Home |   About Us  Submit a Legal Question to Unequal Justice News Find a Black Attorney | Submit a News Story |   Contact Us  
    Make BlackLegalIssues.com your Homepage!  New Feature  BlackLegalIssues RSS Feed RSS Feed

Death of NY state judge found in Hudson River reportedly 'suspicious'
The death of the first female Muslim U.S. judge—who was found dead last week on the banks of New York’s Hudson River--- is still being investigated and is reportedly considered suspicious.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam's body was discovered along the riverside near Harlem on Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing, police said. Police said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma.

Police sources told CBS2 that family and friends have said she was struggling with depression. Police told the station that although her death is being considered suspicious, there are no signs of criminality.

Abdus-Salaam, who was 65 years old, graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a judge in Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years, according to the state Office of Court Administration's website.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the state's Court of Appeals in 2013, called her a "trailblazing jurist."

"As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer," Cuomo said. "Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come."

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be "missed deeply."

"Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her," DiFiore said.

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he knew Abdus-Salaam for many years. He said her death of was "difficult to understand."

"The court has suffered a terrible blow," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
Black Headline News
 
 
New Feature Search BlackLegalIssues
Log In or Register Here
 
 
        

            Latest News            Legal Commentary              Did You Know?...
AP Apr-19-2017 101 0
The death of the first female Muslim U.S. judge—who was found dead last week on the banks of New York’s Hudson River--- is still being investigated and is reportedly considered suspicious.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam's body was discovered along the riverside near Harlem on Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing, police said. Police said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma.

Police sources told CBS2 that family and friends have said she was struggling with depression. Police told the station that although her death is being considered suspicious, there are no signs of criminality.

Abdus-Salaam, who was 65 years old, graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a judge in Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years, according to the state Office of Court Administration's website.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the state's Court of Appeals in 2013, called her a "trailblazing jurist."

"As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer," Cuomo said. "Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come."

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be "missed deeply."

"Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her," DiFiore said.

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he knew Abdus-Salaam for many years. He said her death of was "difficult to understand."

"The court has suffered a terrible blow," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

AP Apr-19-2017 129 0
Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and just days ago was acquitted of a double murder, died after hanging himself in his prison cell early Wednesday, Massachusetts prisons officials said.

Hernandez, 27, was found by guards in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.

The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.

Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.

Fallon said he's not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez and stressed that an investigation is ongoing. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life, and if there was a concern about his well-being, Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

Hernandez was moved to tears on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fianc?e Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

But, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.

Hernandez's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hernandez's death comes the same day the Patriots are making their visit to the White House today to mark their Super Bowl win. Team spokesman Stacey James said the Patriots were aware of the reports of Hernandez's death but didn't anticipate the club commenting Wednesday.

Massachusetts State Police remain on the scene investigating the death.

Jason Silverstein Apr-18-2017 84 0
Facebook murderer Steve Stephens shot and killed himself in Pennsylvania Tuesday morning, ending a three-day manhunt for the Cleveland killer, state police confirmed.

Stephens turned the gun on himself after an attempted traffic stop in Erie County, police said. He was found in a white Ford Fusion in Erie, according to GoErie.com.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf commended police for the pursuit and said no one else in the state was hurt.

Stephens, 37, remained on the run for nearly 48 hours after shooting a stranger in the head in Cleveland and posting the snuff footage on Facebook. 

His death came just hours after police announced that they had received about 400 tips nationwide for the case, but did not have a clear idea of where he might be. 

Police also found no evidence of Stephens' claim, in a Facebook Live rant, that he had killed 13 people. 

The sprawling manhunt ended about 100 miles away from the crime scene — less than a two-hour drive. 

AP Apr-17-2017 85 0
Authorities in several states were on the lookout Monday for a man police say shot a Cleveland retiree collecting aluminum cans and then posted video of the apparently random killing on Facebook.

"He could be nearby. He could be far away or anywhere in between," FBI agent Stephen Anthony said on Day 2 of the manhunt for Steve Stephens, a 37-year-old job counselor for teens and young

Police said Stephens killed Robert Godwin Sr., a 74-year-old former foundry worker, on Sunday.

Investigators said that Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite the suspect's claim in a separate video on Facebook that he killed over a dozen people.

Officers searched dozens of places around the city and spoke with the suspect by cellphone, police said.

Police Chief Calvin Williams warned residents to be careful as the go about their day.

Authorities also warned people in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be alert for Stephens, who was wanted on a charge of aggravated murder.

"We're going to make this individual's world very, very small," said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott.

Godwin apparently was shot while out picking up cans in a plastic shopping bag, his daughter said.

"Not because he needed the money, it was just something he did," said 52-year-old Debbie Godwin. "That's all he was doing. He wasn't harming anyone."

She said her father, who had 10 children, was a gentle man with nothing mean about him. "We called him the junk man," she said. "He'd pick up things off the street and fix them. He picked up bikes and he fixed them."

The motive for the shooting wasn't entirely clear from the shaky video, in which Stephens told Godwin a woman's name and said, "She's the reason that this is about to happen to you." Godwin did not seem to recognize the woman's name.

