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by 08.10.2011
Posted In: School Board, Courts, Religion, Public Policy at 03:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

ACLU Warns Springboro

School officials in a suburb north of Cincinnati are being warned not to add creationism to their curriculum if they want to avoid a costly legal challenge.

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by 02.18.2010
Posted In: Business, Courts, Labor Unions, Human Rights at 05:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Document: Chiquita Willingly Paid Terrorists

A statement given to the Colombian government by an ex-paramilitary leader could mean trouble for Chiquita Brands International as it tries to fight lawsuits about the firm’s payments to terrorist groups.

The statement — which was recently entered into the court record in the lawsuits — alleges the terrorist group had an "an open public relationship" with Chiquita in which it provided security services, as well as kidnapping and assassinating labor union leaders that caused problems for the company.

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by James McNair 12.10.2012
Posted In: Courts, Women's Health, News at 09:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
mu rape flier

Court Might Reveal Identity of Miami Rape Flier Author

Ohio Supreme Court has until Dec. 14 to consider settlement over sealing of case

The sealing of a criminal court case involving a former Miami University student who posted a “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flier in a freshman dormitory now has the presiding judge defending his decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. And he’s doing it with the help of the Butler County prosecutor who endorsed the secrecy.

Robert Lyons, whose part-time job as the judge for Butler County Area I Court supplements his income as a practicing attorney, took the student’s guilty plea to disorderly conduct on Nov. 8. At the request of the young man’s lawyer, Dennis Deters, the judge ordered the case file and all printed references to the defendant’s name sealed from public view. The order extended to paperwork generated by the Miami University Police Department. In effect, other than the press coverage it received, all record that the crime was committed and the perpetrator was brought to justice doesn’t exist.

Six days later, the Cincinnati Enquirer filed suit against Lyons with the Ohio Supreme Court. It said Lyons erred by issuing a “blanket” seal of the case. It said he failed to “find by clear and convincing evidence that the presumption of public access is outweighed by a higher interest” and further failed to conduct a hearing where the Enquirer could argue for public access. The Enquirer didn't mention in its initial report on the plea deal an intent to sue over the sealing, and to date it hasn’t reported on its own lawsuit. 

Lyons was given until Dec. 14 to file an answer. What’s weird is that Lyons is represented by Butler County’s Prosecuting Attorney, Mike Gmoser. In Ohio, the county prosecutor serves as legal counsel for county government, county agencies and school districts — and represents them in court — as standard practice. As a private practitioner, though, Lyons specializes in defending people accused of drunken driving. Guess who sits at the opposing counsel’s table in those cases? Yes, Gmoser’s deputy prosecutors.

Lyons’ unusual role as defender and decider of DWI cases drew umbrage from Gmoser in March. According to the Hamilton Journal-News, Lyons the judge was about to rule on a motion to disallow the results of an Intoxilyzer 8000 blood-alcohol testing device in a DWI case. Lyons the lawyer, meanwhile, had challenged the validity of the machine in other cases, and his firm ran seminars about its failings. At Gmoser’s request, a higher court judge in July ordered Lyons to step down from hearing 10 pending DWI cases.

Last Thursday, in his initial response to the Enquirer’s lawsuit to open the rape tipster’s court file, Lyons hinted at the possibility of not fighting the suit. He asked to have until Dec. 14 to file a full response “so as to give settlement discussions an opportunity to come to fruition.”

by Hannah McCartney 06.13.2012
Posted In: Courts, News at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court: UC's Free Speech Policy Unconstitutional

Judge orders university to change policy

The University of Cincinnati lost a court battle yesterday when a federal judge ruled that the public university's decision to restrict all "demonstrations, picketing, and rallies" to a Free Speech Area was a violation of the First Amendment.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black ruled that containing the area in which students and outsiders who obtain the proper permission to demonstrate acted as an unconstitutional limitation.

In February, the UC Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) filed a lawsuit against the university after they were denied the right to circulate freely across UC's campus to gather signatures for a petition to place the Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment on the Nov. 2012 ballot.

The students were restricted to gathering signatures only in the university-designated Free Speech Area within the McMicken Commons Northwest Corner, which is less than one tenth the size of a football field. Officials threatened to arrest students who attempted to gather signatures outside of that zone. The space restriction often rendered the the students' efforts ineffective; the Free Speech Area covers, relatively, a miniscule part of UC's campus.

