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Is It Illegal to Let a Friend Borrow Your Gun?

Your gun, your rights, your problem? It's pretty common in America to let someone borrow, use, try, or otherwise handle a firearm. Hunters do it in the woods, shooters at the range, purchasers at trade shows, and kids at summer camps. Put those scenarios to one side, then consider the other side: criminal defendants arguing about who used whose gun to shoot so-and-so, or an otherwise responsible owner having to explain how his gun ended up in a kid's backpack at school. So what's the law on letting someone borrow your gun? America's Patchwork Gun Laws There's an old legal adage that everything is legal unless prohibited. While it's not necessarily true, it's a fairly good guide when it comes to gun laws. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Constitution grants individuals a right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes, and this applies to states as well. Federal Gun Laws Federal law bans anyone convicted of a felony from possessing a firearm. That's one of the more common federal criminal prosecutions out there. It's also illegal to ship a firearm out of state without a license. Certain types of firearms - assault weapons, military grade hardware, etc. -- are either banned or tightly regulated. It's important to know who you'd be giving your gun to. Note any specific laws about the type of weapon as well. State Gun Laws From there, it really depends where you live. State gun control laws vary considerably. Buying, selling, or transferring ownership of a gun might be regulated where you live. Virtually all states prohibit possessing a gun near a school. Big cities and urban areas may have more restrictive policies than the countryside. Gun laws are for the most part state and laws, and it's difficult to generalize. Related Resources Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) America's Gun Culture in 10 Charts (BBC News) State Gun Control Laws (FindLaw's State Laws) Legal How-To: Giving a Gun as a Gift (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Sara Kropf Wins Inspiring Not Guilty Verdict for Protester Client in D.C. Street Riot Case

Just before year-end, Sara Kropf and her client got the best holiday gift ever –  an acquittal of all charges.  Sara, a Washington, D.C. defense attorney, was representing a street medic charged with rioting and destruction of property stemming from protests held during President Trump’s January 20, 2017 inauguration. Noting that her client attended the protests armed with bandages, Sara was quoted by Washington’s Tops News as stating, “According to the government, showing up with a fanny pack with Band Aids… is equivalent to the people who smashed the Starbucks window.” Sara’s inspirational closing argument was featured in news articles around the world.  A Washington Post article said Sara focused on a police radio report where a commander identified the demonstrators as “anarchists” and quoted her as stating“[t]his is about politics,” before the six-person D.C. Superior Court jury acquitted all the defendants on the felony charges on December 21. “This is about police and local prosecutors who work for the Department of Justice. And we know who they report to,” she said, referring to President Trump. The defendants included a nurse, a freelance photographer and a college student who were among more than 200 protesters arrested in a police round-up northeast of the White House. During the daylong protest, vandals had caused an estimated $100,000 in property damage, according to the government. Eventually, prosecutors charged 212 people in connection with the protests. Twenty pleaded guilty, and charges were dropped against another 20. In this case, federal prosecutors failed to link the six defendants with any violent or destructive acts. Instead, they argued that they had “provided cover” for the vandalism – an argument immediately challenged by Kropf and her colleagues on the defense side.  For example, they showed that the social media posts and “likes” of a detective who was one of the government’s key witnesses were critical of social protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. They also noted that the commanding officer of the police did not give a dispersal order to the protesters before encircling and arresting them – contrary to the department’s standard procedure. Most importantly, the defense attorneys pointed out that there was no evidence that any of the six participants had broken windows, caused property damage or encouraged others to commit illegal acts. Even before the government presented the case to the jury, Judge Lynn Leibovitz threw out the most serious charge – inciting a riot.  However, it took two full days of deliberations after the nearly four-week trial before the not guilty verdicts were delivered. As Kropf said in her closing, “All the government proved was that these individuals showed up and walked as protesters. And that is not a crime.”  We will always need lawyers and citizens willing to stand up against government over-reach. That is what happened here. What a courageous victory for both Sara Kropf and her client.  Huge congrats! The post Sara Kropf Wins Inspiring Not Guilty Verdict for Protester Client in D.C. Street Riot Case appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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When Can Sexual Assault Survivors Sue for Defamation?

