Mayor of Baltimore Asks Department of Justice for Civil Rights Investigation

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On May 6, 2015, the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) order an investigation of the Baltimore Police Department. She would like the DOJ to determine if there is a “pattern or practice” of widespread discrimination in the police department. The Mayor specifically stated that this type of investigation is required to make any necessary reforms to the Baltimore Police Department. A similar investigation took place after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last year.

The DOJ is already investigating the specific incident that has sparked debate in Baltimore—the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray died after a struggle with police on April 12, 2015. According to reports, Gray ran from police and, when restrained, police discovered a switchblade in Gray’s pocket. Gray passed from a severe spinal cord injury, but Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told reporters that there was no indication of how the injury actually occurred. Mayor Rawlings-Blake stated that Gray asked for medical attention, and it was not provided right away. Six officers were suspended after his death.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake would like a much broader investigation than the DOJ is already conducting. The investigation would extend beyond this single incident and look for any patterns of discriminatory behavior or an unwritten practice that the police force has been instructed to engage in.

Department of Justice Investigation in Ferguson, Missouri
When the DOJ conducted a similar investigation in Ferguson, they found systematic discrimination against African Americans by both the police force and the municipal court system. They found that blacks are far more likely to be subjected to vehicle stops, citations, and arrests when compared to their proportion of the population (67% of the Ferguson population is black). African Americans were also more likely to be searched during a stop and cited for minor offenses. In addition, in 88% of the cases where the police used force, it was against a black person. Consider the following statistics from Ferguson between 2012 and 2014:

• 85% of people involved in vehicle stops were African American
• 90% of people who received citations were African Americans
• 93% of all people arrested were black
• 95% of those cited for jaywalking were African Americans (“manner of walking in roadway”)
• 94% of all “failure to comply” charges were against black people
• African Americans were 68% less likely to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge

The investigation even found racists jokes in government e-mails from officials and members of the court.

Review in Baltimore
Baltimore Police Captain, Eric Kowalczky, stated that he is open to the investigation into Gray’s death, because he wants to know what happened as well. He has said that he wants the police department to be transparent, and they owe an explanation to Gray’s family and the people of Baltimore. However, he has not yet commented on the possibility of having the DOJ create a wide-ranging report in the same way that they did in Ferguson.

A DOJ representative confirmed that they had received Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s request for an investigation. The representative also stated that “the attorney general is actively considering that option in light of what she heard from law enforcement, city officials, and community, faith, and youth leaders in Baltimore.” Regardless of the DOJ response, Mayor Rawlings-Blake has stated that the Baltimore Police Department will have body cameras by the end.

photo credit: Operation Baltimore Rally (license)

Marijuana Legal in the U.S. Capital

marijuana-legal-washDCIn Washington, DC, the high was short-lived. Just five days after marijuana became legal in the nation’s capital, city lawmakers voted for strict limits on pot use which includes no smoking in public spaces, including inside private clubs, bars, hotels and restaurants.

Smoking weed will be restricted to private homes, ending some would-be potrepreneur’s dream of a marijuana “green rush” business of pot-themed clubs and events. Entrepreneurs can still open hemp stores and sell pot accessories, but will find that new regulations and laws still limit what types of marijuana-related business they can conduct.

The first state to legalize marijuana was Colorado, followed quickly by Washington. An ironic twist with pot being legal in Washington and Colorado is that individuals can now be charged with a Marijuana DUI in those states under new legislation that accompanied the legalization of recreational marijuana use. New rules establishing impairment limits for the now-legal recreational drug have caused different legal risks to users who drive in the state while under the influence. Arrests for drug-related driving offenses may actually rise, considering the blood-level limits for THC intake are now quite strict, and may not accurately detect the driver actually being impaired. THC remains in the bloodstream far longer than alcohol and very low levels suggest the driver is impaired which can cause a criminal record with light pot use. If you find yourself in need of legal representation, there are Colorado and Washington attorneys that take marijuana related cases, which may be a growth industry as more and more people begin using marijuana recreationally as a legal right. Washington D.C. has not yet updated their DUI laws to reflect the new status of the drug, but is expected to soon.

dc-weedAnother factor that plays into the legalization of weed is that you cannot sell it without criminal charges if you are not a licensed grower or distributor. Marijuana has produced significant revenue for Washington and Colorado since it is highly taxed, and a regulatory scheme has emerged that allows government officials to keep tabs on the revenues flowing from the newest cash-crop to contribute to State budgets.

In a recent news release, Colorado announced that the state recorded more than $42.7 million in recreational marijuana sales in the month of March. The overall sales in 2014 in Colorado were $699,198,805, above most conservative revenue expectations of the first year of legalization.

