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Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

Bill Cosby and An Accuser Could Face Each Other

One of Bill Cosby's alleged victims, Andrea Constand, was set to face Cosby in the course of the criminal proceeding against him in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Prosecutors have filed charges against Cosby, saying that the 2004 encounter between him and Constand was a case of criminal sexual assault. At the hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors attempted to demonstrate that they have enough evidence to go to trial. The judge agreed.


Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Trial Can Proceed, Judge Rules

Following the prosecutors' presentation of evidence, the judge ruled in the Pennsylvania sexual assault criminal proceeding that the matter will move forward. As this was essentially the first legal skirmish in the action, it is expected that matters will only become more contentious as it progresses.


U.S. Soccer and Women's Team Move Toward Trial

On Thursday, lawyers representing the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer) and the union for the women's national soccer team battled in federal court in Chicago. Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman reserved ruling at the hearing, which increases the chance that the case will go to trial. If there is in fact a trial, it will likely come around the time of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the women's team is set to defend its Olympic gold medal. This action began in February, when U.S. Soccer sued the women's team's union, demanding that it holds the players to their contracts. The players, however, maintain that there is not a valid collective bargaining agreement in place. The court is tasked with resolving this contract interpretation dispute.


'The Founder,' Like Ray Kroc, Feasts on McDonald's Imagery

In "The Founder," a film about the rise of the McDonald's Corporation, there is an abundance of McDonald's imagery and trademarks, such as the famous golden arches. All of this raises questions about whether the film's use will fall within the "fair use" exception of using McDonald's intellectual property. One risk is whether the film falsely portrays McDonald's, in which case, the film could be deemed an unauthorized use of trademarks.


Muirfield Golf Club Barred as British Open Host After Vote Against Female Members

Muirfield Golf Club, a renowned golf course that has been the site of 16 British Opens and dates back to 1744, no longer has the right to host the British Open. This comes as a result of the Club voting against allowing female members, as 64% voted in favor of admitting women, falling short of the two-thirds majority required for the vote. Golf's governing bodies has increasingly sought to eliminate gender discrimination, at least partially in part due to its goal of growing the game.


Case Against Photographer Over Paris Massacre Picture is Dismissed

During the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, photographer Maya Vidon-White took a photo of a victim, Cedric Gomet, who was injured. That photograph would be published, supposedly in contravention of a French criminal law, which forbids the publication of photographs of survivors of violent crimes. However, last Friday, the case was dismissed.


Sumner Redstone Moves to Replace Ousted Trust Members

In the wake of Sumner Redstone, who is the head of the $40 billion media empire of Viacom, ousting two executives, speculation is abound as to who the replacements will be. It is rumored that the replacements have close connections to Shari Redstone, Mr. Redstone's "long-estranged, recently reconciled daughter." Some see Mr. Redstone's removal of the executives as a long-awaited victory for Ms. Redstone, fueling her hopes to succeed her father.


Redstone and Viacom Executives Go to Court Against Each Other

The ousted Viacom executives are going to court over Sumner Redstone's recent actions taking them off the Board of Directors. The executives accuse Shari Redstone, Mr. Redstone's daughter, of organizing this "unlawful corporate takeover." Mr. Sumner, who has controlled Viacom since 1987, has had his mental capacity questioned, and after an examination, the judge has not made a determination as to his capacity. The ousted executives cite a lack of mental capacity to explain his recent actions.


Redstone's Great-Grandchildren and Ex-Wife Added to Lawsuit

On Wednesday, attorneys for the ousted Viacom executives added Sumner Redstone's two great-grandchildren and ex-wife, Phyllis Redstone, as nominal defendants in their action. As nominal defendants, they cannot be held liable or responsible for any outcome in the action, but they are named as a result of being beneficiaries of the trust that controls the fate of the $40 billion Viacom empire.


Myanmar Poet Who Wrote of Private Tattoo is Convicted of Defaming Ex-Leader

A poet in Myanmar, Maung Saungkha, has been sentenced to a six month jail term for defamation, after he wrote last October that he had a tattoo of the country's president on his penis. While Myanmar has been viewed as limiting censorship in recent years, human rights advocates say that restrictions on free speech still exist, and violating those restrictions is accompanied by great peril.


Misconduct Allegations Roil Baylor

Kenneth Starr, the current president and chancellor of Baylor University, as well as the former solicitor general and a federal judge, is the subject of scrutiny after information surfaced that former football players reportedly committed sexual misconduct (two of whom were convicted of such), with no action taken by the University. Law firm Pepper Hamilton investigated Baylor's adjudication and discipline of the students.


Baylor Takes Disciplinary Action

On Thursday, Baylor University took disciplinary action, removing Kenneth Starr as the president of the university and firing the football coach, Art Briles. Mr. Starr will remain Baylor's chancellor and a professor at the law school. However, both Mr. Starr and Mr. Briles are being dismissed for their mishandling of the accusations against football players of sexual assault.


Report: BMX Legend Dave Mirra Had Brain Disease CTE

Dave Mirra, the BMX legend who took his life in February, is reported to have had the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a prominent issue in the National Football League (NFL), as it has been revealed that repeated concussions fosters the disease, which has led to the suicide of numerous former players. Mr. Mirra was one of the most successful athletes in X Games history, racking up 24 medals, with 14 of those gold. He was 41.


Bubba Smith, NFL Star and Actor, Had CTE

Bubba Smith, an All-Pro defensive end in the NFL had the degenerative brain disease CTE when he died in 2011. This was confirmed by researchers affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston University, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Mr. Smith is the 90th former NFL player found to have CTE, of the 94 former professional players that were examined.


Russia Says 14 that of its Athletes are Suspected of Doping at Beijing Olympics

The Russian Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that 14 of Russia's athletes in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing tested positive for doping. This comes after the International Olympic Committee retested 454 doping samples from the Beijing Olympic Games. Russia's Olympic Committee's announcement follows chemist Grigory Rodchenkov's announcement that he developed a three-drug cocktail of steroids and liquor that allowed Russian athletes to evade detection during performance enhancing drug tests and also ensure Russia's dominance in international competition.


Russian Vaulter Threatens Lawsuit

After the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspended Russia's athletics federation, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva said she will file a lawsuit if the ban is upheld and she cannot compete in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The IAAF is set to rule next month on whether Russia will be reinstated prior to the beginning of the Games.


PayPal Founder Said to Bankroll Hulk Hogan's Suit Against Gawker

Peter Thiel, a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded PayPal, privately agreed to fund Hulk Hogan's fees in his action against Gawker Media for invasion of privacy. Mr. Thiel's connection to Gawker goes back to 2007, when Gawker published an article outing Mr. Thiel as gay. That led Mr. Thiel to call Gawker "the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda." Legal observers questioned whether Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, had financial support for his lawsuit when his lawyer removed a claim that had the effect of eliminating Gawker's insurance company from the case.


Gawker's Founder Speaks Out

On Thursday, a day after Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal, announced that he bankrolled Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, the founder of Gawker, Nick Denton, released his own statement. He accused Mr. Thiel of being "thin-skinned" and a "comic book villain," and challenged Mr. Thiel to "a public debate about the role of journalism in society." Mr. Denton summed up Mr. Thiel's involvement as "vindictive", but also pointed out that his involvement now opens him up to public scrutiny.


Google Prevails as Jury Rebuffs Oracle in Code Copyright Case

A jury ruled in favor of Google on Thursday, after a long legal dispute with Oracle regarding the software used on most smartphones. While Oracle argued that Google had used copyrighted material in 11,000 of its 13 million lines of software code in Android, Google claimed that it made fair use of the code, owing nothing to Oracle. Oracle's general counsel stated that the company planned to appeal.


Settlement in Dispute Over Picasso Bust

A dispute about ownership of a Picasso bust was settled in New York District Court on Monday, with no public information available about the terms of the settlement. The dispute arose between two major collectors, the Qatari royal family and Leon Black, the chairman of the Apollo private equity firm and co-chairman of the Museum of Modern Art. The work, a bust of Marie-Therese Walter, last sold in May of 2015 for approximately $106 million.


Political Light Installation on Hong Kong Skyscraper is Pulled

Artists Sampson Wong and Jason Lam installed an art installation by displaying a cryptic political message on the facade of Hong Kong's tallest building. The installation was effectively a countdown timer to July 1, 2047, the date when the former British colony's status as a handover to China expires. Officials and exhibition organizers pulled the plug on the installation, citing the artists' "disrespect" in changing the work without prior permission.


Brady Appeals for a New Hearing in the Deflategate Case

Lawyers for Tom Brady have requested an en banc hearing before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the "Deflategate" case, arguing that the action involves a basic right to fair process, shared by all union workers, and the issue of underinflated footballs is ancillary to that. Mr. Brady's attorneys argued that Commissioner Goodell's "biased, agenda-driven and self-approving appeal ruling must be vacated."


Patriots Join Deflategate Fight in Court for First Time

The New England Patriots organization has filed an amicus curiae brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that it "stand[s] to lose their All-Pro quarterback for 25 percent of the upcoming regular season based on a severely flawed process." Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, is a staunch proponent for Commissioner Roger Goodell, so this brief comes as a surprise to some analysts. However, Mr. Kraft is seeking to protect his four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback, Tom Brady, from sitting on the sidelines in the upcoming season.


Tony Gwynn's Family Sues Tobacco Industry, Seeking Recourse Over Fatal Habit

The family of Tony Gwynn, the Baseball Hall of Fame member who died in 2014 of salivary gland cancer, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in San Diego against the tobacco industry, alleging that Mr. Gwynn was manipulated into becoming addicted to smokeless tobacco, which killed him. Mr. Gwynn used up to two cans of smokeless tobacco each day for 31 years. While the family alleges that companies like Philip Morris induced him to become addicted to smokeless tobacco, analysts expect that the defendants will take the typical position of blaming the victim.


NFL Tried to Influence Concussion Research, Congressional Study Finds

A Congressional committee released a report that is damaging to the NFL, alleging that the NFL attempted to influence government research regarding concussion research by steering the study toward a doctor that had ties to the NFL. Dr. Robert Stern, the director of clinical research for Boston University's CTE Center, allegedly had a study directed away from him, which some believe is because Boston University's CTE Center has become a leader in researching CTE, the degenerative brain disease. The impetus for this Congressional report began in December of 2015, when the NFL was rumored to be backing out of its promises to objectively fund concussion research.


Kermit Washington Accused of Stealing from His Charity

Former NBA star Kermit Washington was accused of embezzling approximately $500,000 in charitable donations to his charity that were to be spent in Africa helping the needy. Instead, Mr. Washington allegedly spent that money on "jewelry, vacations and other things." The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Tammy Dickinson, stated that Mr. Washington was using his celebrity status to take advantage of others' goodwill, for his benefit, as a "very small fraction" of the money collected for Project Contact Africa allegedly actually went to the charity.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 27, 2016 9:54 AM.

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