Tag Archives: legal

Woman high on ‘bath salts’ dies after attacking child

Munnsville woman allegedly high on ‘bath salts’ dies after attacking child
by Jeremy Ryan

– A Madison County woman alleged to be high on drugs is dead after assaulting her child and receiving a Taser shock while she struggled with police.

According to State Police, around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, troopers were called to an apartment on North Main Street in the Village of Munnsville for a report of a woman assaulting her three-year-old child. While police were responding to scene, they say Madison County 911 dispatchers received several follow-up reports that the woman was punching and choking the child and had started to attack a neighbor.

When police arrived, they say they found 35-year-old Pamela McCarthy apparently under the influence of “bath salts”, an illegal synthetic drug. Police say Trooper Christopher Budlong attempted to arrest McCarthy, who was “violently combative” and may have been “growling,” according to police and resisted attempts to handcuff her. Budlong used his police-issued pepper spray on McCarthy to no effect, so he then deployed his Taser and was able to handcuff McCarthy with the help of rescue personnel.

Police then say that after McCarthy was taken into custody she went into apparent cardiac arrest. She was taken by ambulance to Oneida Healthcare, where she later died.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, State Police said the use of the Taser was justified. Troopers said the woman has a history of using bath salts.

An autopsy was unable to pinpoint the exact cause of death, according to police. It could take several weeks before toxicology results are back.

Wednesday morning, eyewitnesses David and Zachary Bridge told CNY Central’s Jim Kenyon that they saw McCarthy come out of the rear exit of her apartment with the boy in her arms, and tumble down the stairs holding onto the child. They say she began assaulting the child and was yelling incoherently. Witnesses say at one point she was sitting on the pavement spinning and laughing as she was hurting the child. They said the boy’s father intervened and took the child away from McCarthy, at which point she chased a neighbor, Heather Ames, into her apartment and attacked her.

Ames told Kenyon that she fought off the attack, and McCarthy went back out into the parking lot, stripped off all of her clothes, and threatened people passing by.

Witnesses say McCarthy then went back into her apartment and tumbled down the stairs again, this time with her pet pit bull in her arms, and then injured the dog as well. State Police and rescue units showed up at which point McCarthy became combative and resisted arrest. Ames says the Trooper (Budlong) repeatedly told McCarthy to let go of the dog, and pepper-sprayed her to no avail.

At several points, witnesses say McCarthy was warned by Troopers that she would be tased if she did not let go of the dog. After McCarthy was tased and handcuffed, a neighbor informed the Trooper that McCarthy had undergone an operation to place stents in her heart just two days prior to the incident.

All three eyewitnesses Kenyon spoke with said that Trooper Budlong was justified in the way he handled the situation.

Police say the child was taken by ambulance to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. He was treated for minor injuries and released to family members.

State Police held a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Oneida. Deputies say Onondaga Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy, but they were unable to determine the cause and manner of death. Troop D commander Major Rodney Campbell says they are waiting for toxicology test results.

Campbell confirmed that McCarthy was high on bath salts and was not coherent at the time of her death.

The case will be presented to a grand jury, which is standard procedure when a person dies in police custody.

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How corporations award themselves legal immunity



How corporations award themselves legal immunity

Laura Flanders

guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 June 2011 23.20 BST

Worried about the influence of money in American politics, the huge cash payouts that the US supreme court waved through by its Citizens United decision – the decision that lifted most limits on election campaign spending? Corporations are having their way with American elections just as they’ve already had their way with our media.

But at least we have the courts, right?

Wrong. The third branch of government’s in trouble, too. In fact, access to justice – like access to elected office, let alone a pundit’s perch – is becoming a perk just for the rich and powerful.

Take the young woman now testifying in court in Texas. Jamie Leigh Jones claims she was drugged and gang-raped while working for military contractor KBR in Iraq (at the time, a division of Halliburton). Jones, now 26, was on her fourth day in post in Baghdad in 2005 when she says she was assaulted by seven contractors and held captive, under armed guard by two KBR police, in a shipping container.

When the criminal courts failed to act, her lawyers filed a civil suit, only to be met with Halliburton’s response that all her claims were to be decided in arbitration – because she’d signed away her rights to bring the company to court when she signed her employment contract. As Leigh testified before Congress, in October 2009, “I had signed away my right to a jury trial at the age of 20 and without the advice of counsel.” It was a matter of sign or resign. “I had no idea that the clause was part of the contract, what the clause actually meant,” testified Jones.

