names of his family members, according to news organizations that received the letter.
However, several Japanese magazines and online publications have identified him as a son of Japanese tycoon Yasumitsu Shigeta, founder of mobile phone distributor Hikari Tsushin.
Yet even his heritage is shrouded in mystery. The company says it can neither confirm nor deny the father-son relationship, calling it "a personal matter," and Thai police and Interpol say they are investigating his family ties. Multiple stock filings, meanwhile, show the elder Shigeta has a son named Mitsutoki and his company has a shareholder with the same name. The stock papers show that Yasumitsu's child was born Feb 9, 1990, the same birthdate as the Mitsutoki Shigeta at the center of the surrogacy scandal, according to Thai media that published his passport page.
Yasumitsu Shigeta did not respond to a request for an interview and Mitsutoki Shigeta's current lawyer did not respond to requests for interviews with his client, who has multiple addresses throughout Asia. Phone calls to a Hong Kong mobile number listed for the younger Shigeta went straight to voicemail, and he did not answer text messages. No one answered the bell at his Hong Kong condo, and the doorman said he could not recall ever seeing him there.
___
'10 TO 15 BABIES A YEAR'
In early August, barely a year after Wassana's court date with Shigeta, she saw his face again — this time, on television. She almost didn't recognize him; his hair was now neatly trimmed.
The Thai media was calling it the "serial surrogacy" case. It had broken just after another scandal involving an Australian couple who paid a Thai surrogate to carry twins, then left behind the one with Down syndrome.
Wassana was floored. What was happening?
Police wondered the same thing. So intricate was Shigeta's quest for children that they crafted a flowchart to keep track of how he did it.
The 9-step diagram starts with Shigeta's picture and traces the steps he took to get his babies, from hiring surrogacy clinics and nannies, to registering apartments in the infants' names and completing legal paperwork required for birth certificates and passports. The deliveries were spread out at nine Bangkok hospitals.
Shigeta's acquaintances offer varying accounts of his motives.
The New Life clinic, which is currently closed pending investigation, stopped working with Shigeta after two surrogates got pregnant and he requested more, said founder Mariam Kukunashvili.
Shigeta told New Life "he wanted to win elections and could use his big family for voting," Kukunashvili said. "He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he's dead."
Kukunashvili said she reported his requests to Interpol in an April 8, 2013 fax to its French headquarters, but never heard back. Thailand's Interpol office said it never saw the warning.
She rejected Wassana's account that the New Life agent had portrayed the parents as a couple and withheld Shigeta's identity.
"At New Life, surrogates are always informed fully and never treated this way," she said.
The Medical Council of Thailand, meanwhile, spoke with Wassana's doctor, Pisit Tantiwattanakul, before he closed his All IVF fertility clinic and emptied it of all patient files after the scandal broke. His whereabouts are unknown, but he has vowed to present himself for a police interview in early September.
Pisit told the council Shigeta said he had businesses overseas and wanted a large family because he only trusted his own children to take care of them.
Interpol has asked its regional offices in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong and India to probe Shigeta's background. Police say he appears to have businesses or apartments in those countries.
Japan has no law banning surrogacy, but the medical industry has issued orders against it that are strictly followed, which could explain why Shigeta flew to one of the few places in Asia where it is openly practiced. Since 2010, he has made 41 trips to Thailand and police say he traveled regularly to Cambodia, where he holds a passport and brought four of the babies. Cambodian police have refused to comment on the case.
One of the babies in Cambodia might be Wassana's — a prospect that leaves her riddled with guilt.
"What if they've done something bad to the baby?" she says. "Did I deliver him to some terrible fate?"
Today, her own fate is uncertain. The money she received for bearing Shigeta's child cleared the family debt but was not enough to drag them out of the slums. She still lives in the same derelict tenement.
She has held the boy just once, when Shigeta handed him to her briefly in court. But she told police that she would be willing to raise him if he is being mistreated.
"I thought he would be with a good family that would love him," she says. "That's what I thought."
___
Associated Press writers Yuri Kageyama and Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo, Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
[teaser] => [byline] => JOCELYN GECKER
THANYARAT DOKSONE
Associated Press [section] => National [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 2014-10-12 [ap] => Y [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:23 ) [5] => Array ( [id] => 11074 [headline] => Pet-friendly dating sites match up people, pooches [body] => LOS ANGELES (AP) — On these dating sites, a passion for pets will help you find more than just puppy love.
Sites like PetsDating.com and YouMustLoveDogsDating.com have found a new niche as singles flock to computers and smartphones to find relationships, connecting dog owners to potential mates who enjoy long walks in the dog park and slobbery canine kisses as much as they do. Many of the sites encourage users to bring their dogs on first dates to break the ice or size up canine chemistry.
Many dating sites cater to religious, cultural and political preferences, but won't focus as heavily on interests like pets, music or travel, said Karen North, a professor of social media at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism.
"If you find somebody with the same lifestyle passion, you don't have to start out at square one," North said.
When Joanie Pelzer signed up with a dog-friendly online dating service a few years ago, she was honest about her Chihuahua — he likes people more than other dogs, craves attention, steals food and can't stand to ride in the backseat of a car.
Even a man who loved animals as much as she did couldn't keep up with her dog's quirks. On their first date, her Chihuahua, Hubbell, stole the man's breakfast as they drove from New York City to Long Island. They only had one more date.
"I still wonder if Hubbell didn't have something to do with that," said Pelzer, 47, an actress who runs her own social media company and met the man on PetsDating.com.
Despite that setback, having a common interest such as pets can help the search for love.
"Having a theme that is ... about one's passion makes it feel like you are looking for a needle in a smaller and far more relevant and appealing haystack," said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a professor of marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
The founder of one of the dog-focused dating services, YouMustLoveDogsDating.com, agreed.
"Dogs on first dates are amazing icebreakers," said Kris Rotonda, who started up the site last year that now has 2 million members. "You find out right off the bat how everyone in a relationship will fit in."
But other veterans of the dating-service industry say focusing on a canine connection only adds an extra hurdle to finding love.
"When you consider how challenging it already is to find someone who offers what you are seeking in a romantic partner, and who seeks what you are offering, and where there is also mutual chemistry, and the timing is right ... you have to wonder who in their right mind would want to make it even more challenging by insisting on canine chemistry," said Trish McDermott, who spent 10 years as the dating expert and spokeswoman for Match.com.
McDermott points out that new love is hard enough to foster, without any added issues.
"To squeeze doggie behavior under the first date microscope and to analyze every little wag, nip or bark as further commentary on compatibility is just another way to uncover the fatal flaw of an otherwise potential romance," added McDermott, who now works for OneGoodLove.com, a gay, lesbian and bisexual matchmaking service.
McDermott's concerns won't change Pelzer's plans to return to PetsDating.com. She remembers unpleasant run-ins with dates from sites that don't cater to animal lovers — once a man nudged her pooch off the couch.
"That was the last time we were together," Pelzer said. "You don't do that to my dog."
[teaser] => [byline] => SUE MANNING
Associated Press [section] => National [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 2014-10-12 [ap] => Y [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:21 ) [6] => Array ( [id] => 11071 [headline] => Education Department tries to ease testing worries [body] => WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that states can apply for extra time before they use student test scores to judge teachers' performance.
Duncan's decision is an acknowledgement of the concerns by teachers' unions and others that it's too early to make teacher personnel decisions based on how well students do on new assessments developed under the Common Core standards that will be used in much of the country this school year.
The move affects the more than 40 states and the District of Columbia that have a waiver around stringent parts of the No Left Behind Law. One condition the Obama administration put on obtaining a waiver was the development of a meaningful teacher evaluation system.
"The bottom line is that educators deserve strong support as our schools make vital, and urgently needed, changes," Duncan said.
There's been a movement in recent years to end routine "satisfactory"-checked teacher evaluations and replace them with evaluations that better reflect whether students are actually learning. Evaluations can decide critical issues such as pay, tenure, firings and the awarding of teaching licenses.
The administration offered incentives, including the waivers and Race to the Top grant money, which contributed to the shift.
The same incentives also encouraged the adoption of career and college ready standards, and Common Core fit the bill. The Common Core standards spell out what reading and math skills students should master at each grade and have been adopted by most states.
As the two efforts roll out, it's created hiccups.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, praised Duncan's decision.
"I'm glad he did a paean to teachers," Weingarten said in a statement. "They never get enough respect and acknowledgement for the Herculean efforts they have made in the last few years."
[teaser] => [byline] => KIMBERLY HEFLING
AP Education Writer

[section] => National [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 2014-10-12 [ap] => Y [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:21 ) [7] => Array ( [id] => 11125 [headline] => Lengthy prison term is upheld for man who raped 10-year-old [body] => In a recently released opinion, the 12th District Court of Appeals affirmed a 10-years-to-life sentence for a man found guilty of raping a 10-year-old.
Following a two-day trial in the Brown County Court of Common Pleas, a jury found James Liso guilty of rape.
