Court and Judicial Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Court and Judicial Corruption News Articles in Media
As has happened before in Florida, "stand your ground" is being appropriately scrutinized in the aftermath of the shocking shooting death of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed black man who was gunned down for trying to protect his family - including his young children - in a dispute over a handicapped parking space. The local sheriff concluded that shooter Michael Drejka pulled the trigger because he was in fear, and therefore stand your ground applied. According to this inexplicable interpretation of the law, Drejka needed to defend himself from a man who ... was backing away from the confrontation. Florida’s stand your ground law emerged as an outgrowth of the traditional “castle doctrine,” which allowed individuals to defend their home (or “castle”) with whatever force was necessary. Somehow, that concept has been warped into a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card that is essentially a license to kill. Five members of Congress, including three U.S. senators, have called for the Department of Justice to investigate why stand-your-ground immunity was extended to a man carrying a concealed weapon who angrily approached a car ... and created a confrontation. Had McGlockton been the one to pull out a gun, there is no way stand your ground would have been extended to him, a man of color. The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported a significant increase in unlawful homicides since stand your ground was enacted in Florida in 2005.
Note: Watch the disturbing video of the incident at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
I was captured when I was in my 20s and brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2004, after more than two years in secret prisons. I have been imprisoned here without charges since then. I am now 43. Thirteen years ago, your country brought me here because of accusations about who I was. Confessions were beaten out of me in those secret prisons. I tried, but I am no longer trying to fight against those accusations from the past. What I am asking today is, how long is my punishment going to continue? Your president says there will be no more transfers from here. Am I going to die here? If I have committed crimes against the law, charge me. In 15 years, I have never been charged, and the worst things the government has said about me were extracted by force. The judge in my habeas case decided years ago that I had been subjected to physical and psychological abuse during my interrogations, and statements the government has wanted to use against me are not reliable. Even if I were cleared, it would not matter. There are men here who have been cleared for years who are sitting in prison next to me. Detainees here, all Muslim, have never had rights equal to other human beings. Even when we first won the right to challenge our detention, in the end, it became meaningless. It is hard for me to ... believe that laws will not be bent again to allow the government to win. But this week, I am joining a group of detainees here, all of us who have been held without charges for years, to try again to ask the courts for protection.
Note: The above was written by Sharqawi Al Hajj, a Yemeni citizen detained at Guantanamo Bay. For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
A couple in the town of Mesquite, [Texas] have spent the past several years trying to learn how and why their son died after being arrested by local police. [Kathy Dyer was told that her son] Graham had been out of his mind on LSD and had bitten one of the officers while they were taking him into custody, [and that] he’d seriously injured himself inside the police cruiser as they drove to the jail. After the funeral, his parents noticed items in the hospital records that didn’t match the police account the night he was arrested. So they asked police department for records. They were denied. Under state law, police agencies aren’t required to turn over records from investigations that don’t result in a conviction. Because Graham is dead, there would be no conviction. Graham’s parents did finally get ... videos [of the arrest]. They showed clear discrepancies between how her son died and how local police claim he died. He was Tasered repeatedly, including in the testicles, and put in a restraint chair. Even after Graham showed signs of distress, police waited more than two hours to call an ambulance. Before they had obtained the video, the Dyers had filed a complaint in federal court. It was quickly dismissed for being too vague. After the videos, a federal ... judge allowed the lawsuit to go forward. This problem isn’t limited to Texas. Law enforcement agencies know that federal courts require specificity in these types of lawsuits. So there’s a strong incentive to be as stingy with information as possible.