In February, 2014, Alaska became the third U.S. state to end prohibition of marijuana and put Ballot Measure 2 into full effect. In November of 2014, Oregon passed the marijuana initiative, Measure 91. Adults will be able to light it up beginning July 1st, 2015, although law enforcement has already begun the process of decriminalizing possession and usage leading up to the official date.

One thing that many people don’t think about is marijuana for pets. Yes, that’s correct. Bills are being introduced, one currently in Nevada, that will allow veterinarians to prescribe pot to animals with illness that may be alleviated. The cannabis plant has many compounds in it such as cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD. This is what has been used as a potential treatment for epileptic seizures and pain relief for cancer patients, and is the substance that can have similar pain-alleviating effects in animals.

The Obamacare Lawsuit & What it Means for You

When Obamacare was in the drafting stage, nobody could have guessed that a few choice words would make such a difference a year into the program. That’s what’s taking place now, with a massive Obamacare lawsuit hitting the courts in 2015, with major players on both sides of the party lines drawing their guns and firing at each other in the name of courting the American people for the next vote.

The case is called “King v Burwell” and could very possibly overturn the Affordable Care Act. It’s set to go up before the Supreme Court very soon. Let’s see what all the fuss about in this crucial matter that really affects us all.

The Phrase That Started it All…

Legislation initiating the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) calls up on each state to create a medical insurance marketplace. These are to be central online websites for each state, run by the state, where those living in that state could find out about and register for health insurance.

The insurance of course is to be cheaper (for families) and more inclusive of things like pre-existing conditions and as far as coverage goes, these plans are required to cover more services, especially preventative services like annual exams.

The marketplaces, or “exchanges”, as they’re called are for people who don’t have access to medical insurance coverage through their jobs. The added benefit for these plans is that if income meets low threshold requirements, those paying for them also get a tax credit.

If any state were to fail to set up its own exchange, no problem…the Federal marketplace is there for anyone living in a state with no exchange of its own.

So far, so good- everything has gone as planned as far as these primary elements go. Now, the phrase in question in the ensuing lawsuit concerns doubt over who gets those tax credits. According to the verbiage in the Affordable Care Act, the federal subsidies (tax credits) are for people who purchased insurance through….

“…an exchange established by the State”

Is that meant to mean that people who didn’t purchase insurance through an exchange established by the State won’t get the Federal subsidies? In other words, if your state didn’t create an insurance exchange and you purchased your through the Federal exchange, will you be denied the tax credit?

Why Would It Be Written in Such a Vague Way?

The Obamacare lawsuit says yes, that’s what the language is intended to mean. Furthermore, they claim that the Affordable Care Act was intentionally written that way. Why?

Because it’s a veiled threat to states who planned on not providing their inhabitants a state exchange. Plaintiffs are claiming the vague language was meant as a threat to states along these lines…

“establish your state exchange or else your people won’t get the Federal subsidies”

If the case goes through and they win, it means millions of people will lose their federal subsidies…and become uninsured in the process. This would destabilize the insurance market altogether, and cause a ripple effect of “very bad things” to happen. I found a blog with a very frightening tale of what this ripple effect could look like here.

What You Need To Know About Class Action Lawsuits

Sad Young WomanWhat is a class action lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is one in which there are a large number of plaintiffs bringing similar claims. These lawsuits are also called representative actions or collective lawsuits. Typically, there are only a handful of named plaintiffs, but those plaintiffs are representative of a larger group. Individuals who sign onto class action suits typically relinquish their rights to independently sue the same entity.

What are the benefits of class action lawsuits?

If you have been wronged by an entity with substantial resources, it can be difficult to fight for your rights. Large companies can afford to hire teams of attorneys and drag a case on for years. Few individuals can withstand the financial cost of such a process. This is not the case with a class action lawsuit, however. Given the large number of plaintiffs and the potential for substantial damage awards, a law firm can work on a class action case on contingency, costing the plaintiffs nothing during the proceedings.

What are damages in class action lawsuits?

There are two types of damages available in class action lawsuits. They are:

Compensatory damages – meant to compensate plaintiffs for direct damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering and wrongful death

Punitive damages – meant to punish the defendant for intentional or gross wrongdoing

What are the types of class action lawsuits?

  1. Consumer Class actions:

Consumer class actions are generally brought when consumers complain about being injured by a company’s systematic and illegal practices. Examples of such consumer complaints include illegal charges on bills, illegal penalties for late-payments, and failure to comply with consumer protection laws. While consumers often write a complaint letter to such companies, complaint letters often go unanswered, in which case you’ll want to contact a class action consumer lawyer regarding your consumer complaint.

  1. Securities Class actions:

Securities class actions are typically brought on behalf of a group of investors who have been injured as a result of a company’s improper conduct, such as misstating earnings, concealing or misrepresenting risks, or otherwise engaging in activity detrimental to the company.

