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Five co-defendants including Matthew Wheeler were charged in federal court with wire fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§1341 and 1349 for their involvement in a telemarketing scheme to defraud stock investors.  Following an eight-week trial the jury found each defendant guilty on all counts.  However, post-trial, the federal trial judge granted the judgments of acquittal based on insufficient evidence as to two defendants, Wheeler and Long.  The three convicted defendants appealed their convictions while the government appealed the acquittal judgments.

The codefendants were charged with substantive mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.   It alleged that the defendants played various roles in a telemarking scheme that tricked investors into making stock purchases and misappropriated their money while operating out of two phone rooms. Certain codefendants worked as salespeople using an alias.  Others had the role of managers, instructing salespersons on how to pitch a stock.  Others played the role a loaders, who would play the role of high-level executives pushing the buyer to purchase “institutional” shares.  Both phone rooms used and prepared written materials to aid their pitches to investors which contained inaccurate information but also included exaggerations and fabrications.  Using the press releases and scripts, salespeople made false representations to potential investors, stating they were paid only in company stock, did not work for commissions, and that important businesspeople or celebrities were involved in the company they were pitching.

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In protest of police brutality against African Americans, quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the pregame national anthem.  Kaepernick’s kneeling encouraged other athletes around the country to kneel as well.  A year later a group of African American cheerleaders at Kennesaw State University, a public university in Georgia, followed that trend by kneeling in protest during their pre-game national anthem.

In reaction to the cheerleaders’ kneeling, the president of KSU, Samuel Olens, decided to prohibit the cheerleaders from kneeling.  After conferring with Georgia state legislator Earl Ehrhart, the KSU Athletic Director, and the County Sheriff Neil Warren, Olens announced the “tunnel rule”.  The cheerleaders would not be allowed on the field during the anthem but would instead remain in the stadium’s tunnel.  Olens authorized the athletic director to announce the implementation of this new policy.  After the first game that the tunnel rule was enforced, the amount of pressure and protests from students, faculty, the press, and the Board of Regents, forced Olens to announce that the tunnel rule would be abolished, and the cheerleaders would again be permitted to take the field before presentation of the national anthem.

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A deputy from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office pulled over Sosa while driving.  After checking his name in the computer system and finding an outstanding warrant for a David Sosa, Sosa explained that he had been mistakenly arrested four years earlier for the same warrant.  He told the deputy about the differences between himself and the real Sosa who was wanted.  The deputy arrested him anyway, and he spent three days in jail before the sheriff’s office acknowledged he was not the wanted Sosa and released him.

Sosa filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Martin County Sheriff’s Department alleging a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights by falsely arresting him and for detaining him longer than he should have been detained.  He made a claim pursuant to Monell that the Sheriff failed to institute policies and train deputies to prevent these types of things from happening.  The trial court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim.

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Mr. Spencer sued Sheriff Jonathan Benison pursuant to 42 U.S.C §1983 claiming a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights against deprivation of property and liberty rights.  He alleged that Benison ordered him to remove traffic cones and vehicles that were preventing Spencer’s neighbor from completing construction on an easement that Spencer alleged encroached on his property.  Spencer claimed that by ordering him to remove these obstructions, the Sheriff deprived him of property without due process and that Benison conspired with others to take and use his property without due process or compensation.

Spencer’s dispute began after an entity called Belle Mere Properties purchased a parcel of real estate from Spencer which contained an easement of 25 feet on either side of the existing power line for the purpose of egress and ingress.  Belle Mere then leased the property to a bingo hall.  Soon after Spencer and Belle Mere began disputing over the boundaries of the easement when Belle Mere decided to expand a previously constructed roadway running through the easement.  After Spencer made several calls to the police claiming that a bulldozer was trespassing, Benison responded to the scene and found that Spencer had placed cones and vehicles blocking construction which backed up traffic on U.S. Highway 11.

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Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor and give thanks to veterans who gave service to the protection and preservation of our great country.  On this Veterans Day I would like to honor the service of two heroic veterans who served this country in World War II.  Lt. Joseph Milton Swartz and Lt. Emil Kantor both served together in the U. S. 15th Army Air Force, 460th Bomb Group from 1944 through 1945.  The 460th was stationed on a hastily built air base known as Spinazzola in southern Italy with crude and makeshift living quarters for the servicemen.  Pilot Emil Kantor and flight navigator Milton Swartz along with their crew flew the B-24 bomber “Liberator” on thirty-five sorties (missions) over Nazi German occupied territory.  Their missions took them over the dangerous skies of Nazi occupied Europe, facing death form flak, enemy fights, and accidents.  Each time these brave men entered their plane, they did not know what danger they faced, and always knew that like many of their fellow servicemen there was a chance they would not return home.  Thankfully, they both did.

On one noteworthy mission flown on September 13, 1944, theirs was one of 20 planes from the 460th that participated in bombing the I.G. Farben synthetic oil and rubber plant located in Oswiecim, Poland.  What they did not know was this plant was located only a few miles from the Auschwitz concentration camp.  A small cluster of bombs intended for the plant fell instead on the Auschwitz Camp, giving the detainees a temporary and false hope that the Allied bombers were there to destroy the camp.