YAL plaintiffs argued that UC's free speech policy was unfairly vague and unconstitutional. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a non-profit, non-partisan legal center, assisted YAL with the lawsuit.

According to a press release from the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, Judge Black's ruling prevents UC from enacting or upholding a free speech policy from:

• “Requiring prior notification for the solicitation by students of signatures for petitions;”

• “Prohibiting all solicitation by students of signatures for petitions in any designated public forum, including the Free Speech Area, the outdoor spaces described in the MainStreet Event Guide, and campus sidewalks;”

• “Requiring that all student ‘demonstrations, picketing, or rallies’ occur only in the Free Speech Area;”

• “Requiring 5 to 15 days prior notification for any and all student ‘demonstrations, picketing, or rallies’ without differentiations;”

• “Imposing or enforcing any policy restricting student speech in any designated public forum, including the Free Speech Area, the outdoors spaces described in the MainStreet Event Guide, and campus sidewalks, that is not individually and narrowly tailored to serve a compelling university interest.

In March, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education named UC's speech policies the worst in the nation specifically because of the restrictive free speech zone.

by Andy Brownfield 10.09.2012
jesse jackson

Jesse Jackson Rails Against Voter Suppression in Cincinnati

Appears on same day Husted petitions Supreme Court to strike down in-person voting

Speaking to about 60 people at the Rockdale Baptist Church in Avondale, the Rev. Jesse Jackson talked about the many “schemes” used to disenfranchise voters while encouraging Cincinnatians to register to vote and take advantage of Ohio’s early voting days.

“Dealing in this state, for example, you think so much about the painful days in the deep South — the overt schemes to deny the right to vote,” Jackson said on Tuesday, the last day to register to vote in Ohio.

“We saw Ohio as a kind of beacon of light, the beacon of hope once we ran across the river coming north. This year we’ve seen Ohio and Pennsylvania take the lead in trying to purge voters and suppress the vote to determine the outcome.”

Jackson’s comments came on the same day Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court the Six Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to allow early in-person voting on the three days before Election Day.

The three days had previously only applied to military personnel and their families.

Republicans like Husted have cited cost as the reason to not allow in-person voting on the three days before the election. But in an Aug. 19 email to The Columbus Dispatch, Franklin County Republican Party chairman Doug Preisse said “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

Pennsylvania, meanwhile, tried to require voters take a photo ID with them into the polls. A state judge blocked the law from going into effect for the 2012 election.

Jackson said restrictions as to who can vote when and where undermine the purpose of democracy. 

“Open access, free, transparent voting makes democracy real,” he said.

Flanked by a tapestry portraying President Barack Obama, Jackson touted the president’s accomplishments in his first term and urged those assembled to give him a second.

Jackson was in Toledo Oct. 5 pushing early voting. He said he was in Cincinnati because “Ohio matters” and he saw it as a way to penetrate Appalachia because “poverty is not just a black problem.”

by 12.29.2010

Ohio Gets New Election Rules

In an effort to promote greater transparency about who makes campaign contributions, outgoing Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner today unveiled a new set of election rules.

The rules, which were approved by the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, is aimed at offsetting some of the impact of the Citizens United ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in January. In the landmark 5-4 decision, the court overturned a lower court’s ruling and removed existing restraints on corporations, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns.

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by 09.15.2010
Posted In: Immigration, Protests, Courts at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Groups Plan Protest at Reds Game

Some local groups will be holding signs outside of Great American Ball Park today and Thursday while the Reds play, protesting Arizona's new immigration law and seeking signatures for a petition that asks Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game from the state. The Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, the Immigration Advocacy Movement and various religious and civic leaders are organizing the event and will distribute leaflets to passersby.

Also, some participants plan to disrupt today's game by unfurling two large banners stating “Not in Arizona, not in Ohio — Immigrant Rights Now — No S.B. 1070” and “Shame on Arizona, Don’t Spread Hate.” The action was planned after Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s announcement that he won't change the venue for next year's All-Star Game.