  1. Product liability/Personal Injury Class actions:

Product liability and personal injury class action lawsuits are generally brought when a defective product, such as a drug with harmful side effects, or “mass accident”, such as a toxic spill, harms many people.

  1. Employment Class actions:

Employment class action lawsuits are typically brought on behalf of employees of a large company for claims ranging from systematic workplace discrimination to unpaid overtime pay.

If you have a potential class action lawsuit, there are experienced attorneys that can help you begin the process. Class action attorneys are skilled at evaluating and handling a wide variety of class action suits. Contact one today to have a free case evaluation.

 

 

 

Is Obama Care Washington’s Worst Decision Ever?

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photo credit: qwrrty

Obama Care was supposed to provide Americans with low cost health insurance that was efficient and cost-effective. Unfortunately the initiative has proven to be an abject failure, as many other analysts and experts have pointed out.

It is without precedent for a single piece of Washington legislation to cause so much confusion and hardship for citizens and the country at large. Despite this disaster, the President and a big majority of Congress keeps ignoring the harmful consequences to people’s lives and the country’s economy that this legislation has wrought.

To list just a couple of the problems that Obama Care has created:

  • An estimate 5 million of Americans have lost access to their preferred insurance policies.
  • A majority of the same Americans were undergoing serious medical treatments (ex. cancer treatments) when they lost their insurance policies. This has created undue hardship that left their treatment and health up in the air.
  • Left without health insurance, these people are forced to buy new insurance which has historically grown in price and offered less benefits.
  • The poorly implemented technical aspect of Obama Care has created what experts dub “an identity thief’s wet dream” due to the lack of security checks and proper security protocols.
  • The new Obama Care policies restricts a patient’s access to preferred doctors and preferred hospitals.
  • The same policies also restrict access to medicine which was previously freely accessible and affordable.
  • Companies, schools, government agencies and NGOs are cutting down on new hires, restructuring or have already fired people in order to cope with the financial burden that the legislation has caused. This in turn has strained national economic growth.

Finding a good Propecia lawyer in Washington DC

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photo credit: VinothChandar

Having a viable claim doesn’t guarantee that a Propecia lawyer will automatically take your case. As important it is for an individual to research a lawyer or a firm before asking for their help, the attorneys will in turn analyze if your case is a good fit for them.

Keep Your Spirits High

A good attorney will make client satisfaction one of his top priorities. However, lawyers will tell you that some clients are incredibly difficult and remain unsatisfied no matter what. When you’re seeing the attorney to discuss your case for the first time, try to remain positive and look at the bright side, despite the setbacks that you have faced. An example might be if the attorney comments on how fortunate the client has been that he didn’t experience other, more serious side effects as a result of taking Propecia. If the client responds with something to the effect of “Never mind the side effects, I could have been hurt and I want to sue.” this could be a sign for the lawyer that he has got a difficult client on his hands – one he would be weary of working with.

An Entitled Attitude

It’s common and understandable to feel entitled for compensation if you believe you were harmed by a drug whose manufacturers did not disclose all possible side effects. However, keep in mind that if a jury does not like you, the possibility of getting compensation for your loss is very slim. If a claimant blames everybody else for his problems and feels entitled to receiving compensation, odds can be not in his favor.

You Are Responsible for Your Actions

Another mindset similar to the entitlement attitude described above is the one where the client is dishonest and refuses to fully take responsibility for his own actions. As a Propecia lawyer will explain, legal fault for side effects and injury related to a drug depends on a variety of factors. If the accident victim did not take into account the warnings and other advice the doctors have given him (such as recommended dosage, drug interactions, etc.) then this may put some of the legal responsibility for the accident solely on the injured person’s shoulders. If a client is headstrong and keeps to his “drugs should not be dangerous in the first place” myth, he may not make a good client.

Lawyers Are People Too

Another red flag that attorneys are on the look out for is clients who are constantly questioning their professional competence. It reasons to say that most attorneys will not accept this kind of behavior for very long.

While drug injury lawyers try their best in obtaining a specific result when they take on a case, they cannot guarantee that the client will obtain compensation. Usually, if you ask to see their track record, you will know if you have an attorney who has experience with this type of case or not.

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as a result of taking Propecia or Proscar, contact a lawyer in Washington DC to see if you are eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of this drug.

How To Find The Perfect Industrial Premise in DC

When your business has grown enough that moving into an industrial premise becomes a necessity, that’s when things start to feel more real and tangible. Although it doesn’t clear you of the growing pains that every business experiences, such a move signifies growth, profit and a sign that things are only starting to get bigger and better. We’re going to look at what you need to know and where you need to look to get the perfect industrial premise in Washington DC.

Size is important

Size is important for two reasons:

  1. The bigger the space, the more it will cost – many business owners get overexcited at the idea of moving to an actual location and go wild, looking at options that are big and expensive. For obvious reasons, this isn’t the best idea. If you’re not an established company, a big space will drain your business’ coffers and you might not even need such a space.
  2. Down the road, space is good for expansion. If you can rent a bigger space but share it with another business, you would save money, paying only for the space that you’re actually using as well as sharing the bills, boardrooms, receptionist and security personnel.

Style – a fit for your business

What sort of business are you running? Be practical. If you’re going for an office space, the hot desking option is a good first choice as it allows your business to grow at its own pace which means that you only pay for space that you use. No need to move out of the offices every time you hire a new employee – you can simply add another desk to the rent package that you’re already paying for. Further down the line, this may cease to be a cost effective solution, but until then, this is the best solution for a burgeoning business.

What is your budget?

If your business has worked this long without having a physical office, it’s possible that renting office space is not exactly at the top of your priority list. Before you dive head first into a leasing agreement, take a very close look at where you’re sitting with your finances and whether it makes sense to rent space. If you can’t find something affordable, play the waiting game. The fact is that other companies will either grow or go bust and then they are forced to move out, freeing the space for you.

Moving to DC? Here’s what you need to know

cityIf you’re planning to make a move to Washington DC, you should learn as much as you can to make an informed decision when you finally decided to do it. Washington DC is a great place to move to. If you’re looking for job opportunities, there’s no shortage of them in the nation’s capital. But every man has his own city and Washington DC may or may not be for you.

First of all, you should know that Washington DC is comprised of a vast network of professional and governmental jobs. If you’re into politics or looking to make a move into politics, then it should be pretty clear why this is the ideal city to kick start your career. Who wouldn’t want to work in the home of the legislative, judicial and executive branches of the Government? Since Washington is the hotbed of political activity, expect to face fierce competition from other job seekers that are looking for the same opportunities.

Young people straight out of college come to DC with high hopes of starting their careers become disappointed when they find out that it’s not as easy as they were led to believe. While Washington DC has more than politics, if you’re looking for a job with the Government, you should be absolutely sure that your services and skills are needed before moving out. Of course, you could always take an entry level position or do an internship as a way of getting real-world experience, just remember that others are already doing the same thing, making the whole field a whole lot more competitive.

Another fact you should do before you move anywhere is to research costs of living, including food, transportation and rent. Rent is not cheap in Washington. Many hopefuls put a temporary stop to their dreams when they see the prices they have to pay in the capital. A single bedroom apartment outside the city center will cost you from $1400 and upwards. For those who have to work in the centre you’re looking to pay from $2000 and up. The average is two income earners per household so if you’re on your own, it’s going to be tough, especially if this is your first time around.

For this reason, many choose to live on the outskirts instead of the heart of the Capital. You can always move to the center once you get a better job and get your living situation under control. Of course, living in the suburbs comes with the inherent disadvantages of having a long commute to work and having to pay parking fees on a daily basis. However, if you’re coming from the ‘burbs, don’t worry – there’s an extensive network of public transportation that will you get to your destination. If you’re strapped on cash, you may be forced to settle on a smaller apartment. In such cases, people opt to pay for self storage since they don’t have the room to store their belongings.

If you have a family and children then one of the top priorities for you is probably to find a school. Not all schools are good so you should do some research before you pick one. A good idea would be to look at a local school’s performance over the past couple of years and based on that to pick something that is situated in a good school district.

You’ll never run out of things to do in Washington DC, but if you want to blend in with the local crowd you should know that Washingtonians are hard workers and often put their work before play. So if you’re used to frequenting hang-outs or going to many parties, unless it’s in a work setting, you’ll have to curb down these. If you’re new here and don’t exactly have an established social circle, you might find it hard to relate to others, at least in the beginning. I guess the same goes for any other big city. As you advance in your career and make new friends, things should get progressively easier.

Washington DC has a plethora of sights for tourists and locals alike. This city is literally steeped in American history and you’ll see this reflected in both architecture, local culture and specific places. Another upside is that most capitol attractions are free of charge.

Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre and President Lincoln’s Cottage are some of the most famous landmarks in this sprawling city. Imagine that once you move in, these beautiful attractions are going to become part of your everyday life. Perhaps the novelty will run out after a while, but I don’t think there’s anything to complain about in a beautiful and prominent city like this.

Another thing you should be aware of is transportation. While a couple of miles of commuting might not seem like a big deal, wait until you experience a Washington rush hour. You may quickly reconsider, and plan accordingly in the future.

Public transportation is big in Washington and most people opt to use the Metrorail (similar to New York’s subway) and Metrobuses. If you’re not going to leave Washington on a regular basis, you can get by with only public transportation.

All major cities have their pros and cons. The same goes for Washington DC. You’ll have to sit down and look at what makes you want to live here in the first place and then plan how you are going to move out here. This is a great city that offers a lot. Will you call yourself a proud Washingtonian?