Saturday, February 27, 2010

News: Anita Baker Barely Misses Going to Jail

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Singing great Anita Baker barely missed going to jail Friday in a dispute with her ex-husband over music royalties. The 52-year old Baker found herself in a heated battle with Walter Bridgforth, her ex-husband, over the details of their divorce settlement.
"I'm so happy. ... I have never been in such a position before," Baker said in the hallway outside court. "And we don't intend to ever be in such a position ever again. I just wanna go home,and I'm happy to go home. ... As horrific as it could have been, it was lovely to feel supported, though, on the other end."
Baker was faced with a deadline Wednesday to sign documents that empower court-appointed music contract expert Howard Hertz to obtain information from record labels regarding how much Baker owed her ex-husband. The deadline passed and Baker still had not signed. This led to the Wayne County Chief Family Court Judge Lita Masini Popke ordering Baker to either show up in court on Friday or go to jail.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dr. Michael Fauntroy Speaks on Felon Voting

by Dr. Michael Fauntroy

“I don’t want everybody to vote.  Elections are not won by a majority of the people.  They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now.  As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
– Conservative activist Paul Weyrich, at a 1980 training session for Christian conservatives
    While there are a number of very worthy issues that need to be addressed in this area, I propose that we include the issue of felon disenfranchisement in our deliberations.  Felon disenfranchisement is critical as it impacts the outcomes of elections throughout the country.  Too often, conservative, anti-minority candidates are elected because of the disproportionate removal of African Americans and other minorities from the election rolls.  As the policies that disenfranchise felons disproportionately impacts African Americans (both those caught up in the criminal justice system AND the larger Black public which does not get the policies that it could because supportive people are not elected to office), we must understand it undermines the policies that we believe to be helpful to our community.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black News: Officers Won’t Be Charged in Sean Bell Shooting

Sean Bell with his fiancee Nicole Paultre-Bell.

Federal authorities will not pursue charges against the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell, the unarmed bridegroom who died in a hail of police bullets outside a Queens strip club just hours before his wedding.

Prosecutors said there was "insufficient evidence" that Bell's civil rights were violated when undercover officers unloaded on a car carrying Bell and two friends on a Jamaica street in November, 2006.

Three officers were acquitted in 2008, including Michael Oliver, who police said reloaded while firing 31 of the 50 shots that filled the vehicle and surrounding streets.


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Thursday, February 11, 2010

U.S. Foreclosure Filings Surpass 300,000 for 11th Month in Row

By Dan Levy

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) — U.S. foreclosure filings rose 15 percent in January from a year earlier and exceeded 300,000 for the 11th consecutive month as modification programs failed to keep delinquent borrowers in their homes, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

A total of 315,716 properties received a notice of default, auction or bank seizure last month, or one in 409 households, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said today in a statement. Filings fell 10 percent from December.

Bank seizures, also known as real-estate-owned or REOs, may rise to a record 3 million this year, RealtyTrac said last month. About 66,000 delinquent loans out of a targeted 4 million by 2012 were permanently modified as of Dec. 31 under the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program, according to the Treasury Department. About 787,000 mortgages are in trial programs that change loan terms, the Treasury said Jan. 19.

“It’s almost inevitable that modifications will fail,” Michelle Meyer, New York-based U.S. economist for Barclays Capital Inc., said in an interview. “Over the next several months, we should see REOs increase at an accelerated pace.”

Foreclosure filings also fell in January of last year from December, only to rise in subsequent months, RealtyTrac said.

“If history repeats itself we will see a surge in the numbers over the next few months as lenders foreclose on delinquent loans where neither the existing loan modification programs or the new short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure alternatives works,” James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Black Legal News: Michael Jackson’s Doctor Pleads Not Guilty

Dr. Conrad Murray arrives for his arraignment of at the Airport Los Angeles Courthouse today

Hours after Dr. Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Michael Jackson's 2009 death, the embattled physician pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon (February 8) during an arraignment hearing at a Los Angeles courthouse, according to The Associated Press.

Murray's bail was set at $75,000, three times greater than the bail usually set for such crimes. Without being handcuffed, Murray was then taken into custody for booking. He must surrender his passport, allowing him to travel within the United States but not out of the country. Prosecutors had been seeking bail of $300,000, but Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz rejected that amount. The involuntary-manslaughter charge carries a maximum jail sentence of four years.


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Saturday, February 6, 2010

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: McCants Stewart, Black Lawyer of the Urban West

By Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

“In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1). Since biblical creation, the spoken word has always manifested itself. For a lawyer, our mastery of the spoken word is highlighted in our ability to be an advocate for our clients and seek truth, fairness and justice in the U.S. judicial system. Many lawyers, especially those of color, must go through certain obstacles to enter into this prestigious profession. As lawyers, we know that practicing law is a privilege, not a right. To begin our weekly black history month’s spotlight series, I would like to recognize the accomplishments of McCants Stewart, pioneering black lawyer of the urban west.

Biography of McCants Stewart

McCants Stewart was born on July 11, 1877 in Brooklyn, NY to T. McCants (a respected nomadic Black southern leader) and Lottie P. Harris Stewart. McCants Stewart attended public schools in Brooklyn, NY and Clafin University, SC. He graduated from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama Normal Department in 1896 after a number of run-ins with Booker T. Washington. Later that year, he attended University of New York and attended University of New York Law School. After a series of mastering his law craft in his father’s law practice and other odd jobs to make ends meet, he was admitted to the bar of Oregon in 1903, becoming Oregon’s first black lawyer.

To learn more about McCants Stewart, please view the link below:

African American Registry,
Minnesota Historical Society,
Oregon Historical Society

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NY Times: Justice Thomas Defends Ruling on Finance

WASHINGTON — In expansive remarks at a law school in Florida, Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday vigorously defended the Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance decision.

And Justice Thomas explained that he did not attend State of the Union addresses — he missed the dust-up when President Obama used the occasion last week to criticize the court’s decision — because the gatherings had turned so partisan.

Justice Thomas responded to several questions from students at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., concerning the campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. By a 5-to-4 vote, with Justice Thomas in the majority, the court ruled last month that corporations had a First Amendment right to spend money to support or oppose political candidates.

“I found it fascinating that the people who were editorializing against it were The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company,” Justice Thomas said. “These are corporations.”

The part of the McCain-Feingold law struck down in Citizens United contained an exemption for news reports, commentaries and editorials. But Justice Thomas said that reflected a legislative choice rather than a constitutional principle.

He added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side, pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

“Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. “Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as “some sort of beatific action.”

Justice Thomas said the First Amendment’s protections applied regardless of how people chose to assemble to participate in the political process.

“If 10 of you got together and decided to speak, just as a group, you’d say you have First Amendment rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association,” he said. “If you all then formed a partnership to speak, you’d say we still have that First Amendment right to speak and of association.”

“But what if you put yourself in a corporate form?” Justice Thomas asked, suggesting that the answer must be the same.

Asked about his attitude toward the two decisions overruled in Citizens United, he said, “If it’s wrong, the ultimate precedent is the Constitution.”

To continue reading, follow link below:

Youtube of President Obama's State of the Union Address at Issue: