Judge orders Colorado baker to serve gay couples

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131206-cake-discrimination-732p_photoblog600A baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs or face fines, a judge said Friday.

The order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver discriminated against a couple “because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage.”

The order says the cake-maker must “cease and desist from discriminating” against gay couples. Although the judge did not impose fines in this case, the business will face penalties if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against shop owner Jack Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig, 33, and David Mullins, 29. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado.

Mullins and Craig wanted to buy a cake in July 2012, but when Phillips found out the cake was to celebrate a gay wedding, he turned the couple away, according to the complaint.

Nicolle Martin, an attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop, said the judge’s order puts Phillips in an impossible position of going against his Christian faith.

“He can’t violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck,” she said. “If Jack can’t make wedding cakes, he can’t continue to support his family. And in order to make wedding cakes, Jack must violate his belief system. That is a reprehensible choice. It is antithetical to everything America stands for.”

The Civil Rights Commission is expected to certify the judge’s order next week. Phillips can appeal the judge’s order, and Martin said they’re considering their next steps.

Mullins said he and Craig are “ecstatic.”

“To a certain extent, though, I don’t think that this is necessarily a surprise,” he said. “We thought it was pretty clear cut that he had discriminated against us.”

Mullins said he hopes the “decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”

A similar case is pending in Washington state, where a florist is accused of refusing service for a same-sex wedding. In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court ruled in August that an Albuquerque business was wrong to decline to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony.

Colorado has a constitutional ban against gay marriage but allows civil unions. The civil union law, which passed earlier this year, does not provide religious protections for businesses.

“At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses,” Judge Spencer said in his written order. “This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are.”

ACLU attorney Amanda Goad said no one is asking Phillips to change his religious beliefs.

“But treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination, plain and simple,” she said.

Practice makes perfect. But it can also drive your neighbour crazy … Spanish pianist could be jailed after neighbour complains

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20130927_piano_stA concert pianist in northern Spain faces the prospect of jail after her rehearsals drove her downstairs neighbour to call the authorities.

After a three-day criminal trial in the city of Girona, the public prosecutor asked the judges on Friday to jail 27-year-old Laia Martin for 16 months for violating noise ordinances.

The prosecutor also asked for an additional four months for causing psychological damage, and for Martin to be banned from professional piano playing for six months.

Martin’s neighbour Sonia Bosom claimed loss of sleep and panic attacks caused by Martin’s eight hours of practice a day from 2003 to 2007, when she was studying at a music college. “My client just wants justice. She has been suffering for many years,” said Bosom’s lawyer, Tomas Torres, requesting a four-year sentence – less than the seven he had asked for at the start of the trial.

Martin’s defence said she had tried to soundproof her practice room and muffle the piano, and that her practising had not been as constant as Bosom alleged.

Martin’s parents could be fined thousands of euros if they are found guilty of being accomplices.

A verdict and sentencing are expected in a few weeks.

Women sue after realizing that putting caffeine in their underwear doesn’t make them skinnier

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maidenA class-action lawsuit against Maidenform Brands Inc. claims that the caffeine in its shapewear for women does not get rid of cellulite as it previously claimed.

The company originally promised that its shapewear would tame curves using tiny caffeine capsules imbedded in the fabric. The caffeine was supposed to get rid of fat, somehow.

Two New Yorkers, Christine Caramore and Michelle Martin, filed the suit after wearing the items and not receiving the desired effect. They argue that the product was falsely advertised.

One part of the lawsuit reads: “The Federal Trade Commission calls such claims about as credible as a note from the Tooth Fairy.”

The lawsuit also states that the company preyed on women’s insecurities about their body images.

Both women seek class certification, restitution, and statutory, treble damages and punitive damages for consumer fraud, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.

Maidenform has yet to comment on the suit.

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2012 against Sketchers, when it advertised leg-toning footwear that did nothing of the sort. The company was forced to pay $40 million in settlement money and issue a massive recall for its shoes.

Man Says It’s His Constitutional Right To Take ‘Upskirt’ Photos

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A Massachusetts man claims he has the constitutional right to take “upskirt” photos of women in public.

skirt_0Michael Robertson, now 31, was arrested in 2010 after trying to take cellphone photos up women’s dresses on the Boston subway, according to the Boston Herald.

