Maciarello Wants Police Oversight Board

SALISBURY, MD – Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello proposed civilian oversight boards for both the Salisbury Police Department and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office according to a report by Daily Times reporter Jeremy Cox.  Maciarello also proposed that both SPD officers and WCSO deputies wear body cameras.  Details of Maciarello’s proposal are not currently available.

As with all such proposals, the devil is in the details.  The Salisbury city council and mayor could easily pass legislation to institute a civilian oversight board and require officers to wear body cameras.  The wisdom of such proposals can be debated.  However, neither Maciarello nor the Wicomico County government have the authority to institute such proposals.  The county government funds the Sheriff’s office with local tax dollars.  It cannot dictate to Sheriff Mike Lewis how he chooses to operate his office.  Unless the state plans on passing such a law OR Wicomico County plans on creating a county police department, such proposals are nothing more than suggestions.

In the Daily Times’ account, the subheadline reads:

Maciarello’s push represents the most tangible action taken so far after a string of violent —sometimes fatal — interactions between police and citizens in Wicomico

This hardly represents “tangible” action as Maciarello lacks the authority to do anything but hold a press conference regarding this matter.

photo courtesy of the Daily Times

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First Amendment Dead in Maryland

TOWSON, MD – The left seems to believe that there should be no consequences to saying anything … provided you adhere to the liberal orthodoxy.  However, if you don’t then they also seem to find no problem throwing the First Amendment right out the window.

We see one such example in the recent arrest of a Howard County parent attempting to ask questions at one of the recent meetings on “Common Core” being held by the state Board of Education.  The parent was arrested and charged with assault.

Readers should understand that the rules set by the Maryland board were designed to limit discussion and deflect serious debate away from this issues.  All questions were supposed to be submitted ahead of time, in writing.  The government officials were able to cherry pick questions and re-word them to allow softball answers to softball questions.

While the charges against Robert Small have been dropped, the message sent was loud and clear – DO NOT CHALLENGE THE STATIST ORTHODOXY.

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Ireton Threatens City Board Members

SALISBURY, MD – Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton has resorted to threats in attempting to get his way from the city’s Housing Board of Adjustments and Appeals (HBAA).  According to the Daily Times’ Jeremy Cox, Ireton threatened the board members after his administration did not get their way regarding the rubble pile on the site of the old Salisbury Mall:

“I just wanted to let the three of you know your terms are up, and we would like to know whether you would like to be reappointed,” he said.

The HBAA, mockingly called the “Slumlords’ Board” by some, is charged with hearing appeals of city enforcement decisions against city property owners.  The members of the quasi-judicial board are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.   However, the board (like other quasi-judicial boards such as the Board of Zoning Appeals) is supposed to be independent.

Ireton’s actions threaten the independence of the board and make any rulings in favor of his administration suspect.  Why would Ireton do such a thing?  Simply, his arrogance knows no bounds.  Like his hero Barack Obama, the rule of law means nothing.  Results are what matter, and that means Ireton’s way or the highway.

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Lawyers Before Funerals

WEST, TX – As the death toll has risen to 15 from last week’s explosion at a West, TX fertilizer plant explosion the lawsuits are already starting.  While the first funeral for a victim of the blast was yesterday, the first of at least five (5) lawsuits was filed on April 19th.

For attorneys, burying the dead seems to come a distant second after filing lawsuits.

READ MORE …

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Liberal Group Suspected in Bugging of GOP Senate Leader’s Office

LOUISVILLE, KY – Progress Kentucky, a liberal group with a history of attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has emerged as a suspect in the bugging of McConnell’s DC office.

It was reported earlier this week that Mother Jones magazine had published an article based the illegal recording and highlighted comments made by McConnell and staffers regarding the potential candidacy of actress Ashley Judd against McConnell in 2014.

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What Happened to Free Markets?

One of the assumptions of a free market is that all parties have equal access to all available information.  This is why things like “insider trading” are illegal.  We acknowledge that we do not live in a Pollyanna world of perfect competition and perfect information.  That said, we thought that the government was supposed to protect consumers from market manipulation.

