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by German Lopez 08.03.2012
Posted In: Media, Media Criticism, News, Courts at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Gannett Weekly Found Guilty of Defamation

Judge orders $100,000 in damages for newspaper’s defaming of police officer

A federal judge announced Wednesday that the Milford-Miami Advertiser, a Gannett-owned suburban weekly newspaper, was guilty of defaming police officer James Young.

Judge Michael Barrett affirmed the jury’s award for $100,000 in damages.

In an article published on May 27, 2010, the Milford-Miami Advertiser wrote that “Young had sex with a woman while on the job.” The accusation was found to be incorrect.

According to court documents, Young was initially fired from his job in 1997 after an internal investigation found semen in Marcey Phillips’s home after Phillips accused Young of forcing her to perform oral sex on him while Young was on duty. But a DNA investigation found that the semen found in Phillips’s home did not belong to Young, and Young was eventually given his job back.

The court documents say the Milford-Miami Advertiser article was written by Theresa Herron, the newspaper’s editor, but online archives of the article “Cop’s suspension called best move for city” say the article was written by Kellie Geist. Update: Herron wrote the section of the article that went to trial, while Geist wrote the rest.

Young testified that Herron never attempted to contact him before publishing the article, according to court documents. Herron testified that she did not fully read the documents for Young’s case, but she said she knew about the DNA testing and did not think it was important to the story.

When contacted by CityBeat, Herron said she did not feel comfortable discussing the case. The story was first reported by Courthouse News Service.

Gannett also owns the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Milford-Miami Advertiser covers community news in Miami Township and Milford, and it is part of the Cincinnati.com network.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 07.19.2012
Posted In: Death Penalty, Courts, Equality at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Racial Bias in Death Penalty Cases Gets Ohio Supreme Court's Attention

Death Penalty Task Force approves changes to prevent discrimination

Ohio’s death penalty came under scrutiny again today, when the Ohio Supreme Court's Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty heard presentations from three different subcommittees on strategies to make sure the process in administering a death penalty sentence in Ohio is transparent and fair.

The task force heard presentations from the Law Enforcement Subcommittee, Race and Ethnicity Subcommittee and Clemency Subcommittee; the Clemency Subcommittee's recommendation was passed, while the Law Enforcement Subcommittee's recommendations were tabled for the next task force meeting, pending further review.

The Race and Ethnicity Subcommittee presented recommendations for dealing with evidence of longstanding racial bias in Ohio death penalty cases.


A 2005 Associated Press study concluded that offenders who killed white victims were significantly more likely to receive the death penalty than when victims were black, regardless of the race of the defendant. See the below chart, courtesy of the Associated Press, which charts the rate of death sentencing for defendants charged with killing white versus black victims during the course of the study, which was conducted from Oct. 1981-2002.




The Supreme Court’s Race and Ethnicity subcommittee made seven recommendations, three of which passed. Those passed include a mandate that all attorneys and judges in death penalty cases attend training to detect and protect against racial bias, and that attorneys must seek recusal of judges who are suspected of being motivated by racially discriminatory factors. Implementing the recommendations won't be immediate; according to Bret Crow, Public Information Officer for the Supreme Court of Ohio, task forces typically submit a final report to the Ohio Supreme Court for input, a process that might not be completed until into 2013.

Recommendations that were tabled to be reconsidered at a Sept. 27 meeting of the task force included the recommendation that all death penalty-eligible homicide cases be maintained and monitored for evidence of racial bias by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.

According to the Associated Press, the data collection would apply to both old cases and any future homicides that could result in death penalty allegations. It wouldn’t, however, impact whether or not the death penalty should be an option of punishment in the state of Ohio.

Ohio’s death penalty has come under fire several times over the last year, even experiencing an extended moratorium on executions set forth by a U.S. District Judge, who ruled that Ohio unconstitutionally wasn’t following its own death penalty procedure and couldn’t be trusted to ethically carry out executions.

CityBeat reported on July 3 about the avoided execution of Abdul Awkal, a Muslim who narrowly escaped his death penalty sentence with the help of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC). Awkal was ruled not competent enough to be executed after making several statements suggesting he didn’t understand the reason for his execution.
 

