By Anna Louie Sussman
When the American Bar Association weighed in on the question of “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?,” the subject of a Wednesday morning hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it wasn’t the first time the organization had spoken out about the controversial topic of gun control. As ABA President Laurel Bellows noted in her six-page submission to the committee, the organization has a long history of attempting to influence the regulation of firearms.
Bellows’s testimony urged the committee to expand background check requirements for purchasers of firearms and to fully implement the National Instant Check System, which currently covers only 60 to 75 percent of gun sales. She also called for assault weapons and high-capacity clips to be available only to the U.S. military, National Guard and law enforcement officials.
The ABA first addressed gun regulation in 1965, shortly after U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Since then its policy-making body, the House of Delegates, has approved over a dozen resolutions on the issue, which the association uses to lobby at the federal level.
Abdul-gate: The sequel
By Caitlin Tremblay
Most contestants on the hit TV singing competition “American Idol” take their 15 minutes of fame and fade back into obscurity. Corey Clark, a contestant from 2003’s season 2, is not one of them. He is not only back in the headlines but he’s also filed a $120 million lawsuit against Fox Inc, E! Entertainment Television and law firms Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Morrison & Foerster, accusing them of defamation, according to AmLaw.
The wannabe pop star was disqualified from “American Idol” in 2003 after producers found out that he had neglected to disclose a misdemeanor arrest. Clark later claimed he was booted off the show because he had had a “love affair” with then “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul while he was on the show.
The Paula Abdul incident prompted Fox to hire legal teams at Gibson Dunn and MoFo to investigate the claims. The firms released a report that no evidence of Clark’s claims was found.
Clark now says the investigation was a “sham” and that the law firms couldn’t be considered independent counsel because they had a client relationship with an “Idol” producer. He says the report and its subsequent inclusion in programming on E! damaged his reputation, caused people to perceive him as a liar, made his record company stop promoting his music and caused his crew of backup singers and dancers to bail.
None of the defendants have commented on the case.
This isn’t Clark’s first lawsuit over Abdul-gate either. Last year he sued Viacom International and MTV Networks for their coverage of the drama. That case is pending. The Hollywood Reporter says that Clark also was one of nine former contestants to file a petition with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to bring a suit against “Idol” for defamation.
Even if Clark only has lawsuits to show after his performance in “Idol,” at least he can take comfort in the fact that they have made him more famous than season 2 champion Ruben Studdard.
Sex, Zumba and videotape
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
A superior court judge in Maine has dismissed 46 of 59 criminal counts against a man accused of using a dance studio as a front for prostitution and secretly filming sexual encounters there, and held that brothel patrons have no expectation of privacy, the Portland Press Herald reports (hat tip: Wired).
Mark Strong Sr., a 57-year-old insurance agent, was accused of conspiring with Alexis Wright, a Zumba dance instructor, to use her Kennebunk studio as a brothel and to film her encounters with customers.
Strong’s defense attorney argued that the state law protecting the privacy of people in dressing rooms, locker rooms and restrooms “does not apply to bordellos, whorehouses and the like.” On Friday, Judge Nancy Mills agreed with him, holding that the patrons had a subjective expectation of privacy but no objective expectation of privacy that society would be willing to expect.
Thirteen charges of promoting and conspiring to promote prostitution remain in place against Strong. Prosecutors have appealed the decision, which has derailed what the Herald describes as a “highly anticipated trial.”
Wright’s trial, which is being conducted separately and is scheduled for May, has drawn much attention in part because she maintained a meticulous list of the names of her customers. More than 60 of them have been charged, including 18 who have pleaded guilty of engaging with a prostitute.
Here comes the judged
By Dan Brillman
Diane Hathaway, who resigned from the Michigan Supreme Court earlier
this month amid accusations of ethics violations, has pleaded guilty in U.S.
court to bank fraud, the Associated Press reports.
Hathaway, a Democrat who upset the GOP chief justice in a
2008 election, faces up to 18 months behind bars for hiding assets in order to
unload homes in “short
sale” transactions. For SJ readers not up on
real estate lingo, a short sale is when you sell your home for less than the
balance remaining on your mortgage.
Hathaway attorney Steve Fishman asked for probation,
telling the court that given his client’s guilty plea, the professional damage
done and embarrassment should be punishment enough. According to The
Huffington Post, Fishman told reporters that her crime was "dumb. It made no
sense." He said he believed the bank, ING Direct, would have allowed the
short sale even if Hathaway had disclosed everything. "She feels terrible.
She let down a lot of people," he said.
Federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade said she will ask for prison time because the fraud included much deeper lying
to banks than just hiding assets.
By Caitlin Tremblay
Belgium is becoming a haven for French lesbians who wish to
have children through artificial insemination, reports Euronews.
Since 2007 Belgium has made assisted reproductive technology
open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. France,
meanwhile, has banned lesbians from undergoing the procedure.
The upshot: More than 2,000 French babies a year now are
conceived via assisted reproductive technology in Belgium.
One doctor at the University Hospital of Liege said French
women made up 80 percent of its 833 artificial insemination
cases last year, according to Agence France-Presse. Euronews
reported on a Belgian hospital that is so overbooked with cases
that it only allows French women to call two days a year to make
Same-sex marriage and gay rights are a divisive issue in
France. Earlier this month Agence France-Presse reported that
lawmakers in France dropped an amendment from same-sex marriage
legislation that would expand access to artificial insemination
services. But reports by the news agency on Tuesday seemed more
optimistic for same-sex couples in the country, with its prime
minister predicting that gay marriage would be allowed in
France. Whether the statute will pass with the assisted
reproductive technology amendment remains to be seen.
Summary Judgments for January 29
Summary Judgments for January 28
Summary Judgments for January 25
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