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ACLU Settles Lawsuit Against CIA Torture Psychologists

Much was made of the 'enhanced interrogation techniques' employed by the U.S. military and contractors in terrorism investigations. Often considered torture, the interrogation program was at the center of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed against the alleged architects of that program, on behalf two men subjected to those techniques and the family of one man who froze to death in a CIA prison. In what the ACLU says is a first for lawsuits involving CIA torture, the two defendants in the case, psychologists James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, have agreed to settle the lawsuit, for an undisclosed amount. Enhanced Interrogation "Government officials and contractors are on notice that they cannot hide from accountability for torture," said director of the ACLU National Security Project Hina Shamsi in the wake of the settlement. "Our clients' groundbreaking case has changed the legal landscape. It showed that the courts are fully capable of handling lawsuits involving abuses committed in the name of national security." Due to issues of immunity and fears of classified information being made public, the case was set to be the first of its kind to go to trial, perhaps because the Justice Department did not try to block it. Although both Mitchell and Jessen continue to claim that the abuse suffered by Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Gul Rahman, and Rahman's death, all occurred without their knowledge. But in an earlier ruling in the case, the court found "The evidence would support a finding Defendants designed the [enhanced interrogation techniques] to be used on detainees, and thus they clearly had knowledge they would be so used." Brutal and Ineffective Those techniques embodied an effort to a state of "learned helplessness" in captives that would remove any resistance to interrogation. According to Dr. Jessen's deposition in the case, he and Dr. Mitchell were tasked with coming up with those techniques, which included sensory and sleep deprivation, shackling for hours in uncomfortable positions, and waterboarding. "Jim and I went into a cubicle," he said. "He sat down at a typewriter and together we wrote out a list." The interrogation techniques developed by the doctors were ultimately found to be brutal and ineffective, but caused lasting pain and suffering to those subjected to them. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Police and School Sued After Interrogated Teen Commits Suicide (FindLaw's Injured) What You Need to Know About Suing the Police (FindLaw's Injured) Chiquita Terrorism Lawsuit: Murder, Torture (FindLaw's Injured)
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Legal Malpractice or Just Bad Lawyering?

A lawyer is an administrator, counselor, clerk, earpiece and voice, sword and shield. It's a lot to ask and not everyone does every aspect of the job just right. Sadly, there are bad lawyers. But that does not mean that they are committing legal malpractice or that you can sue an attorney when a case doesn't go as hoped. Lawyers do not guarantee results. They are, however, bound by the law, ethical rules, and standards of practice. And when they violate the codes of conduct that govern the legal profession, then a malpractice suit is in order. Legal Training and Standards The American Bar Association's (ABA) Rules of Professional Conduct have been adopted by all states but California. All licensed lawyers swear under oath to follow these codes, as well as the law and professional standards, after passing a rigorous exam ("the bar") and graduating from law school. This long process exists in part to drill certain ideas into lawyer's heads. They can't mix their money with client funds -- that is called co-mingling -- and they must work to vigorously represent client interests while remaining within the bounds of the law. If a lawyer has an undisclosed conflict of interest, that can be a basis for a malpractice suit. Breach of contract is another malpractice basis, as are violations of the ABA's codes. Failure to maintain the professional standards when it harms a client is a basis for a negligence claim. Negligent Lawyering Negligence is a basis for a claim whenever a person or entity who owes a duty of care breaches that duty and causes compensable harm. To prove legal malpractice, you must show the following four elements: The lawyer owed you a duty to provide competent and skillful representation. The lawyer breached that duty by acting carelessly or by making a mistake. The lawyer's breach was the cause of an injury or harm. That injury or harm resulted in financial damages. Have a Claim? The rules of professional conduct are many, and lawyers must follow them all. If you believe you have a malpractice claim, speak to an attorney and get your claim assessed. Related Resources: Browse Legal Malpractice Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory) Legal Malpractice Claims (FindLaw) Legal Malpractice Lawsuit FAQ (FindLaw)
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Iris Bennett obtained an NPA for Florida Defense Company

