Jurupa Valley teacher who said she was fired for Christian beliefs will get $360,000

Jessica Tapia’s suit alleged Jurupa schools required her to recognize students’ transgender identities

The Jurupa Unified School District in Riverside County will pay $360,000 to a former high school gym teacher who alleged she was fired for refusing to follow policies recognizing students’ transgender identities, a conservative law firm announced Tuesday, May 14.

The settlement, disclosed by the Murrieta-based Advocates for Faith & Freedom, ends a lawsuit filed last year in federal court by Jessica Tapia, who accused the district of violating her civil and First Amendment rights when it terminated her in January 2023.

“What happened to me can happen to anybody, and I want the next teacher to know that it is worth it to take a stand for what is right,” Tapia said in the Advocates’ news release.

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“Across the country, we are seeing teachers’ freedom of speech and religious liberty violated through policies that require them to forsake their morals. I want teachers to be confident in the fact that the best thing we can do for students is educate in truth, not deception.”

The settlement “serves as a reminder that religious freedom is protected, no matter your career,” Julianne Fleischer, an Advocates lawyer, said in the release.

“If the school district’s actions were legal, no teacher of faith would be qualified to serve as a public school teacher. Jessica’s story is one of faithful courage. She fought back to ensure her school district was held accountable and that no other teacher has to succumb to this type of discrimination.”

The Jurupa school board approved the settlement Monday, May 13, according to a statement issued by district spokesperson Jacqueline Paul.

“The district has not admitted any fault or wrongdoing as part of this settlement,” the statement read.

“The decision to settle this case was made in conjunction with the district’s self-insurance administrators and in the best interest of the students, such that the district would be able to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to its student population regardless of their protected class.”

According to her lawsuit, Tapia attended Jurupa Valley High School and had been a district employee in various capacities since 2014 before becoming the high school’s only female physical education teacher in 2021.

Tapia, a Christian who believes God created two sexes — male and female — was placed on paid administrative leave in 2022 after “some issues had been brought to the District’s attention regarding her personal social media posts,” the lawsuit states.

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

What Guilty Pleas in Georgia Mean for the Federal Case Against Trump

The guilty pleas present a host of challenges as state and federal prosecutors engage in parallel efforts to hold Donald J. Trump accountable, defense lawyers and former federal prosecutors say.

Jack Smith, the special counsel investigating former President Donald J. Trump, brought a streamlined case against Mr. Trump in accusing him of trying to subvert democracy — with the goal of moving the case rapidly to trial in a presidential election year.

Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., chose a starkly different strategy in prosecuting Mr. Trump for seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, indicting 18 co-defendants as well as the former president. Critics said that approach would take far longer.

But she has moved with a stunning swiftness that has taken both the Trump team and some Justice Department officials by surprise — obtaining plea deals from three lawyers aligned with Mr. Trump — Kenneth ChesebroSidney Powell and Jenna Ellis — in the space of a week.

The developments are, without a doubt, good news for Mr. Smith. But they also present logistical and legal challenges as Mr. Smith and Ms. Willis engage in parallel efforts to hold Mr. Trump accountable, according to defense lawyers and former federal prosecutors.

Despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to postpone the federal election case until after the 2024 election, it is still scheduled to go to trial in March. The plea agreements, and the prospect that even more of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants will cut deals, have made it nearly impossible to determine when the trial in the Georgia case will begin, and have increased overall uncertainty about both cases.

Here is what to know about the impact of the plea deals on the federal case.

Yes, but it is complicated.

Any publicly released documents or statements in all of the cases — including court appearances by the Fulton County defendants — can be admissible as evidence in the federal trial.

It remains unlikely, given the initial timetable set by Ms. Willis’s staff, and the recent flurry of activity spurred by demands from Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro for a speedy trial under Georgia law, that Mr. Trump’s Georgia trial would take place before the federal case.

That means any public testimony against Mr. Trump would probably come after Mr. Smith had already brought his case, although the situation remains fluid.

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Ms. Willis and her staff have discretion when it comes to deciding whether they will share material that has not entered the official record, including transcripts and video of witness interviews and other evidence, with Mr. Smith’s team.

Confused about the inquiries and legal cases involving former President Donald Trump? We’re here to help.

  • Key Cases and Inquiries: The former president faces several investigations at both the state and the federal levels, into matters related to his business and political careers. Here is a close look at each.
  • Case Tracker: Trump is at the center of four criminal investigations. Keep track of the developments in each here.
  • How Judges Restrain Trump: Courts have a variety of options to stop the former president’s continued attacks on staff members and witnesses. The question is whether any of them will work.
  • What if Trump Is Convicted?: Will any of the proceedings hinder Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign? Can a convicted felon even run for office? Here is what we know, and what we don’t know.