It appears that this is not the case.  Any viewer of CNBC or Fox Business know that the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) or of a Board of Governors’ meeting can, and do, move markets.  Why then did copies of the minutes of the March Fed meeting go out a day early to several banks, at least one hedge fund, a law firm, and several Congressional staffer?

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Salisbury Mayor Refuses to Comply with Law

The Daily Times reports after the Salisbury City Council voted unanimously to allow acting fire chief Rick Hoppes to continue in his position for another month, mayor Jim Ireton continues to refuse to comply with the city’s law regarding the appointment of acting department heads.  Ireton disputes the interpretation of the law provided by city attorney Mark Tilghman.  Ireton appealed Tilghman’s interpretation to the Office of the Maryland Attorney General.  The AG’s office informed Ireton in a January 3rd letter that they defer to Tilghman’s interpretation of the law.

Ireton insists that he can interpret the law as he chooses:

“The July resolutions, which also covered Hoppes’ second-in-command John Tull, “simply provide for the Acting Status of both of these employees to be extended past six months.”

The council disputes Iretons actions and have the opinions of the city attorney and AG’s office to back them up.  At Monday’s council meeting, president Terry Cohen asked if Ireton felt he was above the law.  It appears that Ireton has delivered his answer.
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Berlin Fire Company Loses $600,000

BERLIN, MD – Allegations of harassment (regarding race, sex, and perceived sexual orientation) have just cost the Berlin Volunteer Fire Company $600,000 in funding from the Town of Berlin.  If true, the allegations could cost the fire company far more.  The potential liability, if one or more of the claimants successfully sues the fire company, could impact the town’s fire service for years to come.

The Daily Time’s Charlene Sharpe outline the charges which have led Berlin mayor Gee Williams and the town council to strip the Berlin Volunteer Fire Company of town funding.  In an op-ed, the DT chastises the fire company and its members.

Legal action is moving forward.  Time will tell to what extent the fire company, and the town, will be negatively impacted.

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Circuit Court Overturns Queen Anne’s County Rezoning

CENTREVILLE, MD – Judge Sidney S. Campen, Jr. has ruled that Queen Anne’s County’s comprehensive plan is binding on the county commissioners and overturned a rezoning decision made last year.  Judge Campen’s ruling was consistent with recent changes in Maryland law which gave comprehensive plans the force of law.  Previously, comprehensive plans were treated by county government’s as advisory and were frequently ignored in land use decisions.

READ MORE …

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Cuccinelli Files Brief in Favor of Individual Gun Rights in Maryland

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Virginia and thirteen other states in Maryland’s appeal of a federal district court ruling in Woollard v. Gallagher.  The district court ruled that Maryland’s requirement that citizens show a “good and substantial reason” when applying for a concealed carry permit violates an individual’s second amendment rights.  Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who opposes individual gun rights, is appealing the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Cuccinelli’s brief argues that Maryland’s "good and substantial reason" requirement to obtain a handgun carry permit for self-defense outside of the home "impinges on the constitutional rights of its citizens."

The brief also argues that Maryland cannot justify the broad restriction because it has "less-restrictive alternatives" available to address safety concerns, and argues that research shows "right-to-carry laws do not result in criminal violence."

H/T – Norm Leahy @ Bearing Drift

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Markell Signs Bill Enhancing Definition of Animal Cruelty

DOVER, DE – Delaware governor Jack Markell has signed SB 211, “which enhances Delaware’s definition of cruelty to animals by amending the definition of cruelty to animals to include tethering a dog for 18 or more hours in any 24-hour period.  The law also bans tethering very young dogs and certain nursing mother dogs, regardless of how long they are tethered.”

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Sussex Citizens Turn Out to Support Prayer at Council Meetings

GEORGETOWN, DE – At last week’s meeting of the Sussex County Council, a group of citizens showed up to support the council’s long-standing practice of beginning its meetings with the Lord’s Prayer.  Federal District Court Judge Leonard Stark has prohibited the council from reciting the prayer.