The Andover man is charged with two counts of photographing an unsuspecting nude or partially nude person, the Eagle Tribune reports, and faces more than two years in jail if found guilty.

Monday, Roberton’s lawyer, Michelle Menken, argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that Robertson did not commit a crime because his right to snap photos up women’s skirts is protected under the First Amendment.

“If a clothed person reveals a body part whether it was intentional or unintentional, he or she can not expect privacy,” Menken said in court. She went on to say that “peeping Tom” laws protect people from being photographed in bathrooms or dressing rooms, but do not protect clothed individuals in public areas.

She also argued he could not be guilty of photographing a “partially nude” person because the women in the photos were fully clothed, and their genitalia was covered by underwear

“What he saw was in plain sight. He did not place his camera directly up a women’s skirt. He saw what was in front of him,” she argued.

State Attorney Cailin Campbell countered that subway passengers have an “understandable expectation” that they will not be “photographed like that in that kind of setting.”

In 2006, a 34-year-old man in Oklahoma was acquitted in a similar case when. After he stuck a camera under a 16-year-old’s skirt at a SuperTarget store and snapped a picture of her underwear, the court ruled that the teen did not have “a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

However, the ruling caused such public outrage that the state eventually passed a law explicitly making it illegal to take photos of a person’s private areas in public without his or her permission.

A legal precedent may be set in a lawsuit over……gay werewolf sex?

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It was a tale of love. Betrayal. Arbitration clauses.

Also, werewolf sex.

Cass County author Erin R. Flynn, who writes “gay erotic paranormal romance” under the pen name Joyee Flynn, is suing her Texas-based publisher in a contract dispute.

She has asked a federal judge in Omaha to rule that Siren-BookStrand (“quality erotic romance for the sophisticated reader”) does not own the copyright to a pair of books that Flynn self-published this year: “Trapped and Boiled: UPAC Sagas, Freaks and Rejects No. 1” and “Gideon: Resistant Omegas No. 12.”

The stories feature amorous encounters involving shapeshifters and werewolves, among other plot turns.

In an answering brief, Siren said Flynn’s lawsuit is premature because her contracts require arbitration as the first step to settle a dispute. Siren has filed a separate lawsuit against Flynn in Texas.

Flynn started writing fiction in 2002 and has written 89 books for Siren since 2010, according to the lawsuit. She said she typically writes 15,000 words a day and can finish a book in a week or two.

Flynn submitted a manuscript for “Gideon” on June 1, but an editor at Siren wanted to market the book under a different imprint, so she withdrew it from consideration.

On June 30, Flynn shipped the manuscript for “Trapped and Boiled.” But she objected to changes proposed by her editor, so she withdrew that one, too.

Flynn said she never signed a contract for either book. Instead, she self-published the books on Amazon.com.

Siren’s lawyers sent Flynn a notice that she had breached her contract.

Then, after Flynn filed her lawsuit, Siren Publisher Diana DeBalko, who goes by Amanda Hilton, sent a takedown notice to Amazon.com asserting copyright over the books. The titles are no longer available online.

At issue is whether the two books are sequels to existing works that Flynn wrote under contract to Siren — in which case the publisher has the first right of refusal — or original works that stand alone in a series.

Siren says they are sequels. Flynn says that although the action is set in the same fictional world, none of the central characters or themes recur.

“Each book is its own romance,” she said.

She sees her lawsuit as an opportunity to set a legal precedent.

“The series versus sequel thing has never been defined in court,” Flynn said.

Flynn has asked U.S. Judge John Gerrard to award unspecified damages and attorney’s fees.

Flynn estimates that each book would gross $75,000 over a 15-year shelf life. In an affidavit, Siren President David DeBalko suggested the lost sales on the two books amount to less than $20,000.

Adam Pugh, an attorney for Siren, said the lawsuits are a routine contract dispute.

“My client is confident in its position and expects to prevail,” he said.

Woman Has Another Dead Boyfriend In Her Bed

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ytcGPXoA Colorado judge has not granted “Make My Day” law immunity from prosecution for 48-year-old Marla Abling in the killing of her estranged boyfriend.

Rory Alba, 45, was strangled with an electrical cord in Abling’s Lamar apartment on Jan. 23. Abling admitted to killing him, according to the arrest affidavit.