Being a victim of sexual assault is bad enough, but finally finding the courage to speak up and then being called a liar -- or worse -- by the person who assaulted you, is even worse. There may, however, be a recourse for these types of circumstances. Women who have survived a sexual assault have been turning to defamation lawsuits to fight back against their attackers.In many instances, this is not only to clear their own name but also because the statute of limitations for filing a civil claim of sexual assault has passed. And while not every attacker who has called his or her victim a liar will win a defamation lawsuit, it's a viable option for sexual assault survivors who think they can prove the elements of defamation. The Elements of a Defamation Lawsuit Defamation laws will vary from state to state, but there are some general standards that make these laws similar to each other. In general, a person must prove the following in order to prevail in a defamation lawsuit: The defendant made a statement The statement was published The statement caused injury The statement was false, and The statement didn't fall into a privileged category Some explanation is necessary to better understand the elements listed above. The statement can be oral (slander) or written (libel), and a statement is "published" if a third party has heard, seen, or read the statement. Harm to reputation is enough to satisfy the injury element. Finally, while the other elements may be met, if the statement was privileged, a defamation lawsuit will fail. An example of a privileged statement is one given as a witness at a trial.As you can see, a sexual assault survivor isn't always going to be able to sue his or her attacker for defamation, but if may be possible if the attacker speaks badly enough about the victim. To understand if you have a legal claim, contact a personal injury lawyer for help. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Torts and Personal Injuries (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Sex Crimes (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Assault, Harassment: Top 10 Cases and Questions (FindLaw's Injured)
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Pamela Mackey and Saskia Jordan Successfully Defend Insider Trading Case Filed by the SEC

A decade ago, Roger Parker told two of his closest friends that billionaire Kirk Kerkorian was about to buy a 35 percent share in his Denver-based company, Delta Petroleum Corp.  Five years later, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an insider trading charge against Parker, alleging that the tip he provided generated more than $890,000 in illicit profits. One of Parker’s friends, Michael Van Gilder, pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge of illegal insider trading, while the other friend, Scott Reiman, settled with the SEC, giving back more than $800,000 without admitting or denying guilt. But Parker, who was CEO of Delta Petroleum at the time, faced a civil complaint filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission and spent the last five years fighting the charges. Thanks to the excellent work of his attorneys, Pamela Mackey and Saskia Jordan, partners at Haddon, Morgan and Foreman P.C. in Denver, he was acquitted in a recent federal jury trial. The two-week trial in U.S. District Court occurred after an initial trial that ended with a hung jury.  Van Gilder testified that he did not scheme with Parker to earn a profit and Reiman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Throughout the trial, Mackey and Jordan argued that although Parker had passed along confidential information to his two friends, he did not profit from the tipping. “They kept the information secret from Mr. Parker,” said Mackey in her closing argument. “He had no information about any trading until the FBI showed up in 2012.” That argument was crucial to the successful conclusion of Parker’s case, since the SEC needed to prove that Parker expected his friends to act on the tip, and that he personally profited from the scheme.  In fact, Parker testified that Van Gilder and Reiman betrayed his professional relationships with them as well as their friendship by profiting from the conversation. Both Mackey and Jordan are experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyers who have handled a number of high-profile cases. For instance, Mackey represented Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant when he was charged with sexual assault. Jordan has represented defendants charged with white-collar crimes, SEC violations and sexual assaults; plaintiffs and defendants in civil fraud trials; and professionals in regulatory actions and civil trials. Because so many SEC cases end in settlement, it is encouraging to see yet another case won at trial, especially by two amazing women defenders. More and more civil enforcement actions need to be tested in the court system. As I have said before, anyone can champion a winning theory in a conference room. It is entirely different to test that theory in a courtroom. Congrats to Pamela and Saskia! The post Pamela Mackey and Saskia Jordan Successfully Defend Insider Trading Case Filed by the SEC appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Are We Maintaining Diversity on the Bench? Judge for Yourself