That is why federal prosecutors, when confronted with dual-track local prosecutions in the past, have pushed to proceed first — to avoid having to defer to elected district attorneys answerable to voters.

The best-case scenario for Mr. Smith is that Fulton County prosecutors will simply hand over interview transcripts to the government, said Darryl K. Brown, a University of Virginia law professor who teaches courses on evidence and criminal procedure. If that happens, the special counsel’s office could then subpoena the defendants, or other witnesses, and ask them under oath if what they said previously was truthful.

“The easiest thing would be to call witnesses to the stand and ask them, ‘Do you stand by your statement?’” he said. “People who cooperate with local prosecutors will also tend to cooperate with federal prosecutors.”

It is possible, however, that Ms. Willis will ask Mr. Smith and his team to share information about their investigation, as a reciprocal gesture.

That could prove problematic. Already, the judge in the federal election case has imposed a robust protective order that shields most evidence from being given to people who are not parties to it. And federal prosecutors are bound to keep testimony before grand juries secret. They can request that it be shared with local prosecutors but seldom do, said Kenneth P. White, a former federal prosecutor.

The Justice Department has been resistant to sharing any material on Mr. Trump’s cases outside the department, engaging in a monthslong scrap with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, over doing so.

“If things break down, Smith could, technically, subpoena stuff from Willis,” Mr. White said. “But that’s much too aggressive, and he’s never going to do that. So they have to work things out.”

No, contact between the two prosecutors has been fairly minimal, according to people familiar with the situation.

“I don’t know what Jack Smith is doing, and Jack Smith doesn’t know what I’m doing,” Ms. Willis said in the weeks before she brought charges against Mr. Trump. “In all honesty, if Jack Smith was standing next to me, I’m not sure I would know who he was. My guess is he probably can’t pronounce my name correctly.”

But the recent plea deals could change that dynamic, even though Ms. Willis’s team continues to privately stress their prosecutorial independence, those people said.

The Justice Department does not prohibit interactions with other offices. In fact, the department’s procedural handbook encourages early cooperation between federal prosecutors and officials from state and local law enforcement agencies to avoid conflicts and duplications of effort.

The guidelines are relatively vague, but include guardrails intended to protect defendants, warning prosecutors that “parallel proceedings must be handled carefully in order to avoid allegations of improper release of grand jury material or abuse of civil process.”

Whatever evidence Mr. Smith obtains from Georgia will be turned over to the Trump defense team as part of the discovery process.

Yes, but it might offer limited protection.

If Mr. Smith were to subpoena Mr. Chesebro, Ms. Powell and Ms. Ellis as witnesses against Mr. Trump, they could refuse to testify by exercising their Fifth Amendment rights — even though they had effectively waived those rights in Georgia.

But Mr. Smith could counter by bringing federal charges against them, giving him the same leverage Fulton County prosecutors had when negotiating their original plea. And any admissions made on the stand in Fulton County could, in theory, be used against them by Mr. Smith. Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro are already believed to be two of the unnamed co-conspirators in Mr. Smith’s federal indictment.

“Just because they have immunity in Georgia doesn’t mean they have immunity” in Washington, Mr. White said.

Possibly.

There is no road map for indicting a former president, much less simultaneously prosecuting one for similar crimes in two jurisdictions. The Justice Department typically seeks to avoid concurrent cases to prevent discrepancies in witness testimony that can be exploited by the defense to seed doubt about the entire case.

Mr. Trump has adopted the same approach when former aides or advisers turn on him: He tries to undermine their credibility.

His habit of calling out potential witnesses and co-defendants prompted the judge presiding over his federal case in Washington to impose a limited gag order — but his legal team will almost certainly zero in on weaknesses and discrepancies in their testimony.

Several former prosecutors noted that the Fulton County indictments, which rely on Georgia’s expansive anti-racketeering law, presented many of the problems posed by other sprawling cases that rely on the testimony of former allies: The most important witnesses have a well-documented history of making false statements.

Click here to read the full article in the NY Times

John Eastman’s Disastrously Bad Idea

 Claremont Institute legal scholar John Eastman will be arraigned next week on nine felony counts related to his efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 election, charges that were brought by the Democratic district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, Fani Willis. Eastman is one of the minds behind the scheme that, had it been enacted on Jan. 6, 2021, called for then-Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the congressional certification of Electoral College results, to send the votes of key states including Arizona and Georgia back to the states for more debate and investigation, thus denying Joe Biden a victory in the Electoral College that was already settled and certified.

