By Casey Sullivan
The former bookkeeper of a New Jersey-based law firm was
sentenced to 21 months in prison last week for defrauding her
former employer by stealing more than $500,000 from the firm,
according to the Associated Press.
Once Sharon Wetter, 53, of Forked River is released from
prison, she must serve three years of supervised release and pay
$521,596 in restitution.
The name of the law firm was not disclosed.
Wetter had pleaded guilty to mail fraud for stealing the
funds between 2004 and 2010, the AP reported. She hid the
payments by altering the firm's electronic books and records to
mark them as business expenses.
Scott Lively on trial
By Ted Botha
A gay rights group from Uganda claims that U.S. evangelist
Scott Lively contributed to anti-gay violence in the African
country and is making its case in U.S. district court in
Springfield, Massachusetts, where Lively has a congregation,
reports The Republican. But if the 90-minute hearing on Monday
in front of U.S. District Judge Michael Posner is any
indication, the group, Sexual Minorities Uganda -- or SMUG --
which is suing Lively for crimes against humanity, might not get
The case stems from a visit Lively made to Uganda in 2009,
the same year the country introduced its so-called Kill the Gays
bill, which called for the death penalty for certain gays. The
proposed bill was pulled after an international outcry, although
a new version, its penalties still unclear, was introduced in
February 2012, says The New York Times.
Lively, however, voiced support for the bill during his
trip, and spoke out against homosexuality, which SMUG says
contributed to violence against gay Ugandans. The organization,
represented in court by the Center for Constitutional Rights,
sued him under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows non-U.S.
citizens to use U.S. courts to claim they were the victim of
violations of international law outside of the U.S. According to
the center, this is the first known Alien Tort Statute case
seeking accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual
orientation and gender identity.
On Monday, Ponsor said he was troubled by the lack of
connection between anti-gay rhetoric by Lively and acts of
oppression against gays in Uganda. Ponsor said he couldn't find
anything more than "expressive behavior" in the evangelist's
remarks, and the plaintiffs needed to show a more concrete
example of misbehavior to justify continuation of the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Lively have requested the case be dismissed, and
Ponsor said he would give a ruling soon.
By Caitlin Tremblay
Funk music king George Clinton has lost his groove, or at
least the rights to four tracks of groovy music.
A federal judge has ordered the Parliament Funkadelic
frontman to hand over the copyrights of four songs to law firm
Hendricks & Lewis, according to TMZ and Tone Deaf.
The judge awarded the songs to Hendricks & Lewis, which
represented Clinton between 2005 and 2008, to help pay off the
musician's debts to the firm. In 2010, Hendricks & Lewis won a
$1.5 million judgment against Clinton to recover unpaid legal
fees, but Clinton has only paid back $340,000.
A judge ordered the musician to transfer the copyrights to
"Hardcore Jollies," "The Electric Spanking of War Babies,"
"Uncle Jam Wants You" and legendary funk track "One Nation Under
a Groove" to Hendricks. The firm can use or sell the music, with
proceeds going to pay back what it's owed. Once the debt is paid
off Clinton will gets his songs back.
Clinton has filed a motion to reverse the decision.
How to spring Mr. Bates
By Eileen Daspin
Imagine you are hired to defend Bates, the valet to Lord
Grantham, on Masterpiece Theater's "Downton Abbey." As season
three opens in the United States, Bates, played by Brendan
Coyle, is languishing in jail, having been found guilty of
murdering his wife. How would you spring him? New York magazine
asks the question of New York University law prof Jim Jacobs, a
fan of the hit series and an expert on criminal law.
Jacobs says that if the case had been brought in the U.S.
court system instead of in Britain, he might appeal on grounds
that no reasonable jury would have found Bates guilty of murder,
based on the evidence, but that the strategy isn't always
successful. His other option would be to base an appeal for
Bates on procedural grounds, but that's a tough call since the
show's director and editor didn't provide any scenes showing the
judge giving bad instructions or the prosecutor misbehaving. One
thing Jacobs would do is put Bates on the stand for the retrial,
and he says he is hopeful for the outcome. "I'm optimistic
because we like Bates. We the audience think he's innocent, and
we hate his wife, and we love Anna."
By Ted Botha
It could be the plot of a prison movie: Guard wages a
personal crusade from inside the prison walls, only to be
harassed, have urine thrown at her and be accused of
insubordination. That guard would be Kristine Sink, who filed a
lawsuit Nov. 30 against prison officials, alleging sexual
harassment, discrimination and workplace retaliation, reportsthe AP.
Sink works at a maximum-security state prison in Fort
Madison, Iowa, where the inmates include murderers and sexual
predators. For years, prisoners were shown movies that were
violent and sexually explicit, with titles like "Cruel
Intentions" and "Deranged."
The films were played multiple times on a TV in a common
area where 45 inmates could watch, according to Sink. Despite
complaints to administrators that the movies "whipped up"
inmates, wardens told Sink not to turn off the films, and Sink
says she suffered through "10 years of misery," according to the
When officials finally began barring films with sexually
explicit content, inmates blamed Sink and began insulting her
and threatening to beat or even kill her. One inmate threw urine
on her. Though Sink requested a different assignment, it wasn't
until December, after Sink filed her lawsuit, that her
supervisors finally moved her to a desk job so she wouldn't be
in contact with the prisoners. She is seeking an unspecified
amount of damages.
The rite to know
By Casey Sullivan
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles must release
personnel files that will identify both priests involved in a
child abuse scandal and their church leaders, a superior court
judge ruled on Monday, according to the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.
The Monday order reversed a 2010 ruling by retired judge
Dickran Tevrizian that allowed the church to redact the priests'
names as part of a $660 million settlement with the victims of
the alleged sexual abuse. Tevrizian at the time said he feared
releasing the names would cause further embarrassment for the
But the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times
intervened in the case in December and argued in court papers
that the redactions would prevent the public from learning which
church officials knew about abusive priests, how much they knew
and how they handled it, writes the AP.
The records include 30,000 pages of letters and memos
between church officials and their attorneys, medical and
psychological records, complaints from parents and
correspondence with the Vatican about abusive priests, according
to the AP.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias, who is
overseeing the settlement, reversed Tevrizian on grounds that
the public's right to know how the archdiocese handled
molestation allegations outweighed concerns over its
According to the Times, Elias asked a lawyer for the church,
"Don't you think the public has a right to know ... what was
going on in their own church?" He said that parishioners "may
want to talk to their adult children" about the abuse alleged in
their local church.
Summary Judgments for January 7
Summary Judgments for January 4
Summary Judgments for January 3
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook