Archive | June, 2012

Britain’s High Court Blocks Extradition of Alleged Minnesota Sex Offender

29 Jun

The British High Court decided that Minnesota’s  Sex Offender Treatment Program threatened Shawn Sullivan’s Human rights stating:

there is a real risk that if extradited the appellant might be subject to an order for civil commitment within Minnesota and that that amounts to a risk that he would suffer a flagrant denial of his rights enshrined in Art. 5.1 (of the European Convention on Human Rights).

Basically, the Court (Do you capitalize British High Courts? I hope so!) stated that civil commitment to prevent possible future criminal conduct is wicked messed up.  As a side note, the opinion writing judge is named Lord Justice Moses, which is now my favorite curse/interjection. Maybe if Tim Pawlenty hadn’t taken away the sex offender’s TVs, the Minnesota taxpayer could pay to indefinitely lock up this guy… Lord Justice Moses, that would be sweet.


Fugitive Senate Candidate Files Libel Suit

28 Jun

The Star Tribune is reporting that fugitive Minneapolis dentist and U.S. Senate candidate Jack Shepard (no, not this dude, this dude) sued the Huffington Post for libel because of a headline that labels him an arsonist.

According to the Strib, the suit was filed in federal court in St. Paul on Monday. Shepard, who is currently running for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, fled the country in 1982 while facing felony arson charges, but was apparently never convicted. He also has apparently never returned from Italy, which will make it difficult for him to press his case. For more background on Shepard, who strikes me as a very interesting person, see here.

Child Porn Convict’s Conditions of Supervised Release Upheld

27 Jun

Yesterday, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (whose decisions become binding law on all federal district courts in Minnesota) upheld an Arkansas judge’s decision that a man convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography could be prohibited from possessing all pornography, from accessing the Internet, and from owning a computer as terms of his supervised release.

The convict, Justin Deatherage, was sentenced to 70 months in prison, followed by ten years of supervised release, one of the conditions of which being that he not “purchase, possess . . . or use any media forms containing pornographic images or sexually oriented materials…” At the sentencing, the judge stated that “We would just like to keep these sex offenders away from pornography.”

Deatherage appealed, arguing that the condition banning pornography, among others, was “a greater deprivation of liberty than necessary.”

In its decision, United States v. Deatherage, the Eighth Circuit stated that while “broad bans on possessing sexually explicit materials … implicate important First Amendment rights,” it ultimately concluded that “between the child pornography offense, Deatherage’s likely abuse of young children, and his sordid affair with [his mistress], the district court did not abuse its discretion by banning possession of all sexually oriented materials during his ten years of supervised release.”

Lakeville Teens Plead Guilty

27 Jun

In an update to a story that the Twin Cities media has gone absolutely crazy over (see, e.g. coverage in Patch, MPR, PiPress, and Strib) it looks like 3 of the 4 Lakeville teens mentioned in this prior post have plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of conspiracy to interfere with privacy (Minn. Stat. 609.746), and not the more constitutionally troublesome criminal defamation with which they were apparently also charged. According to the reports, a fourth student’s case has yet to be resolved.

Brian Johnson Wins Injunction; Distributes Bibles at Pride Fest

25 Jun

This is obviously a little tardy, but an important update to a previous post. Brian Johnson was  granted a temporary injunction by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed him full access to pass out Bibles on the grounds of the Twin Cities Pride Festival this past Sunday. The district court decision stayed by the injunction can be found here.

Some Local Reaction to America Tradition, Inc. v. Bullock

25 Jun

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States released America Tradition, Inc. v. Bullock, a per curiam opinion summarily reversing the Montana Supreme Court’s decision upholding a state law restricting campaign-related speech by corporations.

Local reaction included an unsurprisingly hostile critique from Rep. Keith Ellison and a statement from Minnesota state campaign finance board Executive Director Gary Goldsmith, who said he doesn’t expect any change in Minnesota law because the state legislature revised Minnesota’s campaign finance law at the end of the 2010 session in response to Citizens United.

As the Strib piece on Goldsmith noted, there is ongoing litigation over Minnesota’s campaign finance law, and an appeal is currently under en banc review by the Eighth Circuit.

Afton Limits Political Speech, No One Seems to Care

24 Jun

In a nod to Minnesota Nice, Afton has imposed a regulation limiting political parade groups to 15-persons.  While the regulation has no enforcement mechanism, it does seem to limit political speech. In a noble skirting of  the issue Betty McCullom’s office stated “We just abide by whatever the regulations are.  We just want to cooperate with whatever the community sets forth, so no, it’s not a problem.” Which I believe is a paraphrase of “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”