Nearly half of council chambers was filled Aug. 7 with people who joined with council when they recited the 23rd Psalm to start the meeting. During the public participation portion at the end of the meeting, the Rev. John Betts of Abundant Life Church in Georgetown, spoke on behalf of the group.

Betts said the lawsuit and court action are part of a pattern of activities taking place across the nation to erode freedom of speech and other rights. “This is not a political battle, but a spiritual war,” Betts said.

He said from the time the foundation of government was laid, prayer has been used to open legislative sessions. “In these chambers, your practice has been the same as our founding fathers,” he said. “When a people forget their fathers, they do not know who they are anymore. We commend county council for standing up for the tradition of our fathers.”

Betts said there is a concerted effort under way to erase the memory of the county’s roots and basic beliefs. “Your stand in protecting these memories and practices is commendable. We urge you to continue to resist this attempt to forget who we are,” he said.

Betts presented council with 300 signed letters in support of the council’s policy of using The Lord’s Prayer at meetings.

photo courtesy of the Cape Gazette

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Former Somerset Deputy Wins Again

PRINCESS ANNE, MD – Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals has ruled that the firing of former Somerset deputy Troy Durham by Sheriff Bobby Jones was arbitrary and capricious.  This overturns a 2010 ruling by Circuit Court Judge W. Newton Jackson III.

Durham has already won $1.1 million federal civil judgment against Jones.  He is currently garnishing Jones’ salary.

Durham’s attorney states that the decision implies that Durham receive back pay and benefits.

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BREAKING NEWS – ObamaCare Upheld!

WASHINGTON – In a surprise decision the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that ObamaCare, including the individual mandate, is constitutional.  Bush appointee, Chief Justice Roberts ruled with the liberal majority.

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Supreme Court Upholds Maryland’s Redistricting Map

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that Maryland’s congressional redistricting was constitutional.  The basis of the challenge was that Maryland began “adjusting” population by assigning prison inmates to their last known address rather than their actual residence – state prison.

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Supreme Court Rules on Arizona Immigration Law

The president said at a news conference that the new program is `the right thing to do’ in light of Congress’ failure to pass the administration’s proposed revision of the Immigration Act. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas both voted to rule the entire law constitutional.  From the bench Scalia delivered a scathing indictment of the majority’s ruling:

The president said at a news conference that the new program is `the right thing to do’ in light of Congress’ failure to pass the administration’s proposed revision of the Immigration Act. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined all of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion that struck down provisions requiring all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers, making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job and allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.  Justice Samuel Alito would have allowed police to arrest undocumented immigrants who seek work, and also make arrests without warrants.

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Delaware Senate Passes Bill to Clarify Limits of Sheriff’s Powers

DOVER, DE – By a 12-3 vote, the Delaware Senate passed a bill to clarify the limits of a county sheriff’s powers in Delaware.  HB 325 now goes to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature.

The bill was in response to actions taken by Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher.  Christopher has brought suit in Delaware courts arguing that as the “conservator of the peace” he and his deputies have the right to make arrests and perform other law enforcement duties.  The Sussex County Council disagrees with this interpretation.

No senator from Sussex County voted for the legislation.

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Sussex Council Looking for Compromise on Opening Sessions with Prayer

GEORGETOWN, DE – After a federal judge ruled that the Sussex County Council was in violation of the establishment clause by opening each meeting with the Lord’s Prayer, the council is seeking a compromise.  Under a compromised, which passed by a 3-2 vote, the council president would open each meeting with a non-sectarian prayer.  On occasion, the Lord’s Prayer would be used.

photo courtesy of the Cape Gazette

READ MORE…

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Voter ID Does Not Apply to Today’s Virginia Primary

RICHMOND, VA – While much has been made of Virginia’s recently enacted Voter ID law, the new law does not apply to today’s primary.