Pence refused to take part in the scheme. Then the proceedings were interrupted for several hours by the Capitol riot. And then Biden’s victory was finally certified. There was never any chance Eastman’s plan would have succeeded, but there is no doubt that, had Pence followed Eastman’s advice, the already chaotic day would have descended into a far more serious disorder.

That doesn’t mean Eastman’s idea was illegal. It does not mean it was a crime. In the political world, there are a lot of very damaging ideas that are not crimes. But prosecutor Willis has pushed ahead, even though a judge barred her from pursuing one possible defendant because of her, Willis’s, partisan political activities.

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In any event, now Eastman, facing the possibility of years in prison, will begin his defense. This week, he began it in a very public way by sitting for an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, who in addition to her work on television is a lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk. In just a few minutes, Ingraham exposed a key flaw, perhaps the key flaw, of Eastman’s plan: He had no idea what to do if he succeeded.

Early in the interview, Eastman claimed that he had “lots of evidence of fraud” in the 2020 presidential election. Ingraham challenged him. “I haven’t seen that evidence,” she responded. “And I’m always wanting to see everything. So I haven’t seen that evidence.” The conversation then turned to the legal challenges of election results. But then Ingraham got to the simple question at the heart of the Jan. 6 story: “John, on Jan. 6, what did you want to happen? … Just so the viewers can understand what would have unfolded and how that would have ultimately been constitutional.”

Eastman began by saying that “some people,” meaning some around then-President Donald Trump, “had urged that Vice President Pence simply had power to reject electors whose certification was still pending.” In other words, Pence could, all on his own, reject Biden’s victory. Ingraham quickly noted, “I don’t believe that,” but Eastman maintained that it was an “open issue.” Nevertheless, Eastman said he told Pence “it would be foolish to exercise such power even if he had it.”

OK. So what did Eastman want Pence to do? “What I recommended, and I’ve said this repeatedly, is that he accede to requests from more than a hundred state legislators in those swing states to give them a week to try and sort out the impact of what everybody acknowledged was illegality in the conduct of the election.”

“Not everyone acknowledged it,” Ingraham noted. And then a more practical question: “You thought a week was going to be enough to hear all these challenges?” Underlying Ingraham’s question was a simple fact: There was no way in the world the challenges could have been resolved in a week. Eastman acknowledged that when he responded, “We’re still 2 1/2 years later looking at the evidence.”

Still, Eastman maintained that “what a week would have done is give them an opportunity to assess, OK, is the uncertainty so great because of the illegality in the election that we have a failed election? And at that point, the power to do the best they can revolved back to the [state] legislature. … A week would have given them a time to try and decide what, if anything, to do about it. And, you know, we were never going to get in a week to the bottom of how much fraud or what have you. But we could get to the bottom of illegality, and we could make some estimates and extrapolations to try and do the best job we could to assess what the likely outcome actually was.”

There it is. Eastman said a week would be enough for the state legislatures to come up with “estimates and extrapolations” to see if the election was legitimate or not. That was his plan. But remember this:

1) The state results were already certified. They were literally signed, sealed, and delivered. The challenges from “more than a hundred state legislators” that Eastman mentioned were from several states and from people who did not represent a majority in any house of any state legislature. They were just groups of Republican lawmakers who questioned the election results. When Eastman referred to “electors whose certification was still pending” — there weren’t any. No legislature, as a body, and no governor had declared a state’s results illegitimate. Indeed, just the opposite was true. After recounts in the key states, the states had certified the results. There was no legal reason to send the election results back to any state.

2) The “illegalities” that Eastman cited had been considered in the courts. Some claims had been rejected before the election, some after the election. One important claim, in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court, acting on its own, extended the time in which mail-in ballots could be received, made its way to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it. That is not to say there was no valid criticism of the Pennsylvania court’s action, but the fact is, the objection had been taken all the way to the Supreme Court, and the case was over.

3) Most importantly, Eastman did not know what to do if he won. Let’s say Pence sent the electoral results back to some states. In a week, according to Eastman’s thinking, the state legislatures could “get to the bottom of illegality.” And what then? At that point, somebody would make “estimates and extrapolations” to determine if 2020 was a “failed election.” Then they would do “the best job we could” to “assess what the likely outcome actually was.”

