TIME justice

Ex-Wife of Oil Magnate to Appeal $1 Billion Divorce Award

7th Annual Heath Corps Grassroots Garden Gala
Harold Hamm ,CEO of Continental Resources, attends the 7th Annual Heath Corps Grassroots Garden Gala at Gotham Hall on April 17, 2013 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

This high-stakes divorce case isn't over yet

The ex-wife of an oil magnate will appeal the divorce award of over $1 billion in cash and assets that she was handed this week, in one of the largest divorce cases in U.S. History, her lawyers said Thursday.

Attorneys for Sue Ann Hamm said the $995 million sum that her ex-husband, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm (worth an estimated $12.6 billion), was ordered to pay her was “not equitable,” according to Reuters. She was also allowed to keep additional assets, including homes in California and Oklahoma that are worth tens of millions of dollars.

Hamm, a lawyer and an economist, worked at Continental during parts of their 26-year marriage.

Continental Resources’ shares have fallen since the divorce proceedings began. Harold Hamm holds more than 68% of the company’s stock, a stake valued at around $13.5 billion today, but was worth $18 billion nine and a half weeks ago since the trial began. The appeals process could take months or even years.

[Reuters]

TIME justice

Ohio Looks to Shield Lethal Injection Drugmakers

Death Penalty Obese Inmate
Ohio legislators are looking to shield the identity of drugmakers for lethal injections, which are performed in the execution chamber in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Kiichiro Sato—Associated Press

Bill would keep the source of lethal injection drugs anonymous

Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would keep the source of lethal injection drugs anonymous.

The House bill, which was introduced on Monday and had its first hearing Wednesday, would protect individuals and pharmaceutical companies that manufacture, compound or supply drugs for executions while keeping those involved in administering the drugs, like physicians, anonymous.

Shielding the identity of drugmakers has become a common tactic by states that have had trouble obtaining execution drugs. Many drugmakers, especially compounding pharmacies—which are not under federal oversight but have been frequently used by prison systems and departments of corrections—don’t want it publicly known that they’re working with states to carry out lethal injections, fearing backlash from consumers and anti-death penalty advocates. Several states, including Arizona, Georgia and Missouri, have secrecy laws protecting drugmakers’ identities.

In October, Ohio’s attorney general said it was unlikely that the state would perform another lethal injection without action from legislators keeping the source of the state’s drugs anonymous. That statement indicated Ohio was likely out of lethal drugs altogether, and needed the ability to reassure compounding pharmacies that their identities would remain protected if the state sought drugs from them.

In August, a U.S. district judge extended a moratorium on lethal injections in the state until January 15, 2015. The order came after the execution of Dennis McGuire, who reportedly snored and snorted on the execution table in January in a prolonged lethal injection widely considered botched.

TIME justice

DNA Tests Will Finally Be Performed in Up to 70,000 Rape Cases

Rape Kit Backlog
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. talks about the $35 million he is pledging in funding to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits in New York City, the state and across the country during a news conference,Nov. 12, 2014, in New York. Julie Jacobson—AP

Tests have been neglected, in some cases for decades, because of the high cost

Manhattan District Attorney Cryus R. Vance Jr. has pledged $35 million to fund DNA testing in as many as 70,000 rape cases nationwide.

Many swabs, painstakingly collected, have been left untested because of the high cost of conducting DNA tests — up to $1,000 in each case — the Associated Press reports. Tests in some cases have not been done for decades.

Fresh funding for the DNA tests could finally help bring justice to thousands of women who have been raped or sexually assaulted but whose attackers were never caught.

“We want them to know that we, as a nation, are doing everything in our power to bring justice to them,” said Vance during a news conference Wednesday.

The money to fund the tests comes from the District Attorney’s share of an $8.8 billion settlement with BNP Paribas over allegations the French bank violated U.S. sanctions.

[AP]

TIME justice

U.S. Set to Revise Bush-Era Policy on Prisoner Treatment

As a signatory on a ban against "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" in "any territory under its jurisdiction"

The United States is expected to tell the United Nations it will revise its interpretation of a treaty ban on prisoner cruelty to include some overseas locations, amending a widely criticized Bush-era interpretation formulated in the years after 9/11, according to a report Wednesday.