That charge stemmed from allegations that he forced a 10-year-old to perform oral sex on him.
The common pleas court then sentenced him to a straight 10-year prison term and Liso filed a lengthy appeal.
After review, the 12th District affirmed Liso’s conviction but remanded the case for resentencing.
Specifically, the appellate judges noted that under the Ohio Revised Code, a trial court is required to impose a sentence of 10 years to life in prison for offenders convicted of raping a child under 13 years old.
Prior to resentencing, Liso requested new counsel.
He argued that he had challenged the effectiveness of counsel’s assistance in his appeal and therefore required new representation. The trial court disagreed.
The trial judge explained that Liso’s attorney was one of the most experienced public defenders available and could best protect Liso’s interests because he was familiar with the case.
It then sentenced Liso to 10 years to life in prison and Liso again appealed to the 12th District.
“Initially, Liso argues the trial court erred by denying his request that new counsel be appointed to represent him during his resentencing hearing,” Judge Stephen Powell wrote for the court.
To justify his request, Liso was required to show that there was a conflict of interest, a breakdown in communication, or an irreconcilable conflict.
The appellate judges found that he did not show any of those things.
“Rather, Liso merely alleged that he was entitled to new counsel because he had previously raised an ineffective assistance claim against (counsel) as part of his direct appeal,” Judge Powell stated.
The appellate judges thoroughly reviewed the record and found no evidence that the trial court erred in denying Liso’s request.
Next, he argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s “excessive” sentence.
“However, pursuant to R.C. 2971.03(B)(1)(a), the trial court was statutorily required to resentence Liso to at least the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison due to his rape conviction under R.C. 29077.02(A)(1)(b),” Judge Powell wrote.
Finding that the trial court had no latitude in sentencing, the appellate judges rejected Liso’s contention.
In a final proposition of law, Liso argued that his counsel was ineffective during resentencing because he failed to provide sufficient mitigating evidence.
Again, the judges noted that the trial court was required to issue the sentence it did and ruled that any mitigating evidence would not have changed that requirement.
“Therefore, even if we were to find a deficiency in his counsel’s performance, which we do not, Liso cannot demonstrate any resulting prejudice therefrom. Liso’s arguments otherwise are without merit and overruled,” Judge Powell concluded.
Presiding Judge Robert Ringland and Judge Robin Piper joined Judge Powell in affirming the lower court’s ruling.
The case is cited State v. Liso, 2014-Ohio-3549.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => [byline] => JESSICA SHAMBAUGH
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:22 ) [8] => Array ( [id] => 11143 [headline] => Recognition of Ohio's role in Freedom Summer voting campaign sought [body] => House Bill 557 was crafted to memorialize the efforts surrounding Freedom Summer and honor the role Ohio played in the battle for voting equality.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by Reps. Tim Derickson, R-Springboro, and Dale Mallory, D-Cincinnati, would designate June 20 as “Freedom Summer Day” in Ohio.
“In June 1964, Freedom Summer was a campaign whose central goal was registering as many African Americans voters as possible in Mississippi, a state which historically excluded African Americans from voting,” Derickson said.
At the time, Mississippi required African Americans to complete a 21-question registration form and answer a state constitutional question of interpretation.
Freedom Summer was organized by the Council of Federated Organizations and a coalition of the Mississippi branches of four major civil rights organizations.
Derickson said more than 800 out-of-state volunteers participated in Freedom Summer alongside thousands of African American Mississippians.
Two, one-week orientation sessions for volunteers took place at the former Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.
“The courageous volunteers who fought for liberty and equality for all will forever be remembered for their sacrifice in the face of very real danger. Though Freedom Summer did not register as many voters as they had hoped, they were instrumental in bringing the plight of the African American civil rights movement to the forefront of American attention,” Derickson said.
In proponent testimony before the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, Jerome Conley, former Oxford mayor, offered insight on the orientation sessions.
“During their time in Oxford they learned about voter registration processes, the values associated with non-violent protest and the challenges faced by African Americans in the South,” he said.
“But most importantly, the students strengthened their faith in their beliefs and their bonds with one another. A sense of solidarity was imparted upon the volunteers before they left campus to work across the South.”
Conley said America faced an array of challenges in 1964.
“These were not challenges of numbers or statistics. Rather they were questions of moral turpitude; of right and wrong,” he said.
“Looking across the South, African American citizens faced structural suppression of their ability to exercise the constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote. And many in the country had not yet reached a point where they felt compelled to act and end this oppression. Yet, these idealistic and committed young Americans joined together to make a difference.”