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 06.13.2012
Posted In: Courts, News at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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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 Danny Cross 06.08.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

County Commissioner Todd Portune's idea to borrow more money and extend a half-cent sales tax in order to keep up with stadium costs has been shot down by a Bengals lawyer who used 15 bullet points to demonstrate that Portune's plan “proposes to breach one or both leases.

Duke Energy is asking state regulators if it can bump customers' rates up again. Duke says the increases are to pay for infrastructure investments. The change would increase customer costs of electric service by $86 million and for natural gas by $44 million. A federal appeals court on Monday reinstated an antitrust lawsuit against Duke Energy that accuses the company of paying kick-backs to corporations opposing a 2004 rate increase.

A rally for “religious freedom” will take place on Fountain Square today in response to federal health care legislation requiring women to have abortions employers to provide insurance that covers birth control. The law includes a religious exemption, which bishops have said isn't enough.

A group pushing to ban dog auctions in Ohio has halted its effort to put the issue on the November ballot due to lack of funding and time. CityBeat in February reported the group's efforts to ban the sale of dogs through auctions or raffles, as well as all trafficking in dogs from out-of-state auctions.

New York City officials, including Brooklyn Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke, are arguing that the city's “Stop and Frisk” policy is racist. The policy allows police to stop an individual and pat him or her down for contraband if they suspect illegal activity. From USA Today:

Clarke says the program, known as "Stop, Question and Frisk" or "Stop and Frisk," amounts to racial profiling. It is based on a 1968 Supreme Court ruling that police could stop people on the basis of "reasonable suspicion."

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin approved class-action status for a lawsuit that alleges the practice subjects people to race-based illegal searches.

President Obama's health care law helped 6.6 million young adults stay on their parents' plans during the first year and a half.

Rick Santorum has formed a new conservative organization aiming to recruit 1 million supporters to help get Barack Obama out of the While House. No word on how Santorum's “Patriot Voices” group will differ from the tea party patriots.

NASA says it has spotted the universe's first objects.

Black members of the Netherlands soccer team were subjected to racist chants at their Euro 2012 practice facility in Krakow, Poland. The team says fans were making monkey chants at the players.

LeBron James scored 45 points to lead the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics last night, forcing a deciding Game 7 for the Eastern Conference championship. The Oklahoma Thunder await in the NBA Finals.


 
 
by Hannah McCartney 06.06.2012
Posted In: Drugs, Courts, Women's Health, Women's Rights, Family, News, Sex at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Oral Arguments in Planned Parenthood v. DeWine Begin June 7

Case battles state regulation of pregnancy-terminating mifepristone

Since Ohio House Bill 126 was passed in June 2004, abortion-inducing medication mifepristone has been regulated in such a way that physicians can only administer the exact amount approved by the FDA in 2000. Tomorrow, the case will continue to move forward when proponents for overturning the law present oral arguments in Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region v. DeWine at 8 a.m. at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 100 E. Fifth St., Downtown.

It's been a regulation deeply contested by physicians and women's rights advocates, who argue that alternate dosages of the medication are often legitimate and necessitated based on current medical knowledge, such as when a patient might warrant a lower dosage proven to safe and effective with fewer or less severe side effects.

According to a legal docket from the ACLU of Ohio, which backs a repeal of the law, "HB 126 is a unique law that effectively freezes medicine in time based on evidence more than ten years old."

A lawsuit, originally called Planned Parenthood of Cincinnati v. Taft, has been floating around in courts since 2004, when Planned Parenthood affiliates filed an injunction in an attempt to prevent the law from going into effect.

According to the case schedule from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, each side, plaintiffs and appellants, will receive 15 minutes to present.


 
 
by Danny Cross 06.04.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County has been killing people more often than Ohio counties of similar size, despite actually asking for the death penalty less often. Today's Enquirer takes a look at the growing opposition to the death penalty in other states and recent legislation and task forces aimed at either studying its effectiveness or stopping the practice altogether. Prosecutor Joe Deters says he's going to kill all the people who deserve it because the law is still the law.