A signatory on a key U.N. torture treaty that bans “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” in “any territory under its jurisdiction,” the U.S. will lay out the Obama administration’s position to the U.N. Committee Against Torture in Geneva, the New York Times reports, citing unnamed sources. The administration under former President George W. Bush had argued the ban did not go beyond domestic soil.

The revision would apply the cruelty ban to wherever the U.S. exercises governmental authority, including Guantanamo Bay and American-flagged ships and aircraft in international waters and airspace. But the Obama administration has stopped short, however, of arguing that the ban unequivocally obligates American officials everywhere they have a prisoner in their custody, as human rights advocates have urged.

[NYT]

TIME Crime

$2.5 Million Settlement for Hot Jail Cell Death on Rikers Island

The temperature in Jerome Murdough's cell on New York City's Rikers Island is said to have exceeded 100 degrees when he was found dead in February

The family of a New York City prisoner who died in an overheated jail cell will receive $2.5 million to settle a wrongful-death suit, the city comptroller’s office announced Friday.

“A mother lost a son, the City lost a citizen. It is my hope that this settlement provides some small measure of closure for the family of Mr. Murdough,” said city comptroller Scott M. Stringer in a statement, referring to the deceased inmate.

The Rikers Island prison complex, where Jerome Murdough was found dead this past February in a cell where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees, has been the subject of frequent criticism for the poor treatment of prisoners in recent months. In this particular case, jail officials had received reports of high temperatures but had not fixed acted to solve the problem.

At the time of his death, the 56-year-old prisoner was awaiting trial for trespassing. Murdough, who is said to have suffered from mental illness, was arrested a week prior to his death as he sought shelter from the cold in a public housing building.

“This is a very awful thing I’m going through, and I hope that no one else will have to ever go through anything like this,” said the inmate’s mother Alma Murdough, at a Friday press conference.

TIME justice

Philadelphia Cops Offer Safe Space for Craigslist Exchanges

Man handing woman US dollar banknotes, close-up
PM Images/Getty Images

Residents of the suburb of Conshohocken can swap their used futons for cash in the safe surroundings of their local police station

A police department in the Philadelphia suburb of Conshohocken is offering its lobby and parking lot as a venue to buy and sell items from Craigslist and other online marketplaces. The location is well-lit and has 24-hour surveillance so that you can feel safe exchanging your used futon for money.

“I figured there’s got to be a better place for people who don’t know each other to complete these transactions,”Conshohocken Police officer Steve Vallone said, the AP reports. “Why not allow people to complete their online transactions from here? It seems like the perfect match.”

The offer came shortly after an alleged rapist was charged with killing a local man he met through Craigslist, according to NBC News in Philadelphia.

Similar measures have been taken in Hillsborough County in Florida, where residents can visit four of the police station’s parking lots to engage in cash transactions.

[NBC]

TIME Law

Report: FBI Created Fake News Article With Spyware to Track Suspect

FBI Director Robert Muller Speaks About Bureau Reforms
The Federal Bureau of Investigation seal is shown at the FBI Headquarters July 26, 2006 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The FBI maintains that its fake news article was justified

The FBI created a fake Seattle Times article containing surveillance software in order to track a school bomb-threat suspect in 2007, according to documents obtained by an advocacy group.

The controversy was publicized Monday evening on Twitter by Christopher Soghoian, a technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, who linked to the FBI documents (pages 61-62) obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization. While the FBI’s use of data gathering software in this investigation was reported in 2007 by WIRED, which acquired an FBI affidavit seeking a search warrant for the tool’s use, the latest documents reveal for the first time the FBI’s use of a false news article.

According to the documents, the link to the article was “in the style of the Seattle Times” and used a false Associated Press byline. The article, titled “Bomb threat at high school downplayed by local police department,” was mocked up with subscriber and advertising information.

The link was then e-mailed to the to the MySpace account of the suspect, who police believe was responsible for a series of bomb threats at Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash. When clicked on, the link would deploy FBI software to track his location and computer IP address.

“We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,” said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best in a statement Monday evening.

AP’s Director of Media Relations Paul Colford also criticized the FBI’s actions, writing in a statement that, “We are extremely concerned and find it unacceptable that the FBI misappropriated the name of The Associated Press and published a false story attributed to AP. This ploy violated AP’s name and undermined AP’s credibility.”