Conley said the bonds of solidarity formed in Oxford helped the volunteers persevere during the Freedom Summer initiative.
He said their story is one that “reaches deeply into the very spirit of citizenship and responsibility” that leaders attempt to pass on to new generations.
“A program like Freedom Summer ... should be held up as a model of civic excellence. The young Americans who came to Oxford and went on to fight for equality and liberty in the face of danger represent the best of the qualities we value in one another,” he said.
“By commemorating June 20 as ‘Freedom Summer Day,’ we will honor the legacy of those who participated in the Mississippi Summer Project and ensure that future generations in Ohio will continue to embody the best of our society.”
HB 557 is co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Dovilla, Andrew Brenner, Rick Perales, Kathleen Clyde, Matt Lundy and Vernon Sykes.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => [byline] => TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:22 ) [9] => Array ( [id] => 11121 [headline] => Man who shot and killed 'close friend' loses appeal
[body] => A panel of three judges in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed a petition for habeas corpus from Robert Comer, who says he shot and killed a a man in self-defense.
Comer, appealing the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, argued that he had no duty to retreat inside his own home when he shot and killed his alleged best friend, Dustin Lennex, who was unarmed.
According to case summary, the murder took place on the evening of Dec. 1, 2009, when several people came together at the home of Edith Lennex in Gallia County with plans to go deer hunting the next day.
Edith’s sons, Dustin and Cody Lennex were present as was Comer, who lived next door.
Trial testimony often described Comer and the Lennex brothers as best friends.
Kristen Gandee, another guest at the Lennex house that evening, testified that Dustin Lennex and Comer were “like brothers.”
As the evening progressed, members of the crowd began taking part in karaoke.
Comer supposedly rapped something offensive about Cody’s girlfriend and a fight promptly broke out.
Edith and Dustin intervened to stop the fight and case summary states that Comer stormed out of the house with an angry Dustin in pursuit.
Comer went into his home, though Dustin did not follow.
Todd Dixon, Comer’s cousin, was in Comer’s house at that time.
Dixon testified at trial that Comer entered his home in a rage, “put his fist in the wall,” and overturned a coffee table while screaming that he was “going to shoot them motherf-----s.”
Comer proceeded to grab a gun and go outside, firing a warning shot into the air.
At this point, Cody appeared with his rifle and positioned himself so that he could see the front door of Comer’s residence.
Several witnesses testified that Cody warned Comer that if he fired another shot, Cody would shoot.
Comer ignored the warning and fired in Cody’s direction. When Cody returned fire, he grazed Comer and wounded Dixon.
At this point, Dustin “reinserted himself into the fracas,” case summary states.
He walked, unarmed, to Comer’s house with his arms extended out on each side, asking Comer if he was going to shoot.
Comer went into his home and shut the door as Dustin walked onto the front porch. Comer fired a shot from inside, hitting Dustin.
Shrapnel from the shot pierced Dustin’s aorta and, according to the county coroner, he died almost instantly.
Comer was charged and convicted of murder with a firearm specification and the trial court imposed an indefinite prison term of 15 years to life.
Throughout his trial, Comer maintained that he and Dustin were friends and he never intended for Dustin to die.
During his time on the stand, he maintained that he fired the fatal shot because he and Dixon had already been wounded and he feared for his life.
Upon his delayed appeal to the 6th Circuit, Comer made the same claims.
Though he presented several assignments of error, they were all based on his contention that he shot the victim in self-defense.
“Self-defense is an affirmative defense that must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence,” wrote Judge Richard Suhrheinrich on behalf of the 6th Circuit’s appellate panel. “(Comer) does not dispute the state court’s findings of fact, but cites additional facts he asserts established that he acted in self-defense and was therefore entitled to an acquittal on that basis.”
Specifically, Comer noted that all of the witnesses at trial testified that he retreated into his home after the initial fight broke out, that Dustin ran up onto his porch and that he shot Dustin from inside his home.
Additionally, Comer pointed to Cody’s testimony that Dustin was angry when he ran onto the porch and that he thought Dustin was going to “beat up” Comer.
“However, other undisputed facts support the conclusion that (Comer) was at fault in creating the deadly situation and therefore, not entitled to the rebuttable presumption of self-defense,” wrote Judge Suhrheinrich.
Despite Comer’s claims to the contrary, the appellate panel ruled that the district court was correct in finding that Comer’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to move for acquittal and that he was not entitled to a jury instruction on self-defense.
The district court held that it was Comer himself who testified that the initial confrontation was over when he left the Lennex home and returned to his own residence.