Would you like to pay tolls or higher gas taxes in order to have a new Brent Spence Bridge? No? Then you're like a majority of people who take the time to respond to Enquirer polls.

City Manager Milton Dohoney plans to ask City Council to raise the property tax rate in response to a projected $33 million 2013 deficit that everyone knows was coming.

The Community Press on the East Side says Norfolk Southern is willing to consider selling the Wasson Way right of way that some would like to see turned into a bike trail. CityBeat in March found the proposed trail to have support among cycling enthusiasts but some resistance from light rail supporters.

President Obama hooked up an 11-year-old kid with a note excusing him from class on Friday.

“He says, ‘Do you want me to write an excuse note? What’s your teacher’s name?” Sullivan told ABC. “And I say, Mr. Ackerman. And he writes, ‘Please excuse Tyler. He was with me. Barack Obama, the president.'"

Fortune magazine has taken exception to Mitt Romney's recent criticism of Solyndra, the solar panel company that went out of business despite a $500 million Department of Energy loan.

So last Thursday Romney held a surprise press conference at Solyndra's shuttered headquarters. During his prepared statement, Romney said:

"An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the Administration had steered money to friends and family and campaign contributors."

Romney then repeated the claim later in the press conference.

Small problem: No inspector general ever "concluded" such a thing, at least not based on any written reports or public statements.

Wisconsin Gov./Union Crusher Scott Walker holds a slight lead over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, according to a recent poll.

George Zimmerman is back in jail after what his attorney is calling a misunderstanding over telling a judge that he had limited money even though a website set up to fund his legal defense raised more than $135,000.

Legal issues will be involved in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to ban giant sodas.

Jason Alexander has released a lengthy and quite thoughtful apology for referring to the sport of cricket as "a bit gay" during a recent appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.

Why do people on the West Coast get to see all the cool stuff that happens in space? First the eclipse and now the Transit of Venus, when Venus will cross paths between the sun and earth. Next time it will happen is 2117. And Australia got to see a partial lunar eclipse the other day, too.

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.29.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

The Ohio Supreme Court late last week dismissed a legal challenge by the Campaign to Protect Marriage, which had filed a motion challenging the attorney general’s authority to verify a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow same-sex marriage. The Freedom to Marry coalition is collecting the necessary signatures to put a repeal of the state’s 2004 amendment that only recognizes marriage as between a man and a woman on the ballot in 2013.

City Councilman Wendell Young says there’s nothing secret about a plan to combine the region’s water and sewer agencies even though most people assumed to be needed for approval know little about it. The Enquirer today detailed a plan to integrate the Metropolitan Sewer District, Stormwater Management Utility and Greater Cincinnati Water Works, potentially by September, in an attempt to save money. The plan will reportedly be shared with Council June 20.

Mitt Romney’s campaign plans to go after the stimulus, while Dems want to know why he won’t renounce questions about Obama’s citizenship (maybe because they came from Donald Trump?).

Seems like the John Edwards trial is never going to end. Day seven of deliberations begins today.

The U.S. could be one of the countries to benefit from the growth of natural gas use during the next 20 years, potentially reducing the importance of Middle East energy production.

Common painkillers might help protect against skin cancer. Bring on the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen!

There was a face-chewing attack in Miami over the weekend. And the chewer was naked. Seriously.

Google Chrome was the world’s top browser in May. Thought you knew.

If commercial space flights are going to be basting up onto the moon, NASA says they’ll have to stay off the spots where historical things happened.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.22.2012
Posted In: Education, LGBT Issues, Equality, News, Courts at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Judge Rules 'Jesus is Not a Homophobe' T-shirt Permissible

Federal court orders district to pay $20,000 in damages and costs for banning teen's shirt

A federal court judge in Cincinnati ruled Monday that gay Ohio student Maverick Couch will be permitted to wear his "Jesus Is Not A Homophobe" T-shirt to school whenever he pleases.

Wayne Local School District, the district in which Couch attends high school, will also be required to pay Couch $20,000 in damages and court costs, according to Judge Michael Barrett's ruling.