The suspect then pointed a gun at Godwin, who shielded his face with the plastic bag.

The woman Stephens mentioned, Joy Lane, said in a text to CBS that "we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened."

She also said Stephens was "a nice guy" who was generous to everyone and was "kind and loving" to her and her children.

Facebook said the video was posted after the killing but wasn't broadcast on Facebook Live as police initially indicated. The suspect did go live on the social media site at another point Sunday.

The video of the killing was on Facebook for about three hours before it was taken down. Stephens' Facebook page also was eventually removed.

"This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook," the company said. "We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety."

In the separate video, Stephens said: "I killed 13, so I'm working on 14 as we speak."

Police said they have not verified any other shootings or deaths.

Stephens worked at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency headquartered in Pepper Pike, near Cleveland. He helped young people develop job skills and find employment, said Beech Brook spokeswoman Nancy Kortemeyer.

An extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome, she said.

"We just hope Mr. Stephens is apprehended as quickly as possible so that no one else is injured," she said.

In one of the videos, Stephens could be seen holding up his employee identification and said: "I'm killing with my Beech Brook badge on, too."

Elizabeth Elizalde Apr-16-2017 547 0
A gunman accused of fatally shooting an elderly man in Ohio broadcasted the homicide on Facebook Live on Easter Sunday, police said.

The horrific shooting occurred at 635 E. 93rd St., according to the Cleveland Police Department.

The suspect identified as Steve Stephens is believed to be armed and dangerous, police said.

The suspect also claims to have committed other homicides, police said.

Police have not verified those claims.

Stephens, sporting a full beard and a dark blue, gray or black striped polo shirt, is believed to be driving a white or cream-colored SUV, police said.

The video posted to Facebook around 2 p.m. appears to belong to Stephens under the profile name Stevie Steve, NBC4 reported.

The video shows the gunman walking up to an elderly man and asking him a question before fatally shooting him in what appeared to be his head.

The video, which had the caption “Easter day slaughter,” was later taken down, the station reported.

Dan Wetzel Apr-14-2017 229 0
In the end, a Suffolk County jury simply couldn’t buy the entire story that Alexander Bradley, the compromised star witness for the prosecution, was spinning.

So they found Aaron Hernandez not guilty on Friday of murdering Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston’s Theatre District. The jury deliberated for 37 and a half hours, spread out over six days.

As the not-guilty verdict was read, some family members of de Abreu and Furtado rushed out of the courtroom in tears. Hernandez’s fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who only days earlier arrived in court with the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, sobbed.

“We based our decision on the evidence and the law,” foreperson Lindsey Stringer said in a brief statement.

Hernandez was found guilty of the unlawful carrying of a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and was sentenced by Judge Jeffrey A. Locke to four-to-five years.

The decision changes little for Hernandez, who was already serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in a Massachusetts prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough. While that first conviction will be automatically appealed, it is unlikely the former New England Patriots star will be granted a new trial, let alone ever walk free.

The not-guilty verdict comes one day before the two-year anniversary of Hernandez’s conviction for the murder of Lloyd.

As he walked out of court escorted by at least four officers, heading back to prison, Hernandez turned toward Jenkins-Hernandez and mouthed, “I love you.”

The verdict is a difficult blow for prosecutors and the families of two innocent men who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time – running into Hernandez and Bradley on a summer Sunday night in a Boston nightclub. The Commonwealth tried the case in an effort to deliver justice and closure for the victims and their supporters.

It is a massive victory, however, for Jose Baez, the celebrated defense attorney hired to defend Hernandez. Baez, who was not in court for the reading of the verdict reportedly due to a medical issue, can add this high-profile victory to helping young Florida mother Casey Anthony beat a charge that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter in 2011.

Too much of this case relied on the word of Bradley, an admitted drug and gun dealer who is serving time in Connecticut for an unrelated incident in which he shot up a Hartford nightclub after being involved in a gunfight. Bradley testified that Hernandez, angry at de Abreu for spilling a drink on him at a nightclub, was still fuming some two hours later when he unloaded five shots into the BMW carrying de Abreu and Furtado.

The defense countered that it was, in fact, Bradley who pulled the trigger due to a drug deal gone bad.

Neither side disagrees that Bradley was the wheelman that night. He proved, however, to be the only witness who identified Hernandez as the triggerman. Bradley had multiple motives to lie – from an immunity deal to his own hatred of Hernandez, whom allegedly shot Bradley in the face in 2013 and left him to die.

On the witness stand Bradley acknowledged he was testifying as a means of revenge only because his preferred method – murdering Hernandez – was not available due to Hernandez being incarcerated.

With so little physical evidence it was not simple to determine whether it was Hernandez who was the triggerman or Bradley. On that precise, but all-important point, there was clearly reasonable doubt.

“The man who committed these crimes was given immunity by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will be out of prison soon,” defense attorney Ronald Sullivan said, referring to Bradley and according to Chris Villani of the Boston Herald.

Hernandez, 27, may have beaten the charge of the actual killings, but he was hardly innocent that night. He didn’t report the crime and afterward helped stash the murder car in a Connecticut house garage he was connected with.