Fortunately, stories of their heroism in their many missions over those dangerous skies has been preserved and beautifully told in the book, Emil’s Story – Memoir of a WW II Bomber Pilot written by Linda Audrey Kantor.

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Susan Khoury filed a lawsuit against the Miami Dade County School Board and Officer Williams, a school board police officer, for false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.  Williams had detained and committed her for an involuntary mental health examination under Florida’s Baker Act statute, Fla. Stat. §394.463 after Williams characterized her as being a danger to herself or others.  Khoury also made a Monell claim against the school board.  The district court granted summary judgment to as to all claims against the officer and the school board.  In this opinion, the court of appeals reversed the district court’s dismissal against the police officer but upheld the dismissal as to the school board.

Her claims arose from an incident that began when Khoury, who lived across the street from a middle school baseball field in Miami Dade County, was using her phone to record cars she believed were illegally parked around the baseball field.  Khoury had an argument with one of the drivers, who then called the police.  Officer Williams arrived, and after advising the driver that Khoury had a First Amendment right to film, Khoury and Williams had an argument which led to Williams arresting and detainer Khoury pursuant to the Baker Act.

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A deputy from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office pulled over Sosa’s car while driving.  After checking his name in the computer system and finding an outstanding warrant for a David Sosa, Sosa explained that he had been mistakenly arrested four years earlier on the same warrant and advised the deputy of the differences between him and the real Sosa who was wanted.  But the deputy arrested him anyway and he spent three days and nights in jail before the Department acknowledged he was not the wanted Sosa and released him.

Sosa filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Martin County Sheriff’s Department alleging  a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights by falsely arresting him and over detaining him.  He made a claim pursuant to Monell that the Sheriff failed to institute policies and train deputies to prevent these types of things from happening.

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This case involved an encounter between a taxicab driver named Junior Prosper and a Miami Dade police officer that resulted in Prosper’s death.  Prosper’s widow sued the officer under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in federal court in Miami, Florida, claiming constitutional violation for the officer’s actions.  The federal trial judge ruled that the officer was entitled to the protection of qualified immunity, which gives liability protection to police officers.  This is an appeal from the federal trial judge’s decision to dismiss the case.

The events began when Prosper’s taxi drifted off the road and collided with a pole near the ramp to I-95, apparently because he lost consciousness while driving.  A witness called 911 and reported the driver had passed out.  A few minutes later Prosper got out of the taxi and was seen running up the on-ram toward I-95.  Another witness thought Prosper was drunk and had stolen the taxi.  The Miami Dade officer arrived on the scene in response to the call and learned from the witnesses what they had seen.  In his police cruiser, the officer approached Prosper on the I-95 ramp and ordered him to stop, but Prosper continued walking up the ramp.  What happened next was disputed except for the fact that the officer tased Prosper; Prosper bit down on the officer’s left index finger; and the officer shot Prosper 3 times in the chest.   According to the officer, after Prosper bit down his finger the officer then tased Prosper, but Prosper would not release his bite.  When the officer was unable to pry Prosper’s jaw open with his free hand, he drew his firearm and shot Prosper once in the chest.  Prosper continued biting while twisting his head from side to side, and the officer shot him a second time.  Prosper still did not release, and he fired a third shot killing Prosper.

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This appeal involved a 1983 civil rights lawsuit under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and various state law claims against the Columbus Georgia, the chief of police, and an officer Brown from the department.  This is how the appellate court stated the issue.  Whether, after a high-speed chase, a police officer reasonably used deadly force when he stepped out of his vehicle to make an arrest and the suspect’s nearby car suddenly went into reverse.

Here are how the facts unfolded.  A car driven by the deceased led the officers from Columbus Police Department on a high speed chase across state lines before crashing into bushes on the side of the road.  The lead police vehicle driven by Officer Brown stopped behind and to the right of the car.  Seconds after Brown stepped out to make an arrest, the car’s reverse lights turned on, and the car started backing up.  Brown fired 11 shots through the back windshield and side windows as the car passed near him.  Then he changed magazines and fired another 10 shots.  The driver was killed, and his two passengers were injured.

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The Hendersons’ appeal involved a civil-rights suit against the City of Huntsville and the Chief of Police alleging that the Chief and the city violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion through the City’s permit ordinance and the requirement of a noise provision in their special event permit.

The Hendersons believe that abortion is the murder of an unborn child and abortion is contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs. They act upon those beliefs by standing on the public sidewalks near two Huntsville, Alabama, abortion clinics to express their views and offer counsel to clinic employees, visitors, and patients who pass by. Under the Huntsville municipal code, their activities constitute a minor event and do not require a permit. But their protests bring out counter protesters from abortion-rights advocates and the presence of the abortion rights advocates makes it more difficult for the Hendersons to make their speech heard for two reasons. First, the Huntsville municipal code requires simultaneous sidewalk events to be held at least 10 feet apart. The Hendersons allege that the abortion-rights advocates take advantage of that policy by obtaining permits for events in front of the clinic and forcing the Hendersons to the other side of the street. Second, the abortion rights advocates drown out the Hendersons by shouting and ringing cowbells.

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