By Dan Brillman
If you fail to pay child support in excess of $2,500 in Florida, expect to have your passport invalidated. But what if you are merely accused of failing to pay? And what if you prove that you have, in fact, paid? Miami businessman Tony Schehtman found out the answer the hard way.
As the Miami Herald reports, Schehtman's former wife filed an affidavit accusing him of owing $3632 in back payments. The affidavit, albeit certified, was fraudulent. The result? Schehtman was forbidden to leave the country, something his lawyers told the Herald cost him months of lost business opportunities.
But all's well that ends well. A ruling by state Circuit Judge Pedro Echarte has sanctioned the prosecutor's office and ordered it and Schehtman's ex to split over $15,000 in legal fees owed by Schehtman. Echarte called the office's conduct "reprehensible" and "irresponsible."
Prosecutors say they will not appeal and that they have changed the procedure. A court order rather than a sworn affidavit is now required for such disputes to make it to the state Department of Revenue.
Schehtman is exploring a civil lawsuit.
God forgives, musicians don’t
By Caitlin Tremblay
Rapper Rick Ross’s album “God Forgives, I Don’t” is up for a Grammy this weekend, and now one of the songs on it is the subject of a lawsuit.
According to Entertainment Weekly, two writers have sued Ross, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre over the tune “3 Kings,” claiming it samples their 1976 song “I’m So Grateful (Keep In Touch)” without consent.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Illinois, also names the song’s producer, Jake One, and Ross’s record label, Universal Music Group. The writers, Clara Shepherd and Jimmy Lee Weary, claim that Ross and his collaborators didn’t get permission to use the sample, nor have they been compensated. They also object to how it has been used. The music video for “3 Kings” shows drug use, nudity and violence, things the plaintiffs say are “inconsistent with their wishes for how the song would be portrayed.”
None of the defendants have commented on the suit.
New judge for secret court
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Chief Justice John Roberts has named U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton of the District Court of the District of Columbia as the new presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, reports Secrecy News. Walton, who was appointed to the district court by George W. Bush, will take over from Judge John Bates, whose term expires on Feb. 21. In his capacity as a district court judge, Walton has presided over several high-profile cases, including the perjury trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former high-ranking official in the Bush administration.
The surveillance court was created in 1978 in the wake of the Watergate scandal. It is a confidential special court with 11 judges who meet in Washington and grant warrants for wiretaps based on classified evidence from federal authorities. In presenting evidence, the government is not required to show probable cause but merely that electronic eavesdropping is material to an investigation. The legislation that authorizes the surveillance court, David Kravets of Wired says, effectively legitimizes the broad warrantless wiretapping program implemented by the Bush administration after 9/11.
By Ted Botha
Since 9/11, the 4,000-mile boundary between the United
States and Canada, once dubbed the "longest undefended border in
the world," increasingly has become a national security hotspot
watched over by drones, surveillance towers and agents of the
Department of Homeland Security, says Todd Miller in TomDispatch
(hat tip: The Nation).
In a long and thoughtful article, Miller, a veteran analyst
of the U.S.-Mexico border, focuses on the case of U.S. resident
and lawyer Abdallah Matthews (an alias), who traveled freely
between the U.S. and its northern neighbor "millions of times"
without problems. In December, however, Matthews was stopped by
the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, handcuffed, had guns
pointed at him, was put in a cell and interrogated.
Matthews is a casualty of a new war, Miller says, one that
its architects and proponents see as a permanent bulwark not
only against non-citizens generally, but also people like
Matthews from "undesirable" ethno-religious groups or
communities in the United States.
In 2012, the U.S. government spent $18 billion on the
Homeland Security agencies responsible for border security.
That's more than all of the other principal federal law
enforcement agencies combined. The number of U.S. Border Patrol
agents on the northern border went from 340 in 2001 to almost
3,000 today (there are some 19,000 on the Mexican border).
To give some perspective to the Canadian issue, Miller
quotes Bert Tussing, an expert from the Army War College who
spoke at October's Border Management Conference and Technology
Expo about the changing border to the north. The crux of the
problem, Tussing said, was the comparatively liberal immigration
and asylum laws in Canada, which allowed people a "planning
area" and "an opportunity to build bombs."
"This is not to say that Canada's laws are wrong, but they
are different from ours," Tussing said.
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