The fall of Hernandez ranks among the most baffling and tragic in modern sports history. He, at the very least, was witness to the murder of de Abreu and Furtado just months after catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl and just weeks before signing a $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots. He and his longtime girlfriend/fiancée had a baby on the way at the time.

The trial played out across six weeks in downtown Boston, just across the street from where Hernandez’s former teammates held another Super Bowl parade and celebration in February.

Cindy George Apr-14-2017 129 0
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Texas death-row inmate Duane Buck the right to pursue his claims of ineffective counsel and relief under a rule that covers mistakes and neglect - a move that could spare him from execution.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race improperly tainted Buck's death sentence and remanded the case to the lower court for a new hearing.

In a two-page ruling filed Thursday, the federal appeals court also ordered him released unless the state initiates proceedings for a new trial for punishment within six months or "elects not to seek the death penalty and accedes to a life sentence."

Buck was convicted in Houston 20 years ago for the killings of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler. He was sentenced to death after a psychologist testified he would be a continuing threat to society because he is black.

The case, which has made national headlines for years, could be a harbinger of how the country's highest court deals with death penalty cases with racial overtones, experts have said.

After February's decision, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office would review Buck's case, including speaking with the victims' families and looking over mitigation evidence, before deciding how to proceed.

"Racially charged evidence has no place in any courtroom, and this administration will not tolerate its presence," she said. "We remain committed to seeking justice for the victims of Duane Buck's heinous criminal acts and will do so without what Chief Justice Roberts described as the 'strain of racial prejudice' present at the 1997 trial in which Buck was convicted."

David Boroff Apr-13-2017 132 0
A Georgia police officer was fired one day after authorities say he kicked a handcuffed man in the face.

A shocking video shows Master Police Officer Robert McDonald of the Gwinnett County Police Department appearing to use excessive force on suspect Demetrius Hollins on a major roadway just outside of Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon.

McDonald "stepped outside the guiding principles of our agency," Thursday's statement from the Gwinnett County Police Department said."We do not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values or state law."

The police department has also launched a criminal investigation of McDonald's behavior. He was sent home on administrative leave and his department-issued gun was taken.

Georgia police officer arrested after revenge porn incident
The statement emphasizes the video is "very disturbing and speaks for itself" and was "very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive."

Hollins appears to have blood on his nose and lip in a booking photo.He faces charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked registration, failure to signal, having a brake light that's not in good repair, obstructing a law enforcement officer and having less than an ounce of marijuana.

The video, posted to Facebook by Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, shows a white officer pulling a black man out of a car and placing him in handcuffs. The man can be heard yelling as the officer hovers over him.

Suddenly, a second officer comes running from the right hand side.

As the first officer observes, the second officer, seemingly unprovoked, stomps the handcuffed man in the face. Both officers then hold the man down before putting him in the backseat of their squad car.

"Stay down," one of the officers can be heard saying.

The violent incident occurred on Sugarloaf Parkway outside Lawrenceville around 5 p.m., according to Maejor Page, the President of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta.

Page told the Daily News that the maker of the video provided the clip to his organization shortly after the incident occurred.

The video maker charged that "blood splattered everywhere" after the officer landed the kick to the man's face, Page said.

In a statement, Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta praised the dismissal of the officer.

"We are extremely happy that the command staff of the Gwinnett Police Department heard our voices did the noble and honorable thing, and that's to fire this officer and seek criminal charges," read the statement. "We do not want to paint the entire GCPD as a bad group of people, when I know for a fact there a bunch of fine men and women who work for the department with respect, honor and integrity."

Jeremy Gorner Apr-13-2017 243 0
Chicago police say the attempted armed robbery of a slain Cook County judge and his injured girlfriend early Monday was not a random act while announcing murder and other charges against the first of several suspects.

Police also revealed that shell casings found outside the judge's Far South Side home matched ballistics evidence from an attempted armed robbery in the early morning hours three months ago. The victim was shot and wounded.

At a news conference Wednesday evening at police headquarters, Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples answered few questions, emphasizing that the investigation remained "open and ongoing" and that more details would come out in court Thursday. But she did call the attack on Associate Judge Raymond Myles and his girlfriend "a targeted robbery." However, Staples wouldn't say whether it was the judge or his girlfriend who was the target of the robbery.

According to the Cook County state's attorney's office, Joshua T. Smith, 37, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and armed robbery.

Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for State's Attorney Kim Foxx, said Smith is expected to appear in bond court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Thursday.

Police would not identify Smith's role in the attempted armed robbery, but multiple law enforcement sources told the Chicago Tribune that he acted as the alleged getaway driver.

According to court records, Smith was charged in Cook County Circuit Court in 2002 with armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated unlawful restraint. He pleaded guilty the following year to armed robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison, the records show.
Police are still seeking the gunman and a third participant, according to sources.

At the news conference, Staples said video surveillance in the area of the judge's home in the West Chesterfield neighborhood played a crucial role in identifying the getaway car used in the attempted holdup and its license plate. The cameras did not capture the shooting itself, however, she said.
There had been a push recently to get cameras installed throughout the neighborhood - an effort that the judge had joined in.

"I can tell you that the placement and the concentration of cameras in and outside of the judge's neighborhood was instrumental for detectives to get a jump-start on this case," Staples said.

Tactical officers found the suspected getaway car - a red 2005 Pontiac Sunfire - in the Calumet Police District on the city's Far South Side on Tuesday night, even though its license plate had been switched since the shooting in an attempt to "hinder our investigative efforts," Staples said. The officers noticed the car had different plates on the front and rear, she said.

Records show that Smith shares an address with the woman who owns the Pontiac. But detectives do not believe she was involved in the attempted holdup, Staples said.

Staples told reporters that the shell casings found outside the judge's home matched those retrieved at the scene of an attempted armed robbery and shooting in the Englewood neighborhood in January, but she said the two shootings don't appear to be otherwise linked. Police said guns used in Chicago shootings often change hands and that the victim of the January holdup attempt was not cooperating with investigators. The victim, identified by police sources as an alleged gang member with a long arrest record, was shot in the leg.

The brazen attack on Myles, believed to be the first fatal shooting of a Chicago-area judge in more than three decades, touched off a massive investigation.

An early riser, Myles was up before dawn Monday, getting ready to go to the gym with his girlfriend before reporting to his courtroom. But as the 52-year-old woman left the two-story brick residence shortly before 5 a.m., she was confronted near the garage by a gunman who shot her in the leg, according to police. Hearing the commotion, Myles, 66, ran outside and exchanged words with the assailant before he was shot and killed.

A neighbor and friend of the judge told the Tribune he was awakened by the shouts of the woman and the crack of about six gunshots. "She was screaming, 'Don't kill him, don't kill him!' " the neighbor said.

An autopsy found Myles had been shot multiple times, the Cook County medical examiner's office said Tuesday.

The FBI has offered $25,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the killer.
Sheriff Tom Dart's office investigates about 10 death threats against Cook County judges a year but had no record of any threats against Myles in recent years.

News of Myles' death stunned colleagues at the county's main criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue, where Myles had worked for years. Longtime courthouse employees described Myles as hardworking and friendly. He was assigned to the "youthful offenders" call, where he heard narcotics cases involving defendants about age 27 and younger.

Thomas Tracy Apr-13-2017 167 0
The pioneering judge found dead on the banks of the Hudson River was struggling with depression and likely took her own life, a police source said Thursday.

It was unclear if state Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam left behind a suicide note, and cops were awaiting the results of an autopsy before saying anything more, the source told the Daily News.

There were no signs of trauma or injuries indicating a more sinister demise when her fully-clothed body was found Wednesday afternoon near W. 132nd St. — about a mile from her Harlem home.

The 65-year-old Abdus-Salaam, hailed as the nation’s first female Muslim judge and the first black woman appointed to the state’s highest court, was reported missing by her husband on Tuesday morning.

The shocking disappearance and discovery of her body rattled her many friends and colleagues across the state.

“I just saw her on the subway the other day,” said former Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright. “She was always a very calming, beautiful presence ... She became one of the brightest and most respected legal minds in the U.S.”

Abdus-Salaam was nominated by Gov. Cuomo in 2013 for a seat on the state’s Court of Appeals, the high point of a legal career that began with her Columbia University School of Law degree.

Among her classmates: Future U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

She served as a Manhattan Supreme Court judge for 14 years before Cuomo’s promotion. The governor praised Abdus-Salaam for her “unshakable moral compass.”

Harlem neighbor Pat Miller, 56, couldn’t accept the idea that Abdus-Salaam took her own life.

“I could not imagine her doing anything to herself to harm herself," he said. She’s not that type of person ... I’d like to know what happened. I would really like to know.”

MATTHEW HAAG Apr-13-2017 274 0
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on New York State’s highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead on Wednesday in the Hudson River, the authorities said.

Officers with the New York Police Department’s Harbor Unit responded about 1:45 p.m. to a report of a person floating by the shore near West 132nd Street in Upper Manhattan. Judge Abdus-Salaam, 65, was taken to a pier on the Hudson River and was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after 2 p.m.

The police were investigating how she ended up in the river, and it was not clear how long Judge Abdus-Salaam, who lived nearby in Harlem, had been missing. There were no signs of trauma on her body, the police said. She was fully clothed.

A law enforcement official said investigators had found no signs of criminality. Her husband identified her body.

Since 2013, Judge Abdus-Salaam had been one of seven judges on the State Court of Appeals. Before that, she served for about four years as an associate justice on the First Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, and for 15 years as a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan. She was previously a lawyer in the city’s Law Department.

Zakiyyah Muhammad, the founding director of the Institute of Muslim American Studies, said Judge Abdus­-Salaam became the first female Muslim judge in the United States when she started serving on the State Supreme Court in 1994.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday that Judge Abdus-Salaam was a pioneer with an “unshakable moral compass.” He added, “Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.”


In nominating her to the highest court in 2013, Mr. Cuomo praised her “working-class roots” and her “deep understanding of the everyday issues facing New Yorkers.” Her nomination was part of a push by Mr. Cuomo to diversify the court. When another judge, Rowan D. Wilson, joined the court this year, it was the first time the Court of Appeals had two African-American judges in its 169-year history.