The judge ruled to not set Abling free after an immunity hearing, which included six days of testimony. Abling’s attorneys requested immunity based on Colorado’s “Make My Day” statute. The statute is intended to protect homeowners who use deadly force to stop intruders; however, prior court rulings indicate the law can also be applied to certain domestic violence cases when an order of protection is violated.

Abling had a temporary order of protection against Alba at the time of his death. The order forbid him from going to Abling’s apartment, which was a “safe house” arranged by a domestic-violence prevention organization.

Abling’s attorneys have argued Alba unlawfully entered the apartment, and they claim Abling had the reasonable belief that he would commit a crime of violence against her, due to their previous history.

Prowers County District Attorney Jennifer Swanson had argued against immunity. She said the first-degree murder charge is appropriate because a witness at a salon says Abling was talking about ways to kill Alba the day before she killed him.

Police testified Alba and Abling had traded phone calls and were seen together in Lamar, despite the protection order. Officers said evidence indicated Alba may have spent hours at the apartment prior to his death. His keys were on a hook near the front door. Investigators say they found partially-eaten chicken and homemade doughnuts in the kitchen. Authorities also said physical evidence indicated Alba may have had sex shortly before he was strangled.

He touched me down there: Woman arrested for DUI claims she was molested by arresting cop

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A Long Island woman has filed a lawsuit  against the police officer who arrested her for drunk driving because he  allegedly sexually assaulted her in the back of the patrol car.

article-2471864-18E84B3F00000578-13_306x423Jennifer Hannigan says that when she was  pulled over on suspicion onf drunken driving in June 2011, Nassau County police  officer Gary Zima handcuffed her and made her sit in the back seat.

His partner, officer Rachel Miller was  driving the police vehicle back to the station when Hannigan says that Zima  assaulted her.

‘He was close to my body and reached over at  some point during the ride…and put his fingers inside of me,’ Hannigan said in  a press conference on Monday.

She is now suing Zima and Miller, saying that  the female officer did nothing to stop the abuse.

‘I was visibly trying to make eye contact  with her and felt like she was purposefully not paying attention to what was  going on in the back seat,’ she said.

‘I was shocked, I was shocked. I never  thought that something like that would happen when I was in the custody of the  police with whom I have always trusted and respected and still do.’

Hannigan asserts that there was an  official  cover up to her complaints because she immediately reported the assault to the  police department’s office of internal affairs.

Local station ABC 7 says  that their investigation found the claims ‘undetermined’.

Adding another layer of acknowledgement to  the saga, Hannigan says that Zima  looked up her cell phone number from police  records and texted her a few days after the incident, asking how she was doing.

She never responded.

‘Officer Zima had  the opportunity to rectify this  mistake and to come forward and apologize and  we wouldn’t be here,’  Hannigan said at the press conference.

‘I think a lot of women suffer this kind of  abuse in silence and I’m not one of them.’

Texas Death Row Inmates Sue Over Experimental Execution Drugs

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Three Texas death row inmates claim the state plans to execute them by experimenting with new drugs, never used for such a purpose, that were obtained under false pretenses, attorneys told Reuters on Wednesday.

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Texas is turning to the new execution drugs in a desperate attempt to keep the United States’ most active execution chamber operating despite dwindling supplies of the drug traditionally used for lethal injections, a lawsuit filed by the inmates says.

The inmates, one of whom is scheduled for execution on October 9, allege the Texas Department of Criminal Justice used the address of a hospital unit shuttered three decades ago in order to obtain the three new drugs.

They say the drugs – propofol, midazolam and hydromorphone – would likely not have been supplied if the manufacturers knew the purpose they would be used for, according to a lawsuit filed this Tuesday in federal court in Houston.

Texas prison officials declined to comment on the allegations made in the lawsuit.

They said Wednesday that they have enough pentobarbital, the barbiturate used in Texas executions since 2012, to last them until at least next year. The state recently received a fresh supply of the drug from a Texas compounding pharmacy, after warning in August that their supplies were nearly exhausted.

“The purchase will allow the agency to carry out all currently scheduled executions,” state officials said in a statement.

Texas has seven executions scheduled, including two in October. The state has executed 13 inmates so far this year.

Among the inmates suing the state is Michael Yowell, set to die October 9 for killing his parents and blowing up their home in Lubbock, Texas, in 1998.

The lawsuit alleges that because of a shortage of drugs traditionally used in executions, Texas correction officials are turning to “drugs and methods of execution that have never been used before, by any state. Some are banned for use in animal euthanasia,” and run a “substantial risk of grave pain,” the suit claims.

