UN Panel to Say Assange Has Been Held Arbitrarily

In 2010, the world was rocked over and over again as confidential diplomatic cables from the US government were leaked to the press and the world at large. Behind it all was a man named Julian Assange and the organization that he started for this express purpose, Wikileaks (an organization that publishes information from whistleblowers who wish to stay anonymous). Since then, Wikileaks has continued its mission even as Assange has been hounded by governments from both Europe and the United States of America. This comes from two sexual assault allegations and at least allegation of rape that occurred in Sweden that has had Assange on the run and hiding out. wikileaks, julian assange, law

For the past few years, Assange has been locked away and hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom due to the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries. He has been holed up and unable to leave due to the fact that he would immediately be arrested by the police that have been watching the embassy waiting for that very occurrence to happen. The UK police have been staking out the embassy since Assange took refuge there and have cost taxpayers millions of pounds since it started.

Now a UN panel is expected to rule that Assange has been arbitrarily held captive in the embassy and recommend that he be freed. While the panel isn’t legally binding, it will certainly put pressure on the Swedish government, the UK government, and the EU as a whole when it comes to this manner. Assange first complained to the UN about his arbitrary detention in the embassy in 2014 due to the fact that he couldn’t leave since he would be arrested. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is going to announce its verdict on Friday but all signs point to them siding with Assange. That being said, Assange has also announced that he will be leaving the embassy regardless of the verdict and will accept arrest if that is what is going to happen due to the fact that he feels that there are no more courses for appeal.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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Trump Says Cruz Broke Law to Win in Iowa

Since he first burst on to the political scene in the republican race for the presidential nomination, Donald Trump has been confusing pundits and throwing polls askew as he has gained more and more support above his actual politician rivals. Even with an increasingly inflammatory rhetoric that has shocked and disturbed many of the more terrified citizens of these United States of America, Trump has managed to stay ahead of establishment candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush while also outpacing renegade outsider Ted Cruz in both the polls and in vocal support. That is, he had been outpacing Cruz until recently.

When the Iowa caucuses rolled around, everyone thought that the polls would hold true and that Trump would win with Cruz coming in second. However when the numbers came through, Donald Trump had come in second and Ted Cruz had taken first place, much to the surprise of all involved. While many other candidates would have accepted these results in stride and started to focus on the next primary, Trump decided to do what he does and complain about how he was robbed. Not only that, but he floated that Cruz very well may have broken the law in the process of stealing Trump’s caucus.

So what laws did Cruz break when “stealing” Trump’s win away from him? There is no answer and the original tweet saying so was quickly deleted and edited, removing the word “illegally”. While there is a chance that Cruz did break a law, it wouldn’t be up to Trump to bring him to justice. There’s no denying that Cruz may have engaged in some shady behavior in regards to helping sink Ben Carson’s already dismal chances at victory (staffers and supporters somewhat spread rumors that Carson had dropped out). That being said, there is no evidence as of now that Cruz broke any laws and a presidential candidate getting caught engaged in libel would be a bad move. With Trump liking to call himself a winner who never loses, this lose clearly stung and he’s lashing out once again.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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Florida Needs to Fix it’s Death Penalty Law

The death penalty has caused controversy since it was first made a legal possibility and this controversy has only increased every year as more and more people come out against it. While the death penalty is legal under federal law, various states have made it illegal over time. It is currently legal in 32 states with prisoners in 35 states currently on death row (the death penalty is illegal in Connecticut, Maryland, and New Mexico but isn’t retroactive so prisoners who were on death row will still be executed). Now it seems as though the Supreme Court is being called in to look at certain state’s death penalty laws.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the way Florida handed down its death penalty rulings is unconstitutional and needed to be changed. This is a big deal for a number of reasons, one of which is that Florida currently has one of the country’s most crowded death row systems and seems to hand out the death penalty with more ease than other states in which it’s legal. With the Florida lawmaking session ending in six weeks and prosecutions for cases that have capital punishment as a possible sentence currently stalled, lawmakers in Florida are rushing to create new legislation that will answer the concerns of the court while simultaneously keeping constituents happy.

Up until now, Florida’s death penalty only required a simple majority of a 12-person jury to recommend a death sentence to a judge who would then decide on the punishment — most other states require unanimous jury recommendations. With the 2nd largest number of inmates on death row (behind only California) but the highest execution rate in the country, Florida’s court system is now in turmoil as it tries to figure out a fix. The Supreme Court ruled that the current law gave too much power to judges and not enough to juries, flying in the face of the Sixth Amendment and becoming unconstitutional in the process. While there is no set fix to the ruling yet, it will be interesting to see whether the laws change on a grand scale or simply on a smaller scale targeted to this specific ruling.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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Han Shot First and the Law is Ok With It

There’s no denying that stand-your-ground laws cause controversy and concern in our country. However, regardless of whether or not you agree with them, the use of force to defend yourself when you feel as though your life is threatened is respected throughout all states in the union, regardless of whether or not the state has a stand-your-ground law. People in our country are allowed to defend themselves to the death (either theirs or that of their opponent) if they feel as though there is a legitimate threat to their wellbeing.