On the court, Judge Abdus-Salaam was among the most reliable and steadfast liberal voices, regularly siding with vulnerable parties — the poor, impoverished immigrants and people with mental illnesses, for instance — against more powerful and established interests. She also tended to lean toward injured parties who brought claims of misconduct, fraud or breach of contract against wealthy corporations.

Among her colleagues, she was admired for her thoughtfulness, her candor and her finely crafted and restrained writing style. She was not one to use her decisions as a soapbox to make high-sounding political points or to wax poetic, even when her rulings were precedent-setting.

In a statement, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said, “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her.”

Last summer, Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote an important decision, Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., that expanded the definition of what it means to be a parent, overturning a previous ruling. For 25 years, the court had held that the nonbiological parent in a same-sex couple had no standing to seek custody or visitation rights after a breakup.

But Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote that the previous ruling had become “unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships.” In a tightly reasoned decision, she determined that nonbiological parents did have standing to seek custody if they showed “by clear and convincing evidence that all parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together.”

The Court of Appeals last heard oral arguments at the end of March and issued opinions on April 4. It is scheduled to be back in session on April 25.

Judge Abdus-Salaam grew up in Washington, one of seven children in a poor family, and earned her law degree at Columbia University in 1977. After law school, she became a public defender in Brooklyn, representing people who could not afford lawyers, and then served as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State attorney general’s office. In one of her first cases, she won an anti-discrimination suit for more than 30 female New York City bus drivers who had been denied promotions.

Seymour W. James Jr., the attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society, the nation’s largest provider of free legal services, said he had first met Judge Abdus-Salaam in the early 1980s, when she worked at the Civil Rights Bureau. Mr. James said her upbringing and years spent representing the poor and disenfranchised had shaped her perspective on the bench. “She was a strong believer in equal rights and equal access to justice,” he said in an interview.

In an interview in 2014 about black history, Judge Abdus-Salaam said that she had become interested in her family’s history as a young girl in public school and that her research had led her to discover that her great-grandfather was a slave in Virginia.

“All the way from Arrington, Va., where my family was the property of someone else, to my sitting on the highest court of the State of New York is amazing and huge,” she said. “It tells you and me what it is to know who we are and what we can do.”

Eric H. Holder Jr., the former United States attorney general, was classmates with Judge Abdus-Salaam at Columbia Law School and sang her praises at her swearing-in ceremony in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

It was clear that she was intelligent, serious and witty, he said at the time, according to The A.P. But she could have fun, too: “Sheila could boogie,” he said.

Ryan Parker Apr-12-2017 91 0
Charlie Murphy, Chappelle Show star and older brother of Eddie Murphy, has died, publicist Domenick Nati told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 57. 

Murphy died from leukemia on Wednesday, Nati said.

Murphy became a household name through Dave Chappelle's Comedy Central skit show thanks to his amazing stories of interactions with other celebrities during the height of his brother's fame in the 1980s. The most popular short turned into a skit about Rick James. 

Murphy's final tweet on Tuesday: "One to Sleep On: Release the past to rest as deeply as possible." 

Murphy also appeared in numerous movies, TV shows and even lent his voice to some video games.

Murphy was on record as saying he was a hothead when he worked as a bodyguard for his brother. He said he loved Eddie so much, and thought he was so funny, that he would pick fights with people who did not laugh at his brother's jokes when he performed.

"It was to the point that, if I went to a show and you were the hater in the audience that was like, 'That s--- wasn't funny' POW! I'm jamming you, man," Murphy once said. "Because the s--- was funny. There was 10,000 people laughing, and you that one joker that wanna try and squeeze a lemon. F--- you. I don't even want you to be there. And I took it as a personal crusade, and they were like, 'You know what, you're a little overzealous with your job.' So, that is how I ended up not doing that anymore."

Murphy is also remembered for his amazing tale about the legendary musician, Prince. Made into a skit for Chappelle Show, Murphy said he and friends played basketball against Prince and his entourage one night in the 1980s. Murphy said he was shocked how good Prince was at the game. Afterward, Prince made everyone pancakes. Prince was on record saying the story was true, even the breakfast.

"We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time . Charlie Murphy RIP," Chris Rock wrote on Twitter.

Mogul Russell Simmons tweeted: "Just came out of meditation and learned that one of my friends and my biggest comedy idol passed. Damn I loved Charlie Murphy."
"Terribly saddened ... Charlie," comedian Paul Mooney wrote. 

Dan Kopf Apr-11-2017 135 0
The US-based economists Felipe Goncalves and Steven Mello have both had the police give them a break. It gave them a brilliant idea for uncovering racial bias in policing.

Both Goncalves and Mello had been stopped for driving above the speed limit, and when a police officer wrote their ticket, it was for less than the speed they were actually driving. The officer in both cases was being lenient. By reducing their official speed, they received a lesser fine. This kind of “speed discounting” is fairly common practice across US police departments.

Goncalves and Mello, PhD students at Princeton University who use economic analysis to study police misconduct, had stumbled on a test they could use to see if the police treated people of different races in this particular context. Were certain groups less likely to be treated leniently when caught driving over the speed limit? In a recently released paper (pdf), the researchers show that minorities are 50% less likely to get this kind of break.

