Law News Digest – Week of July 12, 2015

Law news digest


Friday, July 17

LGB workers may now be protected from discrimination: The federal agency that handles employment discrimination cases, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just ruled that current law protects lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees from discrimination across the country. Although sexual orientation is not explicitly protected at the federal level, discrimination based on gender/sex is protected, and the agency found that discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of discriminating on the basis of sex. A court could overturn this decision, so protection for LGB workers is not a sure thing until either the Supreme Court rules on it or Congress passes legislation to that effect.

Wednesday, July 15

Whoopi wants to remove deadlines for prosecuting rape: Did you know that (in most states) after a certain number of years have passed, a person who has committed a rape can get away with it? Deadlines for prosecuting a crime are called the “statute of limitations” and they vary by state and by type of crime. And it’s the reason that Bill Cosby will probably get away with what he (likely) did to over a dozen women. In California, where most of the acts against the women probably occurred, if it happened at least 10 years ago, Cosby can’t be prosecuted. Whoopi wants that changed. What do you think? Find out the statute of limitations in your state.

Tuesday, July 14

Eric Garner’s family gets $5.9M but wants jail time for officer: The City of New York agreed to pay out $5.9 million to settle the claim over Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police last year. “I can’t breathe” were his famous last words. But the family wants more than money; they are calling for the federal Department of Justice to prosecute the police officer who put Garner in a choke hold. The Department has been investigating the incident since December.

Monday, July 13

President Obama releases 46 nonviolent drug offenders from prison: The President “commuted” (reduced) the sentences of 46 people and released them from prison today. Nearly all of the inmates would have already finished serving their time if they had been convicted of the same crime today, since punishments have been eased for many drug crimes over the last several years. Obama has now commuted the sentences of almost 90 people since he took office. His authority to do this comes directly from the Constitution.

Drug take-back program aims to save lives:  The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration is appalled at the number of deaths from drug overdose – 43,000 each year, mostly from opiates such as Vicodin – and is working to change that. He said he will re-introduce a drug take-back program and has this message for you: “We need you to clean out your medicine cabinet; we need you to give us the stuff in your medicine cabinet that can hurt you or your loved ones.” The details of the program need to be worked out, but do you think this is a good idea?

See last week’s Law News Digest.

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