“We are concerned that they are experimenting on people,” Austin attorney Maurie Levin, one of the lawyers representing the inmates, told Reuters on Wednesday.

The lawsuit says Texas is trying to hide from the public its plans to use new drugs for executions. It asks the court to halt executions in Texasuntil the state can review the drugs.

Propofol and midazolam are used as sedatives in medical procedures. Hydromorphone is used to relieve pain.

Texas, which has carried out more executions than any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, switched to administering a single, lethal dose of pentobarbital last year when the state had to change drugs after the maker of sodium thiopental, Hospira Inc, stopped manufacturing it.

Pentobarbital is used for physician-assisted suicide in Europe. Denmark’s Lundbeck LLC, which makes pentobarbital, has objected to its use in executions, leaving it in short supply.

Several states have reported running low on pentobarbital and have halted executions while they seek access or resolve other lethal injection issues, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

The Texas lawsuit claims the state used a subterfuge to obtain propofol, midazolam and hydromorphone from manufacturers unwilling to have their products used for execution.

The state purchased the drugs for delivery to the “Huntsville Unit Hospital,” a medical ward that has not existed since 1983, to cover up the fact that the drugs may be used for executions, the lawsuit alleges.

It also says the state attempted to purchase a pentobarbital compound from New York-based Pharmacy Innovations delivered to the same address with a prescription written in the name of the prison warden. The suit says the company canceled the order when it found out who was ordering it and what it was for.

The case is 4:13-cv-02901 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division.

Elderly Man Sues NHK, Japanese Television, for ‘Excessive English’ Use

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TV networks have been sued for many reasons — from defamation to producing morally compromising TV shows — but not for incorporating too many foreign words into the local language.

500x314xNHK1-500x314_jpg_pagespeed_ic_MURTdxhDX2

Hoji Takahashi, 71, a resident of Japan’s Gifu Prefecture, did exactly that, demanding 1.41 million yen (about $14,000) for damages.

His claim?

NHK network’s English usage had become too much, resulting in what he claims to be emotional distress and difficulty understanding every program aired on the TV channel.

For the pensioner, such act violates section 709 of the civil code, which protects the rights of the Japanese to freedom and security. Mr. Takahashi has also joined a local association in hopes of gaining support to spread his message.

According to Kyodo News, Takahashi stressed on the importance of how the media should consider its senior citizen viewers by adhering to strict usage of only the Japanese language.

Japanese linguist Makoto Yamazaki, speaking to The Guardian, cited double standards when using specialized or foreign words. The very same words, however, do not create much of a stir when used by private groups or companies. This is not the case when used by the media.

But in a more closely connected world, where social media and the Internet come into play, the use of English words has crept into everyday conversations. Even the words “Internet” and “rice” have replaced their rather tongue-twisting Japanese equivalents.

So, whatever is common in media usage is merely reflective of the slowly evolving everyday Japanese prose. And for Takahashi, resisting these changes would mean an uphill battle, much less receiving the amount he demands from the network.

Now I’ve heard everything ….. Man Sues Apple for Porn Addiction

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In recent years, Apple has constantly been slapped with lawsuits of questionable merit.

From complaints of Siri’s trusted capabilities to insane suits filed against the late founder Steve Jobs and a lawyer in Florida suing Apple for millions because he couldn’t be bothered to figure out how iTunes works, the Cupertino, California, powerhouse has faced its fair share of legal battles.

But the company has probably never seen anything quite like this 50-page suit filed by a Tennessee man.

Bad day at the office

Earlier this week, AboveTheLaw.com pointed out how Chris Sevier, 36, an attorney in Nashville, is claiming Apple sold him a computer without the porn filter turned on.

The plaintiff claims that because of all the porn he indulged in, he lost his wife, his son and his job after “accidentally” watching porn for the first time lured him into addiction and “gave him an unrealistic idea of what sex with his wife would be like.”

With no shortage in revenue, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to attach the tech giant.

Sevier says his porn addiction all began when he made a simple typo in Safari while trying to access Facebook. He is seeking damages and injunctive relief against Apple because it makes products that can display porn.

According to Above the Law, in 2011 the lawyer-plaintiff in this case was put on “inactive status” by the Tennessee Supreme Court due to “mental infirmity of illness.”