The appellate panel consulted the trial court’s ruling, which stated that Comer “returned to his home, loaded his gun, went outside and fired into the air.”
“Dustin had his arms out, palms upward when Comer shot and killed him ... There was uncontroverted evidence that Dustin Lennex was unarmed,” the trial court wrote.
“Based on these undisputed facts, we cannot say that the Ohio Court of Appeals’ finding that ‘the evidence adduced at trial was uncontroverted that (Comer) fired the first shot in this fracas,’” wrote Judge Suhrheinrich, “And that he created the deadly situation and thus did not act in self-defense, was unreasonable.”
Comer went on to argue that, under Ohio’s Castle Doctrine, he had no duty to retreat inside his own home.
But the appellate panel’s review of the trial testimony led to its determination that there was no evidence to support any claims that Dustin was trying to get in the home or that he was armed.
In any case, it concluded that there was little difference between Comer’s duty-to-retreat claims and his self-defense argument and it overruled both, finding that Comer was at fault in creating the affray.
The judgment of the district court dismissing Comer’s habeas petition was affirmed with judges Helene White and Karen Moore joining Judge Suhrheinrich to form the majority.
The case is cited Robert Comer v. Warden Ohio State Penitentiary, Case No. 13-3708.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => [byline] => ANNIE YAMSON
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:21 ) [10] => Array ( [id] => 11104 [headline] => Democratic lawmakers respond to Hobby Lobby court decision with bill [body] => In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, bills have been filed in the Ohio House and Senate regarding health insurer contraceptive coverage.
Senate Bill 355, sponsored by Sens. Charleta Tavares, D-Bexley, and Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, and House Bill 604, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, would require health insurers to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The measure also would prohibit employment discrimination under the Ohio Civil Rights Law on the basis of reproductive health decisions made by an individual or an individual’s dependent or on the basis of the employer’s personal beliefs about drugs, devices and services related to reproductive health.
“Physicians are best able to decide appropriate health care and prescriptions needed by their patients,” Tavares said. “Employers should not be able to selectively decide which care or prescriptions can be given to whom.”
In the recent Supreme Court case, the high court ruled that some corporations cannot be required to provide insurance coverage for contraception methods that would violate the religious beliefs of company owners.
A joint statement issued by the lawmakers said the proposed legislation, also known as the Not My Boss’s Business Act, is designed to protect women from discrimination and their boss’s interference in personal health care decisions.
“Women work hard to earn their workplace insurance plans, and to have CEOs dictate what forms of birth control are acceptable is a slap in the face to American women,” Turner said.
The statement noted that polling from Hart Research has indicated that 84 percent of women agree that birth control “should be a woman’s personal decision.”
Clyde said it’s unfair to target medicine taken only by women for exclusion from basic health coverage.
“Women can’t afford these recent attacks on this very basic part of their preventive health care, not when the costs of some birth control methods are as much as a minimum wage worker’s monthly take-home pay,” she said.
Cincinnati resident Rashida Manuel has offered her support to the proposed legislation.
“I’ve had two surgeries in the last few years because of my polycystic ovarian syndrome, and birth control pills are the preventative care that I need to ensure my body functions at its best,” she said.
“I’m more than willing to share my story, but I shouldn’t have to. My medical conditions are not my boss’s business — they’re mine and my doctor’s.”
Rev. Kate Shaner of the First Community Church in Columbus has also endorsed SB 355 and HB 604.
“When we force women into deeper poverty or force them into a situation in which they must rely on an employer’s religious beliefs in order to make decisions about their own health care, we are not being kind,” she said.
“The thought that my daughters and your daughters would have their reproductive decisions made by an employer instead of themselves in consultation with their families, their clergy and their God seems archaic and inhumane at best.”
Both bills are awaiting committee assignments.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => [byline] => TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => Y [export_date] => 2014-09-02 [created_at] => 2014-09-02 10:10:26 ) [11] => Array ( [id] => 11096 [headline] => 17-year prison term affirmed for HIV-positive man who assaulted heroin addict [body] => In an opinion released recently, the 8th District Court of Appeals affirmed a 17-year prison term for an HIV-positive man found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman and compelling prostitution.
Defendant Donald Reeves was indicted in February 2013 on 20 counts including rape, felonious assault, compelling prostitution, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, corrupting another with drugs and intimidation of a crime victim or witness. After originally pleading not guilty to the charges, Reeves ultimately pleaded guilty to counts of felonious assault, compelling prostitution, attempted corrupting another with drugs and attempted felonious assault.