In order to uncover this bias, Goncalves and Mello analyzed nearly one million tickets given out by Florida Highway Patrol from 2005-2015. They chose Florida because the state is particularly open with its fines data.

In Florida, like most states (pdf), the size of a speeding fine depends on the magnitude of the violation. In Florida, driving 6-9 miles per hour (mph) over a posted limit carries a fine of $125; 10 mph over, and it’s a minimum of least $200. Florida Highway Patrol officers give an inordinate amount of 9 mph tickets—more than 30% of all tickets were for going exactly 9 mph above the speed limit, indicating that the highway patrol does tend to be pretty lenient overall.

If racial bias plays a role in the likelihood of getting a break, we would expect minorities to get fewer 9 mph speeding tickets. That is exactly what Goncalves and Mello found. About 35% of all speeding tickets for drivers self-identifying as white are 9 mph tickets, while only 25% of tickets for minority drivers fall in that category.

Goncalves and Mello found the disparity has two causes: direct racial bias and regional differences.
“If you forced every officer to treat minorities the way they treat white people,” Goncalves told Quartz, the leniency disparity would drop, but only slightly. He and Mello found the majority of police officers actually don’t exhibit any bias at all. Their analysis suggests only 20% of officers are more lenient to a particular race—and though the majority of bias benefits whites, some officers are actually more lenient towards minorities. Women, younger officers, and minorities are all less likely display bias.

There are regional differences, though, that hide an insidious form of bias, explains Goncalves, that is powerful enough to have about twice the impact on the leniency disparity as direct racial bias. “Minorities tend to live in areas that are less lenient towards everybody,” he says. If all people in a 90% white area are given breaks, but all people in a 90% minority are not, it amounts to huge difference in actual experience, even if no individual police officer is acting biased.

What’s to be done? After they analyzed the impact of various policies, such as firing biased officers and hiring more minorities and women, Goncalves and Mello came to the conclusion that the most impactful policy would be to put more of the lenient officers in areas with large minority populations. In other words, give everybody an equal chance at a break.



>>--More Black Legal News

Daryl K. Washington Jan-15-2017 1233 0
In such a very short time, many are clearing their memories of how Donald Trump mocked a handicap individual, disrespected candidates, women, the media and anyone else who does not agree with him. Donald Trump has insulted women, called them by names other than their own, has disrespected President Obama and most recently insulted Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis. Despite his despicable behavior, many are of the mindset that we must meet with Donald Trump or risk being left out. Until Donald Trump proves this country wrong, I stand with the Honorable John Lewis.

Has Trump announced that he is cutting back major programs President Obama put in place specifically for black people? Some people are behaving as if Trump is now our savior and if we do not bow down to him he will not help us. If the problems in our communities were so bad and needed so much attention, why weren't people lined up the last 8 years to discuss these problems with President Obama?

Trump has succeeded in making people afraid and now some are living in fear. Trump said in his campaign speech that nothing had been done for the black communities in the last 8 years so what do we have to lose. Trump said he would change things and now people are saying we need to meet with Mr.Trump so that he can keep his promise. That alone really makes it appear as if President Obama did nothing for the black communities and Trump was right. Listen, we have to stop depending on the Government and do for ourselves. When you depend on a large machine like the Government it controls you. When something controls you it can destroy you.

Many of the colleges in Louisiana and throughout the U.S. are now dealing with financial issues because of the budget cuts. Most of the colleges are dependent on the Government to survive because of the little support from the communities and believe me that is a recipe for disaster. Have you ever wondered why Asians and other races are not lined up to meet with Trump? It's because they support their own businesses and circulate the dollars within their own communities so they are not as dependent on the Government. We don't need Trump. We need each other. You guys running behind Trump will make him look like the savior he say he is and as a result he will most certainly be in office for the next 8 years. This country is in the best shape it's ever been in for a very long time and will only get better because of the things President Obama put into place. The thing is, Donald Trump will get credit for it all. We will survive, especially if we begin to support each other.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Sep-20-2016 604 0
One must applaud the efforts and courage of Colin Kaepernick despite all of the negative criticism he’s received from the media, from fans, from athletes, current and former, and from certain owners of professional teams. Some have questioned his sincerity and others have questioned his methods but what many have failed to do is take notice of his message. Kaepernick has voiced on a number of occasions the reason for his peaceful protest yet many have failed to comprehend it.

What Kaepernick has done for the Movement is sparked conversation but many do not want to listen. He used his platform to bring attention to the injustices that are occurring on a daily basis yet an unarmed black man was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma while he held both hands in the air for the world to see.

One has to wonder if this would have occurred if there was more unity on the issues that Kaepernick brought to the forefront. One has to wonder if this would have happened if every professional athlete would have stood in solidarity. One has to wonder if this would have happened if Jerry Jones allowed his athletes to exercise their Constitutional rights. One has to wonder if this would have happened if all of the National Organizations would have issued press releases making their support of Kaepernick known to all. One has to wonder if this would have happened if the media was not so fast to label all police officers as heroes. One has to wonder if this would have happened if the officers who murdered Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile were in jail today.