Tennie White, who was prosecuted by a joint team made up of attorneys from the Environmental Protection Agency and the environmental crimes division of the Justice Department, had spent her professional life exposing contamination. She was ... particularly vocal about protecting poor African-American communities. Before she was charged and prosecuted, White had spent much of her time volunteering for [the Coalition of Communities for Environmental Justice], an organization she had co-founded to help these Mississippians contend with pollution. She traveled throughout the state ... talking about environmental issues in black communities. So in 2012, when White was charged with fraud by the EPA, the organization she so often criticized, and the charges involved a company she had helped a community challenge, [those] who had been working closely with her felt they knew exactly what had happened. “She was framed,” said [White's former colleague Rev. Steve] Jamison. “It was that simple.” I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the EPA for all communications relating to the investigation of Tennie White in April 2016. The agency is supposed to resolve such requests within 20 business days, but I did not receive all the documents I requested. Nor did the EPA respond to my repeated requests to address the specifics of White’s case - and why her sentence for a crime of no environmental consequence was more severe than penalties for many others who caused serious harm.
Note: Despite its mandate to protect human health and the environment, the EPA has a long history of keeping the existence of toxic waste sites secret and preventing employees from talking with congressional investigators, reporters and the agency's own inspector general. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health.
Most complaints of child sexual abuse in Malaysia do not lead to successful prosecutions. According to classified data Malaysian police compiled and shared with Reuters, 12,987 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to police between January 2012 and July of this year. Charges were filed in 2,189 cases, resulting in just 140 convictions. No details were disclosed in the cases where there were convictions. Child rights advocates have long pushed the government to publicly disclose data on child sexual abuse to increase awareness so action can be taken to address what they call a growing problem. A veil was lifted in June when a British court handed Richard Huckle 22 life sentences for abusing up to 200 babies and children, mostly in Malaysia, and sharing images of his crimes on the dark web. Child sexual abuse data ... is protected under Malaysia’s Official Secrets Act. The government provides data on child abuse only at the request of a member of parliament. In 17 years of operation, PS the Children, Malaysia’s biggest NGO dealing with child abuse, has seen zero convictions on the cases it has handled, its founder Madeleine Yong told Reuters. Malaysia does not have a law specifically prohibiting child pornography and defines rape narrowly as penile penetration. Australian detectives who investigate paedophiles in the region believe Malaysia has become one of Southeast Asia’s biggest centres for the transmission of child pornography on the Internet.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
692 felony convictions in California ... were thrown out between 1989 and 2012 based on errors or misconduct by police, prosecutors, defense lawyers or judges, according to a new study by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania. The report ... didn’t include misdemeanor cases, which amount to about 80 percent of all prosecutions, or juvenile cases. And it also excluded the costs of jailing people who were later released without charges, which may amount to $70 million a year, the report said. The study examined only records from California and ... looked at cases in which felony convictions were overturned and the defendants were later cleared. More than half the cases involved prosecutors’ wrongful withholding of evidence. One example was that of former Black Panther Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt. Pratt was convicted in 1972 of murdering schoolteacher Carolyn Olson [in 1968] and was sentenced to life in prison, based in part on [witness] testimony. He was freed in 1999 after a judge found that prosecutors had withheld evidence that the witness was an informant for the FBI, which was then trying to discredit Pratt as part of its Cointelpro campaign. The authors questioned long-standing laws that shield prosecutors from lawsuits by criminal defendants. They said they knew of no other profession that received immunity for “intentional wrongdoing that gravely injures another.