The State Board of Elections issued a reminder in response to a news item, posted on a Richmond-area television station’s Web site, that reported incorrectly that the law would apply to the primary.

“Rumor Buster,” read the title on the board’s news release, which noted that the news item also stated incorrectly that the new law requires voters to provide a photo identification. A photo ID will not be required even when the law takes effect.

The law, which takes effect on July 1, will apply for those voting in Virginia’s general election on November 6th:

voters will be required to show one of the following: a state voter registration card; a Social Security card; a valid Virginia driver’s license; other state, local or federal identification; a valid student identification card issued by a Virginia institution of higher learning; a valid employee identification card; a current utility bill; a current bank statement; a current government check; a paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter; or a concealed-handgun permit.

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Paterno Will to Be Sealed

BELLEFONTE, PA – In an unusual move, an anonymous Centre County judge has ordered the will of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno sealed.  In addition, all correspondence related to sealing the will has been sealed as well.

photo courtesy of the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice

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Somerset Sheriff Claims Judgment Will Bankrupt Him

PRINCESS ANNE, MD – Somerset County sheriff Bobby Jones claims that he faces financial ruin after losing a lawsuit filed by a former deputy which resulted in a $1.1 million judgment.  Because the suit alleged illegal behavior by Jones the county’s insurance policy does not cover the loss.  Attorney’s for the county had successfully argued to have Somerset County and the office of sheriff removed from the suit.  Jones is personally responsible for the judgment.

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Marital Confidentiality in a Digital Age

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – Priest and penitent, doctor and patient, lawyer and client, husband and wife – communications between these parties have always been considered inviolate in America’s courts.  Or are they, in our new digital age?

This is the basis for an appeal filed by convicted former Virginia delegate Phil Hamilton.  During Hamilton’s trial last year for trading legislative favors for a consulting contract, Federal district court judge Henry Hudson allowed into evidence e-mails between Hamilton and his wife Kim.  The emails were sent from Hamilton’s work computer.

photo courtesy of the Virginian-Pilot

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George Zimmerman Attorney Receives “Credible Threat”

SANFORD, FL – On the same day that the special prosecutor’s office delivered its discovery packet, Mark O’Mara, attorney for accused killer George Zimmerman, was also informed by police that a “credible threat” had been made against him (O’Mara).  Zimmerman remains in hiding due to threats against his life.

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Can You Be Liable for SENDING a Text?

MORRISTOWN, NJ – In one of the more bizarre examples of our legal system gone wrong, a New Jersey judge will decide this week whether or not a woman can be held liable for an accident caused by a man she sent a text message to.  The premise behind the lawsuit is that the woman should have known that the recipient was driving at the time she sent him a text message.  The driver injured two persons in an accident which occurred while he was reading the text message.

Texting while driving is dangerous.  I think everyone would agree with that.  Does that mean that you should have to read people’s minds to determine whether or not they are driving, or reckless enough to read a text message while driving?  That appears to be the position taken by a New Jersey ambulance chaser.

Hopefully the judge will see this suit for what it is – a brazen attempt to sue someone only tangentially related to the harm inflicted on his clients.  If not, there will be one more reason not to do business in New Jersey, or any other state where trial lawyers rather than common sense control a state’s legislature and / or judiciary.

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Appeals Court Upholds AZ Voter ID Law

SAN FRANCISCO – Arizona’s controversial law requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to vote has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  A portion of the law which requires persons to show proof of citizenship to register was overturned by the court.

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Ocean Pines to Appeal Tax Case

BERLIN, MD – The Ocean Pines Association (OPA) will appeal a federal court’s decision that the OPA owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes from profits at the Ocean Pines Beach Club.  The OPA will ask for an en banc hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

In March a three judge panel ruled that the Ocean Pines Beach Club is not a non-profit entity as it is not open to the general public.

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Delaware House Approves Giving Felons the Right to Vote

DOVER, DE – The Delaware House of Representatives has passed HB 9, which would allow non-violent felons to register to vote.

House Bill 9 states that eligible felons must serve out probation and pay any restitution before being allowed to re-register to vote. Anyone convicted of murder or sexual offenses would still be banned from voting.

The bill now moves to the Delaware Senate.

Source – WGMD

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What’s at Stake in ObamaCare Case

Karen Harned of the  National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center believes that we stand to lose five (5) important freedoms if the US Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare:

  • The American ideal of freedom
  • The freedom to purchase whatever product you want with your own money
  • The right to own and operate your own small business
  • The power to decide what is medically best for our families and businesses
  • The economic future of this country

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Supreme Court to Begin Hearing ObamaCare Case Today

WASHINGTON – When the U.S. Supreme Court begins to hear the challenge to ObamaCare today, don’t be disappointed by a lack of argument attacking the constitutionality of the law itself.  That’s not what today’s session is about.  Today the nation’s highest court will hear arguments as to whether they should even consider suits brought against the act.  Why?  The key provisions which are being challenged haven’t gone into effect yet.

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What About Same-Sex Divorce?

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Gay marriage may have passed the General Assembly but it will still have to get past Maryland voters before it becomes law.  In the meantime, what about gay couples married in other states?  What happens when they live in Maryland and decide to divorce?

The Maryland Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments next month regarding a Maryland couple who were married in California but now wish to be divorced in Maryland.  To add more fuel to the fire, and confusion, some same-sex couples are being granted divorces in some Maryland courts while other couples are being denied in others.

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Maryland State Police No Longer Providing Fingerprinting Services

PIKESVILLE, MD – Need to be fingerprinted to apply for a job or undergo a background check for some other reason?  Going to your local Maryland State Police (MSP) barracks is no longer an option.  The MSP has announced that they will no longer offer the service effective on March 19th.

The reason given is that the FBI will no longer accept paper fingerprint cards.  All future fingerprint submissions must be digital.

For a list of approved fingerprinting service providers in Maryland, check HERE.

Eastern Shore residents will have to travel to Berlin, Easton, or across the Bay in order to be fingerprinted.

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California Asks Judges If They’re Gay

SACRAMENTO, CA – A new state-sanctioned questionnaire is asking California’s judges to disclose their sexual orientation.  Critics of the survey argue that the data will be used to appoint more judges based on whether they are straight, gay, or transgendered.

Alongside questions about gender, race and ethnicity, the survey now asks whether judges identify as a man or a woman, and if they’re gay. Supporters applaud the new law, SB 182, known as the Judicial Applicant and Appointment Demographics Inclusion Act, calling it "essential in creating a more diverse judiciary."

Critics say the question, much like asking about religious preference and voting records, is immaterial to a judge’s qualifications and ability to weigh evidence. They say the survey amounts to an invasion of privacy, and a threat to fair rulings from the bench.

"This is an outrageous violation of the total concept of blind justice and equality for all," says Brad Dacus, president of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute.

READ MORE ….

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DOJ Blocks Texas Voter ID Law

AUSTIN, TX – Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade has announced that the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has blocked implementation of the state’s voter ID law.  The law would have required a voter to produce one of seven types of government issued identification in order to cast their vote.  However, any voter unable to produce one of the approved types of identification would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.  Under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas is one of nine (9) states which must seek pre-clearance from the DOJ before implementing any change to its voting procedures.

The DOJ claims that the Texas law would discriminate against Hispanics.

photo courtesy of the Associated Press

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Virginia Supreme Court Denies Cuccinelli’s Request for UVA Documents

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Supreme Court has blocked an attempt by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to secure documents in his investigation of work performed by former University of Virginia instructor Michael Mann regarding climate change.  The high court ruled that the state’s “Fraud Against Taxpayers Act” was not intended to apply to state entities.

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Gay Marriage Comes to Maryland

REFERENDUM TO FOLLOW

ANNAPOLIS, MD – By a vote of 25 – 22 the Maryland Senate passed HB 438, the Civil Marriage Protection Act.  As of this post, a copy of the roll call is not available.