You’ve probably done the very same thing without even knowing it. When it comes to consumer claims, mandatory arbitration is the new normal. According to research by Public Citizen and others, corporations are inserting “forced arbitration” clauses into the fine print of contracts for work, for cell phone service, for credit cards, even nursing home contracts, requiring clients to give up their right to sue if they are harmed. Arbitration is a no-judge, no-jury, no-appeal world, where arbitrators are (often by contract) selected by the company and all decisions are private – and final.

Deadly small print is not only for subprime mortgage-seekers – and neither are the costly repercussions. When corporations evade the bills for harm, no matter how huge (for medical malpractice, say, or pension fund collapse), the liability is passed on to individuals, and then to taxpayers. A new documentary, Hot Coffee, premiering 27 June, on HBO, lays out the whole picture – and it’s devastating.

First-time filmmaker Susan Saladoff starts where for many Americans, the term “tort reform” first appeared. Stella Liebeck, an 81-year-old woman, sued McDonald’s over coffee that was “too hot” – and became the “welfare queen” of tort reform. Pilloried in corporate-funded PR and in the media after a jury imposed an initial $2.7m in punitive damages, lobbyists used Liebeck’s case to deride “frivolous” lawsuits and bludgeon congressional and state legislators into passing laws that set maximum “caps” on damages. (Politicians all the way up to President George W Bush needed no bludgeoning: “frivolous suits” became a campaign trail hit.)

But look at the pictures Saladoff shows in Hot Coffee and you’ll see Liebeck’s legs seared by savage, third-degree burns, which covered over 16% of her body. As any reporter could have discovered at the time, McDonalds‘ protocols kept its coffee at 82-87ºC (180-190ºF). Over 700 people had been burned by it. Ten years of suits and claims had forced no change. Liebeck’s suit was anything but “frivolous”.

Likewise, Jones’s suit. Or the big-business funded effort to unseat justices opposed to “tort reform” – also profiled in Hot Coffee. It’s taken Jones nearly six years and a hearing in the US Senate to force her employer, Halliburton into open court, at last, in Houston this week. Jones tells Saladoff she’s driven by concern for other young women in her position – in no position, that is, thanks to mandatory arbitration, to know the truth about past claims and what they may be getting into when they sign an employment contract.

Saladoff, a plaintiff’s attorney for 25 years, is driven, too – by a belief in the seventh amendment right to a jury trial. “Tort” is a complicated word for a simple thing – “harm,” she explains. The courts are supposed to be the branch of government where citizens and corporations have an equal shot. The US supreme court in Dukes v Walmart recently rejected 1.6 million workers’ attempt to bring a class action case – making it a whole lot harder for Americans to band together to hold corporations accountable. Go it alone and the deck is stacked, thanks to decades of effort by corporations and the politicians they pay for.

They don’t pay fair wages; they don’t pay their fare share of taxes. They evade liability. What gives? Says Saladoff: “When corporations harm, there should be some way to hold them accountable.”

SOURCE

Toke of the Town

Lawmakers to introduce bill to legalize marijuana

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AFPBy Luis Robayo | AFP –

A group of US representatives plan to introduce legislation that will legalize marijuana and allow states to legislate its use, pro-marijuana groups said Wednesday.

The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, and allow people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal.

The bill, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday by Republican Representative Ron Paul and Democratic Representative Barney Frank, would be the first ever legislation designed to end the federal ban on marijuana. Ron Paul and Barney Frank have teamed up to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana. Not decriminalizing it, but actually totally legalizing it.

It is being billed as “bipartisan legislation” but Ron Paul is the only Republican co-sponsor. According to the Marijuana Policy Project: “The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.”

On this, the 40th anniversary of the WAR ON DRUGS, basically every thinking person agrees that marijuana prohibition is an expensive failure. Will this bill even get a floor debate in the House of Representatives?

Sixteen of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

But planting, selling or commercially distributing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Last year, California citizens voted not to legalize recreational marijuana use, although the debate continues in about half a dozen other states.

Three weeks ago a group of ex-presidents of Latin America as well as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan denounced the failure of the global war on drugs and called for urgent changes, including the legalization of cannabis.

Between 1998 and 2008, worldwide consumption of opiates increased 35 percent, with cocaine use growing 27 percent and marijuana use growing 8.5 percent, according to the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

June marks the 40th anniversary of the “WAR ON DRUGS” launched by President Richard Nixon in 1970, the first major US anti-drug initiative.

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