Who knows how that would work. But here is the fundamental question. Under Eastman’s plan, who would be president of the United States at noon on Jan. 20, 2021? Would the president take office on the basis of Electoral College results or somebody’s “estimates and extrapolations” of what those results would be if the election were somehow conducted differently? What legitimacy would the president chosen on the basis of “estimates and extrapolations” have?

Click here to read the full article in the Washington Examiner

‘Trump Would Be Better Off If He Had Never Met John Eastman’

Column: As Eastman’s legal exposure increases, a conservative lawyer and former Trump delegate illuminates Eastman’s ‘three major rookie blunders’

True, former President Donald Trump’s mug shot is generating more cash than John Eastman’s mug shot — while Trump glowers, Eastman looks more like one of those stone heads on the graves in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion — but the former Chapman Law dean isn’t doing too shabbily on the fundraising front:

Tens of thousands in small donations have poured in over the past week, helping Eastman surpass his half-million dollar “legal defense fund” target. He set a new goal of $750,000.

It appears he’ll need it.

Eastman faces a slew of criminal charges in Georgia, including violating the state’s RICO Act, filing false documents, soliciting a public officer to violate the oath of office and other criminal conspiracies.  Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged Eastman, Trump and 17 others with scheming to subvert the will of Georgia voters in an illegal bid to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss there. They are scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 6.

More criminal charges could be forthcoming in federal court for Eastman, and he’s currently fighting charges of “dishonesty and moral turpitude” as the California Bar tries to yank his law license.

This bar trial is fascinating stuff, offering a sneak peek at the defenses Eastman will mount in criminal court(s) — and it has some legal observers thinking that Eastman is in big, big, big trouble.

Eastman and his lawyers argue that his legal advice to Trump — including memos theorizing that the vice president has power to delay election certification and send matters back to the states for a potential do-over and that states could send alternate electors (for the losing candidate) to the Capitol even after election results are certified by those states. etc. —  wasn’t unreasonable, and his opinion that there was massive fraud in the election is a matter of free speech.

Experts for the bar say it’s quite clearly otherwise.

“No reasonable lawyer exercising diligence appropriate to the circumstances would adopt Mr. Eastman’s legal positions,” wrote constitutional scholar Matthew A. Seligman in a report for the bar.

Months into his bar trial, Eastman asked the judge to halt trial until the Georgia criminal case concludes — to, you know, avoid incriminating himself. The judge declined. It’s apparently a bit too late for that.

Eastman “has testified for over 8 hours … not once invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege or making any such objection to his testimony thus far,” the judge wrote. “It is firmly established that a witness cannot choose to testify willingly about a topic … and then later claim the right to remain silent under self-incrimination privilege. …

“The act of testifying results in a forfeiture of the privilege for the subjects discussed.”

‘Three major rookie blunders’

And among Eastman’s “three major rookie legal blunders,” Laguna Niguel attorney James V. Lacy tells us, is this testifying in the disbarment proceeding bit.

Taking the stand for more than eight hours after zipping his lips and invoking the Fifth Amendment before the House Jan. 6 committee was probably, at best, unwise.

“Clearly Eastman was headed for a criminal trial, the House even referred him to the Justice Department!” said Lacy, whose conservative bona fides include serving in the Reagan and Bush administrations and as a Trump delegate in 2016.

Yet, somehow, for some reason, Eastman didn’t seek to postpone the disbarment trial, and then proceeded to talk, talk, talk. “Once that horse is out of the barn, any decent lawyer knows the Fifth Amendment defense as to what has already been said is out the window,” Lacy said.

Eastman’s other two major rookie legal blunders, in Lacy’s opinion, are as follows:

“Being a cheapskate and using the Chapman.edu server to send and accept attorney-client privilege messages about Trump’s post-election legal strategy. That all should have been done on his own secure confidential server. It is an inexcusable violation of client expectations of attorney confidentiality to send confidential messages over a server you do not control, let alone one that is owned by a public nonprofit educational institution,” he wrote to us.

Then, Eastman sued in federal court in an attempt to keep those Chapman emails confidential — which turned out to be way worse than shooting yourself in the foot. He got nowhere, almost all the emails were divulged anyway, and he put himself — and his client, Trump — in a far worse position by setting the stage for Judge David O. Carter to write that Eastman and Trump “more likely than not” committed a crime by trying to stop the vote certification on Jan. 6.

“If Eastman had used a secure system, or never filed the litigation to try to fix it, Carter would never have had a platform to write that,” Lacy said.

Lacy’s not saying that’s legal malpractice, but someone else might.

‘Awful legal advice’

Lacy has known Eastman for years. They met in D.C. in the 1980s, they vied for the same congressional seat in the 1990s, have had a “decent” relationship, with Lacy even taking on one of Eastman’s Chapman law students as an intern, who Lacy hired and who remains on the firm’s staff today.

“As a person who has supported Trump in the past, I am deeply saddened by this awful legal advice he gave to Trump,” Lacy said. “If Eastman was never in the picture, never gave any such legal advice … Trump would be in a far better political position today. Two of the four indictments would never have even happened.

“I’ve known John a long time,” Lacy continued. “He’s been very strong on extreme legal theories and trying to normalize them. Not just with this bit of the vice president having power to reject electors, but his philosophizing that state legislatures have unlimited power. … It’s just not true. Both of those are contrary to the underpinnings of our democracy.

“How could you say it’s democracy at all if it doesn’t provide for judicial review, for fairness? How can you say the vice president can set aside certified state electors? How can you say that, and say you’re a conservative and believe in state’s rights?”

Eastman didn’t just propose a theory on how to postpone or set aside certified election results from seven different states. He provided legal advice that he didn’t really believe in — in emails to the vice president’s lawyer, Eastman concedes that not one Supreme Court justice would agree with him — and took “overt acts,” Lacy said.

Eastman contacted state officials, helped organize alternate slates of Trump electors, testified to state legislators, was “a serpent in the ear of the President of the United States, the most powerful office in the entire world,” as the vice president’s attorney said.

“I can say flat out that Trump would have been so far better off politically if he didn’t have this 1/6 albatross around his neck, that was really created by Eastman,” Lacy said. “Even if Trump wanted to interfere in the outcome of the election, without those two (Eastman) memos, there’s no path to it.

“Trump would be better off if he had never met John Eastman.”

A judge set a March 4 trial date for Trump in the federal case charging the former president with trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

On Eastman’s defense that his opinions on massive fraud et al are a matter of free speech, Lacy says this:

“The zero-in point is coupling all his overt acts like helping prepare fake state elector certificates and calling legislators. The overt acts, like yelling ‘Fire!’ In a theater when you know there is no fire, makes the speech/advice no longer protected by the First Amendment.”

‘Contribute (or contribute again!)’

Eastman and his attorneys beg to differ there, of course.

“(W)e sought to have investigated what Vice President Mike Pence described as ‘serious allegations of voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law.’  Doing that is speech and petitioning the government for redress of grievances fully protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Eastman wrote on his fundraising blog.

“But the narrative being foisted on us by the left and by the anti-Trump right doesn’t care about constitutional rights, free and fair elections, presumption of innocence, or any of those other basic components of our system of government. That mentality needs to be confronted head on, and with your help, I’m doing all that I can….

“Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. And if you can, contribute (or contribute again!) to the legal defense fund and encourage your friends to do the same. Estimates from the various lawyers with whom I have spoken over the past week indicate this may cost $1 Million or more.”

After his booking in Georgia, Eastman vowed to vigorously contest every count of the indictment. “I am confident that, when the law is faithfully applied in this proceeding, all of my co-defendants and I will be fully vindicated,” his statement said.

Others aren’t so sure. Lacy thinks Eastman should have simply resigned his bar membership rather than agree to testify at the disbarment trial. Eastman is licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C.  He doesn’t really need a California law license.

The best thing Eastman can do now — not just for himself, but for Trump and everyone else — is to shut up, Lacy said.

We’ll see how that plays out at the State Bar. His trial resumes Sept. 5.

Click here to read the article in the OC Register

Trump Mugshot Released After Surrendering in Georgia

Former President Donald Trump‘s mugshot has been released Thursday night.

The photo comes after Trump surrendered in Georgia after flying out of an airport in New Jersey. Jail records listed Trump as 6-foot-3 and at 215 pounds.

Trump, who served as the nation’s commander-in-chief from 2016 to 2020, has been booked on more than a dozen charges related to an alleged plan to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election in Georgia.

The Georgia arrest marked the fourth criminal case against Trump since March 2023. Trump is the first former U.S. President to be indicted. In addition to the Georgia case, he also faces federal charges in Florida and Washington, D.C.

Trump is now in custody at Fulton County jail. A federal judge set up a Sept. 18 hearing for former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark’s motion to move the Georgia case to federal court, according to FOX 11’s sister station WAGA-TV.

