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Second Circuit Protects Plaintiff's Anonymity
Court Watch | 2008/08/18 15:27
A woman who filed a lawsuit for physical and sexual assault should be allowed to remain anonymous, the 2nd Circuit ruled in a question of first impression.

Judge Cabranes found that the district court improperly dismissed the plaintiff's case due to her refusal to give her name.

While plaintiffs usually must state their names to give the opposition a chance to mount a defense, Cabranes ruled that the district court stuck to the letter of the law without considering whether plaintiff had a legitimate need to keep her identity hidden.

"The district court did not balance the plaintiff's interest in proceeding anonymously against the interests of the defendants and the public," Cabranes wrote.


9th Circ. upholds denial of Oregon domestic partnership
Court Watch | 2008/08/15 14:12
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Thursday that Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury did not violate the constitutional rights of voters who signed a petition to hold a referendum on a state law establishing same-sex domestic partnerships. Bradbury struck over 200 signatures from the petition after officials found that many of the signatures did not match those on voter registration cards. He then announced that the petition was approximately 100 signatures short of the required number. Voters were not permitted to contest the decision by introducing extrinsic evidence, and so signators brought suit, alleging violations of due process and equal protection guarantees. The Ninth Circuit held that any burden placed on the plaintiffs' fundamental right to vote was minimal and held that there had been no constitutional violations:
The Secretary’s procedures already allow chief petitioners and members of the public to observe the signature verification process and challenge decisions by county elections officials. The value of additional procedural safeguards therefore is negligible, and the burden on plaintiffs’ interests from the state’s failure to adopt their proposed procedures is slight at most.
Plaintiffs had unsuccessfully asserted that Oregon was required to provide them with an opportunity to "rehabilitate" the stricken signatures, and also argued that the lack of uniform statewide rules for verifying referendum signatures violated Bush v. Gore.

The US District Court for the District of Oregon ruled in February that the domestic partnership law should be allowed to take effect after it was suspended last December. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the bill into law last May after it was passed by the Oregon House and the Oregon Senate. The law would have taken effect on January 1 of this year had there been no lawsuit.


Inmate Says He's Too Fat for Lethal Injection
Court Watch | 2008/08/05 14:14
An obese death-row inmate claims his size could hinder the effect of one of the drugs used in lethal injection and will make it difficult for executioners to find his veins.

Richard Wade Cooey II filed a federal lawsuit asking Gov. Ted Strickland to bar his Oct. 14 execution until the state addresses his claims. At 5 feet 7, weighing more than 260 pounds, Cooey says he is too fat to be put to death. He claims the potential problems associated with his weight, including the possibility that the anesthetic will have a minimal effect on him, would render lethal injection a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Cooey, 41, was sentenced to death for raping and killing two women in 1986.


Comedian Says Heckler's Lawsuit Isn't Funny
Court Watch | 2008/07/28 14:39
Toronto comedian Guy Earle has sued the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to have a heckler's human-rights complaint against him dismissed.

In May 2007, according to Earle's petition in B.C. Supreme Court, he was hosting an open mic comedy night advertised as "Vancouver's Edgiest Comedy - Not for the Faint of Heart." His onstage persona, the petition states, was "an asshole comic." Lorna Pardy and two friends began heckling him by kissing and yelling, the petition states, and "in the course of trying to silence (Pardy), whom he regarded as an inconsiderate heckler, Mr. Earle used rude language which referenced (Pardy's) sexual preference. (Pardy) continued to heckle."

Earle claims he later tried to make peace with Pardy, but she allegedly threatened him and threw drinks in his face. Pardy later filed a human-rights complaint against Earle, despite an apology, and the tribunal denied Earle's application to dismiss. He claims the tribunal lacks jurisdiction and that the B.C. Human Rights Code is unconstitutional because it's overbroad, vague and it unreasonably infringes upon his right to freedom of expression.

"Guy Earle is not a homophobe," the petition states. "On the contrary, Mr. Earle has many friends and colleagues who are homosexual. He reasserts his unreserved apology to (Pardy) for any suffering she may have experienced as a result of his spontaneous expressions of frustration at her disruption of the performance."

Earle is represented by James Millar.


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