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New Jersey court strikes down sex offender residence laws
Court Issues | 2008/07/16 14:30

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey on Tuesday struck down two municipal ordinances that prohibited convicted sex offenders from living near schools, parks, playgrounds and day care centers. The Appellate Division ruled that New Jersey's statewide sex offender registry program, known as Megan's Law, preempted the local ordinances and provided the state and all municipalities with a uniform rehabilitation and public safety plan. The court explained:

The far-reaching scope of Megan's Law and its multilayered enforcement and monitoring mechanisms constitute a comprehensive system chosen by the Legislature to protect society from the risk of reoffense by CSOs and to provide for their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. The system is all-encompassing regarding the activities of CSOs living in the community. We conclude that the ordinances conflict with the expressed and implied intent of the Legislature to exclusively regulate this field, as a result of which the ordinances are preempted.

The court added that the ordinances, which prohibited CSOs from living within 2500 feet of a variety of locations frequented by children, had the effect of barring CSOs from upwards of two-thirds of the towns which had enacted the ordinances, and violated provisions of Megan's Law that expressly prohibited disclosing CSO information for the purposes of denying individuals housing and accommodations. AP has more.

Courts in other states have also overturned or restricted laws seeking to limit housing options for registered sex offenders. In May, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned [opinion, a 2006 state law that prohibited sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, public park, or youth center. Last November, the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously overturned a state law that prohibited registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and other areas where children gather. Civil rights groups had criticized the law as overly strict, saying that the state's roughly 11,000 registered sex offenders would have been barred from living in almost any residential area. In February 2007 a federal judge ruled that California's Proposition 83, which prohibited California sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any place where children regularly gather, could not be applied retroactively to more than 90,000 paroled sex offenders because there was nothing in the measure to indicate that intent.



Dallas Schools Accused Of Racist Policy
Law Firm News | 2008/07/15 14:15
The Dallas Independent School District discriminates against black children and poor children in school spending, parents and students claim in Federal Court. They say one predominantly black school is so underfunded it has bathrooms with no doors inside classrooms.

Plaintiffs, including The Coalition to Maximize Education, cite a litany of alleged racist abuses involving a $1.3 billion bond approved in 2002 and a $1.35 billion bond in 2008.

They claim DISD bond manager John Williams was fired after complaining that the DISD was re-allocation bond money from black neighborhoods to other schools.

They claim a 2002 DISD facilities study found $2.3 billion worth of work was needed, primarily in black schools, but the DISD ignored that list in its 2008 study, though those needs had not been addressed.
   
Maynard Jackson Junior High School has restrooms "inside many of the classrooms," the complaint states. "Many of them have no stall doors, creating an untenable privacy situation for the coeducational students."

The complaint states: "DISD's neglect of Maynard Jackson, for example, resulted in the exposure to poisonous gases in the facility. Numerous reports were given to the administration about the situation. For years there have been sewer problems at this school and in some instances raw sewage was on the front lawn of the campus. The stench was so strong that students and personnel complained."

Plaintiffs claim the DISD is continuing its racist spending policies with the $1.35 billion bond that voters approved in May, by "diverting resources away from communities that are in the most need".

It cites Roosevelt High School, South Oak Cliff High School, D.A. Hulsey Middle School and James Madison as more exampled of underfunded, dilapidated campuses.

Conditions in black school are so wretched that parents have their children bused to other schools, and the DISD uses the declining enrollment to justify cutting funding even more, parents say.
 


Ibuprofen Strip Search Violated Student's Rights
Court Issues | 2008/07/14 14:30
School officials violated the Fourth Amendment of a 13-year-old girl when they strip-searched her for two Advil tablets, a divided 9th Circuit ruled.

Judge Wardlaw, writing for the 6-5 majority, found that officials at Safford (Ariz.) Middle School were not protected by qualified immunity.

While searching for the source of a drug problem at the school, officials received a tip that a girl named Marissa had supplied students with Advil to take at lunchtime.

Marissa implicated another student named Savana Redding, an honor student who had never been in trouble before. Redding was summoned to the principal's office.

Although a search of Redding's backpack revealed no drugs, she was still taken to the bathroom by a school nurse and forced to strip to her underwear. She also had to expose her private parts to prove she had no drugs.

The only link to implicate Redding was the testimony of a student who was caught red-handed, Wardlaw noted. Even the anonymous tip about Marissa's drug possession did not mention Redding.

"Officials who strip-searched Savana acted contrary to all reason and common sense as they trampled over her legitimate and substantial interest in privacy and security of her person," Wardlaw wrote.

Judges Gould, Silverman, Hawkins, Bea and Kozinski dissented.


Anti-Smoking Drug Induces Violent Psychosis, Patient Claims
Law Firm News | 2008/07/11 14:14
Pfizer's smoking-cessation drug Chantix induced manic, violent psychosis requiring hospitalization, a man claims in Federal Court. He claims Pfizer failed to warn about the side effects, which have "caused serious injury and death."

Chantix is supposed to work by inhibiting nicotine receptors in the brain. Those receptors are controlled by dopamine, a neurotransmitter, the complaint states: "Essentially, Chantix regulates/restricts dopamine and blocks pleasure sensors to depress the normal flux of emotions experiences by humans in daily life."

Brian Kline claims Pfizer concealed and misrepresented the risks of Chantix (varenicline), knew that it was unsafe and had "caused serious injury and death," but failed to warn of it. He claims he took the drug, "which caused the plaintiff to sustain injuries and damages including but not limited to manic behavior, aggressive and violent behavior and diagnosis of psychotic disorder for which the plaintiff was hospitalized in August 2007.

Kline claims Pfizer intentionally excluded from its clinical trials people with histories of depression or psychological disorders. He claims that Chantix is derived from cytosine, and that Pfizer knew or should have known that cytosine was linked as early as 1972 to suicides and attempted suicides.

Kline demands punitive damages. He is represented by Scott Levensten


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