While Gov. Martin O’Malley will sign the bill into law, this measure was a cornerstone of the governor’s legislative package, the bill will not go into effect until the results of a referendum petition are determined.  Del. Neil Parrot (R-2B) filed a referendum petition with the Maryland Board of Elections today.  If the petition drive is successful, Maryland’s voters will determine whether or not the bill becomes law.

"We move on to the next phase," said Senate Republican leader E.J. Pipkin, who tried to defeat the bill. "There will be a robust referendum effort."

Annie Linskey of the Baltimore Sun points out that recent polls show Maryland voters evenly split on the issue.  Whether or not the bill takes effect is far from certain.

Yesterday we reported that a cloture vote would take place.  However, that vote never was called.

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Millington Settles Water System Suit

MILLINGTON, MD – On the eve of trial, the town of Millington has settled its pending lawsuit against the firms which designed and built the town’s water system.  Trial was set to begin on March 12th against McCrone, Inc., the designer, and Bearing Construction, the firm which built the town’s water system.

"The case has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties," Millington town attorney G. Mitchell Mowell said, after being prompted by Mayor Ed Robinson to make the announcement at the town council meeting.

Because of a confidentiality agreement, the town council did not provide additional details of the settlement.

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Delaware AG Rejects Complaints of Ocean View Residents

OCEAN VIEW, DE – The office of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden has issued a ruling which rejects complaints filed by 65 Ocean View residents concerning the contract of Ocean View police chief Ken McLaughlin and possible open meetings violations by the town council.

Biden’s office opined that McLaughlin’s contract, which specifies that he police chief reports to the town mayor rather than the town manager, does not violate the town’s charter.  The AG’s office also stated that it does not engage in speculation and without proof of wrongdoing, it will not pursue a complaint that town council members gather socially and discuss town business at these gatherings.

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Property Rights Amendment Heading for Ballot in Virginia

RICHMOND, VA – This November Virginia voters will have the opportunity to choose whether or not to prohibit seizure of private property by eminent domain for economic development purposes.  This is the second year which the proposed amendment, authored by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has passed the General Assembly.  Voters will now decide whether the amendment goes into effect.

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Colburn Sponsors Bill to Force University to Pay Farmer’s Legal Fees

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Senator Richard Colburn (R-37) has introduced a bill that would require the University of Maryland to reimburse the Hudson family of Worcester County up to $500,000 in legal bills.  The University’s Environmental Law Clinic is acting as plaintiff’s attorney in a lawsuit filed against the Hudson family and Perdue Farms by the Assateague Coastkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Currently Colburn is the sole sponsor if SB 945.  While Colburn does not represent Worcester County, he said that this bill is important to every farm family in Maryland:

"It doesn’t matter if it’s in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Dorchester or Queen Anne’s County — people everywhere are very upset about this and they can’t understand it," Colburn said.

State tax dollars go to support the University’s law school and its law clinics.

A spokesperson for the Assateague Coastkeeper responded:

"(Senate Bill) 945 is an outrageous attack on clean water by a small handful of extremists in the state legislature and is grandstanding at its worst," said Kathy Phillips, executive director of Assateague Coastkeeper. "It will backfire and help rally efforts to force Perdue to share responsibility for the pollution caused by the dumping of 550,000 tons of chicken manure on our land and into our waterways each year in Maryland."

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Shamu In Chains

PETA Lawsuit Argues That Performing Whales Are Slaves

SAN DIEGO, CA – For the first time in history a U.S. judge is hearing arguments that animals have the same constitutional protections against enslavement as humans.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) argues that captured killer whales (orcas) are treated like slaves by being forced to live in tanks and perform at theme parks.  U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Miller called a hearing after attorneys for Sea World filed a request to have the PETA suit dismissed.