Earlier in the week, Rudy Giuliani had his mugshot released to the public after the former New York City Mayor turned himself in over the alleged push to overturn the 2020 Presidential Election results. Giuliani and Trump join 17 others who were indicted earlier in the month.

Giuliani is accused of spearheading Trump’s efforts to compel state lawmakers in Georgia and other closely contested states to illegally appoint electoral college electors favorable to Trump.

Giuliani has since been released from jail after posting bond. Like the former NYC Mayor, Trump is also back on the streets after posting bond.

Click here to read the full article at FOX 11 LA

Ex-Chapman Law Dean John Eastman, Who Advised Former President Donald Trump, Indicted on 9 counts

Ex-Chapman Law dean John Eastman, the architect of a plan to keep former President Donald Trump in office, was indicted along with Trump and 17 others in Fulton County, Georgia, on Monday, Aug. 14.

Eastman was part of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act count of an indictment issued by a grand jury and presented by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

The attorney was indicted on eight additional counts:

  • Solicitation Of Violation Of Oath By Public Officer;
  • Conspiracy To Commit Impersonating A Public Officer;
  • Conspiracy To Commit Forgery In The First Degree;
  • Conspiracy To Commit False Statements And Writings;
  • Conspiracy To Commit Filing False Documents;
  • Conspiracy To Commit Forgery In The First Degree;
  • Conspiracy To Commit False Statements And Writings;
  • Filing False Documents.

Willis said those indicted have until Aug. 25 to turn themselves in voluntarily.

Eastman was an unidentified, unindicted co-conspirator in a federal indictment against Trump issued by special counsel Jack Smith on Aug. 1. He clearly was one of the six who weren’t named based on specific quotes and actions attributed to co-conspirator 2 in the indictment.

He even acknowledged that the Southern California News Group put it all together in a post on his fundraising page for his legal defense.

“Lots of speculation swirling around today about whether I am one of the unindicted co-conspirators mentioned in the latest indictment handed down by the Biden administration against its most likely opponent in the next election, Donald Trump,” Eastman said in a post dated Aug. 2. “

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

MSNBC Host Blasts GOP ‘White Supremacists’ After Rittenhouse Verdict: ‘I Find These People Disgusting’

Tiffany Cross said she took issue with U.S. Reps. Gaetz and Gosar offering to hire Rittenhouse as a congressional intern, a report said

Liberal MSNBC host Tiffany Cross blasted Republican members of Congress as “White supremacists” on Saturday, one day after a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.

Cross, host of “The Cross Connection,” specifically took aim at U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mediaite.com reported. Her comments came during a conversation with The Nation journalist Elie Mystal, who was also critical of the GOP.

During the conversation, Cross referred to 18-year-old Rittenhouse as “this little murderous White supremacist,” even though the jury agreed Rittenhouse acted in self-defense last year when he shot three people, killing two, and that all three people he shot, like Rittenhouse, were White.

Cross said she took issue with Gaetz and Gosar offering to hire Rittenhouse as a congressional intern after the trial concluded, claiming the Republicans were celebrating the outcome of the trial.

“I find these people disgusting, Elie,” Cross told her guest, according to Mediaite. “I’m disgusted at what I’m seeing.”

“Welcome to the modern Republican Party,” Mystal responded. “This is what these people want, and this is what a majority of White people vote for.”

Click here to read the full article at Fox News

Baseless Lawsuits May Begin and End with California

court gavelCalifornians may not know it, but their courts are creating an unprecedented “super tort” that could be used against anyone that makes and sells a lawful product. Today, it is paint and tomorrow it could be you or your company.

In February, California’s Supreme Court surprised many experts by declining to review a high-profile case against paint and pigment makers that has been in the state’s court system since the early 2000s. In unprecedented rulings, the lower courts are making three companies pay more than a billion dollars to remove lead paint from all private homes built before 1951 across 10 California counties. The only option left for the companies is to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

To some, this may not sound like a case of national importance, but it is. Lawsuits that seek to pursue businesses for money, regardless of wrongdoing, have been tried for four decades. In the past, state courts have stopped this including in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Illinois. This case is the first time a state high court has allowed this type of deep pocket jurisprudence to stand.

The legal theory is a new twist on the centuries-old tort of public nuisance. The lawsuit argues that three companies can be liable for all lead paint remaining in homes today simply because they sold paint containing lead pigment decades ago. The passage of time, the development of knowledge about specific risks and any semblance of actual causation were jettisoned from the case. Incredibly, the lower courts are requiring the companies to remove lead paint from homes even if their paints were never in those homes.