Colin Kaepernick, did what many have accused athletes of not doing; he took a stance. He pledged One Million dollars to the cause but how many more came in support of his efforts? I would like to believe if more people would have come out in support of Colin Kaepernick, Mr. Crutcher would still be alive today. Colin Kaepernick took a knee and challenged everyone else to do so but instead of focusing on the message, people focused on the National Anthem. When the message is ignored the problems will persist. There is a National Stage. The time is now to bring a plan forward. Stop questioning his method and give him the support he needs. Two weeks ago, two young ladies were wrongfully arrested while eating at a Whataburger in San Antonio, Texas. A few days later, a 13 year old boy was shot multiple times by a police officer. On last week, the officer who killed Eric Garner received a bonus to bring his pay to $120,000. Now, we witnessed the shooting of an unarmed black man but there are those who still don’t get the message. Why? Colin Kaepernick has not received the full support he needs.

Colin Kaepernick took a knee but many have not been there to lift him up. This is not Colin’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem. If you can demand that people stand in solidarity during the playing of the National Anthem, you most certainly should demand that everyone stand in solidarity when there are injustices. Don’t leave it up to one person to do it all alone. We must up take a knee and move forward with a plan.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.


Daryl K. Washington Jul-14-2016 927 0
I had the pleasure to witness four NBA superstars issuing a “Call to Action” to the thousands of athletes who were in attendance at the ESPY Awards. It was the moment I waited on for so long because I personally know the influence professional athletes have on society. They have the platform and the power to demand change. We saw the immediate change that occurred when athletes at Grambling State University, Missouri and the Los Angeles Clippers, to name a few, decided to take a stance. Athletes have the power, the platform and the support to make a difference but should they have to do it alone?

As a civil rights attorney I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of protests throughout the U.S. I’ve attended rallies and marches where some of my closest friends lived but as I thought about it, I generally did not get to see any of them until after the events were over. I recently received confirmation that there is a perception that the only individuals out marching are the victims’ families, individuals from the communities we moved away from or individuals who are wrongfully labeled as troublemakers. What really confirmed it for me was when it was stated that “men should get off the protest lines and instead fill out job applications.” I know that comment can be taken many ways but the way I took it was that men who are out protesting do not have jobs. The sad reality of it all is the reason statements like that can be made is because many who have been blessed to obtain multiple degrees, fortunate to be employed by major organizations, live in the nice neighborhoods, drive the fancy cars, have the IRA’s and are living what is considered the American Dream will not get involved with the movement out of the fear of losing it all yet those same people have the audacity to call out athletes.

Here is the bottom line. This movement cannot be placed on the backs of a few. Until organizations see their star players out in the communities voicing their concerns, they will think the injustices are acceptable. I know it shocked the conscious of America to see Trauma surgeon Brian Williams publicly share his fear of police officers. There were many who probably thought “how dare a doctor make such comments” and I’m sure Dr. Williams understood that there was some risks involved in making his comments but I'm sure he realized that many would listen if he spoke. His comments needed to be made because America now sees that this problem does not only exist in what many call the hood. Many now understand that for black and brown people the hood is America and we are not safe anywhere.

Just recently I was traveling to conduct depositions. I guess because I had on a suit and was sitting in First Class (I had an upgrade because of mileage) the white gentleman sitting next to me perhaps was of the opinion that I was not concerned about what was going on in the black communities. Little did he know why I was traveling and what I fight for on a daily basis. He had the audacity to say he could not understand why people were so upset about the incident in Baton Rouge given the background of Alvin Sterling. My response to him was when an officer decides to use excessive force against a black or brown person, in most cases they do not know the name of the person or whether they have a criminal background. Only one thing is seen; the color of the person’s skin. They know in most cases that the law and media have been on their side so there is no fear of killing because there will be plenty of support for them. By the time our flight landed he admitted that his own personal biases had not allowed him to look beyond a certain point but because we discussed it, he now had a clearer picture.

I say all of the above to emphasize that athletes are not the only individuals with the power and platform to demand change. There are Black Presidents, CEO’s, Coaches, CPA's, CFO’s, Managers, Politicians, Directors and future stars of large corporations who also have the platforms. There are Black doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers, pilots, flight attendants, scientists, engineers, sales professionals, educators, business owners, entertainers, etc. who also have the platforms and power to make a change. It’s time that we gave our brothers and sisters, who are out fighting for justice on a daily basis, the help and support they truly need. I can assure you that should you become the victim of police brutality in your nice neighborhoods or fired from you nice jobs, you will then understand the value of being a part of groups that fight for change. We all need to be out protesting so that the victims’ families can properly grieve. We are in this current state of chaos because so many believe it’s not their problem. Just remember, we are in our positions because someone fought for us.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Jun-24-2016 959 0
On yesterday the officer responsible for the incident in McKinney, Texas was not indicted for the assault on the young teenager that was seen all over the U.S. Also, on yesterday one of the officers in the Freddie Gray case was acquitted. As expected, my timeline on Facebook was flooded with posts from individuals talking about the injustices that take place throughout the U.S. One of my good friends, who is like a brother to me, even blamed attorneys for the injustices throughout the U.S. Generally, I do not comment on these type of issues but because it's Friday I would like to give everyone who this may apply to something to think about.