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Plaintiff in Prayer Suit Ordered to Reveal Identity

CHATHAM, VA – A federal judge has ordered the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors to reveal her identity or face dismissal of the suit.  The unidentified woman, referred to in court papers as “Jane Doe”, is suing the Board of Supervisors because they open each meeting with a prayer.

Last week U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski ruled that the woman has 30 days to reveal her identity or appeal his decision.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is serving as the attorney for the plaintiff.  Viriginia senator Bill Stanley (R-20), attorney for the Pittsylvania County Supervisors argued before Judge Urbanski that the woman should not be able to remain anonymous.

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Texas Sonogram Law to Go Into Effect

AUSTIN, TX – A federal district judge in Austin has ruled that he “has no choice” but to uphold a Texas law which requires Texas women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram and for the doctor to explain the sonogram to the woman.  U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks stated that he had no choice but to follow a ruling of the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans.

The Texas Department of Health Services has already posted enforcement guidelines and information for doctors and patients on its website.  Any Texas doctor who refuses to comply with the law faces a misdemeanor charge, loss of their medical license, and a a fine of up to $10,000.

READ MORE…

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Questions of Obama’s Citizenship Still Simmer Below Surface

Is it possible that President Barack Obama was illegally elected?  No, this isn’t an endorsement of the “birther movement”.  Instead, this is a call for answers to some relatively simple questions.

In Georgia, Obama is being challenged as to his right to appear on the state’s ballot because he (and his campaign) would rather put forward legal arguments than provide simple answers to relatively simple questions. Arising from this lawsuit are a host of questions.  Again, simple answers could put these matters to rest.  Political grandstanding by Obama’s lawyers will not.

This was provided by a reader:

[Read more…]

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Harris Gives Filmmaker the Boot

WASHINGTON – Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) enforced the House rules and had award winning filmmaker Josh Fox removed from a subcommittee hearing because he wasn’t credentialed.

A spokesman for Harris, Ryan Nawrocki, said the congressman did not request that the Capitol Police arrest Fox; however, he could not say whether the Maryland Republican asked police to intervene in the first place. A spokesman for the committee, Zachary Kurz, declined to answer the question.

It is not unusual for Capitol Police to remove members of the public from committee rooms, but it is almost always because they are disrupting a hearing. Video posted on the internet of the incident showed Fox calmly conversing with police before the hearing began.

“This is a public hearing,” Fox then said as he was handcuffed and led out of the room. “I’m within my first amendment rights.”

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Man Adopts Adult Girlfriend

WELLINGTON, FL – John Goodman, a Florida businessman, has adopted his 42 year old girlfriend as his daughter in a Miami-Dade court.  The action was discovered in the filings of a civil case in Palm Beach County where Goodman is being sued for the wrongful death of a 23 year old man in a February, 2010 car crash.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that the “adoption” was done to shield Goodman’s assets.  Under Florida law, Goodman’s girlfriend is now entitled to one third of his assets.  Goodman’s attorney claims that the “adoption” had nothing to do with the pending lawsuit.

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Ireton Administration Tries Fast One Regarding Ethics Hearings

SALISBURY, MD – While the Daily Times’ Sarah Lake noted in today’s paper that Salisbury councilwoman Shanie Shields had recused herself from discussions regarding the choice of an outside attorney to handle the recent slew of ethics complaints against the city’s council majority (plus Shields), she failed to provide the reason.  Ireton’s city administrator John Pick recommended local attorney Robin Cockey.  Guess who penned the ethics complaint filed by Shields against council colleague Tim Spies?  You guessed it – Robin Cockey.

Why did Shields feel the need to recuse herself prior to Pick’s recommendation?  The only logical answer is that the Ireton administration gave Shields a heads up prior to recommending Cockey.

Why did the Lake and the Daily Times not report Shields’ reason for recusing herself?  Stay tuned until 9:00 AM 9:30 AM and you will get your reasons.

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Much Ado About Hoppes

SALISBURY, MD – Newly appointed Salisbury city attorney Mark Tilghman will step out of the frying pan and into the fire at today’s city council work session.  The Daily Times reports that the first order of controversial business is whether or not Acting Fire Chief Rick Hoppes can be appointed by Mayor Jim Ireton without a competitive search.  In any other town, this would be a simple task.