Today, online news channels, TV, newspapers and social media are inundated with stories of women (and men) speaking out against injustices that professional women have had to endure from men in positions of power. But there is a calculated plan unfolding that will have long-lasting effects on the judiciary that is largely unnoticed. It may not be as sexy as bringing down a famous director (or two), or dethroning a political candidate, but one that may be even more important in the long run. While individuals who engage in sexism and vagrant mistreatment of women are deservingly being “outed,” we are seeing a dangerous revival of sexism at the highest level of our government. A recent Associated Press survey found that 81 percent of President Trump’s nominees for federal judgeships are men, and that 91 percent are white. That is the highest percentage of white men in 30 years, according to the news service. Only 11 of 58 nominees to appellate and district court judgeships are women, while 47 are men. All but five of those 58 nominees are white, while three are Asian-American, one is Hispanic and one is African-American. I believe deeply in the importance of increasing diversity at all levels in our legal system, as well as promoting diverse lawyers to positions of power in firms and on trial teams.  However, the importance of diversity is especially true in our judicial system, which must reflect today’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-gender and multi-racial society. The judicial branch holds a unique place in our government. For our system to be fair – and to be perceived as fair by non-white males – we must have judges from all walks of life and with diverse life experiences hearing and judging the cases in our system. The nature of Trump’s judicial appointments in the past year is a remarkable contrast with President Obama’s record. During his eight years in office, 42 percent of his confirmed judges were women and only 37 percent were white men. However, the Republican-controlled Senate blocked all of Obama’s appointments in the last year of his term, giving Trump an opportunity to make far more lifetime appointments to the bench. While we, as legal professionals, don’t have the power to make judicial appointments, we can sound the alarm about sexism and prejudice in our courts. Neither our country nor our judicial system can go back in time to an era when women and minorities were excluded from positions of power in the workplace and in government. Whatever your political beliefs, I encourage you to speak up for gender, racial and ethnic diversity in our courts because it strengthens our nation’s judicial system. It is even more important today because the courts serve as a role model for our legal profession and our society as a whole. Get involved in legal, community and civic organizations.  Find candidates who share your values and offer your support.  That is our responsibility as defenders of a fair and equitable American system of justice. The post Are We Maintaining Diversity on the Bench? Judge for Yourself appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Susan Brune Prevails in “Impossible to Win” Securities Case

Leave it to a powerful woman in the investment world like Lynn Tilton to appreciate the value of a fighter and seasoned trial lawyer like Susan Brune.  Lynn Tilton, the owner of Patriarch Partners and frequently dubbed the “Diva of Distressed,” is a well-known private equity investor.   She invests in companies that are in severe financial distress, with the aim of turning them around to profitability.  From 2003 to 2007, she raised more than $2 billion via structured finance vehicles known as collateralized loan obligations (CLOs). By nature, Tilton doesn’t shy away from a challenge.  When the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) came knocking in 2009, it was no surprise then that she turned to Brune, an experienced white collar securities lawyer, to represent her during the investigation and then to help her defend against the charges. In 2015, the SEC charged Tilton and Tilton’s company, Patriarch Partners, with a matter relating to their operation of three CLOs known as the Zohar Funds. The SEC sought approximately $240 million in disgorgement, in addition to fines and a lifetime bar from the securities industry. The agency chose to file the charges in the SEC’s administrative forum.  Tilton decided to take the case to trial, insisting that the highly sophisticated investors had been fully informed about the investments.  Going to trial against the SEC is a risk for any client, but in administrative proceedings the odds are particularly stacked against respondents, who have only limited discovery rights and less due process protection than in federal court. The trial was held before Administrative Law Judge Carol Fox Foelak in October and November of last year.  Brune worked closely with co-counsel at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which had amassed a large team.  Together, they presented a convincing argument on behalf of Tilton.  During the trial, Brune did a scathing cross of two fund “victims” and conducted the examination of Tilton when she took the stand in her own defense, testimony that spanned almost four days.   The defense that Brune had developed over the years that Tilton had been under investigation played out as planned and led to the dismissal of the case. In a 57-page order, the judge stated that Tilton didn’t hide anything from her sophisticated institutional investors – thus ending Tilton’s long battle with the SEC.  “While respondents did not maximize the ease of finding it, they also did not conceal — omit to state — material information such as the amount of interest actually being paid and the interest rate and principal on the portfolio companies’ loans,” Judge Foelak said in her ruling. This complete vindication is a huge victory for Tilton and for Susan Brune, who has been fighting alongside Tilton for eight years as the SEC investigated and then filed charges. “I am thrilled that she has now been fully cleared,” said Brune, whose past victories include the high-profile acquittal of a Bear Stearns hedge fund manager in a federal jury trial. Like Brune, Tilton was ecstatic to get the verdict. “I have never been one to accept injustice or cower in the face of challenging obstacles, and I knew the truth would ultimately prevail,” Tilton said in an interview.  “I can only hope that this vindication will deter the future abuse of power that comes with government overreach.” “People told me my case would be impossible to win,” Tilton said in post-trial interview on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” as she reflected on the power of the SEC.  And, as she told Bloomberg News, she looked to Brune and Gibson Dunn because they were “willing to get in there and fight.” I think that before this victory, many would have opined that this was an impossible case to win in the SEC’s administrative court proceeding.  Not so, at least with this defense team. The post Susan Brune Prevails in “Impossible to Win” Securities Case appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Women Play Leading Roles in Volkswagen’s Defense