The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas accepted his guilty pleas and the state nolled the remaining counts. Without a plea agreement, Reeves could have received up to 127 years incarceration. However, his plea agreement gave no recommended sentence and the trial court explained that he could still be subject to a maximum term of 17 years in prison.
At a sentencing hearing, the trial court heard testimony from the state, the victim, FBI Detective Joe DiGregorio, defense counsel and Reeves himself. Noting Reeves’ lengthy criminal history and recidivism factors and finding that his behavior was the worst form of the offense, the trial court imposed a maximum sentence on each count. It ordered those sentences to run consecutively for a total of 17 years.
In his appeal to the 8th District, Reeves first argued that he did not enter his guilty pleas knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently because at his sentencing he made a statement alluding to his innocence.
Specifically, he told the trial court that he did have sex with the victim twice and that they used condoms each time.
“I do it for 21 days and I thought she fully understood because she was giving me my HIV pills every morning, making sure that I took them that she had all of the opportunity to wear condoms,” he told the common pleas court.
Upon review, the three-judge appellate panel noted that Reeves did not move to withdraw his guilty plea at any point during his sentencing. Instead, he only raised the issue on appeal and asserted that the trial court was required to ask if he was denying guilt of the offense. The appellate judges disagreed with that sentiment.
The judges held that a trial court is permitted to assume that a defendant is admitting guilt when they enter a guilty plea.
“This court has repeatedly stated that a defendant’s protestations of innocence, however, are insufficient grounds for vacating a plea that was voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently entered,” Judge Tim McCormack wrote on behalf of the appellate court.
After reviewing Reeves’ plea hearing, the judges ruled that the trial court properly explained the rights he was waiving and the implications of his guilty plea. They found that Reeves gave no indication of confusion or hesitation after hearing those warnings.
“Based upon the above, we find that Reeves did, in fact, knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently enter a guilty plea to the charge of felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(B)(1), as well as the other three charges,” Judge McCormack wrote, overruling his first assignment of error.
Reeves next argued that the trial court based his sentence on improper information regarding the dismissed charges.
At the sentencing hearing, the prosecutor emphasized that Reeves had preyed upon a vulnerable victim, who was a heroin addict, and treated her with intimidation, physical abuse, threats to her life and the lives of her family, drugs and locks on the bedroom doors.
She indicated that Reeves would have sex with the victim without consent whenever he became angry. She also submitted photographs of the victim’s alleged injuries.
DiGregorio advised the court that he got involved in the case because it started as a human trafficking investigation. He described Reeves’ behavior as a “nightmare situation” and “one of the worst crimes that I have seen against a human being.”
The victim also spoke to the court and said Reeves knew he was “HIV-positive when he continuously raped and performed oral sex on me without protection.” She said she was locked in Reeves’ room daily and described the physical abuse she endured. She concluded by stating that she feared Reeves.
Reeves counsel disputed many of the allegations and offered contradicting evidence. In his own defense, Reeves said he thought the victim fully understood his condition and denied threatening or harming the victim.
After review, the appellate judges found that the trial court properly considered Reeves’ criminal history and made the required seriousness and recidivism findings.
The trial court specifically noted the victim’s heroin addiction and age as well as Reeves failure to show remorse for his actions. It did not find any applicable mitigating factors and insisted that the maximum prison term was required to protect the public and properly punish Reeves.
The district court held that the trial court’s considerations were consistent with sentencing laws and ruled that the trial judge was entitled to consider the evidence presented during sentencing.
“Before imposing the sentence, the trial court must consider the information presented by such persons, along with the record and any PSI or victim impact statement,” Judge McCormack stated.
“When the defendant’s convictions result from a plea agreement, that agreement does not preclude the trial court’s consideration of the underlying facts of the case in determining the appropriate sentence to impose.”
Ruling that the trial court considered only proper information, the appellate judges rejected Reeves’ second and final assignment of error.
Presiding Judge Mary Eileen Kilbane and Judge Melody Steward concurred.
The case is cited State v. Reeves, 2014-Ohio-3497.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => + [byline] => JESSICA SHAMBAUGH
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-02 [created_at] => 2014-09-02 10:10:25 ) [12] => Array ( [id] => 11097 [headline] => Lawmakers want to establish Buy Local Ohio program [body] => The sponsors of a bill to create a Buy Local Ohio program have said the proposed legislation is designed to boost local economies and support in-state companies.
“Creating a Buy Local Ohio program will directly benefit our state’s local economies,” said Rep. Matt Lundy. “If possible, work done in Lorain County should be performed by Lorain County businesses. It just makes sense — businesses and employees know the city and have a stake in getting the job done right.”