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Law Department again has been sanctioned for withholding records involving a fatal police shooting, marking the eighth time in recent years a federal judge has formally punished the city [of Chicago] for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall on Tuesday ruled that the city acted in "bad faith" when it ignored a court order and made little effort to provide documents to the lawyer for the family of 20-year-old Divonte Young, who was shot and killed by an officer in 2012. In a sharply worded 24-page order, the judge criticized the city for its approach to discovery, the legal process that allows the two sides in a lawsuit to uncover relevant facts. "The City's cavalier attitude toward the discovery process ... warrant findings of willfulness, fault and bad faith," Gottschall wrote. In imposing her punishment, Gottschall ... stripped the city of legal protections that would have allowed its lawyers to withhold some documents from the Young family's lawyer. A Tribune investigation last year that analyzed nearly 450 cases alleging police misconduct since Emanuel took office found that a federal judge had to order the city to turn over potential evidence in nearly 1 of every 5 cases. The issue came to a head in January 2016, when a federal judge sanctioned one city lawyer for intentionally concealing evidence and ... took the rare step of tossing out a jury verdict in favor of the city and ordering a new trial.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A UK-based charity has warned that British tourists and expats in Dubai and across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should not report incidents of rape after a woman who was allegedly gang raped was arrested and charged with “extramarital sex”. Detained in Dubai, an organisation that assists people who have become victims of injustice in the UAE, has warned against reporting rape or other crimes in the country because of the “manipulation when it comes to criminal accusations” and the “racist” preconceptions held against Western tourists. Radha Stirling, founder of the charity, said that following the recent case – as well as a number of other shocking incidents in recent years where rape victims have been detained in the UAE – she advises British tourists not to report crime. The latest case involves the arrest of a 25-year-old woman who was on holiday in Dubai in October when she was allegedly attacked by two British men, who allegedly befriended her and lured her to their hotel room before pinning her down and raping her while recording it on a phone. When the woman reported the rape at a police station, she was arrested for breaking Emirati laws against extramarital sex, while her attackers have since flown home to the UK. Her passport has reportedly been confiscated and she is prohibited from leaving the country. The prescribed punishments for extramarital sex in the UAE include imprisonment, deportation, floggings and stoning.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
Hundreds of activists gathered to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Thursday. Police with tanks and riot gear surrounded them and began making mass arrests. One officer on the loudspeaker warned the demonstrators not to shoot “bows and arrows”. For some Native American activists, the officer’s comment was the latest sign that a highly militarized police force has little understanding of indigenous culture. The notion that the criminal justice system is biased against Native American protesters came into sharp view hours later, when a jury in Portland, Oregon, issued a verdict of not guilty for white militia leaders who staged an armed occupation of federal land to protest government policies. The fact that protesters with guns were acquitted on the same day police arrested 141 “water protectors”, who have often relied on indigenous songs and prayers to convey their message, sparked a firestorm on social media. At the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota, where the fight against the $3.8bn oil pipeline is escalating ... Native Americans said the Oregon verdict was an infuriating and painful reminder that the law treats them differently – and that the odds are stacked against them in their ... battle to save their land. The ultra-conservative activists who seized the Malheur refuge were fighting against environmental restrictions aimed at protecting ... public lands. In North Dakota, the Native American-led movement is grounded in the idea that the land is sacred and must be preserved.
Note: For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Anguish over the abduction and death of girls as young as eight at the hands of a convicted sex offender, Marc Dutroux, together with persistent allegations of official cover-ups, has been revived by an announcement that [Jacques Langlois], the chief investigating magistrate in the case, wants to reopen medical evidence of sexual assault on the children. And, in further disclosures ... a book by [Marc Verwilghen], the highly respected chairman of a parliamentary inquiry into the case, claims that his commission's findings were muzzled by political and judicial leaders to prevent details emerging of complicity in the crimes. In August 1996, [the children's] bodies were found buried in Mr Dutroux's back garden in Charleroi. They had disappeared 14 months before, and had apparently starved to death, locked in a cell in Mr Dutroux's basement. The bodies of two teenage girls were also found buried in the garden, with that of Bernard Weinstein, an associate with whom he had fallen out. Two other teenage girls were found alive in the basement cell after the police, who had previously searched the property three times without noticing it, finally broke into the house. Although there is plenty of evidence that Mr Dutroux kidnapped the children ... Mr Langlois now apparently wants to establish whether he [or anyone else] also sexually assaulted them. One of the rescued girls, Sabine Dardenne, 12, who was locked up in the cell for three months, told police of being taken to a 'beautiful white house' by Mr Dutroux and being sexually assaulted.
Note: Explore more excellent research proving a major cover-up of this case. Read a highly revealing essay on several cases of pedophilia rings involving top politicians. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
This is a tale of two defendants and two systems of justice. Suspected of colluding with the Russian government, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump, [Paul Manafort, was] indicted on a dozen charges involving conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, and lying to federal investigators. Manafort avoided jail by posting $10 million in bond, though he was confined to his luxury condo in Alexandria, Virginia. Reality Winner, an Air Force veteran and former contractor for the National Security Agency ... was accused of leaking an NSA document that showed how Russians tried to hack American voting systems in 2016. Her case is related to Manafort’s in this sense: While Manafort is suspected of aiding the Russian effort, Winner is accused of warning Americans about it. Even though she has been indicted on just one count of leaking classified information and faces far less prison time than Manafort, the judge in her case ... denied her bail. Winner spent the holidays at the Lincolnton jail, which is smaller in its entirety than Manafort’s Hampton’s estate. The U.S. government rarely acts kindly toward the leakers it chooses to prosecute - unless they happen to be popular figures like David Petraeus, the former general and CIA director who shared with his girlfriend several notebooks filled with top-secret information; he was allowed to plead guilty to just a misdemeanor charge. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions proudly announced that the DOJ was investigating three times as many leaks as in the Obama era.
Note: The NSA document Winner is accused of leaking revealed high-level interference in a US election. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the intelligence community and in the judicial system.
The USS Cole case judge Wednesday found the Marine general in charge of war court defense teams guilty of contempt for refusing to follow the judge’s orders and sentenced him to 21 days confinement and to pay a $1,000 fine. Air Force Col. Vance Spath also declared “null and void” a decision by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, 50, to release three civilian defense attorneys from the capital terror case. The lawyers resigned last month over ... something so secretive at the terror prison that the public cannot know. Wednesday evening ... Judge Spath issued another order: Directing the three lawyers - Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears - to litigate Friday in the death-penalty case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri remotely from the Washington D.C., area by video feed to Guantánamo. The judge’s dizzying pace of events ... came as the colonel sought to force the civilian, Pentagon-paid attorneys back on the case. Spath, who has declared they had no good cause to quit, had ordered Kammen, Eliades and Spears to come to Guantánamo on Sunday with other war court staff for a pretrial hearing. They refused. Kammen, a veteran capital defense attorney who had represented Nashiri for a decade, said Spath’s order to travel was an “illegal” effort to have three U.S. citizens “provide unethical legal services to keep the façade of justice that is the military commissions running.” Nashiri is accused of orchestrating al Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. warship off Yemen. No trial date has been set.
Note: Nashiri was reportedly tortured by the CIA. Read the 10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In North Carolina, a person cannot withdraw consent for sex once intercourse is taking place. Because of a 1979 state supreme court ruling that has never been overturned, continuing to have sex with someone who consented then backed out isn’t considered to be rape. The North Carolina law is an example of how the US legal system has not always kept pace with evolving ideas about rape, sex and consent. Just last year, an Oklahoma court ruled that the state’s forcible sodomy statute did not criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious. The toughest charge available to prosecutors was unwanted touching. But the North Carolina law appears to be unique. And it has shocked even those who are used to dealing with such legalistic vagaries. “It’s absurd,” said John Wilkinson, a former prosecutor and an adviser to AEquitas, a group which helps law enforcement pursue cases of sexual violence. “I don’t think you could find anyone today to agree with this notion that you cannot withdraw consent. People have the right to control their own bodies. If sex is painful, or for whatever reason, they have the right to change their mind.” The ruling has devastated victims and frustrated prosecutors in North Carolina for years. State senator Jeff Jackson ... has introduced legislation to amend the law. “North Carolina is the only state in the country where no doesn’t really mean no,” he said in a statement. “We have a clear ethical obligation to fix this obvious defect in our rape law.”
Note: A local North Carolina newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, drew widespread attention to this bizarre law by reporting on a case of sexual abuse involving US military personnel. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of news articles on judicial system corruption and sexual abuse scandals.
Officials seized Trump protesters’ cell phones, cracked their passwords, and are now attempting to use the contents to convict them of conspiracy to riot at the presidential inauguration. Prosecutors have indicted over 200 people on felony riot charges for protests in Washington, D.C. on January 20. Some defendants face up to 75 years in prison. Evidence against the defendants has been scant from the moment of their arrest. As demonstrators, journalists, and observers marched through the city, D.C. police officers channelled hundreds of people into a narrow, blockaded corner, where they carried out mass arrests. Some of those people ... are now suing for wrongful arrest. Police also seized more than 100 cell phones. All of the ... phones were locked. But a July 21 court document shows that investigators were successful in opening the locked phones. Prosecutors moved to use a wealth of information from the phones as evidence, including the phones’ “call detail records,” “SMS or MMS messages,” “contact logs/email logs,” “chats or other messaging applications,” “website search history and website history,” and “images or videos.” One of the more than 200 defendants has pleaded guilty to riot charges after being named extensively in a superseding indictment. But the case against most defendants is less clear; in the superseding indictment, prosecutors accuse hundreds defendants of conspiracy to riot, based on “overt acts” as banal as chanting anti-capitalist slogans or wearing dark clothing.
Note: In May, United Nations officials said that the US treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Law enforcement officials announced last spring that they were pursuing fraud investigations against the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil. “Fossil fuel companies ... deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change,” [Attorney General Maura] Healey said at the time. Now those words are being used against Healey, in a lawsuit filed by ExxonMobil. In a stunning offense-is-the-best-defense legal strategy, the company is ... saying the Massachusetts Democrat’s investigation violates their free speech and other constitutional rights. In its legal battle to shut down her investigation, ExxonMobil has demanded that she testify about her efforts and provide documents from her office. Healey contends the corporate response is unprecedented: Not only is [ExxonMobil] refusing to comply, it is demanding an investigation of the investigating agency. “They took the tack of trying to shut down this investigation by suing us,” she said. When Healey issued subpoenas seeking ExxonMobil’s documents on climate change dating to the 1970s, she was “abusing the power of government to silence a speaker she disfavors,” lawyers for ExxonMobil wrote in their June lawsuit against her, alleging a violation of the company’s rights. And they criticized the stories that prompted the investigation: Reports published in 2015 ... suggested ExxonMobil had encouraged climate change confusion for years, despite its own research documenting the risks.
However people feel about immigration, judges and lawmakers nationwide have long acknowledged that the employment of unauthorized workers is a reality of the American economy. Some 8 million immigrants work with false or no papers nationwide. They're more likely to be hurt or killed on the job than other workers. Nearly all 50 states, including Florida, have given these workers the right to receive workers' comp. But in 2003, Florida's lawmakers [made] it a crime to file a workers' comp claim using false identification. Since then, insurers have avoided paying for injured immigrant workers' lost wages and medical care by repeatedly turning them in to the state. In a challenging twist of logic, immigrants can be charged with workers' comp fraud even if they've never been injured or filed a claim, because legislators also made it illegal to use a fake ID to get a job. In many cases, the state's insurance fraud unit has conducted unusual sweeps of worksites, arresting a dozen employees. To assess the impact of Florida's law on undocumented workers, ProPublica and NPR analyzed 14 years of state insurance fraud data. We found nearly 800 cases statewide in which employees were arrested under the law. Insurers have used the law to deny workers benefits after a litany of serious workplace injuries. Flagged by insurers or their private detectives, state fraud investigators have arrested injured workers at doctor's appointments and at depositions in their workers' comp cases. Some were taken into custody with their arms still in slings.
Opposition parties in Honduras have attacked the failure of the US to denounce the controversial declaration of President Juan Orlando Hernández as winner of a widely disputed election. International observers with the Organization of American States say the vote was so discredited that it was impossible to declare a valid result. But the US State Department noted that an election court had ratified the result of the November 26 election. Honduras' Supreme Electoral Tribunal said Hernández won the election with 42.9% of the votes, edging his main challenger, Salvador Nasralla, who was declared second with 41.24%. The opposition accuses Hernandez of stuffing the court with supporters who helped him change the constitution to allow him to seek a second term. Hundreds of angry opposition supporters protested in the streets of the capital Tegucigalpa Monday following the announcement of the court's decision. The US has a large military base in Honduras, which has led to accusations that both the current and previous US administrations are turning a blind eye to political violence and corruption in the country. The Organization of American States raised a string of concerns about the election, [and] referred to "deliberate human intrusions in the computer system, intentional elimination of digital traces," and "pouches of votes open or lacking votes." The administration of Hernández has also been dogged by allegations of corruption and drug trafficking.
Note: Honduras was one of only eight countries which backed Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. In 2017, leaked court documents raised concerns that the 2016 murder of an Honduran activist was "an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a high-profile challenge to the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of internet communications. The ruling ... increases the chances that the Supreme Court may someday scrutinize whether the N.S.A.’s so-called upstream system for internet surveillance complies with Fourth Amendment privacy rights. The ruling reversed a Federal District Court judge’s decision to throw out the case. The district judge had ruled that the plaintiffs - including the Wikimedia Foundation - lacked standing to sue because they could not prove that their messages had been intercepted. Because of how the internet works, surveillance of communications crossing network switches is different from traditional circuit-based phone wiretapping. While the government can target a specific phone call without touching anyone else’s communications, it cannot simply intercept a surveillance target’s email. Instead ... to find such emails it is necessary first to systematically copy data packets crossing a network switch and sift them in search of components from any messages involving a target. Documents provided by [Edward] Snowden and declassified by the government have shown that this system works through equipment installed at the facilities of companies, like AT&T, that [connect] the American internet to the rest of the world. Privacy advocates contend that the initial copying and searching of all those data packets ... violates Fourth Amendment protections against government search and seizure.
Thanks to a disagreement between the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), more than 2,000 guns were purchased in the past 15 years by people the FBI said should not have had them, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General. This new report, which uncovered a loophole through which some of those deemed unfit to own firearms by the FBI can purchase them, puts a new scrutiny on the current laws, and how they're enforced. The FBI is responsible for running background checks on those purchasing guns. If the agency finds those buyers unfit, the responsibility to retrieve them falls on the ATF. But the two federal agencies disagree on who qualifies as a “fugitive from justice,” a label that prohibits prospective buyers from acquiring firearms, USA Today reports. While the FBI has considered anyone with an outstanding warrant to fall under the category, the ATF argues that prospective gun owners should be allowed to purchase firearms in the state where they have a warrant, but not in other states. The FBI sought to clarify the discrepancy by bringing the issue before the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. There, the agencies received “informal advice.” When the FBI requested a more formal ruling two years later, the counsel failed to render a decision, allowing the issue to persist some six years later. The report called for clarification on the “fugitive of justice” discrepancy to ensure proper enforcement of the law.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
An Amish family in Pennsylvania must connect to its local municipal sewer system, even though it would require the use of an electric pump, which goes against the family's religious beliefs. A Jan. 5 opinion by a divided Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court finally ended the five-year legal battle. The court agreed with a lower court ruling that ordered the Yoder family to connect to the municipal sewer system. The Yoder family argued that use of electricity violates its religious convictions. The family has used an outhouse - an "old-fashioned privy" - that did not require running water or electricity. But Sugar Grove Township requires residents with properties that abut the sewer system to connect to it at the owners' cost. The ruling addressed whether the Yoders could connect to the system without use of an electric pump. The court ruled that that using an electric pump was the "least intrusive means" of connecting to the sewer system. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Patricia McCullough expressed concern with the ruling, saying there were other ways of disposing of sewage in a sanitary way that would not infringe upon the Yoder family's religious rights. That's a concern shared by Sara Rose, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. "They didn't consider the other ways that the government could have achieved its ends," she said. She also said the decision unduly put the burden on the Yoders.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
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