IAP Worldwide Services Inc, a Florida defense and government contractor was represented by Iris Bennett of Smith Pachter with her partner Joseph Covington relating to a criminal investigation surrounding the company’s involvement in a conspiracy to pay bribes to officials in Kuwait to secure a government contracts in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Bennett and her partner successfully negotiated a non-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice for IAP this last June to resolve criminal charges against IAP.  Iris Bennett focuses her practice on investigations and white collar criminal matters. Before private practice she clerked for two federal judges and served as a federal public defender in the District of Columbia. The company agreed to pay a $7.1 million dollar penalty.  The agreement also called for continued cooperation by IAP and mandates that the company adopt a strict anti-corruption stance and create appropriate structures, systems and procedures to prevent corruption. The company will also regularly need to report to the Criminal Division regarding compliance. An ex-VP for the company, James Rama, was the only individual charged and he pled guilty to one charge of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). No other high level executives were individually charged which was a strong focus in the defense argument at sentencing that took place this last October when Rama was ultimately sentenced to a significant jail term.  Read about the sentencing here.  One has to wonder what the outcome would have been to this company and its more high level executives post Yates memo if they hadn’t resolved this case in June? The drama all began in 2004, when the Kuwaiti government rolled out a plan called the Kuwait Security Program (KSP), which was designed to help national agencies surveil using closed-circuit TV. The project would involve a two-phase roll out. First would come a feasibility test, then an installation period. The Kuwaiti Ministry of the Interior helped choose contractors and planned to collect substantially more revenue in the installation phase (Phase II) than in the feasibility test phase (Phase I).   However, Rama and IAP (who later admitted to these facts in the non-prosecution agreement) made a play to work on the first phase so they could secretly tweak the requirements for the second phase to favor IAP and thus give the company a competitive advantage when it came to bidding. They created a fake company (“Ramaco”) to try to win the Phase I business without disclosing conflict of interest and won that bid, which was worth $4 million. Rama and IAP then diverted approximately $1,783,688 of that money to a consultant to bribe Kuwaiti officials and then funneled money to IAP from Ramaco through different accounts and contacts. The resolution is certainly a job well done by Iris Bennett and her partner. Congrats! The post Iris Bennett obtained an NPA for Florida Defense Company appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Was Your Privacy Compromised by the OPM Hack?

The recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management exposed the personal information of some 21.5 million people. That's almost 15 percent of the country. So understandably, it may take some time to notify all those people. Could you be one of them? Here's what the OPM does, and why they may have your personal information. Federal HR The OPM handles job postings for the federal government, sets policies for hiring those positions, and conducts the background investigations for prospective employees and contractors. So not only would they have personal information for federal employees, but also for references and contacts those employees listed for their background checks. As noted by The Hill, "The total includes 19.7 million contractors and employees who went through security clearance checks going back to 2000 and 1.8 million non-government workers, such as spouses and relatives, named in those checks." And the information for those individuals includes everything from the standard Social Security Numbers, addresses, and employment history to criminal records and even (1.1 million!) fingerprints. You, Too? So if you work for the federal government, or you know someone who does, it's possible your information was compromised. While many think hackers in China are responsible for the data breach, the source remains unknown, as do the motives behind the hack. The number of affected people as also varied. Initially, the government said 4.2 million personnel files were exposed, and almost of those have been notified already. A month later, the total number exploded to over 20 million, and OPM is still not sure how it will contact everyone. If you've never applied to a federal government position, worked for the feds, or been contacted regarding someone else's application, you're probably safe. In the meantime, you should take steps to protect your privacy, and keep a close eye on your bank records and credit report. Related Resources: 22 Million Affected by OPM Hack, Officials Say (ABC News) OPM Hack: Overview of the Long Term Implications (FindLaw's Technologist) Snapchat Hacked: 4.6M Users' Data Published (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Anthem Hack Spurs 'Phishing' Email Scam: How to Stay Safe (FindLaw's Common Law)
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5 Best Cities for Working After Retirement