House Bill 587, sponsored by Lundy, D-Elyria, and Rep. Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, would incentivize public schools, safety services and municipalities to give preference to local and Ohio-based contractors for their projects.
The bill states that a political subdivision that is required by law to award a contract by competitive bidding would be allowed to adopt an ordinance or resolution establishing a Buy Local Ohio program that permits the political subdivision to choose a bid that is not the lowest bid.
Under current state law, all pubic subdivisions must advertise and take competitive bids for certain projects. These public entities must then select the “lowest responsible bid” for contract.
“The more we drive support to local businesses, the more we can grow our local economies and communities,” Lundy said.
HB 587 specifies that winning bids must be within 3 percent of the lowest bid and respond to all project specifications.
The bidder’s principal place of business must be within the political subdivision where the project is being performed and the business must pay taxes to the state of Ohio.
According to the bill, the business also must also be registered and licensed to do business in Ohio and have 10 or more employees in Ohio or at least 75 percent of its employees based in Ohio.
“We should be doing everything we can to insert local dollars back into our communities to create and maintain good-paying jobs,” Budish said.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => + [byline] => TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-02 [created_at] => 2014-09-02 10:10:25 ) [13] => Array ( [id] => 11100 [headline] => Hamilton County morgue found negligent after worker has sex with corpses
[body] => A panel of judges in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati properly denied state statutory immunity to Hamilton County and its employees in a case involving abuse of corpses at the Hamilton County morgue.
The higher court also ruled that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the county defendants on constitutional claims.
The case began when the family members of murdered young women discovered that the bodies of their loved ones had been sexually abused while at the Hamilton County morgue.
The families of Karen Range, Charlene Appling and Angel Hicks sued Hamilton County, morgue supervisor Bernard Kersker and Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Frank Cleveland, alleging they knew Kenneth Douglas, a former morgue attendant, sexually abused an untold number of bodies while he was drunk and high while on duty.
Douglas was convicted of gross abuse of a corpse after it was established that, in 1982, he abused the body of Range, leading to a false rape conviction for the man who was convicted of her murder.
In 1991, he sexually abused the bodies of Appling and Hicks.
Douglas’ actions, however, were not discovered until 2007, after advances in forensic science allowed testing that matched his DNA to semen found in the bodies.
Case summary states that Douglas was regularly alone in the morgue. He admitted to having sex with many bodies of young women and that he was regularly under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine while at work.
When the case went to trial, an expert for the plaintiffs described Douglas as an “opportunistic necrophile” whose substance abuse was a “major contributing factor to his sexual abuse of corpses.”
While employed at the morgue, Douglas was directly supervised by Kersker, who was in turn supervised by Carol Maratea who answered to Cleveland.
Much of the plaintiff’s case against Hamilton County hinged on what Kersker and Cleveland knew of the abuse.
“There is evidence on the record suggesting that Kersker knew or should have known about Douglas’ alcohol use and perhaps his drug use,” wrote Judge Jane Stranch for the court of appeals.
During trial, a coworker testified that they often smelled alcohol on Douglas during his shifts.
Douglas himself testified that, by 1992, his cocaine addiction was so serious that he could not perform his job duties because of heavy shaking.
Douglas’ former wife, Patricia Chavis, testified that she called Kersker on several occasions to complain that Douglas was drinking at work.
“The record also suggests that Kersker may have known that Douglas was having sex with live women at the morgue, something he apparently did with some frequency,” wrote Judge Stranch. “Kersker himself took messages from the women who constantly called the morgue for Douglas, and Douglas’ wife stated during one of her calls to Kersker that Douglas came home ‘smelling like sex.’”
Douglas told the court that Kersker knew of his numerous run-ins with the law, including domestic violence and DUI convictions.
Kersker was also informed of a suicide attempt by Douglas and his ensuing psychiatric hospital stay.
The appellate panel noted that, according to the trial testimony, the environment at the morgue was very “laid back” and other employees were also allegedly using drugs.
“While Kersker denied allowing such behavior, he did say in a deposition that one of the risks of morgue attendants drinking at work is that they might disrespect or harm the bodies,” wrote Judge Stranch, noting that, through all of this, Kersker kept Cleveland informed of what was happening.
Under Ohio tort law, the families of the victims brought claims alleging negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent retention and supervision.