It is apparent that Volkswagen AG understands the value of having women attorneys in lead defense roles.  Sharon L. Nelles, a New York partner in Sullivan & Cromwell’s litigation group, has served as lead and national coordinating counsel for Volkswagen advising the German automaker on the $14.7 billion resolution with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and also in the multi-district consumer plaintiff committee over diesel emissions. In addition to Nelles’ involvement in the criminal case, two women partners at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s New York office – Olivia A. Radin, who focuses on white collar and complex litigation, and Linda H. Martin, a member of the firm’s dispute resolution practice –  were also key players on the three-firm legal team that worked out a plea agreement to settle the DOJ criminal charges earlier this year. More recently, Nelles and two of her partners at Sullivan helped Volkswagen AG successfully stop the DOJ’s attempt to turn 25 million pages of discovery material related to multidistrict litigation in California over to GSK Stockman, a German law firm. At issue was whether a pretrial order in the U.S. diesel emissions civil case –Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation – bars the sharing of discovery material with attorneys litigating against Volkswagen outside the U.S.  The DOJ argued that GSK Stockmann was the “model plaintiff” and entitled to see the discovery documents. However, there are 1,600 plaintiffs suing Volkswagen in Germany, making it almost inevitable that information from the 25 million pages would be made public – a clear violation of the pretrial order, according to VW’s U.S. legal team. “In fact, there is nothing in [the order] authorizing a law enforcement or regulatory agency, including DOJ civil, to share the MDL production with non-U.S. private counsel for use in a non-U.S. private securities lawsuit against VWAG,” said the company in a statement. On September 15, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline S. Corley, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, agreed with Volkswagen’s legal team and denied the DOJ request to share the MDL information with the German firm. Volkswagen’s team that argued against this DOJ overreach in a civil case included Laura Kabler Oswell, a partner in Sullivan’s Palo Alto office and a group leader for the firm’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act practice, who was recently named a “Rising Star” by Law360 after two big litigation wins in other matters. Suhana S. Han was the third Sullivan partner on the litigation team, which included three male partners. A partner in the litigation group, Han’s practice covers commercial litigation, including securities matters.  It is almost unheard of for the women on a corporate defense team to equal or outnumber the men. Kudos to the women of Sullivan & Cromwell and to all the women involved in lead roles defending Volkswagen The post Women Play Leading Roles in Volkswagen’s Defense appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Can You Be Fired for Having Your Period at Work?

'Every woman dreads getting period symptoms when they're not expecting them,' said Alisha Coleman, 'but I never thought I could be fired for it.' It's not a legal question often asked, but Coleman should know better than most. She was fired from a 911 call center in Georgia, allegedly after experiencing heavy menstrual symptoms related to the onset of menopause while at work. With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, she is now suing her former employer, the Bobby Dodd Institute, for gender discrimination. "I don't want any woman to have to go through what I did," Coleman stated. Working Woman According to her suit, Coleman was experiencing symptoms of premenopause at the time of her firing, which can include "irregular and unpredictable sudden onset menstrual periods, which could be heavy at times." In August of 2015, Coleman "unexpectedly experienced a sudden onset of her menstrual period that resulted in her accidentally leaking menstrual fluid on her office chair." She reported the event to her supervisor, who advised her to leave the premises to change clothing. Soon after her supervisor and HR Director warned her "that she would be fired if she ever soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow." In April of 2016, some menstrual fluid unexpectedly leaked onto the carpet when Coleman got up to walk to the bathroom. Despite immediately cleaning the spot with bleach and disinfectant, Coleman was terminated, allegedly for her failure to "practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty." Workplace Legal Protections Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended the Civil Rights Act, barring discrimination of "women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." The question Coleman's lawsuit raises is whether either or both laws apply to women undergoing menopause. The Bobby Dodd Institute argued against that proposition in its motion to dismiss the suit, and said Coleman wasn't targeted for being female. A district court judge agreed and dismissed her case in June, ruling it was not clear that Coleman's treatment for "excessive menstruation was treated less favorably than similar conditions affecting both sexes," or that "male employees who soiled themselves and company property due to a medical condition, such as incontinence, would have been treated more favorably." The ACLU took up her case, filing an appeal on her behalf. "Employers have no business policing women's bodies or their menstrual cycles," said Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia executive director in a statement. "Firing a woman for getting her period at work is offensive and an insult to every woman in the workplace ... That's wrong and illegal under federal law. We're fighting back." Related Resources: Find an Employment Lawyer in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Pregnancy Discrimination Warning Signs (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Reasons You Can't Be Fired From Your Job (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) When Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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DeVos Plans to Dismantle Standards for Campus Sexual Assault Investigations

