Lawsuit form an a desk

Public Interest Firm Sues DNR

It is looking like the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin is in need of a little more help at their offices, or they need less help withholding records. They are now being sued by a law firm over long delays in answering requests and confirming receipts of each request. Now, trust of the openness of the records in the state is starting to falter.     


One organization that advocates for the environment stated that it took about 10 months to receive the records they asked for from the Department of Natural Resources. The Department of Natural Resources has defended themselves by saying that the organization hasn’t paid up for what they were requesting. However other organizations who have paid in a timely matter have also experienced the same long waiting time for records they requested. The organization has recently filed a suit in the Wisconsin county of Dane against the Department of Natural Resources for the amount of time it has taken to receive a response from them as well as the lengthy process in receiving those records. The records were important because they were related to the concentration of feeding locations and dairy farms on a big scale, as well as wetland permits, and the regulation of tiny air particles.


Not only was the firm representing the environmental organization in the specific cases on the delays in response, but also for the lingering trend of delayed releasing of records for groups that have a legitimate right to request and receive those records. The organization has a lot of ground to sue the Department of Natural Resources. There are many instances where the firm gives evidence of how late it has taken not only their client but other organizations to receive response from the office of the Department. For example, there was a request by the firm for records sent in March, the Department of Natural Resources sent receipt of that request in late March and asked for payment. The firm sent the payment in late June without a response from the Department of Natural Resources that they had received that payment, nor did the firm receive the requested records. The firm then reached out to the Department of Natural Resources with the many modes of communication and those contact methods went unnoticed. When the firm called at the end of the year, the Department of Natural Resources reached out in January of the next year explaining that the payment they sent was overdue and the records were not to be released.


In my opinion this is outrageous. I don’t believe that any agency should take this long doing anything, let alone the fact that these are records that are probably easily accessible and have been paid for. It makes you wonder the reasoning for taking so long to get these responses out to the recipient. Is there lack of public officials who can take the time to process these requests in the state? Or are they withholding these records for some reason? I guess we’ll find out sooner or later as I’m sure there will be a case to follow in the next few months.


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DAvid Cohen DIes

David Cohen, Ex-Common Cause Chief, Dies At 79

President of Common Cause, fighter for post-Watergate laws on ethics, self-proclaimed, highly skillful lobbyist, Mr. David Cohen passes away at the age of 79 in Westport, Conn., on the 29th of November, 2015. The cause of his death was reported to be a heart attack.


Mr. David Cohen was most popularly known for his involvement in stimulating resistance to the war in Vietnam through the means of non – profit group, Common Cause. He joined Common Cause in the year, 1971 – a year after it was originally founded by John W. Gardner. The group’s rank increased from 4,000 members to 250,000 within a span of five years while ending up being the nation’s largest nonpartisan citizen’s lobby.


Though David Broder, a Washington Post columnist, penned down in 1977 that the agenda of Common Cause was “redolent of an unacknowledged bias for middle-class activism.” He also gave credit to the organization to have “more impact on changing and opening up the political system than any other group in America in recent years.”


But, Mr. David Cohen’s primary vision with regard to Common Cause was to successfully broaden the definition of lobbyist from an overpaid, surreptitious replacement for ravenous personal interest individuals to the kind that works towards promoting relevant public causes.


Mr. David Cohen went heights to achieve this vision while also characterizing his profession as “prophetic and priestly.” He believed that public interest lobbyists especially remain worried about the incorporation of the views of people who don’t normally have to do anything with the process.”


In fact, he went on saying to the Pacific Standard Magazine back in 2013 that, “We all know the cartoon character of the fat guy with a big cigar passing out oodles of money. That’s not the full story or anything close to it. Lobbying is about representing people’s interests as they work to redress their public grievances. We all have special interests, and they should not be dismissed or castigated.”


Being born and brought up in Philadelphia, he was a son of Joseph Cohen and Gertrude Schwab – former European immigrants. He did specialization  in history from Philadelphia-based Temple University and further graduated in the year, 1958. As he grew older, he moved to Washington in order to fulfil his dreams of becoming a legislative representative for the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. He and his wife, Mrs. Florence Cohen, partially owned Politics & Prose, a popular Washington bookstore.


Mr. David Cohen is survived by two children – a son, Denis P. Cohen (former assistant district attorney) and a daughter, Sherrie Cohen, who is a trial lawyer.


His idea of an effective lobbyist was someone who “listens all the time, for signals, for code words, for clues,” adding, “Even within the framework of something you are advocating, there is room for difference and room for finding different ways to get to the same place.”


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Volkswagen Being Sued By Chinese Environmentalists

Diesel scandal. Concept related to cheating in pollution emission tests.

In September of 2015,  it was public news that Volkswagen had evidence that emissions testing had been falsified. This emission cheating scandal affects over eleven billion Volkswagen cars worldwide. Of those eleven billion of cars around three point two billion were sold to China alone. The amount of cars that are affected have made this a matter of public interest according to The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation. The group posted on their website that they had filed for a public interest suit against the Volkswagen industry. The lawsuit was filed in the city of Tianjin, which is located on the eastern port side of China. The group states Volkswagen “produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened the air pollution and has affected public health and rights.”


Do they have a case? Well on January 1, 2015,  China revised the Environmental Protection Laws which allowed Chinese environmental activists to start their goals to help reduce the amount of pollution in China. There are towns dubbed with the name ‘cancer villages.’ Just since October there have been a total of twenty five lawsuits filed by different environmental agencies and groups in China. China is one of the most polluted places on the earth. Some citizens have to wear masks just walking around due to the intense smog build up. China has some of the most lenient emissions laws. Now that the EPL’s have changed so have the activists strides against pollution in China. With the recent Volkswagen emission scandal, no breaks will be given. The actual amount of cars that were sold to China using the misleading software is only about 1,950 out of the 3.2 billion. Still it does pose a risk for the Volkswagen company as this could be the beginning of many more public interest lawsuits to come not just from China but other countries around the world. Cheating on emissions is nothing to fool around with and if Volkswagen knowingly did so consequences would be great. This is one of Germany’s largest industries and could possibly affect German jobs. However, Volkswagen is not directly to blame for China’s out of control pollution problems.


Volkswagen has taken actions to rectify the rigged software and those responsible. For the cars that have already been sold they have a plan to update all software on those whose vehicles were affected. German executives have apologized to China directly and the Guangzhou auto show. The former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned as a result of this scandal. Though the industry has made efforts to fix this situation it is going to be a long road. Volkswagen is aware of the lawsuit but a representative stated they have not received any on it yet.


It will be interesting to see what will happen with this lawsuit. More than likely Volkswagen will be charged with some minor offense and fines will have to be paid but nothing beyond that. China is already so polluted by their own doing that this case will not be the biggest set in by this and many more China environmentalists groups.

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The Most Bizarre Sentences Handed Out By Judges

It is popularly said that if you want justice, wait for the next world because here, it is the law that works. This means that judges are left to use their interpretation of the law to determine sentences, and some have gotten their crazy side of the brain working on overdrive.

The most famous of the crazy judges, Michael Cicconetti, has publicly said that since we can’t stone criminals anymore, justice is all about ensuring that they learn from their mistakes. While this could appear as a subtle comment, this judge clearly indicates that bizarre sentences are necessary because they are the only way criminals can learn from their mistakes.

Here are some of the most bizarre sentences handed out by judges who also believe in the Michael Cicconetti school of thought.

Mandatory Vasectomy

While family planning is a personal and optional decision, a judge decided to force a suspect to get a vasectomy, even when his case did not entail sexual assault. Jessie Lee Herald was charged with hit and run, child endangerment and driving on a suspended license. Instead of serving six years and eight months, his judge offered to reduce the sentence by 5 years only if Herald agreed to get a vasectomy.

Six Month Curfew For A Man Too Tall For Jail

Jude Medcalf fired a BB gun in a woman’s window and stole Christmas presents and Tea money from an NHS office. These crimes landed him in trouble, after which he was sent to jail. Unfortunately or rather fortunately for Medcalf, he was too big for jail. Standing at 7ft and 2 inches tall, Medcalf could not fit in jail clothes or bed, a problem that earned him his way out in just 75 days.

The judge instead sent him on a 6-month curfew and 12-month community order.

Feminine Dressing For Males

23-year-old Jason Householder and 21-year-old John Stockum were accused of throwing beer bottles at a woman in a car. As punishment, Judge David Hostetler gave the boys two options, 60 days in jail or one hour of walking down through downtown Coshocton in dresses, wigs and makeup. The boys chose to dress like women.

As much as these weird punishment was to teach the boys to respect women, critics says that these boys could have alternatively used this moment to have fun, based on their character.

Forced Singlehood For 3 Years

24-year-old Steven Cranley was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. After a medical examination, doctors declared him unable to deal with rejection, consequently causing Judge Rhys Morgan to order him to refrain from any intimate romantic relationship for 3 years.

Cranley seemed to be doing well until halfway through his sentence when he assaulted a female acquaintance. This time the judge decided to put him behind bars for 2 years.

As much as some of these sentences seem bizarre, you can tell that some of these judges had genuine intentions at heart. Sometimes, you can only understand the severity of an offense when you are subjected to almost similar conditions that you put your victims in.

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