Kendall Coffey on MSNBC: Russia connection

Kendall Coffey on MSNBC: Russia connection Former US Attorney Kendall Coffey speaks with MSNBC regarding President Trump’s comments about “collusing” with Russia to sway the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. Coffey claims that the President has been consistent in his message that ‘we can all judge for ourselves whether he’s under investigation.’ Currently, there is no evidence that suggests that key campaign officials such as Paul Manafort, George Papadapolous, and Carter Page have anything incriminating to report about the President. Coffey further claims that one factor that will be critical is the result of the very long and wide-ranging interview by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s with Donald Trump in which it will be determined if he has obstructed justice by false statement or omission.     Related posts: Litigating at Light Speed by Kendall Coffey Foreclosure Jurisprudence in Florida with Kendall Coffey Kendall Coffey: What to Expect From the New Bar Exam Kendall Coffey: Is a Presumption of Innocence Possible in the Court of Public...

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Terrorism, Criminal Act, or Mental Illness: How Does the Law Decide?

Global acts of terrorism are on the rise. There have been periods of time where acts of terrorism or mass murders occur weekly. With the rise of ISIS, news agencies are very quick to label acts of violence as terrorism. For individuals acting alone, mental illness and the criminal’s mental state always come into discussion when examining the criminal’s motives. It is important to understand the implications and relationships of this terminology. When looking at mental illness and terrorism, both have elements of trauma, isolation, and exclusion. If a person who has mental illness turns to blaming a group or ideology and has support, this can turn into radicalization. If this radicalization then finds a group for support, this support can remove some of the feelings of isolation and exclusion. Thus, mental health can play a role in terrorist acts, but it’s not directly related to terrorism. Second, terrorists differ from criminals in a variety of ways. Generally, terrorists have been trained by the group they are acting for. Regular criminals usually have not been. Criminals also tend to hide after committing their crimes, while terrorist organizations usually proudly claim their attacks. These differences in actions come down to a discussion of the actor’s intentions. Terrorists are motivated by an ideology and use their actions to attempt to change policy with intimidation or coercion. Criminal acts lack this ideological element and are focused more on the results of the action, like the highest number of deaths possible. Terrorists choose their acts of violence such that they make a sweeping statement of some kind. This becomes very important because federal law in the US grants special authority when dealing with terrorist actions. The term terrorism contains substantial connotation, and news agencies need to be more careful when using this term. It is incredibly inflammatory and should not be used without serious examination of the evidence. There are a lot of things to consider before slapping labels on an act of violence. Usually circumstances are complex, and fact based thinking is essential.   No related...

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The Legality of Law Enforcement’s Use of LRAD, Sound, And Other Nonlethal Crowd Control Weapons

Given three guesses, we’re willing to wager that you wouldn’t be able to guess the hottest trend in nonlethal weapons used by law enforcement for crowd control: sound. The idea of using sound as a weapon dates all the way back to Biblical times, and it’s still in use today. In fact, just weeks ago a judge in Portland ruled that law enforcement could no longer use noise laws to quiet anti-abortion protestors. When noise laws aren’t being sited, high-tech equipment can be deployed for similar purposes. In police departments around the country, LRAD systems are now a common piece of equipment that is requisitioned to combat the threat of angry mobs and civil disobedience. What is LRAD? LRAD stands for Long Range Acoustic Device, and it is an acoustic hailing device used for long-range communications in a variety of purposes, including non-lethal, non-kinetic crowd control. According to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, “The LRAD can reach decibel levels as high as 162. For comparison, a normal conversation is usually 60 decibels, while a lawn mower can reach up to 90 decibels. A level of 130 decibels is typically considered the average pain threshold for most humans.” What’s more, Informed Health Online notes that a jet engine registers at about 142 decibels, and anything above this level is considered acoustic trauma. LRAD has been used several times in the past by law enforcement in the US, including the following events: 2004 NYC Republican convention 2009 Pittsburgh G20 summit Occupy Oakland protests in 2011 Eric Garner protests in NYC in 2014 Beyond LRAD, there are also many other options for nonlethal weapons used by law enforcement that sound like they are right out of a sci-fi novel! The Legality of LRAD and Nonlethal Weapons By and large, these weapons and tactics are in fact used legally. If that surprises you, that’s probably because they tend to skirt the line between nonlethal and lethal weapon. There are, of course, several restrictions on nonlethal weapons that cause require their designs to comply with particular standards. This topic is a perfect example of how laws need to be specifically worded. Laws bind both civilians and law enforcement, and both will attempt to find the cracks in them that allow them to do what they want. Therefore, lawmakers need to stay extra vigilant so that they create laws that can’t be abused by either side. No related...

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Why the NFL Won its Deflategate Appeal

On April 25th, the NFL won a federal appeal in the controversial “Deflategate” case that has now been raging for well over a year, reinstating a 4-game suspension to franchise QB Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. This legal case has been in the courts for some time now, and the NFL’s victory in this appeal was surprising to many. For those unacquainted with the case, here’s a quick overview of the Deflategate scenario: Deflategate refers to a controversy in the NFL surrounding the 2015 AFC Championship game that occurred between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts on January 18th, 2015. The controversy involves accusations that Patriots QB Tom Brady, as well as other employees of the Patriots organization, broke NFL rules by tampering with balls used in the game (specifically, deflating the balls to a lower PSI). The game resulted in a 45–7 victory for the Patriots and a Super Bowl appearance and victory for the team. During the offseason between the 2014 and 2015, the NFL dealt the Patriots and Brady heavy penalties after the NFL performed an internal investigation. The Patriots were fined $1 million and had their 1st round pick in the 2016 draft and their 4th round pick in the 2017 draft taken away as penalty. Brady, however, was given a 4-game suspension. The fact that the Patriots went on to win the AFC Championship game, and eventually the Super Bowl, complicates matters in this case. The results, some feel, caused NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to levy a harsher punishment than was necessary on Brady. The severity of Brady’s penalty, how it relates to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), and Brady’s cooperation with the investigation would become key talking points throughout the summer. Before the 2015 NFL season began, Brady’s suspension was repealed by Judge Richard M. Berman. Jumping forward to present day, the NFL’s appeal of that decision in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the four-game suspension, which is currently set to take place during the 2016 NFL season. How did the NFL win their appeal? There are a few key passages from Judge Barrington D. Parker and a separate dissenting opinion from Judge Robert A. Katzmann that shed light on why the 2nd Circuit Court ruled in favor of the NFL in their appeal: The commissioner’s powers were collectively bargained by the NFLPA. According to the NFLPA’s CBA with the NFL, Goodell has tremendous power over the player disciplinary process. Though we might disagree with how the system was put together, it was collectively bargained and agreed to. Simply put: Goodell’s decision should be legally binding. Brady was more than just “generally aware” of the situation. The accusations against Brady are much larger in scope than just “general awareness,” as they also include participation in the scheme to tamper with game balls and obstruction of the investigation by destroying his cell phone. Nothing in the CBA granted Brady the right to Paul Weiss’s notes. Brady claimed that his camp didn’t have equal access to Paul Weiss’s notes on the investigation as one of their defenses. However, the 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the CBA didn’t require the NFL to provide such notes. What can we learn from this appeal? There is one huge takeaway, among many smaller ones, from this appeal: carefully read any sort of agreement (in the NFLPA’s case, their CBA with the NFL) before signing it! Even if you feel that you are in the right, a signed legal agreement to the contrary can...

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Governor Rick Scott signs 26 New Bills into Law

Earlier this month, Florida governor Rick Scott signed a heap of new bills into law. Most of them are fairly mundane but those likely to make the headlines include new religions protections for members of the clergy who will not marry gay couples. Additionally, the state will make progress on a bill to replace a statue of confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Smith was one of only two Floridians represented there. A new religious protection bill, called the Pastor Protection Act, is likely to be among the most controversial of the new laws. This law grants churches and the clergy immunity from litigation if they refuse to perform a wedding ceremony they don’t want to perform. The measure was pushed through by religious groups who took issue with the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Another new law, SB 232, recognizes a need for better regulation for guardians of the elderly to help protect them. In the same vein, SB 222 grants free parking at public airports to vehicles with a Disabled Veterans or a Paralyzed Veterans of America designation. This bill was prompted by a disabled veteran’s complaint that he was not given free parking at Tampa International Airport. Smaller bills deal with more simple concerns: SB 112 replaces the term “absentee ballot” with the term “vote-by-mail ballot” for Florida Statutes. HB 695 aims to revise requirements regarding title insurance. There is also some good news for Florida citizens on the SNAP food stamps program. HB 103 will allow participants to use the SNAP benefits to purchase fresh food. Some owners and operators of farmers’ markets, flea markets, community markets, or other open-air markets will be allowed to accept SNAP benefits electronically in exchange for fresh and local foods. This is good news for Florida, a state with many health concerns. For a complete list of the new bills just signed into law, visit this link. No related...

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Should You Act as Your Own Lawyer?

We’ve all seen a few law shows in our time. Whether it’s Law and Order, Judge Judy, or any other program, you probably feel like you’ve picked up some helpful bits of legal advice. But do you think that you are knowledgeable enough to defend yourself in a court of law? In our legal system, one always has the right to personally defend themselves against the law, instead of taking a court-approved attorney or hiring an defense lawyer. Doing so is said to be acting pro se, a Latin term defined as “for oneself; on one’s own behalf; without a layer”. A pro se defense is not common, and for good reason—one’s chances of achieving legal success are much higher with a trained defense lawyer at their side. While there are some success stories about prisoners becoming savvier than their appointed public defenders, by and large choosing a pro se defense is inadvisable. Pros The two most commonly sited advantages of a pro se defense are: A pro se defense eliminates the costs associated with hiring an attorney, saving a defendant a lot of money. The defendant is very familiar with the ins and outs of the evidence and subject matter of the case, which provides them with an advantage with mounting a legal defense. However, when considered closely, these perceived benefits both have unintended consequences that mitigate any real benefit. For example, saving money by neglecting to hire an attorney can save you money initially, but losing a court case will likely result in heavy fines and associated costs that can easily nullify your savings. Also, having a strong understanding of a case does not mean that you have a strong understanding of how to defend yourself within the confines of the law. This is the real advantage attorneys have: They know how to use the legal system. Cons Beyond the implicit disadvantages described above, there are other reasons not to choose a pro se defense. There are many aspects of courtroom proceedings (such as how to make objections or how to enter evidence) that become quite problematic for an untrained defendant. This lack of training may also come out in a less refined argumentative style. Lastly, the inescapable downside of a pro se defense is the issue of bias. As your own defender, your objectivity will be under intense scrutiny. Even under the best circumstances (assuming you do everything right, mechanically speaking), you may still find yourself on the wrong end of a decision simply because of the uncertainty that this bias can create. Ultimately, if you are left with no other choice, then a pro se defense is better than nothing. However, since we have the right to a public defender in any legal case, you should consider a pro se defense as the absolute last resort. No related...

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