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Court upholds summary for St. Louis police measure
Politics & Legal | 2012/08/24 14:34
A Missouri appellate court has upheld the proposed ballot summary for an initiative that would end state control of the St. Louis Police Department.

The Missouri Court of Appeals' Western District ruled Tuesday that the summary is fair and sufficient. The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri had filed a lawsuit challenging the summary.

The ballot measure calls for St. Louis to oversee the city's police department instead of a state commission. Election officials reported earlier this month that supporters had submitted enough valid signatures for the measure to appear on the November statewide ballot.

Candidates spar over Sheheen's legal cases
Politics & Legal | 2010/09/04 23:19

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen has handled 90 workers' compensation cases since 2006, according to state records, earning more than $38,000 from his law firm's clients in 2008 and 2009 combined.

Sheheen, a Camden state senator and attorney, last handled a case before the state Workers' Compensation Commission -- whose members Sheheen votes to appoint -- in October, according to agency records.

How the state's gubernatorial candidates earn their living has become an issue in the race, with both Sheheen and Republican nominee Nikki Haley seeking to restore trust in the governor's office and in elected officials.

Haley, a Lexington state representative, has made transparency and requiring lawmakers to disclose their income a foundation of her campaign.

She has characterized Sheheen as a rich trial lawyer and pressed him to release his firm's clients so voters know about any potential conflicts of interests. Haley has also criticized Sheheen for known possible conflicts, such as Sheheen's workers' compensation work and his role in a $2.5 million class-action lawsuit settlement against payday lenders that could pay attorneys up to $1 million in fees.

But Haley has also said -- inaccurately -- in an interview with Fox News that Sheheen "is a trial lawyer that makes $400,000 a year off the state." Haley, who was paid $42,500 from 2007 to 2009 by an engineering firm for consulting work while a lawmaker, declined to answer questions about her income.

Sheheen said he follows Senate ethics laws, including disclosing his firm's publicly funded clients and recusing himself during budget votes, and there is no conflict of interest for votes on workers' compensation or payday lending legislation.

Bush's Latest Targets Farmworkers
Politics & Legal | 2009/01/13 08:59
The Labor and Homeland Security Departments will "render meaningless" many of the basic workplace safety regulations for farm workers by revised regulations to the H-2A visa program scheduled to take effect on Jan. 17, the United Farm Workers claim in Federal Court. The "extensive changes" published in the Federal Register on Dec. 18 "undo" worker protections, cripple the Department of Labor's oversight and enforcement powers, and "unequivocally conflict with the plain language of the H-2A enabling statues," the complaint states.
    "The DOL's extensive changes to the H-2A program do not tinker around the edges; rather, they render meaningless many of the basic health, safety, and wage protections provided to farmworkers under the H-2A statute and current regulations," the complaint states. "The new rules accomplish this not only by undoing many of the substantive worker protections found in the current regulations but also by weakening DOL's role in overseeing and enforcing the statutory mandates of the H-2A program. Many of these regulations unequivocally conflict with the plain language of the H-2A enabling statues. Many others are arbitrary and capricious rules that are inconsistent with the purposes of the statute, run contrary to evidence before DOL in the administrative record and elsewhere, and are poorly explained and justified. These new rules go well beyond DOL's discretion to promulgate regulations; rather, they constitute a wholesale attempt to undo decades-old protections of U.S. farmworkers and H-2A agricultural guestworkers," the complaint states. "These regulations will cause irreparable harm to U.S. and H-2A workers by reducing wages and labor protections, and by decreasing job opportunities for workers who are already among the most impoverished in the country."
    Plaintiffs claim the changes will essentially let labor contractors and employers certify themselves as complying with a wide range of laws and regulations, and excuse the Department of Labor from bothering to certify or investigate.
    Lead counsel in the 69-page complaint is Wilmer Cutler Pickering.

Protesters rally near Texas court in dragging case
Politics & Legal | 2008/11/18 18:51
Protesters galvanized by a dragging death that has stirred memories of the notorious James Byrd case rallied twice outside an eastern Texas courthouse to speak out against a judicial system they consider racist.

About 60 people, led by a contingent from the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, met at the Lamar County Courthouse on Monday to bring attention to the death of Brandon McClelland. The groups later returned with about 200 protesters. Afterward, dozens of people chanting "No justice, no peace!" marched to a nearby church for a meeting.

Authorities say two white suspects purposely ran over McClelland, who is black, following an argument on the way home from a late-night beer run in September. McClelland's body was torn apart as it was dragged some 70 feet beneath a pickup truck near Paris, a city about 95 miles northeast of Dallas with a history of tense relations between blacks and whites.

The death came 10 years after James Byrd was killed in Jasper, another eastern Texas town. Byrd was chained to the back of a pickup by three white men and dragged for three miles.

"How do we get justice for Brandon McClelland?" cried Anthony Bond, founder of the Irving chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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