Donald Trump's new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced plans to rescind a six-year-old policy issued by Barack Obama's administration that advised colleges and universities on how to handle sexual assault allegations on campus. "Washington has burdened schools with increasingly elaborate and confusing guidelines that even lawyers find difficult to understand and navigate," DeVos told a crowd at George Mason University. "That's why we must do better, because the current approach isn't working." But DeVos wasn't as clear about what the new approach would look like as she was about rebuking the old approach. So where does that leave victims, alleged abusers, and schools trying to meet their legal obligations? Out With the Old In 2011, Obama's Department of Education issued what is known as a "Dear Colleague" letter, addressing the requirements of colleges and universities under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in regards to sexual violence on campus. Schools must "take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence," including a prompt investigation of any incident the school knows of or reasonably should know of, and apply a "preponderance of evidence" standard to determinations based on sexual harassment allegations. According to DeVos, this system "has failed too many students." "Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved," she said, adding, "That's why we must do better, because the current approach isn't working." In With What Now? What the new approach will be, however, isn't immediately clear. DeVos announced plans to "launch a transparent notice-and-comment process" to formulate new guidance on sexual assault investigations, presumably to standardize procedural elements and protections across all schools. One of the issues that many, including the American Bar Association, have highlighted in prior critiques is the lack of due process protections for both victims and accusers in on-campus hearings, along with the lack of uniformity in schools' reporting, investigating, punishment, and appeals processes. "We can do a better job of making sure the handling of complaints is fair and accurate," DeVos promised, but how that job will be done remains to be seen. Related Resources: DeVos Announces Plan to Revamp Obama Administration Guidance on Campus Sex Assault Investigations (ABA Journal) Columbia Settles Title IX Lawsuit Filed by Student Accused of Rape (FindLaw's Decided) University May Raise Tuition to Fund Sexual Assault Investigations (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Are Schools Using Student Privacy Laws to Cover up Crimes? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Burglar Who Targeted Senior Citizens Gets 327 Year Sentence

A burglar in San Francisco has just been sentenced to 327 years to life for a string of home invasion robberies against local senior citizens. The convicted burglar, 60 year old German Woods, targeted vulnerable seniors, many of whom didn't speak English, or did so poorly. Woods' modus operandi included lying in wait for seniors that lived alone to return home, then as they were entering their homes, he would attack, forcing them into and ransacking their homes. The charges against Woods go back to 2014. Between then and 2016, he committed numerous burglaries, and was ultimately convicted in July 2016 on 17 different counts, including some charges for elder abuse. Penalties for Burglary While burglary is often equated with theft or robbery, it is a little bit different. Burglary is actually just the unlawful entry into any structure with the intent to commit a crime. As such, when it comes to a burglary conviction, the penalties will generally depend upon the severity of the crimes associated with the entry into another's home or business. For instance, a burglary with the intent just to trespass is going to be punished much more leniently than a burglary with the intent to attack another person or steal valuable property. Additionally, the intended crime does not have to be completed for a person to be charged with burglary. Consecutive or Concurrent Sentencing When a defendant is convicted on multiple counts or charges, judges often have several options when it comes to sentencing (though sentencing guidelines, statutes, and case law often limit those options somewhat).However, one of the primary decisions a judge can make is whether a convict will serve multiple count sentences consecutively or concurrently. For instance, if a defendant is convicted on 4 counts, and is sentenced to 25 years for each count, a consecutive sentence means he must serve 100 years behind bars, while concurrent sentencing means he would be out in 25. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) 5 Tips to Prevent Daytime Burglaries (FindLaw Blotter) What is Looting? (FindLaw Blotter) Penalty for Gun Store Robbery (FindLaw Blotter)
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