Now, lawyers representing eight California communities are pushing a similar version of public nuisance theory against energy manufacturers. In lawsuits filed last year, they allege the companies are contributing to climate change and, therefore, should be liable for any potential impacts of the global phenomenon. Even though energy products are used by every American and around the world, the lawsuits want to hold a handful of companies responsible. It may be good for politicians seeking headlines or lawyers seeking financial gain, but it won’t solve the problem. It does, however, threaten the jobs of manufacturing workers. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup agreed that the courts are not the proper venue to address this issue and recently dismissed the complaints brought by San Francisco and Oakland.

With these public nuisance lawsuits in their infancy, along with a similar one brought by New York City, the U.S. Supreme Court should hear the case against the paint manufacturers. The Supreme Court could go a long way in halting the onslaught of baseless lawsuits cropping up across the country.

If the Supreme Court grants review, the plaintiffs may have their work cut out for them. The Court shut down similar lawsuits in the past. In American Electric Power v. Connecticut, a state-led coalition sued six power companies claiming that their emissions were a federal public nuisance. In an 8-0 decision, the Court dismissed the suit, explaining that emissions are not to be regulated by the courts. Similarly, lead paint, once its harms were known, was subject to regulation by the legislative and executive branches— not the courts. If American Electric Power v. Connecticut is any indication, Supreme Court consideration of the lead paint case may help shut the door on these baseless lawsuits.

More than one million Californians work in manufacturing and more than twelve million men and women nationally. These types of lawsuits undermine the fairness of our nation’s legal system, our manufacturing base, and our economy.

Lindsey de la Torre is Executive Director of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturers Accountability Project.

Harris and Court Acted Correctly In Throwing Out Sodomite Suppression Act

No one should overreact in defense of the initiative process to the court decision allowing the Attorney General to throw out an initiative that is reprehensible and clearly unconstitutional, but we must be sure that the decision is not a step in expanding the power of any official to determine if an initiative is or is not constitutional.

The Sodomite Suppression Act is abominable and it is understandable that Attorney General Kamala Harris wants no part of it. But the initiative process finds itself more and more entangled with politicians’ decisions to perform official acts if the official thinks a proposed or successfully passed measure is unconstitutional. Since the initiative is a tool for the people to bypass politicians this situation is concerning.

Superior Court Judge Raymond M. Cadei relieved the AG of issuing a title and summary on the anti-gay initiative because the proposed initiative was “patently unconstitutional” and defendant, Matthew McLaughlin, defaulted. The Judge wrote, among other concerns, that preparing the title and summary for the measure would be a waste of time and resources. But, the Judge also noted that the initiative could “generate unnecessary divisions among the public.”

That is a curious phrase if allowed to stand alone in some future court challenge because in the rough and tumble world of politics divisions among the public over policy questions are par for the course.

The Sodomite Suppression Act is certainly an extraordinary state of affairs. Perhaps, because this situation is so egregious, this will be the only example that an attorney general will turn to the courts and ask that she or he be excused from performing a duty related to a controversial initiative.

Or just maybe a future attorney general would push the envelope on declaring a proposal unconstitutional. Then the people’s initiative process would be in jeopardy. Let’s hope no precedent has been set in that direction with this action.

It was only a couple of years ago that the attorney general and governor refused to defend an initiative passed by the voters, claiming the measure unconstitutional. In the instance of Proposition 8, which I did not support, I felt at least the proponents should be allowed to defend a measure passed by the voters. If the court determined a measure is unconstitutional then so be it.

As I have said before, courts determining the constitutionality of an initiative always have been the failsafe against initiatives that threaten constitutional rights and protections. We have seen that occur a number of times in California.

The danger lies in letting one or two elected officials declare a measure is unconstitutional and act accordingly. Determining what is constitutional is not always an obvious call. Remember, in many cases five United States Supreme Court justices tell the other four what is or it not constitutional.

In this particular circumstance, however, as long as we have not moved the line on elected officials interfering with the initiative process, the AG and the judge acted wisely.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

SF Disability Discrimination Case Could Hobble Law Enforcement Nationwide

adaThe Americans with Disabilities Act, passed by Congress in 1990, was the product of good intentions. Its proponents — President George H.W. Bush chief among them — wanted to eliminate arbitrary barriers to the physically disabled. “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” Bush solemnly declared at the legislation’s signing ceremony. The ADA sailed through Congress with little resistance. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with federal do-goodery, those good intentions produced a poorly drafted statute full of vague definitions, ambiguous obligations, and complicated enforcement schemes, made even worse by byzantine enabling regulations and far-fetched judicial interpretations.