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by 06.08.2011
Posted In: News, Courts, Religion at 04:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Former XU Priest Under Investigation

A priest who previously was the campus minister at Xavier University has been relieved of his duties by the Catholic Church after it learned about "the improper touching" of two minors several years ago in Maryland.

The allegations against the Rev. Louis Bonacci were investigated by the church's Province Review Board, which also has contacted civil authorities. Bonacci served as minster at Xavier from 1994-99. Until the allegations were made, he was serving as coordinator of spiritual direction for priests and deacons in the Diocese of Scranton, in Pennsylvania.

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by 05.26.2009
Posted In: City Council, Public Policy, Courts at 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

City: COAST Squanders Taxpayer Money

Cincinnati’s solicitor says an anti-tax group is wasting taxpayer money by filing a federal lawsuit against the city without first contacting its Law Department to resolve the alleged violations outside of court.

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by German Lopez 06.26.2013
Posted In: News, LGBT Issues, Courts at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Local, State Leaders React to LGBT Rulings

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a ruling that effectively requires the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages for couples who reside in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

The DOMA ruling also sets a powerful historical precedent by extending equal protection rights to gay and lesbian individuals.

In another ruling, the Supreme Court vacated a case on California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state, and effectively sent the case back down to a lower court that deemed Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The ruling means California will likely begin giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the ruling’s effects will not go beyond California’s borders.

For gay and lesbian Ohioans, the DOMA ruling adds yet another incentive to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. If FreedomOhio’s efforts to get the issue on the ballot in 2014 are successful, Ohio’s gay couples will have their marriages recognized at all levels of government. (The group previously aimed for 2013, but it now says it needs more time.)

So far, it remains unclear whether the ruling will extend to same-sex couples who get married in other states but live in Ohio. If so, Ohio gay couples could get married in Massachusetts, return to Ohio and be eligible for federal marriage benefits — but not state marriage benefits. Legal experts and federal officials will surely debate the issue in the coming months to develop a clearer answer.

Still, there’s been a lot of cheering and jubilation about the historical rulings, which are widely seen as victories for LGBT rights. Below are some of those reactions from local and state leaders, gathered through interviews and statements.

Also, make sure to check out CityBeat's Pride Issue for more coverage on LGBT issues.

Councilman Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati’s first openly gay council member:

“It’s pretty amazing. Just as President Obama when he announced his support for marriage equality, this feels like just as much of a milestone, if not more because of the legal significance of the rulings. This is proof that the tides have turned and the laws are changing. We are realizing full equality for LGBT people across this entire country.”

“The fact that they used the equal protection clause means this case will be used across the country for every type of law that has an impact on LGBT people. The Supreme Court just set a new precedent for the rights of any government to discriminate against gays and lesbians. It’s far broader than just the repeal of DOMA, which in itself is an incredible feat. But the precedent that it’s setting for scrutiny on the basis of sexual orientation will have an effect on laws throughout this country for decades to come.”

Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio:

“We are elated that the Supreme Court has repealed DOMA and in effect rejected Proposition 8. These decisions are proof that the tide of acceptance for all couples is turning in this country, and we have taken two more important steps toward true equality.

“This important moment, however, does not change the reality that Ohio still has a constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage. Ohio voters can address the civil rights issue of our generation by voting for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment. We are elated and our resolve has been doubled to collect signatures. The journey continues. We will bring marriage equality to Ohio in November, 2014.”

Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party:

“I’m deeply thankful that the Defense of Marriage Act has finally been struck from our country’s books, and that millions across the nation and Ohio are one step closer to equal and fair treatment under the law. DOMA implemented discrimination into the highest law of the land, and it’s a great day that this ugly reminder of a different time is finally gone.

“Ohio Democrats are honored to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters in the fight to earn marriage equality for all, and continue our march to overcome the prejudice of the past. But despite our victories across the nation, Ohio Republicans in the Statehouse and Governor’s office remain committed to keeping prejudice enshrined in law.”

John Boehner, U.S. Speaker of the House and Republican from West Chester, Ohio:

“Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President (Bill) Clinton signed it into law. The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally. While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”

German Lopez, gay staff writer at CityBeat:


Danny Cross, CityBeat editor:

DOMA was a real horseshit piece of legislation, and we're happy those old bastards in the Supreme Court did the right thing.

Update (1:47 p.m.): Added more reactions.