Tag Archives: lawyer

University disputes employee was fired for supporting Trump travel ban

A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse police dispatcher says she was fired for supporting President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

University human resources director Madeline Holzem sent a letter sent to Kimberly Dearman this week asking her to resign or be terminated, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The letter says Dearman was investigated after a complaint from a colleague and was found to have violated university employee policies against unbecoming conduct and abusive or threatening language.

Dearman’s lawyer, Lee Fehr, said Dearman told a colleague the travel ban would prevent terrorists from entering the United States. She said those immigrants should go back where they came from.

“It is a very tragic situation that an employee in casual conversation would end up losing her job because another employee is somewhat offended,” Fehr said.

Fehr told the UW System Board of Regents that his client’s comments were spurred by an email from the university’s chancellor, Joe Gow. The email sent to faculty, students and staff rebuked the president’s move.

Gow said Dearman wasn’t fired for her political opinions.

“I want to be very clear,” Gow said. “We would never let someone go based on their political beliefs. We always follow due process and policy if anyone is let go.”

Fehr said his firm hasn’t taken any legal action, but that he asked the university to reinstate Dearman to her position.

Holzem said there was more to the story but declined to elaborate, citing possible legal action.

Travel ban personal for young lawyer who led fight

Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell has argued before packed courtrooms, but those crowds paled in comparison to the millions who heard him argue against President Donald Trump’s travel ban before a federal appeals court.

Luckily, news of the massive audience didn’t reach him beforehand.

“I didn’t really know that it was going to be broadcast live on the networks,” Purcell said, referring to the court’s decision to livestream the audio of the Feb. 7 arguments, which were made available on YouTube and newspaper websites worldwide and carried at least in part by CNN and MSNBC.

“I normally try to follow the news, but I’ve been so buried in this work,” he said.

The work that consumed the earnest 37-year-old Seattle native started just after Trump signed an executive order that temporarily suspended the country’s refugee program and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. Purcell huddled with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and other lawyers to draft what would become the first major challenge to one of Trump’s directives.

Purcell said Trump’s order was motivated by religious discrimination, making it unconstitutional.

His message persuaded a federal judge to temporarily block the travel ban and moved three judges with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to keep that restraining order in place.

A Justice Department attorney had argued states lacked standing to sue and the courts had little to no role in reviewing the president’s determinations concerning national security. On Thursday, the administration asked the 9th Circuit to hold off on any more decisions related to the lawsuit filed by Washington and Minnesota until it issues a replacement ban.

The size of Purcell’s audiences may be new, but his desire to work on causes that he believes will help the less-advantaged has been his focus for decades.

Attending an inner-city Seattle public school helped shape that outlook, he said.

“I went to school with people from all over the world. Some families were in and out of being homeless,” he said. “I saw from an early age that I was lucky to have two loving parents who were pushing me to get a good education, while there were smart people at Franklin (High School) who did not have the same circumstances.”

“So much depends on where you were born.”

While at Franklin, Purcell began dating Jasmin Weaver, who later became his wife and partner in fights for worthy causes.

Purcell and Weaver teamed up while at the University of Washington and founded Affordable Tuition Now! Their organization helped classmates secure education funds and earned them the prestigious Mary Gates Leadership Award. Weaver now works for the city of Seattle as deputy director of intergovernmental relations.

Weaver’s family history made Trump’s travel ban personal for Purcell.

She’s the daughter of Iranian immigrants who fled their country in the 1970s, Purcell said. The ban didn’t impact Weaver’s mother, a U.S. citizen, but it did affect Weaver’s distant relatives. Some of her cousins couldn’t visit Houston because of the ban, he said.

“It was one of many examples of how irrational the policy is, when it’s keeping grandparents from visiting their grandkids who are U.S. citizens and are the kindest people you’d ever want to meet,” he said.

Purcell dabbled in politics in 2002 when he became campaign manager for another low-income community advocate: Democratic state Rep. Eric Pettigrew. Once Pettigrew secured his seat in the Legislature, Purcell joined his staff.

In 2007, Purcell graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. His first job out of school was as law clerk for a judge on the federal appeals court for the D.C. Circuit. His talents soon landed Purcell in the most coveted job any law student could have: clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court. Purcell worked for former Justice David Souter from 2008 to 2009.

His next position was with the Homeland Security Department’s General Counsel’s Office, where he advised the administration on security and immigration issues, including the government’s challenge of Arizona’s immigration law that required police to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Purcell was back in Seattle, working for a law firm, when Ferguson became attorney general in 2012.

The young lawyer’s stint on the Supreme Court, coupled with his reputation as smart but humble, were among the factors that put Purcell high on Ferguson’s list when he began his search for his solicitor general. The job entails coordinating the state’s involvement in appellate cases, filing legal briefs and issuing legal opinions.

After holding several interviews, Purcell was the clear choice, Ferguson said.

“Noah had never argued a case at the Supreme Court, and he was the youngest solicitor general in the country when I hired him _ I was aware of that _ but I was confident that Noah would end up being exactly who he turned out to be: the best solicitor general in the country.”


Prosecutor in Steven Avery case to write a book

The man who prosecuted one of the cases featured in the Netflix show “Making a Murderer'” says he’s writing a book.

Ken Kratz tells WBAY-TV that he’s writing about the case because the voice of slaying victim Teresa Halbach has been forgotten. Kratz said he’s grateful to tell the “whole story.”

Steven Avery served 18 years in prison following a wrongful conviction of rape and two years after his release was charged in Halbach’s death. He was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. 

The “Making a Murderer” series questions whether Avery was treated fairly and suggests the possibility that Manitowoc County sheriff’s deputies planted evidence. 

Authorities have denied that.

Kratz has defended the prosecution and says evidence was left out of the series. 

The filmmakers have stood by their work.

California attorney general seeks to end ‘sodomite suppression’ ballot initiative

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has asked a state court for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in same-sex sexual activity be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” The distribution of gay “propaganda” would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

“This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin’s actions make him unfit to practice law. 

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California’s initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform. 

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California’s initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed initiative. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin’s proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

“The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate,” he said.

A Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act” with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.