Twenty-five years later, the true consequences of the ADA are still unfolding. Hijacked by trial lawyers, government bureaucrats, and activist judges, the noble goals of the ADA have brought instead a host of other absurdities: costly and ubiquitous (and largely unused) curb cuts and ramps in public areas; Braille buttons on drive-through ATMs; alcoholic pilots and truck drivers, deaf lifeguards, and one-legged firefighters; drug-addicted employees who can’t be fired, lest employers “discriminate” against a “protected class”; and serial litigants — some of whom have filed thousands of lawsuits — who make a cottage industry out of fly-specking small businesses’ compliance with arcane and prolix structural requirements for bathrooms and parking lots. Much to the likely chagrin of the ADA’s proponents, the definition of “disabled” is not limited to people in wheelchairs — it includes those suffering from morbid obesity, drug addiction, phobias, allergies, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and dyslexia. Of the estimated 43 million “disabled” Americans protected by the ADA, fewer than 2 percent are in wheelchairs, the vast majority of whom reside in nursing homes.

Employers must “reasonably accommodate” this thicket of disabilities by restructuring job duties, granting leaves, providing technological support, hiring assistants, granting reassignments, making “individualized determinations,” and entering into “interactive dialogues,” all while ignoring “discriminatory customer preferences” and, of course, “traditional stereotypes” (no matter how well-founded). The ADA essentially requires employers to function as social workers and ignore the economic burden unless it constitutes an “undue hardship.” In short, the ADA has short-circuited common sense.

Alas, critics have railed against the asininity — and astronomical compliance costs — of the ADA, to no avail. Despite their most dire predictions about the law’s nonsensical potential those critics had no inkling of the ridiculous extremes that were yet to come, thanks to an inventive ruling of the San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last year, in Sheehan v. San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit held that the ADA applies to law-enforcement officers, and requires them to “accommodate” armed, violent suspects if they are “mentally ill” (and therefore “disabled”). The case arose from an incident in 2008 involving two female police officers who were responding to a call for assistance by a social worker at a group home for the mentally ill. The social worker had been threatened with a knife by one of the residents under his care, a middle-aged woman with schizophrenia named Teresa Sheehan (whose condition had deteriorated because she refused to take her medication). The social worker wanted to have Sheehan involuntarily committed for 72 hours for evaluation and treatment, and requested that the police transport her to the mental health facility for that purpose. When the officers arrived, Sheehan became violent, grabbed a knife, and threatened to kill the officers. The officers drew their weapons and unsuccessfully attempted to subdue Sheehan with pepper spray. In the course of trying to arrest Sheehan (who was still brandishing the knife), the officers shot her several times. Sheehan survived, and sued the officers (and the City of San Francisco) in federal court for various claims, including violation of the ADA. Sheehan did not dispute that she was armed and violent. She alleged, however, that “the officers should have respected her comfort zone, engaged in non-threatening communications and used the passage of time to defuse the situation.” The federal district judge, Charles Breyer (younger brother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer), dismissed the case before trial on summary judgment. Sheehan appealed.

The Ninth Circuit ruled, as a matter of first impression, that the ADA applies to all arrests, even those involving violent confrontations, and that a jury should decide whether the officers “reasonably accommodated” the violent, knife-wielding suspect “by employing generally accepted police practices for peaceably resolving a confrontation with a person with mental illness.” The city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard the case on March 23. The city contends that the ADA should not apply to police conduct when public safety is at risk. According to the FBI, about 400 people are killed each year by police—as justifiable homicides in the exercise of deadly force. Sadly, at least half the people killed by the police have mental health problems of some sort, according to a 2013 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Do we want juries second-guessing hundreds of police encounters each year to determine if armed, violent suspects were mentally ill and if the police “reasonably accommodated” the suspects? Police officers are not psychiatrists. They cannot be expected to diagnose whether a violent suspect is mentally ill or merely mean and aggressive. People who threaten to kill the police are by definition unreasonable and even irrational. Some social scientists believe that all criminals are emotionally disturbed; should this entitle them to special treatment by law enforcement? Hamstringing the police endangers public safety. Split-second decisions made in violent confrontations with armed suspects are not suitable for Monday morning quarterbacking. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the Ninth Circuit’s ludicrous decision in Sheehan v. San Francisco, the errant intentions of the ADA will have succeeded in disabling the police.