LGBTQ&A: Rue Landau

Rue Landau, Esq.

Rue Landau

Rue Landau has been the executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) and the Fair Housing Commission (FHC) for the past eight years. We got to catch up with the out and proud lesbian about her work to increase LGBTQ visibility in the city and what it will take to make our community more inclusive. Read more »

What the Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Means for Pennsylvania

Pro-abortion rights protesters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

Pro-abortion rights protesters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

A ruling by the Supreme Court today overturning parts of an abortion regulation law in Texas has ties to Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court specifically cited the case of Philadelphia’s Kermit Gosnell in its ruling today on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. “Gosnell’s behavior was terribly wrong,” the court wrote in its majority opinion. “But there is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior.”

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

“The Court has affirmed what we already knew: strategically over-regulating healthcare facilities that provide abortion care so that they are forced to close does nothing to protect women’s health, despite the disingenuous claims of anti-abortion lawmakers, in Texas and here in Pennsylvania,” said Sue Frietsche, senior staff attorney at the Philadelphia-based Women’s Law Project (which had its amici brief cited in Ginsburg’s concurrence). “These mean-spirited, misguided attacks on women’s health are plainly unconstitutional and they need to stop.”

The Texas law, passed in 2013, required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and mandates all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers — including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. It shrunk the number of abortion clinics in the state from 41 to 18. The Supreme Court ruled those parts of the Texas law to be unconstitutional. Read more »

Philly Lawyer Fires Back at New York Times

Alan Kaplinsky, partner at Ballard Spahr.

Alan Kaplinsky, partner at Ballard Spahr.

In the fine print of contracts that nobody reads lies language big corporations use to ban customers from joining together in class-action lawsuits — thus removing a big tool allowing citizens to fight against powerful corporations. Instead, people are relegated to arbitration hearings, where they’re on their own.

That’s the narrative of this article from the New York Times. But a Philly-based attorney quoted in the article thinks it just furthers a myth about how consumer law works.

His name is Alan Kaplinsky and he’s a partner at Ballard Spahr who splits time between Philadelphia and New York. For years, he’s led the charge to make arbitration the standard way for consumers to solve disputes with corporations. Class-actions, he argues are long, expensive and ineffective. Read more »

Boxing Promoter Sues Harrah’s, Valley Forge Casinos

Boxing trainer and promoter "Joey Eye." (YouTube)

Boxing trainer and promoter “Joey Eye.” (YouTube)

Boxing promoter Joey Intreiri, better known as “Joey Eye,” has filed a civil lawsuit against Valley Forge Casino Resort, Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and former business partner David Feldman — the brother of celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman. Intreieri claims that David Feldman disparaged his reputation — claiming Intreiri had mob ties — which led to Joey Eye Boxing Promotions going out of business.

Intreiri is requesting $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction preventing the defendants from barring his access to promote shows at the two casinos. The suit was filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Read more »

$20 Billion Racial Discrimination Suit Against Comcast, Al Sharpton Tossed

gavel

A California district court judge has thrown out a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit against Comcast, Al Sharpton and others. The suit was brought by the National Association of African-American Owned Media and Entertainment Studios Networks Inc. who alleged that Comcast and Time Warner Cable discriminated against African-American owned media stations by shutting them out of its TV lineups. The suit was filed in February, before the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal fell through.

The Hollywood Reporter highlighted the case’s major argument: According to the complaint, the two companies “collectively spend approximately $25 billion annually for the licensing of pay-television channels and advertising of their products and services, yet 100 percent African American–owned media receives less than $3 million per year.” Read more »

Delaware Losing Favor as Corporate Haven, Report

 

Wilmington

(Wilmington, Del./Wikimedia Commons)

Delaware, long known as a corporation-friendly state, could be falling out of favor with companies who believe it makes them vulnerable to shareholder lawsuits.

Dole Foods Co. has been shipping its fruit products from countries in Central America to Wilmington, Del. since the 1980s — and in 2001, the company was so attracted by Delaware’s friendly attitude towards businesses that it moved its corporate headquarters from tropical Hawaii to Wilmington, the Wall Street Journal reports. Read more »

Could Brandon Tate-Brown Family File Criminal Charges if D.A. Won’t?

Protesters demonstrate outside City Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The event in Philadelphia follows days of unrest in Baltimore amid Freddie Gray's police-custody death. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Protesters demonstrate outside City Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The event in Philadelphia follows days of unrest in Baltimore amid Freddie Gray’s police-custody death. Photo | Matt Rourke, AP

So D.A. Seth Williams won’t bring criminal charges against the officers who shot Brandon Tate-Brown. That doesn’t means the chances for a criminal prosecution in the case have been completely eliminated.

Tate-Brown’s family could still try to press criminal charges. So could activists groups here.

Pennsylvania law allows private citizens to initiate criminal complaints, a feature of the law that is mostly used in relatively minor cases. But a similar law in Ohio is being used by activist groups to press criminal charges against the officers who shot the teenager Tamir Rice in Cleveland; Philadelphia activists say they’re watching that case, and are willing to follow suit in similar cases here.

“I do think there are situations — perhaps the situation of Brandon Tate-Brown — that we should use that law to exercise our rights for justice in Philadelphia,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER, the activist organization that has helped organize #BlackLivesMatter protests in the city in recent months. (He also plans to join Tamir Rice protests in Cleveland during an upcoming trip to the city.)

It might not be easy, however. Read more »

Six Burning Questions About Grand Jury Leaks

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks on before newly elected members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are sworn in, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Republicans who control both the Senate and House picked up additional seats in the November election. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 119 to 84 and in the Senate, 30 to 20. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks on before newly elected members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are sworn in, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Republicans who control both the Senate and House picked up additional seats in the November election. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 119 to 84 and in the Senate, 30 to 20. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The scepter still hangs over Kathleen Kane’s head.

It’s been a couple of weeks now since the Inquirer reported that a grand jury recommended the Pennsylvania attorney general be indicted for leaking the secrets of a previous grand jury. And it’s been nearly as long since the Inquirer revealed that two of its reporters had been subpoenaed for the apparent leak of information from Kane’s grand jury.

We’re still waiting to find out if the Montgomery County District Attorney will accept or reject the grand jury’s recommendation. But there’s an obvious absurdity in this scandal, now that we’ve reached the point that a leak about a leak is being investigated.

How did we get to this point, anyway? The answer may be easier to find if we understand Pennsylvania’s grand jury process. We talked with several experts who were unconnected to the Kane case, and would not comment specifically on it — choosing instead to describe the grand jury process in general terms. (We also relied on the Pennsylvania code concerning grand juries.)

Read more »

INSIDE TAKE: End the Judicial Fundraising Charade

Gavel Money Court

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)

It’s a part of the campaign process which gives many a sense of the oogies; the relentless quest for cash in which candidates for office call their friends, colleagues, former colleagues, ideological sympathizers, anyone who’s given money to people like them, anyone who might have a beef with the other candidates, and then, inevitably, all these same people again next week.

Read more »

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