Couch was first prevented from wearing the T-shirt in April 2011, when he showed up to school in the shirt during a "Day of Silence," meant to raise awareness of cases in which gay students are victims of bullying. Waynesville High School Principal Randy Gebhardt allegedly told Couch that he needed to either wear the T-shirt inside out or remove it, stating that the "T-shirt had to do with religion, religion and state have to be separate," and the T-shirt was "disrupting the educational process."

Couch complied, and was asked to remove the shirt when he wore it to school a second time. Principal Gebhardt threatened to suspend Couch if the shirt was worn again.

Couch and Lambda Legal Defense, a legal organization focused on protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community, brought forth a lawsuit against Wayne Local School District on April 3, 2012, alleging that Couch's first amendment rights had been egregiously violated in barring him from wearing the shirt. Only a day after the lawsuit was filed, administrators at Waynesville High School told Couch he'd be allowed to wear the T-shirt annually on one day exclusively: "Day of Silence," which took place April 20.

"I just wanted to wear my shirt. The shirt is a statement of pride, and I hope other students like me know that they can be proud, too," said Couch, according to lamdalegal.org.

When Lambda Legal sent a letter inquiring about Couch's First Amendment rights to the school district, this was the district's response: "the message communicated by the student's T-shirt was sexual in nature and therefore indecent and inappropriate in the school."

For information about LGBTQ students' rights in schools, click here.

 
 
by Danny Cross 05.18.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

After 18 months in the courts, Democrat Tracie Hunter has won a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judgeship, but a GOP challenge to the court's acceptance of Hunter's challenge is likely to follow. Republican John Williams led hunter by 23 votes on election night 2010, but Hunter filed a lawsuit over provisional ballots cast at incorrect polling stations that weren't counted. After a recount of 286 provisional ballots, Hunter moved ahead by 74 votes. Republican board of election members reportedly plan to argue that the 286 should not have been recounted.

The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte today offered an analysis of recently released census data that shows a steady growth of the regional Hispanic population and a growth of minority population in areas outside the city that were once largely white. Cincinnati's data suggests that the city and region are slightly different than the nation's overall trend, which in 2011 for the first time found a majority of the country's under 1-year-old population minority (50.4 percent), up from 49.5 percent in 2010.

Included in The Enquirer's story, which included a profile of a Mexican-American Florence family that moved to Northern Kentucky eight years ago from Los Angeles:

A decrease of 1.3 percentage points in Hamilton County’s black population under 5 was countered by increases in the black population under 5 in each of the region’s six other core counties: Butler, Clermont and Warren in Ohio and Boone, Campbell and Kenton in Kentucky.

Overall, the regional population of Hispanic children under 5 years rose from 7,583 in 2010 to 8,032 in 2011, a proportional increase of 0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent.

The family of a teenager fatally shot by a Cincinnati police officer on Fountain Square last summer has filed a federal lawsuit alleging police used excessive force and violated 16-year-old Davon Mullins' constitutional rights. Police say Mullins pulled a handgun, but the lawsuit says he had been disarmed before officer Oscar Cyranek shot him multiple times.

Cincinnati's Bike Month revelers and Over-the-Rhine residents received some good news this week when Reser Bicycle Outfitters announced the opening of an OTR location. The store could open by June 1 in the 1400 block of Vine Street.

Legislation regulating ownership and breeding of exotic animals has been approved by the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, 17-4. Senate Bill 310 could get through the full House and Senate next week and be signed by Gov. John Kasich soon afterward. The ban on the acquisition, sale and breeding of certain species would take affect 90 days later.

Europe is preparing for Greece to completely duck out of the Eurozone. The world markets are feeling the pressure.

Mitt Romney has released his first general election TV ad. And he's giving cookies to the media.

Former Senator John Edwards will learn his fate today, as a jury was set to deliberate this morning on charges that Edwards used campaign funds to conceal an affair during his run for president.

More than 200 pages of documents, photos and audio recordings were released yesterday offering further details about what happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

The documents include an FBI audio analysis of the 911 call placed by a resident that captured yells and screams. Two FBI examiners said they could not determine whether it was Martin or Zimmerman yelling because of the poor quality of the recording and the "extreme emotional state" of screamer.