If we were to take this law and apply it to all planets in the universe (both fictional and non-fictional), we would inevitably come to the classic Star Wars question of who shot first, Han or Greedo? It turns out that Han did shoot first (this was learned a while ago) and it was only in later versions of the movie that it was edited so the Greedo shot first, therefore preserving Han’s legacy as a hero. However, if we apply the law of the United States of America to Tatooine, it wouldn’t have mattered if Han shot first. Under US law, he felt as though his life was in danger and therefore his shooting of Greedo before Greedo shot wouldn’t sentence him to a murder charge.

When George Lucas changed the original scene in the re-release of the movie, he earned the ire and anger of Star Wars fans across the world. Now it seems as though those edits wouldn’t have mattered. Thanks to an article by University of Alabama School of Law professor John Gross, fans can rest easy in the fact that their anger was righteous and Han’s shooting first wouldn’t have changed the essence of his character. Lucas said that he changed the scene because he didn’t want Solo to be seen as a cold-blooded killer. As Gross’ article clearly states, Han’s shooting first wouldn’t have made him a murderer because his actions were totally justified.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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Florida Dog Bite Law is Overturned After Review

Recently, I wrote a post about a law that is being challenged in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida. The law I spoke about has been a source of controversy since it was enacted and says that any dog who bites a person hard enough to require stitches or reconstructive surgery, regardless of the reason behind the bite, has to be euthanized due to it being a danger to people. As you can expect, there are a number of reasons that this law has faced the amount of criticism that it has — the law is very cut and dry and unless there are concerted efforts at appeals, the law ignores any context behind the dog bite (even if the dog was biting an intruder during a home invasion).

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The law was finally brought under legal review when a dog named Padi bit a child’s ear after allegedly being instigated. What is agreed is that the dog moved to a corner to escape the child only to have the child follow it, leading to the eventual bite. Padi’s owner, Dr. Paul Gartenberg, brought the case to court where a judge ended up reviewing the law as a whole. Judge Andrew Owens ended up throwing both the case against Padi out of court, as well as declaring the law “arbitrary and unduly oppressive.”

This overturning of the law and it being struck down is with no doubt a huge weight off of the shoulders of all dog owners in the state of Florida. Dogs are animals and even the best trained dog will lash out either in fear or panic when it is backed into a corner with no chance of escape. Just like you wouldn’t punish a human as fully for hurting someone in self-defence, the same should goes for dogs because they’re just animals. Hopefully this law will lead to less needless deaths for pets that are honestly more than just pets, they’re family members.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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Florida Dog Bite Law to be Challenged

To many who own them, dogs are more than just pets. They are a part of the family. They can be protectors. They can be co-workers. They can be the one type of therapy that actually helps a person overcome trauma in their past. With so much emphasis, both emotional and economical at times, placed on our furry friends, a law in Florida is being reexamined and potentially updated and changed. As of now, if a dog bites a person hard enough to require any sort of serious medical attention (such as stitches), the dog is to be euthanized with no chance of explanation. This means that even if your dog is defending your property from an armed intruder, it will die.

The law is being looked at thanks to Representative Greg Steube who rightly thinks that the law is absurd and gives the owner of the dog no chance to try to protect their beloved pet. The bill has already passed its first test in the government, with one hearing down and it receiving unanimous support. Now there is going to be a second hearing, followed by a third, and then it will be on Florida Governor Rick Scott’s desk by January if it all goes according to plan. I can’t think of many people who would vote against this sort of change to existing legislation. While obviously some dogs bite good people and some are dangerous, that doesn’t mean that a dog protecting its family deserves to die with no chance of reprieve.

This current examining of the law was brought to light over a case currently in court. A dog named Padi bit a 4 year old on the ear, leading to him needing 3 reconstructive surgeries (though the child is fine in every other respect). Padi is a loved family dog with no previous issues in terms of biting or being dangerous. According to his owner (and witnesses), Padi only attacked after being cornered by the child and having toys thrown at him for minutes. Padi acted as any animal (humans included) would’ve when under attack and escape wasn’t an option. Does that mean he deserves to die?

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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Florida Is Going to Introduce a Daily Fantasy Sports Bill

Since they were first introduced to the mass public watching sports, daily fantasy sports betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have been capturing the minds of consumers and the attention of lawmakers. Betting has had a tenuous relationship with all forms of government (local, state, federal) and legislators for a long time and the laws regarding it are confusing and change depending on where you are. Daily fantasy sports leagues just add another layer of confusion to the mess simply because of how popular they are. Millions of people across the country watch sports, play in fantasy sports leagues, and engage in some sort of betting or another, whether from company pools to the websites and apps in question.sports gambling

Unlike many states that are considering outlawing companies like DraftKings and FanDuel do to gambling restrictions, two Florida legislators is looking to do something a little bit different. Instead of outright banning the practice and the companies that facilitate these practices, they want to introduce laws that will regulate the practice and introduce consumer protections laws so that people don’t get taken advantage of and harmed financially. Republican state Senator Joe Negron and Representative Matt Gaetz are pushing for the law because they believe that people engaging in daily fantasy sports betting don’t deserve to be criminalized and penalized by the law.

That being said, they are also fully aware of just how these sorts of fantasy apps work. Most of the money is won by a very small percentage who do nothing but study statistics and turn fantasy sports betting into a full-time job of sorts. Seeing as almost everyone using these apps are simply doing so casually and for fun, they run the very real risk of being swindled out of their money. Companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have been hiring lawyers and lobbyists in states across the country once they got wind that legislation (both for them and against them) in an attempt to sway people to their sides and if what’s happening is an example, it seems as though this strategy might be working.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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