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Court: US anti-discrimination law covers sexual orientation
Law Firm News | 2018/02/26 12:16
A New York federal appeals court says U.S. anti-discrimination law protects employees from being fired due to sexual orientation.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The decision stemmed from a rare meeting of the full appeals court, which decided to go against its precedents.

Three judges dissented. The ruling pertained to a skydiver instructor who said he was fired after telling a client he was gay.

The case led to two government agencies offering opposing views. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation. The Department of Justice had argued that it did not.

Donald Zarda was fired in 2010 from a skydiving job in Central Islip (EYEl-slihp), New York. He has since died.


Florida man back at Supreme Court with 1st Amendment case
Law Firm News | 2017/11/03 05:04
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a First Amendment case brought by a Florida man who previously won a landmark ruling from the justices on whether his floating home was a house, not a boat subject to easier government seizure under laws that govern ships and boats.

This time, the justices agreed to hear a case in which Fane Lozman sued after being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a public meeting.

Lozman, 56, was never brought to trial on the charges — prosecutors dropped them after concluding there was no possibility of a conviction. Lozman then sued Riviera Beach, claiming his arrest at a 2006 city council meeting violated the First Amendment's free speech guarantee because it was in retaliation for opposing a marina redevelopment plan and accusing council members of corruption.

A jury sided with the city after a trial and an appeals court upheld that verdict. Lozman, however, took the case to the Supreme Court, arguing in part that U.S. appeals courts across the country are split on the issue of retaliatory arrest versus free speech.



Illinois to require veterans courts across the state in 2018
Law Firm News | 2017/10/30 01:50
A law passed last year requires every judicial circuit in Illinois to have a veterans treatment court starting Jan. 1.

The courts allow veterans who were honorably discharged to plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a probation sentence, The Chicago Tribune reported. The sentence requires frequent court visits and mental health or substance abuse treatment.

Veterans can also apply to have their records expunged upon completing the sentence. Those who use the courts typically face lower level felonies.

Supporters say the program will help those who risked their lives for their country.

Army veteran Gregory Parker enrolled in the Lake County Veterans Treatment and Assistance Court after his fourth drunken driving arrest resulted in a felony reckless driving charge. Parker graduated from the program in about 18 months. He's quit drinking and continues to go to therapy.

"I finally find myself enjoying things in life I've never enjoyed before," he said.

But some wonder if every community has the resources or the need for a court dedicated to veterans.

Some rural communities may only have a few veterans moving through the court system, said Michelle Rock, executive director of the Illinois Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and Justice, which provides support for treatment courts statewide.

"We know that it may not be cost-effective for every county in the state to have one," she said.

Before the new law, Kane County officials weighed the need for a veterans court with the availability of resources and decided against offering the court, said Court Administrator Doug Naughton.

The overall court system should be improved, instead of offering one group more options, said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois.



Spooked businesses shift headquarters out of Catalonia
Law Firm News | 2017/10/05 01:28
As separatists in Catalonia jockeyed Friday to elude court rulings and find ways to deliver on their promise to declare independence, business giants hit back with plans to relocate their headquarters elsewhere in Spain amid the increasing political uncertainty.

Caixabank, Spain's third lender in global assets, said Friday that it was moving from Barcelona to the eastern city of Valencia, "given the current situation in Catalonia." It said it wants to remain in the eurozone and under the supervision of the European Central Bank — two things that would not happen if Catalonia did manage to secede.

The region's separatist government has vowed to use a pro-independence victory in a disputed referendum last weekend to go ahead with secession, while calling for Spain's central government to accept a dialogue.

But the government of Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has rejected any negotiations unless the separatists drop their secession bid. Rajoy urged Puigdemont to cancel plans for declaring independence in order to avoid "greater evils."

"In order to dialogue, you must stay within the legal framework," Spanish cabinet spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo told reporters Friday, blaming the secessionists for breaking Spain's constitutional order.

"Coexistence is broken" in Catalonia, he said, warning Catalans that a parliamentary declaration of independence "is not enough" and that the international community needs to recognize independent nations.


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