The city’s personnel manual does not require such a search.  Council president Terry Cohen cites “decades of past practice”.  While past practice is advisory, and tradition should be respected, it does not trump law or city regulation.

If the council wants to veto Hoppes’ appointment there is an easier, and far more credible route.  During the last search, where former chief Jeff Simpson was hired, Hoppes applied for the job and was deemed unqualified (he failed failed to meet some of the specific requirements set by the Ireton administration).  If Hoppes was unqualified then, why is he qualified now?

If these requirements are not specified in the city’s personnel manual, then Ireton has a right to waive them.  The city council is equally entitled to demand an explanation.  That is “advice and consent”.  However, to demand a national search when there is no such requirement simply makes Ireton’s past claims that the council majority is attempting to usurp his office appear credible.

While this author, and the DelMarVa Observer, have been generally supportive of council members Cohen, Debbie Campbell, and Tim Spies, we hold the rule of law to be of far greater import than agreeing with politicians, or even friendship.  The council majority would be well advised to think twice before they leap into areas that violate the spirit, and possibly the letter, of the city’s charter.

Tilghman should also be careful when hopping around this minefield.  He is already beginning his tenure from a weakened position.  If he is going to uphold Cohen’s stance, he needs to be able to cite CLEAR and CONVINCING legal precedent.  His reasoning must be understandable to the average citizen.  Any attempt at legal bootstrapping will be viewed by the public as the same type of behavior of which former city solicitor Paul Wilber was accused of by his detractors.

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Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Eastern Shore Watermen

ANNAPOLIS, MD – On Monday the US Supreme Court issued a ruling which prohibits police officers from installing tracking devices without a warrant.  While the specific case was about tracking GPS devices on suspects automobile, the ruling impacts Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) police and their ability to place tracking devices on watermen’s boats.  The high court has ruled that installation of such devices without a warrant constitutes a warrantless search and trespass.

Maryland senator Richard Colburn (R-37) and Delegate Mike Smigiel (R-36) had already introduced a bill in the legislature to ban the practice without a warrant after several Dorchester County watermen discovered tracking devices on their vessels.  While DNR Secretary John Griffin claims that his officers had obtained a judge’s approval, he has refused to release the name of the judge who approved the searches or even what county the warrants came from.

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Salisbury Council to Vote Tonight on New City Attorney

SALISBURY, MD – The Salisbury City Council will vote to adopt a towing ordinance, amend its public notice requirements, and move forward on assessing the residents of Harbor Pointe for sidewalks.  The highlight of tonight’s meeting appears to be the appointment of a new city attorney.

After citing numerous examples of poor performance on the part of current city attorney Paul Wilber, the council has decided to replace Wilber as the lead city attorney with one of two firms who submitted letters of interest in 2010.  Wilber, and his firm, will be appointed assistant city attorneys.

As an aside, Daily Times reporter Sarah Lake AGAIN cites a petition drive by councilwoman Laura Mitchell attempting to overturn the council’s charter amendment allowing them control over city legal services.  Lake states (for the fifth or sixth time):

An effort headed by Councilwoman Laura Mitchell to bring the amendment to referendum via petition failed, as the petition was short by about 230 signatures.

Typical of Lake’s ignoring the facts, no one knows how many signatures Mitchell was short.  She came AT LEAST that many short.  However, no such petition has ever seen ALL of its signatures counted due to duplicate signatures, signatures of unregistered city voters, signatures that were gathered illegally, etc.

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Supreme Court Throws Out Texas Electoral Map

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court has voided an electoral map drawn by a three judge panel and instructed the judges to pay more attention to the re-districting maps approved by the Republican-dominated Texas legislature.  Texas was awarded four new congressional seats after the 2010 census and the panel-drawn redistricting favored Democrats in 3 out of the 4 new seats.

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