The FBI in Seattle maintains that its technique was justified in locating the suspect, who was arrested on June 14, 2007, two days after the dateline that appeared on the agents’ e-mail correspondence discussing the plan.

“Every effort we made in this investigation had the goal of preventing a tragic event like what happened at Marysville and Seattle Pacific University,” Frank Montoya Jr., an FBI agent overseeing its Seattle operations, told the Seattle Times. “We identified a specific subject of an investigation and used a technique that we deemed would be effective in preventing a possible act of violence in a school setting.”

A spokeswoman for FBI’s Seattle unit also defended the strategy to the Seattle Times, arguing that the FBI did not use a “real Seattle Times article, but material generated by the FBI in styles common in reporting and online media.”

TIME justice

Ferguson Cop Skips Sixth Court Date, Letting Suspect Walk Free

Activists March In Ferguson On Nat'l Day Of Action Against Police Brutality
Demonstrators project a wanted poster with a picture of Police Officer Darren Wilson on a wall near the pollice station in Ferguson, Missouri. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Officer Darren Wilson, who shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August, has refused to turn up to numerous court dates while on paid administrative leave

The Ferguson police officer who shot dead an unarmed teenager there in August failed to appear in a Missouri court Monday for the hearing of a man he arrested on felony drug charges, forcing the judge to let the suspect walk free.

The ruling to dismiss the case marks the sixth time Officer Darren Wilson’s absence from court has resulted in a dismissal, a county attorney told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Attorneys for the defendant, Christopher A. Brooks, said Wilson could not be compelled to appear in court so long as he was on paid administrative leave from the police force.

Darren Wilson has remained in hiding since Brown’s shooting in August prompted weeks of angry demonstration in Ferguson, Miss., with many calling for Wilson’s arrest for murder.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

TIME Bizarre

Top European Court Tells Nude Activist to Put Some Clothes On

Naked Rambler Stephen Gough Makes His Way South Following Release From Saughton Prison
Stephen Gough the naked rambler makes his way south through Scotland following his release from Saughton Prison yesterday after serving his latest sentence on Oct. 6, 2012 in Peebles, Scotland. Jeff J Mitchell—Getty Images

European Court of Human Rights tells "Naked Rambler" that refusing to wear clothes does not represent freedom of expression

Britain’s “naked rambler” does not have a fundamental human right to ramble through the English and Scottish countryside in the buff, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

Stephen Gough, a.k.a. the “Naked Rambler,” argued that he was wrongfully convicted (30 times) and jailed (for 7 years) for his nude treks through the British countryside, which he said should have been protected under his right to privacy and free expression, NBC News reports.

The Strasbourg-based justices, however, ruled that “he had plenty of other ways of expressing his opinions” and determined that his particular form of expression constituted “deliberately repetitive antisocial conduct.”

Gough first started making headlines in 2003 for his insistent determination to remain nude on the streets, in court, or even in prison, where, according to the BBC, he was sequestered from the rest of the prison population because of his refusal to wear clothing.

[NBC News]

TIME justice

Report: Investigators Mistreated Monica Lewinsky in Clinton Probe

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky speaks to attendees at Forbes Under 30 Summit at the Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pa on October 20, 2014. Star Shooter—Star Shooter/MediaPunch/IPx

According to a December 2000 report thought sealed from public view

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky was mistreated in 1998 by authorities who were looking into her alleged affair with former President Bill Clinton, according to a newly released government report from two years after the incident.

The report, thought to be sealed from the public but recently obtained by the Washington Post via a Freedom of Information Act request, details a 12-hour meeting in January 1998 between Lewinsky, FBI agents and prosecutors.

Lewinsky had been scheduled to meet with Linda Tripp, a White House secretary, at the food court of a Washington, D.C.-area mall. Instead, she was ambushed by federal agents and prosecutors. According to Lewinsky’s version of events — detailed in a rare public appearance earlier this week — when she asked to see an attorney, she was told her cooperation would be worth less if she spoke to counsel and told she could receive some 27 years in prison for allegedly lying about her affair with the President in an affidavit, among other crimes.

The findings vindicate her side of how things played out that day and, the report found, call into question ethical decisions made during the aggressive questioning of Lewinsky and her mother by lawyers working for Ken Starr’s Office of Independent Counsel.

[The Washington Post]

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