When you're 30, you can't wait until the day you can retire and spend your days sipping Pina Coladas on a white sand beach. When you finally retire at 65 or 67, suddenly you miss going to work every day. Either you're restless or didn't save up enough for retirement, and now you want to return to work in retirement. Here are the best cities, according to US News, for working after retirement: Best Cities for Working After Retirement Some cities are filled with youngsters and start-ups. Other cities are more senior friendly: Washington D.C. -- More than one-third of the over 60 population in Washington, D.C. Most people find jobs with the federal government and contractors. Salt Lake City, Utah -- If you like education jobs or government positions, Salt Lake City is great place to work after retirement. Over 33 percent of the senior citizen population in Salt Lake City are still employed. Bridgeport, Connecticut -- Bridgeport is a great city for older workers in the health care industry. Omaha, Nebraska -- A little less than 33 percent of seniors work in Omaha. Austin, Texas -- The economy is strong in Austin with big tech companies offering plenty of jobs. A little over 32 percent of seniors continue working after age 60. Obstacles to Working After Retirement As you continue working during your retirement, you may encounter a few obstacles such as age discrimination or reduced social security payments. Age Discrimination Sadly, many senior workers have had to deal with age discrimination in the workplace. However, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits discrimination against employees or potential employees older than 40 years of age. Refusing to hire an applicant or firing an employee solely because of age is age discrimination. Making harassing comments about someone's age can also be age discrimination. If you are being discriminated against because of your age, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Social Security Retirement Benefits If you are able to continue working or get a new job after retirement, just be aware that you may be giving up money to make money. You can still work and collect Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you retired before full retirement age off 65-67, the Social Security Administration may reduce your retirement benefits by about one-third to one-half of your outside earnings. If you are being discriminated against at work because of your age, consult with an experienced employment attorney for help. Related Resources: Browse Employment Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) After an Age-Discrimination Claim, What Happens? (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) When Can I Retire? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Tips for Older 'Encore Entrepreneurs' (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
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Contractor Injured at Your House: Are You Liable?

Homeowners having work done to their homes may be concerned about not just the quality of the work, but also about the potential legal liability for injuries sustained by contractors performing the work. By virtue of owning the property, homeowners may generally be held responsible for injuries caused by negligence in failing to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. What is considered negligence in a given situation depends in part upon the status of the injured person, but also the cause of the injury and the circumstances surrounding an accident. A homeowner's eventual liability may also depend on whether an injury will be covered by insurance. What do homeowners need to know about the possibility of a home-improvement or construction contractor being injured? Duty of Care Owed to Contractors Although contractors are on a person's property in a professional capacity, homeowners still owe them a duty to reasonably maintain the property. For the purposes of homeowner liability, injured parties are grouped into three categories, each of which are owed varying levels of care: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Contractors are generally considered to be invitees, which include visitors on a property for business purposes (such as workers or customers in a store). Homeowners owe the highest degree of care to this group of visitors, including a duty to repair known dangers and inspect for undiscovered hazards in areas an invitee may have access. When a homeowner fails to live up to this duty, and a contractor is injured because of a condition that the homeowner would reasonably have been expected to discover and correct, the homeowner may be liable for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. What About Insurance? In some instances, a homeowner's insurance policy may protect against personal injury liability. Although individual policies vary, some homeowner's policies provide coverage for accidents and injury claims, including those by contractors. A contractor's injury may also be covered by the contractor's own insurance. If the contractor is working as an employee of a larger company or contractor, he or she may be covered by worker's compensation. Contractors may also have other forms of insurance coverage that may provide coverage for injuries sustained by the contractors themselves, or a contractor's employees and subcontractors. If you are concerned about potential liability for a contractor injured on your property, you may wish to contact a personal injury defense attorney. You can also learn more about liability for injuries or accidents at FindLaw's section on Homeowner Liability and Safety. Related Resources: Browse Personal Injury -- Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw) Who's Liable for Your Holiday Party Injury? (FindLaw's Injured) If Your Tree Falls Onto Neighbor's Property, Are You Liable? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Want to Sue a Home Contractor? 3 Things to Consider (FindLaw's Injured)
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