Hamilton County argued that it was entitled to immunity under R.C. 2744.03(A)(3), which grants a political subdivision immunity “if the action or failure to act by the employee involved that gave rise to the claim of liability was within the sound discretion of the employee with respect to policy-making, planning or enforcement powers by virtue of the duties and responsibilities of the office or position of the employee.”
The appellate panel ruled that the abuse could not qualify as a policy-making or planning decisions but instead, Hamilton County employees made factual, employee-specific decisions.
“Such facts include detailed decisions about what shift to assign Douglas, whether to administer drug tests to him ... whether to confront Douglas or change the level of supervision after his wife called to complain about alcohol and sex at the morgue ... and whether to look into Chavis’ allegations that some other employees were doing drugs,” wrote Judge Stranch.
Those specific decisions related to a single employee did not fall within the discretionary, policy-making acts specified under the statute, the court of appeals ruled.
Therefore, the district court properly denied immunity to Hamilton County.
It also held that Kersker denied a known risk and failed to mitigate the risk that Douglas posed at the morgue.
It upheld the district court’s ruling that Kersker and Cleveland were guilty of negligent retention and supervision.
The appellate panel went on to address the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims under Section 1983, where they alleged that Hamilton County had a policy of “deliberate ignorance to known risks of harm” and thus violated their substantive due process rights to family association and privacy.
The district court had granted summary judgment to the county defendants on those claims.
“Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiffs, a jury could find much to condemn in the conduct of Kersker and Dr. Cleveland, perhaps even recklessness,” wrote Judge Stranch. “But a jury could not conclude that these defendants were aware of facts from which they could infer a substantial risk of the kind of serious harm that occurred here, that they did infer it, and that they acted with indifference toward the rights of the families involved.”
The court of appeals ruled that Kersker and Cleveland did not deliberately show indifference to the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and affirmed the district court’s decision to grant them summary judgment on the Section 1983 claims.
On the basis of the state claims, the case was ultimately remanded to the district court for further proceedings and a cross-appeal from Hamilton County was dismissed.
Judges John Rogers and Bernice Donald joined Judge Stranch to form the majority.
The case is cited Laurie Range, et al. v. Kenneth Douglas, et al., Case Nos. 12-3857/4190/4192.
Copyright © 2014 The Daily Reporter - All Rights Reserved
[teaser] => [byline] => ANNIE YAMSON
Special to the Legal News [section] => State [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => Y [export_date] => 2014-09-02 [created_at] => 2014-09-02 10:10:25 ) [14] => Array ( [id] => 11148 [headline] => Small group collaboration in real time [body] => Team collaborative software/ cloud programs are now a part of many law firms. But there are many smaller collaborative projects that just don’t require a large practice management platform or large, expensive group chat rooms.
Quickly coming over the horizon is the next wave of collaboration tools, that now include several startups, and that create small group chatrooms in which a self-selected and limited team can video chat, text chat, and file share over any platform in real time.
The team’s efforts are walled off from the rest of the world, and the apps essentially create a dedicated and archived email service and chat room for this one team or project.
One of these apps, Slack, started in February; a headline in The Verge said it is “killing email,” because a project’s email that goes to the team doesn’t come into the team member’s regular inbox.
These are very small programs, based on older technology called IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Security for these apps is an open question, but they may be worth looking at. They are free-to-inexpensive, with a variety of pricing options.
The five currently most publicized of these apps, which all seem to work about the same, are HipChat, Slack, Glip, Squiggle, and Campfire (there are more).
Slack seems to be getting the most pub (the WSJ and the Verge in one week) these days, but that could change by the time this column is published.
The various features that these apps can have (so far) are “persistent” chat (archived and searchable conversations), screen sharing, video and text chatting, along with group and individual chatting in various combinations, drag-and-drop file sharing, instant messaging, push notifications (so you are notified, for instance, when a team member signs in), emoticons (for the younger set), secure guest access, cross-platform fixed and mobile capabilities, and customizability, among other capabilities.
Also, look for integration with external services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Twitter, WorkingOn, or project tracking and management software like JIRA, Blossom or Asana, and other services.
If this kind of capability looks appealing, take a few minutes and check out the various apps/services to see what service might meet your needs.
Happy new technology hunting!
[teaser] => [byline] => RICHARD WEINER
Technology for Lawyers [section] => Technology [publication_date_aln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_pcln] => 2014-09-12 [publication_date_dln] => 2014-09-12 [purge_date] => 0000-00-00 [ap] => N [front_page] => N [export_date] => 2014-09-10 [created_at] => 2014-09-10 07:31:22 ) ) [number_of_records] => 15 [execution] => 0.0027 ) [authenticate] => Array ( ) )
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