The AP is live-blogging Facebook's stock market debut. Why does Bono have so much Facebook?

Cell phone maker Nokia has accused Apple of programming bias into its interactive Siri voice search by making it answer the question “What is the best smartphone ever?” by stating “"Wait... there are other phones?" The answer had apparently previously been “Nokia's Lumia 900.” Apple won't say whether or not it changed Siri's answer after finding the glitch.

A new study suggests that nighttime fasting can go a long way toward keeping you slim even if you eat bad stuff during the day.

Scientists have found a car-sized turtle shell.

The private space launch is scheduled for 4:55 a.m. Saturday, and there will be alcohol involved.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 04.30.2012
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Cincinnati City Council will soon create a working group of leaders from six neighborhoods near the planned downtown casino site. Once organized, the working group will examine ways to maximize the benefits from the visitors, jobs and tax revenue the new casino will bring, while dealing with any problems like possible increases in crime. The neighborhoods involved in the effort are downtown, Pendleton, Mount Adams, Mount Auburn, Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills.

A winner has finally been announced in a disputed judicial election from November 2010. Once a count of provisional ballots was completed Friday, Democrat Tracie Hunter was declared the victor over Republican John Williams by 71 votes. Because of the close margin, however, a recount likely will be held. Hunter seemingly lost the 2010 election by just 23 votes out of nearly 230,000 ballots cast by county voters, but 286 ballots weren't counted because they were cast by people who showed up to vote at the correct polling place but were misdirected by poll workers and voted at the wrong precinct table. Hunter filed a lawsuit, and two federal courts ultimately agreed the ballots should be tallied.

Since taking office in October, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler has cracked down on bail bond agents who owe money to the court system. During the past seven months, Winkler has collected $1.3 million of the $2.1 million owed by bond agents and their insurance companies. Since the early 1990s, several previous clerks of courts allowed some bond agents not to pay bonds forfeited when their clients didn’t appear in court, resulting in a large amount of forfeited but uncollected bonds owed to the governments involved in the cases.

The results of an investigation into the recent actions of Villa Hills Mayor Mike Martin will be released at a meeting tonight. Martin is accused of retaliatory behavior and comments, misuse of city facilities, violating the Open Records Act and burning city documents, according to WCPO-TV (Channel 9). Several council members have requested that Martin resign, but he has refused.

Motorists that use the Norwood Lateral to access southbound Interstate 75 will have to find a new route for the next 45 days. Beginning today, work to replace a bridge deck will require a closure of the ramp from westbound Norwood Lateral to southbound I-75. Traffic will be detoured to northbound I-75 to Paddock Road to southbound I-75.

In news elsewhere, the CIA is ignoring the Pakistani government's directives and has resumed the use of automated drone attacks within that nation's borders. The drone strikes killed four al-Qaeda-linked fighters Sunday in a girls’ school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area. Some politicians said the drone strikes might set back negotiations over the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago.

If the U.S. Supreme Court rules to strike down the federal government's mandate that individuals must buy health insurance, some observers say state governments might have to enact their own versions or pass other measures to draw healthy people into the system so their insurance markets remain viable. Ironically, lawmakers in the states opposing the federal mandate could face pressure from insurance companies to pass state mandates if the high court doesn’t also strike down the rules preventing them from charging more or denying coverage to sicker people.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said negotiations with Iran should be given time to work before launching a military strike against the nation's nuclear facilities. Olmert, who was prime minister from 2006-09, was in office when a suspected nuclear site in Syria was attacked in five years ago.

A few days after the United Kingdom entered into a double-dip recession, Spain has followed suit. The recession, defined as two months of “negative growth,” was blamed on weak domestic demand that was only partially compensated by exports, according to data from the National Statistics Institute. It was the first official estimate to confirm a recession. Gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist under house arrest in China, has escaped his captors and gone into hiding. A dissident who met Chen in Beijing after his escape said Chen scaled a wall by night to escape from his village in eastern China, past guards and surveillance equipment. A human rights group says Chen has taken shelter in the U.S. embassy, but American officials have not publicly confirmed the reports.
 
 

 

 

 
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