When is the last time you attended a judicial debate or even contacted an attorney to inquire about a judicial candidate or a DA to see if they had the proper temperament to serve? When is the last time you attended a rally or demanded that a DA present all of the evidence to the grand jury? When is the last time you took a day off from work to support the families who sons or daughters were wrongfully gunned down by a police officer? When is the last time you packed a courthouse to support a family you did not know? When is the last time you sent a letter to the family of a deceased offering your support, financially or emotionally? When is the last time you contacted your local city council member and asked them what they are doing to address the issue of police brutality and police misconduct?

I could go on and on with this but just know, the system will continue as is unless we become proactive and stop being so reactive. This system knows that people will get excited about an incident but once the media is gone, so is the support. As a Civil Rights attorney, I know who is putting it all on the line to bring about change. I know the people who are talking to the DA's, to the Chiefs of Police of various cities, to the city attorneys and others trying to save lives and/or bring about change. I know my friends who attend meetings when I'm in their cities trying to bring about change. It seems like an easy and at times, prestigious job but to be honest, it can be a lonely job. Many nights when most people are sleeping, I find myself in deep thoughts wondering if I could get the thousands of people I know to stand behind us in this fight, a major difference could be made.

Creating the wonderful posts on Facebook help bring attention to issues of injustice but we have to be consistent with our support. One million people strong can take a day off from work with very short notice to attend the CAVS victory parade but let a demonstration for the wrongful death of an unarmed black man or woman be planned and the hardest thing to do is get people to agree on a date or better yet, take off a day to show their support. I know many may not understand how deep this problem truly is but until you step out in the heat and show your support, you may want to stop some of the blaming. Just remember, there will not be change until we all change. Real support is needed to stop the injustices that are occurring throughout the U.S. Let's all come together to bring about a change in this country.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Nov-11-2015 13881 0
For years the question whether college athletes should be paid has been debated over and over only to be kicked down by legal rulings. The NCAA, the television networks, the media and large colleges have all profited off of the backs of primarily Black athletes, while the only colleges that would accept them are being forced to shut down because of a lack of resources. College coaches are earning millions of dollars per season, have large endorsement deals and live in upscale neighborhoods while college athletes, many who come from low income families, are penalize for accepting a meal from a booster, can’t afford to take a date out to dinner or a movie and can only wish that their families could afford to sit in the stands occupied by many who will not speak to them or support them after their college careers are over.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that in order for there to be a change within the system, the ones with the power would have to do something drastic. Two years ago the Grambling State University football team decided to stage a protest because of the lack of equipment and the conditions of Grambling’s facilities. Although I hated to see it come down to that, I understood their frustrations and realized that we were witnessing the beginning of a new movement. The day had come for college athletes to realize that they have as much power as professional athletes, to demand change.

Two years later, the football players at the University of Missouri made a bold statement that will have an everlasting impact on college sports. They walked away from a game they love to support their fellow students. They have now shown athletes at other schools the power they have when they join together in solidarity. As a result, the NCAA’s biggest fear just came to reality. There was not going to be any change or progress at the University of Missouri until the individuals responsible for generating a large share of the revenue said “Enough is Enough.” Within a few days of their walk-out, President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, announced their resignation. That's power.

The NCAA has long made the issues with college athletes, a legal one. The NCAA created rules that prevent athletes from earning a living until after they’ve made everyone else rich. College athletes are required to sign over all of their rights in exchange for a scholarship and cannot earn one single dime to support a parent who is sometimes forced to work two jobs and in some cases still don't have the resources to attend a game. LSU’s superstar Leonard Fournette is being questioned about a business venture his family started before his college career really took off. Now that he’s signed away his rights, it’s being frowned upon by the individuals who were earn millions off of him. In other words, we the NCAA and LSU own his rights. The system is old, is broken and it’s unfair. Schools like LSU and Alabama earn over $70 million per year off of football but the players receive $0. The coaches earn over $3 million per season but the players earn $0.

I'm predicting that we are a season or two away from college athletes staging one of the largest boycotts in college sports because they have come to realize that the power is in their hands. The Missouri football players did not have to miss one single game to get what they demanded but the fight is far from over. Today, the students in Missouri are being faced with the harsh reality of the racist society we still live in. They should be preparing for exams but instead they are fearing for their lives. One hundred thousand fans will cheer on black athletes on Saturdays but many will criticize their efforts and make fun of them on Monday morning. I applaud the efforts of our college athletes. It makes me feel good to see that Our future generation will not stop fighting the fight that many started years ago. We can only pray that one day we will be able to take off the gloves. Until that time, the fight must go on so that the future generation can experience what Dr. King died for many years ago; True equality for everyone.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
         User Submitted News
12
            Events Calendar 
 



Do you think enough is being done to combat the crime in Chicago?


Total Votes : 1457052

  0 %
No  100 %
Not sure  0 %
Yes  0 %
Attorney Signup
 

All Content ?2008-2013 Black Legal Issues  unless otherwise stated.